As a child learning geography for the first time, I remember pointing to the large upside-down triangle near the top of the map and asking a teacher about it. “That’s Greenland,” she explained and went on to declare that there was nothing green about it. The name came from a trick played by Viking explorer Eric the Red. After being exiled there from Iceland, he gave the island its market-friendly name in hopes of attracting some new neighbors.
I remember thinking, “Wow, that’s an awful lot of land for nobody to ever visit it.”
President Donald Trump recently felt something similar and ponied up an offer to buy Greenland. The territory astutely pivoted this proposal into a pitch for tourism … and the internet bit. Intrepid Travel, an Australian tour operator that offers one of the few expeditions to the island, reported a 237% spike in web traffic to its Greenland pages over the weekend.
Denmark is a very special country with incredible people, but based on Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen’s comments, that she would have no interest in discussing the purchase of Greenland, I will be postponing our meeting scheduled in two weeks for another time….
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) August 20, 2019
In a way, it’s surprising that this hasn’t happened already. Given the boom of tourism a decade or so back to Greenland’s neighboring nation of Iceland, and the constant heat around Scandinavian travel generally, it was only a matter of time before intrepid travelers ventured to explore this wild, forbidding outpost of the far north.
While not quite entirely in the Arctic Circle, Greenland comes close. Icebergs tower instead of skyscrapers, and tiny settlements on the coast still rely on subsistence fishing to survive. From its stunning landscape and coastline to the breathtaking ice fjords where monolithic icebergs float like sleeping monsters in the frigid sea, Greenland is one of the few places left on Earth that can be described as truly remote and wild.
Ready to book your own Greenland adventure? One of the best ways to explore Greenland is to book Intrepid Travel’s new Greenland Expedition. This holistic itinerary includes:
- Visiting a local home to enjoy kaffeemik, a unique Greenlandic traditional custom where a resident opens their doors for their neighbors to pop in for coffee, cake, and conversation. It’s a unique way that Greenlanders turn the long cold days into a casual celebration.
- Cruising through broken icebergs to the tiny fishing community of Oqaatsut.
- Embarking on an unforgettable hike through archaeological sites, gorges, and craggy hillside.
- Exploring Greenland’s capital of Nuuk, where ancient tradition meets modernity: colorful Nordic houses are joined by alternative architecture, artisan clothing boutiques, and gourmet restaurants.
- Ride a Zodiac out to the Ilulissat Icefjord, a UNESCO world heritage site.
- Dig deep into prerecorded history while visiting the ruins of ancient Inuit settlements as well as Arctic ghost towns abandoned by Norse explorers.
- Cruise between the mountains of Skjoldungen to view glaciers deep within the fjords, while keeping an eye out for polar bears, puffins, and other rare wildlife.
Perhaps best of all, you’ll be at the forefront of this fledgling burst in Greenland tourism. It’s the rare opportunity that adventurers dream of: to get somewhere first. Intrepid Travel’s Steph Millington adds, “Tourism is in its infancy here in contrast to more popular destinations, so with demand for Greenland increasing, it’s really down to the trailblazers to set a precedent to visit the country in a responsible and sustainable manner for those who may follow in their footsteps.”
From snow-capped mountains to variegated Arctic tundra to the twinkling Northern lights, you’ll be amazed at how colorful and warm Greenland proves to be.
The Greenland Expedition trip is not cheap — the eight-day tour will cost your nearly $5,000 per person. You can read more about it here.
- You still have time to plan a Labor Day weekend trip: 10 fantastic spots
- There’s a ridiculously easy way to tell how clean the cruise ship you plan to book is
- Why you should visit the Everglades (and our top tips for a memorable adventure)
- 5 great reasons why you should go to your favorite ski resort this summer
- 5 off-the-beaten-path historic sites you should visit