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Greenland - the unexplored world of the North
This trip was featured in the 2010 winter issue of CAPA
Greenland Traditional Dogsled Expedition
beautiful ice, dogs, inuits, ice bergs, seals and igloos
May 06 - May 15
Ready to take your travels to the next level? Join Eryka Thorley, adventure woman extraordinaire, for this one-of-a-kind Polar expedition. Climate change, endangered species, and the fast-evolving Inuit lifestyle are controversial topics of nearly every environmental conversation in the world, though very few have first-hand experience in this region. Become a credible Polar explorer on this life-changing expedition and learn an amazing array of insightful details of the Arctic - from ice conditions to traditional hunting methods, languages, encounters with endangered species, survival skills, and not the least, the fascinating way current day technologies mingle with tradition and culture in daily Inuit life.

This expedition is exceptional, because it serves to promote one of WANT Expeditions's sustainable tourism goals. The Inuit people have led a very subsistence lifestyle for generations, which unfortunately is collapsing as western views, religious organizations, and international communities and organizations place pressure on them to change their ways and modernize. Particularly, there is major international controversy over whether hunting by native peoples is negatively affect existing populations of endangered and threatened species, such as the Narwhal and Polar Bear. This trip allows its participants to understand the challenges native peoples face to survive in remote, isolated, and "unproductive" regions, while at the same time helping to establish a new means of survival and economy through tourism fees, without disrupting their traditional and evolving lifestyles.

This trip was difficult in design, but in the end, we were able to convince our hosts that while we wanted as an authentic experience as possible, and the opportunity to get as close to the animals as space and safety would allow, that except for unavoidable and necessary circumstances, when it came down to firing the final "shot", the only clicking to be heard would come from our cameras and blanks being fired from their guns as they demonstrated how they would carry out the kill. This expedition is a pioneer step for transitioning natural and cultural resources from predation to protection, while generating understanding in a global world, and preserving traditional values. And, this trip has been so wildly successful it is running a solid three years straight! This trip has also been featured in the 2010 winter issue of CAPA, and is a true expedition and incredible dream for a true adventurer! Sign up now!
Detailed itinerary:
May 6 Arrival/Copenhagen/Ilulissat
  We will arrive at Ilulissat 2:50 in the afternoon. At the end of April, there is almost 24 hours daylight here, so we will have plenty of time to get to our accommodation and to discover this interesting township. Ilulissat (aka Jakobshavn from founder Jakob Severin) is the third largest settlement in Greenland after Nuuk and Sisimiut. The town has a population of 4,500. It lies in the municipality of Qaasuitsup, about halfway up the country's west coast, and about 200 km north of the Arctic Circle. In direct translation, Ilulissat is the Greenlandic word for "the icebergs". Ilulissat is Greenland's most popular tourist destination on account of its proximity to the picturesque Ilulissat Icefjord. The Icefjord runs west 40 km from the Greenland ice sheet to Disko Bay close to Ilulissat town. At its eastern end is the Jakobshavn glacier, the most productive glacier in the Northern Hemisphere. The glacier flows at a rate of 20-35 m per day, resulting in around 20 billion tons of icebergs calved off and passing out of the fjord every year. So while we have no organized program for the rest of the day (other than lunch and dinner at the hotel), those interested can easily arrange a transfer from our hotel to visit the fjord and the glacier. Otherwise there is plenty of other things to see in town, and it is quite fun to just stroll around and get to know the locals and their lifestyle. We will return to the hotel for a great dinner and some rest before another great day in Greenland.
  Accommodation: Comfortable City Hotel
May 7 Ilulissat/Qaanaaq
  Today we depart from Ilulissat and head to Qaanaaq, possibly stopping briefly en route in Upernavik. Once we touch down in Qaanaaq, it won't take much to get the feeling that we are truly at the end of the world! Accommodation here in general is exceptionally limited, but tonight we stay in private houses that are being offered for tourism purposes. In general, although these are not luxurious houses, they offer all the modern amenities and comfort we will require including: basic beds with comfortable mattresses, heat, kitchen, bathrooms with hot shower and storage spaces. Once we have taken our rooms, we will take off to explore town or to purchase some additional items from the local (well-supplied) store.

