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The Insider's Scoop on Greenland

14 min read

Below, please find a transcript of our Insider's Scoop on Greenland webinar.

To learn more about our Greenland expeditions, click here.


Good Afternoon everyone and welcome to today’s webinar hosted by Quark Expeditions, The Leader in Polar Adventures.

In today’s webinar, we will be exploring the Inside Scoop on Greenland, one of the hottest adventure destinations on the planet!

It’s been recently cited by National Geographic Traveller on its “Cool List for 2017” and by Conde Nast on their “50 Most Beautiful Places in the World”…so maybe you’re already fielding questions on this Arctic destination. 


To start the webinar, we’ll also share some insights about what types of travellers typically really enjoy Greenland, and why. Hopefully this will help you understand if Greenland will be a good fit for you!

Later on, we’ll talk through a few of the most common Greenland questions we hear: Things like “What will I see and do” “Where in Greenland should I go”? We’ll also talk through how East, West and South Greenland offer distinctively different experiences.

But before we get there, let’s start with some insights about 4 types of Greenland travellers.


What types of travelers go to Greenland?

From our research (and from our conversations with lots and lots of different customers), we’ve seen Greenland travellers fall into a few different categories:

Adventurers, Checklisters, Escapists and Learners

We use these personas to help us understand which experiences might be the best fit for different people.

But for you, thinking about what motivates you to travel can help you figure out which destination and itinerary will offer the kind of experience that is just right for you.

Now, people aren’t one-dimensional, and no one fits neatly into one of these categories. Most travelers have a little bit of each one in them …But you may identify with one more than another. 


For example, one type is what we call the “Checklist” traveler. If you enjoy sightseeing, cultural activities and a bit more luxurious accommodations, this might be you! These are people who might have had Greenland on their bucket list and look forward to getting away from it all, taking some time to rest and relax, and come back to their everyday life rejuvenated and restored.


Adventurers, on the other hand, place a high value on excitement and adrenaline, way more than creature comforts. If you’ve ever slept on the floor of an airport on your way to climb a mountain or go heli-skiing, you just might be an adventurer.


The other two types of travelers are Learners and Escapists. We probably all have a bit of these in us, but again, some people primarily identify as a Learner.

These are people who value the relationships they make with experts and other passengers. They’re thirsty for knowledge about the places they visit, the sights they see, and the activities they take part in. 


Escapists are really just looking to get away from it all and relax. If you look forward to tossing your cell phone in your suitcase the minute you board your ship and not looking at it again until you’re on your way home, you might be an escapist!

It’s important to know your travel type, because it helps you plan an expedition that suits your specific needs and goals. Once you know what it will take to make your Greenland expedition YOUR trip of a lifetime, you can start making informed decisions about where to go and what to do.

The good news is that Greenland has something for each one of these travelers! And this is why Greenland is really gaining in popularity as one of the most sought-after destinations: because it offers an incredible variety of experiences.


But before we get there, let’s go over the main Greenland questions you’ll probably have popping into your head:

  • Where is Greenland?
  • What can I see and do in Greenland?
  • Where should I go in Greenland?

The three different regions of Greenland are quite distinctive—East, South and West--so it’s worth understanding the appeal of each one so can figure out where you want to go.

But let’s get started with…


Where is Greenland?

Greenland is the world's largest island, three-quarters of which is covered by the only permanent ice sheet outside Antarctica. It belongs to Denmark and is situated between the Arctic and Atlantic Oceans, east of the Canadian Arctic.

Greenland is home to the world’s largest national park, a UNESCO World Heritage site, active glaciers, an extensive fjord system and just 55,000 people, making it the least densely populated country in the world.


What can I see and do in Greenland?

Greenland offers something for everyone, from historic and cultural sites, to exciting outdoor adventures, to amazing wildlife and landscape photography. Imagine the exhilaration of cruising through fjords, then stopping to hike to the top of an isolated island for the perfect view. That same day, you could be sitting on an open deck after dinner, taking in one of the best natural lights shows on earth, the aurora borealis (or Northern Lights).


What can I see and do in Greenland?

