East Greenland


A special part of Greenland

East Greenland is one of nature’s last remaining unspoilt regions on the planet. The first Europeans did not set foot in East Greenland until just over one hundred years ago, and this distinction from the rest of the country can clearly be seen in the region’s language and culture. The language in East Greenland is therefore considerably different to that in West Greenland, both in terms of pronunciation and vocabulary. In addition, inspiration from the traditional culture’s myths and legends is vividly expressed in East Greenland’s beautiful and highly sought after arts and crafts.

 

East Greenland’s two towns and seven settlements

People have lived in East Greenland at different times for several thousand years. However, the long winter, where the sea is frozen and the extensive field ice belt, which drifts on the currents along the coast in the spring and summer, has resulted in East Greenland becoming very isolated from both the rest of Greenland and indeed the rest of the world. Consequently, today there are only two towns on the 2,700 km (1,700 miles) of coastline: Tasiilaq and Ittoqqortoormiit, and seven small settlements. A total  of 3.500 people live in an area larger than Great Britain, Germany, France and Italy combined. However, in spite of the sparse density of population in the region, the choice of activities and excursions is huge.

 

Activities in East Greenland

Activities during the summer include sailing trips amongst the icebergs, helicopter flights over glaciers or the ice sheet, kayaking, whale safaris and angling. The winter season provides good opportunities for skiing, dog sledding on trips lasting from a few hours to several days and enjoying the reflections of the northern lights on the snow-covered, rugged mountain peaks, which are highly characteristic of East Greenland. Travellers possessing a real spirit of adventure can also acquire a licence to drive a dogsled or take part in a trophy hunt for the musk ox.

 

The world’s biggest national park

With an area covering almost 1 million km2 (386,000 square miles), the National Park in Northeast Greenland is the biggest in the world. Its unique wildlife and rich history of expeditions mean that people without permanent residence in East Greenland’s two towns have to apply for permission to enter the unique park.

Approach routes to East Greenland

The majority of travellers to East Greenland arrive via Iceland, from where there are flights to Kulusuk Airport that return the same day. East Greenland’s biggest town, Tasiilaq, is just an eight-minute hop by helicopter from Kulusuk. Ittoqqortoormiit can be reached by flying from Reykjavik via Kulusuk, but also offers the option of arrival by sea on one of the special expedition cruises to East Greenland – a mode of travel that has become increasingly popular during recent years.

Tasiilaq

Tasiilaq is located on Ammassalik Island just south of the Arctic Circle, and boasts long hours of daylight in the summer, and the splendour of the northern lights in the winter. Around 1924 inhabitants make the town the largest in East Greenland. Yes, you have reached the outskirts of civilisation. Small colourful wooden houses are scattered on the mountainsides, beautifully situated by an almost circular fjord and surrounded by high mountains. Tasiilaq is rightfully considered as one of the most beautiful towns in Greenland. A small river flowing through the Valley of Flowers behind the town divides the town in two. From June to August this valley is the perfect place to have a close look at the unique arctic flora.
 

A mixed community

In 1894 a Danish mission and trade station was established where Tasiilaq is situated today. Take a stroll in the town and you’ll be able to find nearly all the houses built in the first decade of Tasiilaq’s history. However, don’t expect to find an antiquated community. Tasiilaq is a modern community with many of the modern amenities found elsewhere in the world. At the same time traditional Inuit culture is present in many layers of the society, making an interesting co-existence of new and old culture. You’ll find no factories in Tasiilaq, but service industries are becoming increasingly more important, however traditional hunting and fishing is still very much part of daily life for the families in Tasiilaq. Tourism has become increasingly important over the past 20 years, and todayAmmassalik is one of the most visited destinations in Greenland.

Kulusuk

Meaning: The chest of a Black Guillemot. Population: 316 Kulusuk was called Qulusuk by people, but the Danes could not pronounce the Q in greenlandic, they rename it to Kulusuk.

 

Kulusuk - The airport

East Greenland’s international airport, situated on Kulusuk Island, is a small airport with a gravel landing strip. At the same time this is one of Greenland's most busy airports with 3 - 5 daily arrivals and departures 6 days a week fromIceland, Reykjavik Domestic Airport, and West Greenland. Transport between Kulusuk and Tasiilaq is carried out by helicopter. The airport was built when establishing the American DYE-radar stations and replaced the Ikateq airfield located further in the Ammassalik fiord.

 

Kulusuk - The Island

The island is relatively small so hiking from the airport to the village won't take more than 40 minutes. The walk takes you across the Arctic tundra carpeted in Arctic flowers and glacier buttercups, or you can hike straight up the hill to an eerie mountain lake before descending to the town. Don't miss the beautiful cemetery, which is festooned with plastic flowers and set against a stark and icy Arctic landscape. In former times Kulusuk Island was the most inhabited area inAmmassalik district, due to the good fishing and hunting ground around the island. In 1930, 165 people inhabited Kulusuk, compared to Tasiilaq’s 112. Today 302 lives in Kulusuk making the settlement the 2nd largest inAmmassalik after Tasiilaq.

 

Kulusuk - The Settlement

When you’re coming to East Greenland, one of the first settlements you’ll have a chance to visit is Kulusuk. As the other settlements in Ammassalik, Kulusuk remains relatively immune to Western influence despite the regular influx of tourists, partly because the villagers follow a more traditional way of life and partly because visitors tend to only stay short-term. Kulusuk is the perfect introduction to the settlements of the Ammassalik area. The tiny village clings to the rocky island above a glittering sea of icebergs with dramatic mountain peaks as a backdrop. Service industries are becoming increasingly more important, but traditional hunting and fishing is still an important source of income for many of the families.

 

Souvenirs

In Kulusuk one will find some of the district's most gifted craftsmen and their Tupilaks are of very high quality. In the Hotel and The Kulusuk Trading Post, these souvenirs are offered for sale.

 

Hotel Kulusuk

The hotel is a high quality hotel where all major international debt/credit cards are accepted for cash withdraws or payments. Hotel Kulusuk organises informal kayak demonstrations and dance performances.