Come dinnertime, we will have our first chance to meet the representative of our local hunters, who will carry out a short demonstration of the sleds, the sleeping arrangements and other items to be used on the ice. As we get to know the representative, and listen to his update about weather predictions and latest news on wildlife movement in the area, we will lay out the anticipated schedule for the following days. This orientation will be our first and best opportunity to start learning and understanding their daily lives, society, culture and survival skills necessary in such an environment. This is also a great opportunity for you to express world values concerning preserving biodiversity. An interpreter will help us communicate and to ask any questions we may have - a luxury that will not be present later during the trip. Once on the ice, communication will be a challenging, yet exciting and rewarding part of our experience. Still, it is important to express our interest and curosity, and to encourage them to naturally go about their activities, while we document their daily lives in a typical environment. We appreciate if the hunters bring their weapons and demonstrate how they would approach and kill the animals (including seals, birds, and the very occasional polar bears and Narwhals) in the field.

After we've had our orientation, the next most exciting activity is the chance to meet our individual drivers. In order to choose, we'll draw straws, then spend a few minutes introducing ourselves to each other. After the representative leaves, your expedition leader will check our modern equipment, making sure we are all adequately prepared for life on the ice. Your leader will also set a departure time and an approximate route for the next 6 days. Once this is all settled, we will have a few more hours of free time in the village and a self-organized dinner, before going to bed to rest one last time in a heated room with a proper mattress.
  Accommodation: Bunk House - shared accommodation and facilities
May 8 Qaanaaq/Dogsled Expedition
  Breakfast will be served relatively early, as we are expecting our hunters to come and meet us this morning. The exact trip schedule, timing, and routing will be re-evaluated with them upon arrival, because it entirely depends on the weather and the ice conditions. Soon following their arrival we will depart on our amazing expedition on dogsleds covered with our gear and the local equipment. Our hunters will bring a very basic canvas tent and some warm fur blankets to cover the sled, so other than our warm Arctic expedition wear, we only have to carry our own sleeping bag, an air mattress, and our own food. Once we reach our camp of the day, two hunters will put their emptied sleds together and will erect a tent over the sleds. This way the sleds become a large bed, catering for 4 people: two of us and two local hunters. The hunters will have a small stove for heating and some cooking equipment, so we will have a moderately supplied life inside. Occasionally, there will be abandoned hunter's huts near to our camp, so all or some of us will be able to spend the night in those. But this is still the future; we are, at the moment, just taking off for our first day of exploration over the sea ice. Most probably, at first we are heading NE, towards a more northerly settlement, called Siorapaluk. We shall reach the settlement in about 6-8 hours and stop for a few hours. We can stroll around, explore the local lifestyle and the huge Little Auk colony on the cliffs behind the settlement, while our hunters will discuss the latest wildlife movement news with their local colleagues in order to determine a more exact routing for the rest of the week. Late in the afternoon, we will take off in the desired direction again, and will set up our camp for the night after a few more hours of sledding. Depending on the actual conditions, we might already reach the edge of the ice and the large polynia that is usually at this part of the North Baffin Bay. Either way, we shall set up our camp for tonight, blow up our air mattresses and each cook our own dinner, using the equipment of your host, or if you like, your own. Since by the end of April the sun never goes down, we will have to adjust to nights that are quite bright throughout.
  Accommodation: Dogsled Camp
May 9 Dogsled Expedition
  Our first morning on the ice! After a gentle wake up call by our hunters, we prepare our breakfasts, take the camp down and venture off in search of wildlife, ice and other interesting things to see. Depending on the actual conditions, we might follow the edge of the sea ice for quite a while, looking for any signs of Narwhals or seals, or we might go inland, following the footsteps of a Polar Bear or any other wildlife signs such as the Arctic Fox or Arctic Hare. We will have an absolutely full day on the ice, learning as much as we can about the techniques of Inuit dog sledding, wildlife tracking and other survival skills. At one point, we will also learn the easiest and best way to erect a proper ice igloo. By the end of the day, late in the afternoon or early in the evening, we set up our camp again and have yet another fun night, trying to cook our own meals.
  Accommodation: Dogsled Camp
May 10 Dogsled Expedition
  Another full day out on the ice with our dogs and hunter hosts. The exact activity of the day will be determined by them and by the weather, animals and ice conditions. We will organize a harpoon-throwing contest and build a proper igloo-wall around our portable toilet (practicing our new igloo-building skills).
  Accommodation: Dogsled Camp
May 11 Dogsled Expedition
  Another full day out on the ice with our dogs and hunter hosts. The exact activity of the day will be determined by them and by the weather, animals and ice conditions.
  Accommodation: Dogsled Camp
May 12 Dogsled Expedition
  Another full day out on the ice with our dogs and hunter hosts. The exact activity of the day will be determined by them and by the weather, animals and ice conditions.
  Accommodation: Dogsled Camp
May 13 Dogsled Expedition/Qaanaaq
  Today we will still spend a whole day out on the ice, but during the last day or two, our hunters have been designing our routes the way that today we will be within no more than eight hours dogsled-distance from Qaanaaq. So after a possibly very long day, running across the frozen sea or land with our dogs and sled, we shall return to Qaanaaq, the first real sign of civilization after an entire week out on the ice. We take our 'usual' rooms in the two private houses, cook our own meals and after a well-deserved hot shower, enjoy re-packing our belongings for our departure the following day and will have an hour session with the hunters' representative and an interpreter again, allowing us to ask any questions me may have left. Now we will have a great night's sleep on a proper mattress!
  Accommodation: Bunk House
May 14 Qaanaaq/Ilulissat
  Our flight back to Ilulissat does not depart until early afternoon, so we have a comfortable morning to spend our time as we wish. We can either stroll around town one more time and take images, visit the local souvenir shop for the perfect momento, visit our hunters in their homes and say a proper good by to them and to the dogs, or you can simply sleep in after our tiring last week and finish packing this morning. Plan on departing by 11am to check-in for our flight to Ilulissat. At this time our airplane is likely to stop not only in Upernavik, but also in Quaarsut, but we will still get to Ilulissat in the late afternoon. Which, again, due to the constant daylight, gives us enough time to do further explorations in the region. There are no organized excursions, but one is welcome to explore the town or enjoy the brewery within our hotel.
Dinner will be an organized event to properly send us off after such a pioneering expedition. With so much fun and such a rich experience behind us, we will certainly have a lot to discuss and recap on. After dinner, we will retire to save some last bits of energy for yet another long flight back to Copenhagen.
  Accommodation: Comfortable City Hotel
May 15 Ilulissat/Departure
  Our flight leaves as early as 07:20 in the morning, so we will have a very early breakfast, followed by a transfer to the airport. Just like on the way up, we change aircraft in Kangerlussuaq and depart on our final flight at 11:25 am. It is going to be as late as 19:45 upon our landing in Copenhagen, but there are still plenty of later flights out of the city to most European or North American destinations, so our exciting expeditions ends here at Copenhagen Airport, with all of us spreading out in transit and catching our connecting flights. Have a safe trip home!
Greenland Trip mapCopyright © WantExpeditions

