5 reasons to explore Southern Greenland

  1. Hike to the glaciers through vast and beautiful valleys with nothing but a farm within 50 miles
  2. Weave between iceberg-filled fjords in a zodiac, and fly over the mountains and glaciers by helicopter. There are no roads here!
  3. Understand the extraordinary history of the Viking and Inuit people (and the present-day relationship between the Greenlanders and the Danes)
  4. Photograph wildlife that is uniquely adapted to this Arctic landscape: caribou, arctic hare, white-tailed eagles, humpbacks and seals
  5. Camp on the edge of the Greenland Ice Cap, falling asleep listening to icebergs calve from mighty glaciers

Things to know

Southern Greenland is host to mountains, glaciers and fjords so mighty that one is regularly drawn to double check the map scales. The weather conditions are harsh and ever-changing while the people are friendly and welcoming; observing their lives you'll get an insight into how it is for the indigenous locals in the modern age.

As with all developing nations the provision of basic necessities of food, fuel and water take priority over aesthetics, so the settlements and towns feel quite primitive. Accommodation options are basic and you'll need to be prepared for shared rooms and using a sleeping bag most nights. If you like to travel in more comfort then consider a cruise or a visit to Ilulisat in Western Greenland.

The remoteness of Southern Greenland and low visitor numbers mean that hiking trails are more often suggested routes than clear pathways. Rough terrain and river crossings are a feature of most treks, although guides will always be able to show you the easiest route.

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When to visit

Greenlanders think of their seasons differently to those in temperate latitudes. Winter is long, spring lasts through June and most of July, autumn runs from mid-August to the end of September and  summer lasts a precious 3-4 weeks. As a result, the visiting season is short: mid-June to mid-September. Travelling at this time you'll be able to explore in 20+ hours of daylight. 

For the mildest conditions, longest days and most interesting flowers we recommend travelling in mid-July to mid-August. However, if you'd like to see a bit more snow and get a taste of winter life in the area then September is your month. It's important to note that when there is no wind or rain mosquitoes can be a problem.

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Jon says

Travel

How to get to Southern Greenland

The only airport in Southern Greenland is at Narsarsuaq, which receives flights from Copenhagen (a 5 hour journey) and Reykjavík (an 11 hour journey). You can also arrive by boat south from Greenland’s capital, Nuuk, although this takes 3-5 days.

There is little to explore in the area, so the majority of people set out on their tours, trips and expeditions as soon as they’ve landed.

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How to get around Southern Greenland

Independent travel in this region is hard as the public boat system is expensive and time consuming. Good negotiators with time on their hands may find a local fisherman in the harbour or market who is going their way.

Helicopters connecting the major hubs are easily booked, offer great views and allow you to get across the region quickly but are prohibitively expensive for most visitors. 

If you want to make the most of your time in Southern Greenland and enjoy hassle free travel then we’d strongly recommend a guided trip where the majority of travel is in a twin-engine RIB with all the safety features one would expect. These journeys are fascinating: weaving between icebergs at 30 knots, stopping at vast waterfalls and occasionally sighting a seal or humpback whale.

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