Greenland delivers quite an immersive educational and cultural experience. The communities that dot this sparse landscape are tiny -- often, they’re made up of just a few hundred people, 80% of whom claim Kalaallit ancestry.

Indigenous Inuit culture here is strong, and Kalaallisut is the first language of most Greenlanders. During visits to these communities, travelers may be invited to try authentic Greenlandic food, or to watch a demonstration of traditional Inuit arts or crafts.

If you have a special interest in Viking history, there are also a few landing sites we visit where passengers can explore the ruins of Viking and Norse settlements like Herjolfsnes or Hvalsey Church.


What can I see and do in Greenland? 

Outside of these fascinating communities, stunning fjords with towering walls make for epic photography and sightseeing. 80% of Greenland is covered with ice and travelers will visit areas absolutely littered with icebergs, some as large as apartment buildings.

The Ilulissat Ice fjord is a UNESCO world heritage site, and the glacier at the head of it is responsible for 10% of the icebergs around the island.

Hiking opportunities are plentiful cruising through some of the longest fjord systems in the world. Sheer rock walls give way to landing areas, providing you with an opportunity to step ashore. Keep your eyes open -- you might spot indigenous wildlife such as musk ox, arctic hare and maybe even an arctic fox, if you’re lucky.

There’s no better way to experience this pristine environment than on the water. Gliding across the water in a kayak gives you a unique vantage point from which to see life on shore. Even for those not into kayaking, our daily Zodiac cruises will bring you up close and personal with Greenland’s icebergs and aquatic life.


Where should I go in Greenland?

Next, let’s talk about the different regions of Greenland, because as I mentioned, there’s a great deal of diversity even on this one island.  Our expeditions can take you to see East, South and West Greenland.


Before we dig deeper into each region, here’s what to remember about each one:

  • East Greenland: World’s largest national park, deepest fjords, community of Ittoqqortoormiit
  • West Greenland: UNESCO World Heritage Site: Ilulissat Icefjord, Eqip Sermia: massive calving glacier, community of Sisimut
  • South Greenland: Uunartoq hot springs, historic Norse and Viking sites, Prins Christian Sound Fjord

And while we’re going over the 3 main regions of Greenland, we’ll also talk through which types of travelers might be drawn to each region—whether you’re an Adventurer, Checklister, Escapist or a Learner—or maybe a mix of two!


East Greenland is home to Northeast Greenland National Park, which features spectacular scenic views whether you’re hiking the tundra of zodiac cruising the inlets and bays. 


This is also where you’ll find Scoresbysund, an absolutely breathtaking example of a polar fjord system you’ll never forget once you’ve experienced it. The icebergs are truly mind boggling, some of them as large as apartment buildings. Travellers can even hike along the flowering Arctic tundra along the basalt walls of Scoresbysund.


Near the start of the sound, Ittoqqortoormiit is East Greenland’s most northerly community, where you’ll have a chance to see and purchase the works of local Inuit artists. 


Which type of travelers would enjoy East Greenland the most?

If you’re an Escapist or an Adventurer, you might be a good fit.


Well, if you’re an Adventurer seeking an active outdoors experience, this expedition also offers one of the most spectacular areas for hiking  in the world’s most northerly national park: the rarely-visited King Oscar Fjord.

And if you’re an Escapist looking for an experience far away from crowds of tourists, this is really no-man’s land—you probably will see few people beyond your fellow passengers—which could really appeal to you!

Next we’ll look at a few East Greenland itineraries that you could choose from, whether you’re traveling with us this year or next.

Also mention that once they’re up that far, they’re in the world’s most northerly national park?

Plus, escapists will probably like that this is an expedition into no man’s land. There will be very little human contact beyond the other passengers on board the ship.


East Greenland Northern Lights

On this 14-day 2017 itinerary, you could go hiking the tundra, kayaking and could explore the world’s largest fjord system.


Arctic Express: Greenland’s Northern Lights

This 2017/2018 itinerary is a bit more condensed for those short on time, but packs in some of the same East Greenland highlights. You can explore fjords, go hiking in Greenland National Park, and visit Ittoqqortoormiit, an Inuit community.


