Situated just below the North Pole, Iceland and Greenland are neighbours in the North Atlantic, countries where the Inuit people of the west first met the Norse people from the east.
Greenland and Iceland may be close to Canada and Europe but the harsh Arcticclimate and the high cost of living means few visitors come here, but those who do discover lands of some of the most breathtaking and undisturbed snow and ice encrusted scenery in the world.
Greenland is the largest island in the world. It is part of Denmark but has limited self-rule and 20% of the population are Danish. The people are open and peaceful, and have never taken part in any war. The population is a tiny 55,000 in a land the size of Europe.
Greenland has been home to the Inuit people since they crossed the Bering Strait from Alaska thousands of years ago. The Inuit or Eskimo people have an ancient culture. At first nomadic, they have survived thousands of harsh Arctic winters. The word Eskimo mean “those who eat raw meat”, and they originally ate half of their meat raw.
The Greenlandic economy is still based on fishing but it was European fleets which depleted their whaling stocks not the Inuit fishermen. North of the Arctic Circle icebergs rule the sea, millions of years old and some the size of small islands, they float down the coast every year where the oxygen trapped in the layers turns them an icy blue colour.
The currency is the Icelandic kronur (Kr)
$1 US = around 100 kronur or
1 Euro = around 92 Kronur.
It was once a very expensive place to visit, however alcohol, food, eating out, car hire and excursion are still considerably more expensive than the UK or USA. Fuel, attractions, other goods and services are around the price of the UK.
The currency is the same as the Danish kroner.
$1 US = around 8.2 Denmark Kroner
1 Euro = 7.5 Denmark Kroner
Check with your local currency exchange bureau for up to date information.
Greenland is possibly one of the most expensive travel destinations in the world, expect to pay through the nose for what services there are including fuel, excursions, food and travel.
During the summer, wear comfortable and casual clothes in many layers, including wind and rainproof jackets and trousers, a good fleece jacket and walking boots. Gloves, hats and thermals are recommended for hikers. Don’t forget a swimming costume for the unusual thermal pool swimming!
If if you’re planning a winter trip, visit a specialist store for protective clothing for the arctic conditions. Never skimp on quality of clothing, it may cost you your life if you are trapped outside. During summer, bring everything from T Shirts to snow wear as the weather is incredibly erratic.
The native language is Icelandic, but English is widely spoken, especially amongst the younger people. The people are highly educated and intelligent so you should be able to make yourself understood.
The official language is Greenlandic which is very similar to the Inuit dialect of northern Canada and Alaska. It is a multi-syllabic language and very hard to pronounce. If you speak good English you should be able to get by except in extreme tribal areas.
The warmest months are from June to early September, and from mid May to late July the sun barely sets at all. If you plan to trek the wilderness interior of the island, the highland tracks are only open from mid July to early September.
Greenland misses out of the warming effects of the Gulf Stream, and varies from around 15C in the south and 8C in the north during summer, and dropping to around -20C in the south during winter and a bitter -40C in the north. The summers can be suprising warm during the summer, and you may experience anything from snow to blazing sun at any time.
Australia, New Zealand, Japan, Canada & USA need only a valid passport to enter. EEC members need only an ID card, other nationalities require a Icelandic consulate visa.
If you require a visa for Denmark, you will alos need one for Greenland. You may need to provide evidence of funds for your stay.
Expect to eat plenty of fresh fish, whale meat, and meats like reindeer in Greenland. Beef and lamb are great meats to eat in Iceland, where they are produced in vast quantities and are considered the best in the world due to the lack of chemicals and pure air conditions. In the wilderness it is possible to eat wild plants, berries and wild mushrooms, although check with a guide before attempting to eat anything!
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