Trip price: in double room: USD 6,749
  in single room: USD 6,999

Trip images:
Off to Qaanaaq!Copyright © WantExpeditions
Dog sled expeditionCopyright © WantExpeditions
Local hunterCopyright © WantExpeditions
Adorable and hard working dogCopyright © WantExpeditions
Hunters showing guests traditional hunting techniquesCopyright © WantExpeditions
Locals teaching guests to make an iglooCopyright © WantExpeditions
Inside view of the finished igloo!Copyright © WantExpeditions
Jaw dropping views everywhereCopyright © WantExpeditions
You never know what (or who) you'll find in the arctic!Copyright © WantExpeditions
Hard working and energetic sled dogs!Copyright © WantExpeditions
Guests enjoying this epic adventure!Copyright © WantExpeditions
Guests and locals after igloo has been builtCopyright © WantExpeditions
Local guideCopyright © WantExpeditions
Sled dogsCopyright © WantExpeditions
Local guide with warm polar bear clothingCopyright © WantExpeditions
Gorgeous viewsCopyright © WantExpeditions
Local hunter with sled dogsCopyright © WantExpeditions
Local HunterCopyright © WantExpeditions
Dogs during the trek across the ice!Copyright © WantExpeditions
Waterfowl in the cold glacier waterCopyright © WantExpeditions
The risen sun before bedtime, the Arctic lifeCopyright © WantExpeditions
Local boy enjoying his summerCopyright © WantExpeditions

Trip price: in double room: USD 6,749
  in single room: USD 6,999
Price includes:
· all accomodation
· all meals
· all activities mentioned in the program
· all land transportation
· all airport and local transfers
· all national park fees
· all camping gear except sleeping bag
· all local guiding fees
· international tour leader
· all government taxes and levies

Price excludes:
· international flights
· travel insurance
· personal expenses at accommodation
· departure taxes at airports
· visa fees
· any other items not mentioned above
· all domestic flights