In West Greenland, fjords, glaciers and historic communities are the order of the day.  One of the most iconic “Greenland” experiences is visiting the Ilulissat Icefjord, one of the northernmost UNESCO World Heritage sites. A massive collection of icebergs filling the fjord have calved from the Sermeq Kujalleq glacier, one of the fastest moving and most productive glaciers in the world. 


Another memorable experience on some of our West Greenland voyages is a community visit to Sisimut, where you’ll will have the opportunity to meet Greenlandic locals, explore the town and sample local food.


One of the most breathtaking sights in Greenland is the Eqip Sermia, a massive glacier which regularly calves massive ice chunks into the ocean. 


Which type of travelers would enjoy West Greenland the most?

If you’re a Learner, Checklister or Escapist in search of an unconventional, expedition experience, our that visits West Greenland could be a great choice for you.


In addition to visiting the iconic Ilulissat Icefjord and Eqip Sermia, you’ll have the opportunity to experience and learn about Greenlandic culture and Inuit art on community visits in Greenland. 

Meeting locals and getting to know their way of life can deliver truly memorable authentic encounters that few others have experienced.

Next we’ll look at a great new West Greenland itinerary that’s coming up in 2018.


West Greenland: Disko Bay 2018

On this 10-day itinerary, you’ll learn about life in a traditional Greenland community. Plus, you’ll get to see truly incredible sights like Ilulissat Icefjord, a UNESCO World Heritage Site and a breathtaking glacier called Eqip Sermia.


South Greenland is the lushest area of the island, and it features the very luxurious Uunartoq hot springs. The springs are a common natural phenomenon in Greenland, and on the uninhabited island of Uunartoq, three springs form a pool that’s warm enough to bathe in.  

The southern regions of Greenland are the most fertile, and as a result have seen lots of human activity. In South Greenland and the community of Nuuk, traces of Norse inhabitation still remain. The Nuuk museum is also the resting place of the famous Greenland Mummies, a group of eight incredibly well-preserved mummified women and children discovered in 1972 by two hunters.

Suggest commenting on the mummies found at Qilakitsoq, which are on display at the Greenland National Museum in Nuuk.


In South Greenland, travelers have a chance to explore Herjolfsnes, the site of an ancient Norse farm which has been excavated.

South Greenland has significant ties to the Viking and is a fascinating place for those interested in Viking history. This is where Erik the Red settled when he was banished from Iceland, and it was he who gave Greenland its name.

The well preserved ruins of an 15th century Norse Hvalsey Church are also there to explore, and as always, Zodiac cruises and hiking opportunities are available daily. 


Prins Christian Sund is made up of a spectacular series of massive tidewater glaciers. A mountainous region laced with fjords, it’s a great place to explore by Zodiac.


Which types of travelers would enjoy South Greenland the most?

If you’re a Checklister or Learner, South Greenland might be the right choice for you.


Well, for checklisters, both of our South Greenland voyages also touch on East and West Greenland, so that’s great if you’re aiming to work your way around the island.

Plus, Learners may enjoy learning about (and visiting!) the ancient Norse and Viking ruins we mentioned.

The last itineraries we’ll look at are two that feature South, East and West Greenland.


Iceland, Greenland & Baffin Island: Arctic Circle Traverse 2017

On this 18 day itinerary, not only will you see the iconic highlights of East, South and West Greenland, but you’ll also be able to knock Iceland and Baffin Island off your list. 


Greenland Explorer Valleys and Fjords 2018

On this 15-day itinerary taking place in 2018, you’ll get to dig into Norse and Viking history and of course, see some incredible fjords, like Tasermiut Fjord, also known as the Patagonia of the Arctic.

So…hopefully now you have a more in-depth idea


Greenland FAQs

So, to wind up our webinar, there may be a few more Greenland questions that are on your mind. Let’s go over those next.


What types of wildlife will I see in Greenland?

Of course, we’re always on the lookout for wildlife. But it’s important to remember that Greenland is 80% covered in ice, so while there’s a diverse wildlife population on the island, it is pretty special when you do spot something. This

isn’t like a safari where you’d expect to see beaches literally teeming with animals and marine life. Greenland is a super challenging climate for wildlife just as it is for humans, and that’s why the animals seen here are so special.

