Unlike its close neighbour of Iceland, there's no warm season to visit Greenland. This massive island is the only permanent ice cap in the Northern Hemisphere, with its rugged coast and frigid inland making for one giant playground for the arctic adventurer. For those who don't mind a little ocean spray turning to ice in their hair or numb cheeks that just won't warm, Greenland is the perfect destination. As a barren landscape, the only people that come to Greenland are those leading or looking for an exciting adventure.
While Greenland has ample snowmobiles and skies on hand, there is nothing that beats the old traditional way of travelling - dog sledding. In this act, dog and man become one team as they tackle the snowy landscape. The dogs love to run and are conditioned to work in the cold temperatures. Some visitors may actually be surprised to learn that travelling by dog sled is one of the safer options of getting around Greenland. Unlike snowmobiles and skies, sled dogs and their mushers both can spot when ice is too thin to cross and won't press forward.
One of the most popular dog sledding activities is to travel far into Greenland to see the Aurora Borealis, or the Northern Lights. Tours take visitors to secluded campsites or cabins in which there is nothing around for kilometres but the expansive sky. Aside from sightseeing and spending time with an energetic bunch of dogs, visitors can enjoy learning the age old art that is mushing. It is tradition that is passed down through generations and a fascinating affair to learn about firsthand.
The kayak has had a long tradition in Greenland. The first people that visited the island likely came in large kayak-like boats and the sea-faring tradition has stuck. Today, there are a huge number of tour operators and companies that rent kayaks out to visitors. The country's dramatic shoreline provides numerous great sights to see including tall rocky cliffs, vibrant settlements and a variety of wildlife. Greenland prides itself on having only wild and free animals that live off its coast, so the whales of Greenland are free to swim where the krill take them and the sea lions are welcomed to any sunny stretch of land. The best locale for kayakers that want to spot massive whales up close and personal is off the coast of southern Greenland where fin and minke whales play with abandon.
When it comes to sea lions, kayakers will spot them lounging on the coast, but they are also prevalent around the country's many icebergs. Icebergs are not only a sea lion playground, but serve for excellent exploration for kayakers. How often can people boast about having touched one of the largest ice cubes in the world as it bobbed around the ocean?
There's no need to snowmobile for hours from the sparse coastal towns to get to the best skiing spots in the world. There is a better way - take a helicopter. Greenland draws thousands of adrenaline junkies each year for its heli-skiing opportunities. While prime skiing ground can be found all over Greenland, the vast mountain expanses in East Greenland are most popular for the heli-skiers. Tiny towns dot the coastline and some of the runs take skiers up over the mountains and allow then to enjoy the ride all the way to the water's edge. There is no lack of space for skiing in Greenland and certainly no lack of natural beauty. Both will never be more apparent in the county than when staring out the open door of a helicopter while it's in the air.
As Greenland has no claim of private property, visitors to the country can literally take a walk anywhere. However, it is a big country and easy to get lost in. While Greenland has only a spare few marked hiking trails, they are all scenic and expansive. One of the most popular marked trails is the 160-kilometre Arctic Circle Trail. This long trail runs between Kangerlussuaq and Sisimiut, and usually takes hikers around eight days to complete though it is best done in the slightly warmer months of July and August.
While the Arctic Circle Trail is the most well marked and famous trail in Greenland, other hiking hot spots include the Ilulissat Icefjord and the expansive Greenlandic Ice Sheet. However, both locales are best done with a guide as the ice can occasionally be a treacherous thing.
Adventuring can be a taxing activity. However, in Greenland even as they relax from their last taxing trial, the experience in itself is an adventure. While this ice-capped country may be particularly frigid at times, it is home to a surprising number of natural hot springs. There are few things more odd and exhilarating than soaking in balmy water as icebergs float by off the coast. On the uninhabited islands of Qaqortoq, Qeqertarsuaq and Nanotalik, hot springs are as prevalent as mountain peaks. However, the hot spring on Uunartoq steals the show. On this uninhabited island, three separate hot springs merge into a small pool where visitors are treated to ocean views on one side with mountain peaks on the other.
Does Greenland rank on your bucket list?