We had booked the hotels and transport direct ourselves, and so were very much doing this on our own, with no support, and at that stage no knowledge of the location.
We were visiting East Greenland landing in Kulusk. As the clouds parted, and the stunning jigsaw of icebergs in the sea appeared we suddenly felt the most irresponsible parents in the world – Did I mention that our daughter was 11 months old at the time and still in a push chair?!
We landed and walked across the ice to the airport and outside to see an enormous mountain with glacier on it. A few 4WD cars picked up passengers and drove off and there we were left, no-one in or outside the airport!! It was a beautiful spot to be stuck in, but I have to say I was quite concerned. Eventually my husband managed to find someone who phoned someone and we made it to the hotel.
The hotel was basic and clean with plenty of hot food and full, of all things, Koreans! The owners also had a young child and were delighted to see tourists with a young child in tow and immediately produced baby food for us to use if we needed it. What great service, and it made us feel perhaps we were not totally mad to be travelling to one of the most remote places in the world with a baby after all!
We walked down to the local village along a track towered over by 8 foot high ice and snow. Actually taking a child in a push chair was perfect. If she had been older she would have wanted to get out and then would have got cold and miserable. As it was she was quite happy looking out from her push chair, and wasn’t old enough to have the everlasting snowball fights children insist upon having!
We stopped along the way to see the cemetery, an important part of the Innuits village. The village was compact and surrounded the harbour which was still full of ice which was starting to break up. There was a tiny village store selling some local handicrafts and pretty brightly painted small houses perched on the rocks overlooking the harbour with stunning views. Most of them had Huskies tethered up outside. This was the genuine McCoy!
It was apparently a festival day and we sat with the locals as they sat on the highest point of the village drinking their local brew from big plastic containers, and singing enchanting songs.
The benefit of having a baby with us really kicked in here with all the children coming to see us and adults waving us over from their doorways. At one point it was a moot point whether they or us were the tourist attraction! It was lovely as it gave us a personal contact with the local Innuits and made us feel very welcome. I suspect not many people take their babies to Greenland!
A couple of the local men jumped into traditional kayaks to show how easily they could manoeuvre them through the ice. Whilst amazing to see, the next day when we organised a private boat to take us out to see the Icebergs we specified we wanted a boat with a motor!
That was one of the most extraordinary experiences of our lives. We had arrived just during summer ice melt and the locals were not sure if the boat would be free of the ice in the harbour to take us out. But after a bit of a struggle the little boat was free and the driver took us right up to towering icebergs, breaking through thin ice as we went and into a bay with a glacier flowing into the sea at the end. What a special private experience, though the driver couldn’t speak a word of English so communication was limited to smiles and shrugs and finger pointing!
The next day we then had another extraordinary experience. The Helicopter transfer to the next village to Tasiilaq was quite amazing. It’s not a tourist transfer, it’s what the locals use to get around – especially at this time of year when the ice is melting so they can’t use Dog Sleds and the sea is not clear enough yet of ice for proper passages through for longer sea voyages. As we flew over the Ice Fjords and Icebergs as big as the Titanic our eyes were filled with beauty and drama. It’s only about a 20 minute hop, but what a special 20 minutes.
Tasiilaq is a bigger settlement than the village at Kullusk and here we saw a small church, hospital and school. We arrived at the Church just as a guide with a small group was showing them around so we overheard some of the stories he was telling about some of the customs and how the Inuits live there. However we were quite happy wandering around the village on our own coming across an Inuit carving local artefacts from horns, numerous huskies, and setting off up mountain paths we came across. We had to pace ourselves to Kristyna as she still needed afternoon naps!! The only real challenge we came across with her was the fact of the midnight sun and her struggling to get to sleep at night as the thin curtains were not dark enough to black the light out. I’d always wanted to see the Midnight Sun so I found it quite exciting to be outside at midnight in broad daylight!!
The next morning we took another boat trip, (a much bigger fishing vessel this time), out to see the Icebergs and the guide on board was extremely knowledgeable explaining about Global warming and the effect on their local environment. It was quite shocking to hear of the changes they had seen in only 1 or 2 generations. The sun was out and the colours and hues of the blue Icebergs were stunning. We went right up to where we could pass no further as a recent strong wind had pushed all the icebergs together and blocked the way. Tasiilaq is a beautiful spot to relax and explore.
We again returned by Helicopter and then headed straight onto a flight back to Reykjavik. I decided there and then that Greenland needed to be added to the Weekend a La Carte itinerary, though with organised transfers, tours and guides to bring more information and structure to this dramatic break. For those looking for raw nature, different culture and genuinely different sights it doesn’t get better than this!
Click here to see our amazing break which includes Greenland