It is said that Erik the Red of Norway gave the earth’s largest island its name in hopes of enticing settlers to the area. Despite his valiant efforts, the world came to know Greenland as the land of ice. Traveling this glacial and exotic destination is unlike any other experience you will ever have. If you’re looking for some serious natural wonders you will find them here. From the Greenland Ice Cap to the floating icebergs around Ilulissat, Greenland provides a once-in-a-lifetime experience for those who wish to explore the nearly-untouched world of the Arctic ice.
Greenland spans from the top of eastern North America in the south to well above the Arctic Circle in the north, stretching, but not quite reaching, the North Pole. While the perimeter of Greenland holds the island’s entire population of 57,000, 80% of the central land area is covered in a glacier known as the Greenland Ice Cap. Over 3 kilometers (1.86 miles) thick and covering an area of 1.7 million km2 (656,373 mi2), the current ice sheet is over 100,000 years old. It is one of only two of the world’s ice sheets, the second one being Antarctica, and has been in existence for over 18 million years. Access to the ice sheet’s edge is available all around its perimeter and small hikes are easily arranged. Trekking across the ice sheet can also be done, but be prepared: this amazingly beautiful, icy, tundra is wild to the core.
One cannot talk of Greenland’s ice and not mention one of the most exciting wonders to see: the icebergs. Breaking off of the glacier and floating in and around Greenland’s fjords and seas, the icebergs are the star of the Greenland Show in a few special places. The town of Ilulissat, who’s name actually means “iceberg”, is the most famous of these locales. If you’re looking to do some iceberg spotting, this is your scene. These floating mountains are secretive and only show you a little bit of themselves: about 7/8 of the berg’s total size will glide beneath the ocean’s surface, never seeing the unfiltered daylight. What you do see, however, is a spectacularly beautiful and ever changing visage. When you spot an iceberg, chances are that it has never and will never look the same again. This encounter is one-of-a-kind and cannot be replicated, even on proverbial film.
The ice of Greenland has captivated many-a-soul, mine among them. If you’re looking for a remarkable experience unlike any other vacation or holiday you’ve ever been on, this is the exploration for you. Go out and discover the arctic edge.