Do you know much about it? How green is it really? Is it actually as big as it looks on a map?
We checked in with a couple of ATAS-accredited travel agents to get the low down on Greenland. And if it’s not yet on your bucket list, it might just be by the time to get to the end of this article.
Actually, this single quote from Sandy Erskine, Marine Manager for ATAS accredited travel agency in Melbourne (VIC) G Adventures Australia and New Zealand might do it:
“Vast and virtually untouched by the modern world, Greenland is one of those rare places on Earth that feels immune to time itself. The world’s largest non-continental island is sparsely populated, but it’s the boundless natural splendour of the place that calls to adventurers. Awash in massive glaciers, stunning fjords, and endless icefields, the scenery here is so unbelievable you won’t even believe it’s real when you’re standing right in the middle of it.”
Image: Ilulissat, West Greenland. Credit: World Expeditions
If you’re considering a Greenland adventure, be sure to discuss your plans with an ATAS accredited travel professional. You’ll receive great advice and touring options to suit your travel style and budget.
If you’re still with us, here are a few fun facts about this enigmatic island.
- Despite what you might think when you look at a traditional map, Greenland is just about the same size as Queensland—slightly larger, to be slightly more precise.
The confusion about Greenland’s size stems from the way it’s projected onto conventional ‘Mercator’ maps—a quirk of transcribing a three-dimensional sphere onto a two-dimensional map.
Image: Google map, Greenland.
- Geographically a part of the continent of ‘North America’, Greenland has been politically and culturally associated with Europe for more than a thousand years.
- Located between the Arctic and Atlantic oceans, Greenland is an autonomous territory within the Kingdom of Denmark.
- The majority of Greenlanders are Inuit. Having migrated from Alaska through Northern Canada, their ancestors gradually settled across the island by the 13th century.
- With a population of around 55,000, Greenland is the least densely populated territory on the planet.
- Greenland’s nearest neighbours are Canada and Iceland.
- The average daily temperature of Nuuk—Greenland’s capital—ranges from about minus 5 °C to 9.9 °C through the year.
- Greenland’s official currency is the Danish Krone
- Fishing accounts for more than 90% of Greenland’s exports
Greenland is also one of the best places to see the Aurora Borealis—the legendary Northern Lights.
Image: Greenland’s Aurora Borealis. Credit: Greenland Travel.
“The Aurora can be seen in Greenland’s night skies between September and March,” advises Michele Eckersley from ATAS accredited World Expeditions (travel agency in Melbourne, VIC).
But it’s not just Greenland’s night sky that stuns visitors. “The coastline is spectacular,” says Michele.
Image: Exploring Greenland’s icy waterways and coastline. Credit: World Expeditions.
“With numerous fjords, the coastline consists of soaring mountains, high cliffs and breathtaking glaciers that are best seen from the sea. The large glaciers clave huge, cathedral-sized ice bergs that are drift in the surrounding waters,” she adds.
An area rich in wildlife, Greenland offer opportunities to see polar bears, walrus, ringed and bearded seals, musk oxen along with numerous species of seabirds.
Michele also makes the important point that Greenland’s ecology is very sensitive to climate change. “The ice cap is melting, limiting habitat for land-based animals. We advise going soon”, says Michele.
For advice on when, where and how to go, contact your favourite ATAS accredited travel agent.
Bella Twomey from G Adventures (Melbourne, VIC travel agency) recommends spending a few days exploring the massive fjord system of Northeast Greenland National Park, which includes portions of Scorsbysund.
Image: Ittoqqortoormiit, Greenland. Credit: World Expeditions.
“Be sure to visit the tiny settlement of Ittoqqortoormiit for a look at how these most northerly people live,” suggests Bella who also has some great tips for spotting Greenland’s stunning marine fauna.
“Within Northeast Greenland National Park, keep an eye out for majestic whales, which are known to feed here in the summer months. Spot orca, humpback and minke whales, as well as dolphins,” she advises.
Even though your ATAS travel agent will know where you are as you travel, they always recommend that Australian passport holders register for travel alerts before they travel, and review any applicable travel warnings.
ATAS accredited travel agents, experience you can trust.
Looking for more insights from ATAS-accredited travel agents?
Read more travel tales on our blog like these posts about how travel agents can help turn travel mishaps in happy travels, new entry requirements to New Zealand and top tips for your next visit, and Australia’s uniquely indigenous tourism experiences.