On land, there may be opportunities to catch sight of and photograph Greenland’s gentle giant, the musk ox.

On the water (whether from the ship or Zodiac) travelers may see belugas, the narwhals or bowhead whales. There’s also potential to see seals or walrus.

If you want to catch a glimpse of a polar bear, keep your eyes trained just off shore – they’re most often spotted hunting out on the sea ice in Eastern Greenland.

Birdwatchers have no shortage of subjects to spot and photograph, as well – you might see white-tailed eagle, raven, owls, guillemots, kittiwakes and more. 


Will I see the Northern Lights?

Taking in a Northern Lights show in Greenland is an experience that you won’t soon forget, and not only because this is one of the best places on the planet to see them.  This wondrous show of dancing lights can occur all year round in Greenland . But here’s what to remember:

It’s possible to experience Greenland’s Northern Lights from any corner of the country but intensity is dependent on sunspot activity which follows an 11-year cycle.

Darkness is required for visibility of the Northern Lights and therefore, voyages later in the season stand the best chance.

East Greenland offers better opportunities to see this lightshow than West, by virtue of the deep fjord system of Scoresbysund. The high cliffs on either sides of the water keep cloud cover from accumulating, which means when it’s dark, and the Northern Lights are on display, there’s a better chance you’ll see them.

And moving on, you may be wondering what your “home away from home” will be like on our Greenland voyages.  I would leave this part, but explain that the summer months (which are warmest and best for travel and wildlife sightings) also have the most daylight hours, preventing you from being able to see the lightshow.


What is the onboard experience like?

This season, our Greenland voyages will be taking place aboard the newly refurbished Ocean Adventurer—formerly known as the Sea Adventurer.

This ice-strengthened expedition ship provides an intimate, comfortable travel experience and is currently undergoing a multi-million dollar renovation for the 2017 season! You could be among the first to enjoy the exciting itineraries we’ve just shared while relaxing each evening with great amenities and onboard features.

In addition to upgrades to the Main Dining Room and already spacious and forward-looking Main Lounge. Every cabin is getting a brand new washroom, and new luxury cabins are being constructed.


What is the onboard experience like?

Chef-prepared meals use the freshest available ingredients, ensuring your passengers truly enjoy the dining experience.

Our educational programme is second to none and includes talks and hikes with a variety of scientists and researchers including glaciologists, ornithologists, marine biologists and more.

And finally,


How do I get there?

Greenland with Quark Expeditions involves travel through a major international gateway such as Reykjavik, Iceland or Ottawa, Canada to embarkation points…

For several voyages, Reykjavik, Iceland is the embarkation point. Rich with history, culture and architecture, this is also a city with a variety of options for the adventurous at heart.

In some cases, departure is from Ottawa, the Capital City of Canada, where you’ll board a charter flight for Iqaluit, Nunavut, or for Kangerlussaq to start your Greenland adventure.


Polar Travel Advisers

So, as you continue researching your next trip, don’t forget...our PTAs are always here to support you, whether you have specific questions on itineraries or would like to learn more about a destination.

We’ve all been to the polar regions (and we are extremely passionate about them) and can provide tips and advice to help you find your perfect polar expedition.



I also have a few resources to share with you, to help answer any questions and give you the tools you need to plan your own Greenland trip of a lifetime.

Our website is a great resource to understand the itineraries we offer across all the destinations we talked about today.

Also, you should check out our blog, where you’ll find great stories, photos, videos and interviews with past passengers who have travelled with us to Greenland.  

We also have a great Greenland Destination Guide that recaps some of the details of what we discussed today.


Ways to Save

Finally, there are a few great offers on right now that can help makes your expedition more affordable.  

If you’re interested in traveling to Greenland this summer, there’s currently a 25%-off promotion that applies to select cabin types and itineraries for two of the voyages we mentioned today—East Greenland Northern Lights and Iceland, Greenland, Baffin Island. The offer expires June 30—a few short months before the expeditions sail!

We’re also offering early booking bonuses on many Greenland 2018 itineraries, which you can explore on the “Ways to Save” page on our website.


That concludes our webinar on Greenland-- Thank you for joining us!

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