Greenland is a country located in North America with name that begins with letter G. Polar bears, glaciers and perhaps Santa’s home – Greenland is an island of superlatives. One could also say: The island in the North Atlantic is itself a superlative, because with an area of 2.16 million square kilometers it is the largest island in the world. The southernmost point of Greenland is at the geographical height of Oslo, the northernmost land mass in the world is the small Kaffeklubben Island off Greenland at the 83rd parallel. The mighty Arctic island is buried under an ice sheet up to 3,400 m thick, without which the island would rise around 800 m higher from the sea. Even so, the highest point, Gunnbjørns Fjeld, rises a considerable 3,694 m above sea level. Greenland belongs geographically and geologically to North America, but politically as an autonomous part of Denmark to the EU.
Unlike the mother country Denmark, Greenland is not part of the Schengen area. Therefore, a valid passport is necessary for citizens of the EU and Switzerland to enter the country.
When arctic air masses flow into Central Europe in winter, one gets an impression of the temperature conditions in Greenland. However, the climate on the huge island is not uniform. The coastal region is influenced by the sea, inland there is a continental climate, and that means that the Greenlanders can work up a sweat in summer with maximum temperatures of 20 degrees. The annual average temperatures are, however, significantly lower: in the south it is around -3 degrees, in the north -33 degrees! Brr! However, thanks to the midnight sun, it is often milder there in summer than in the south.
Food and drink
From seal meat to whale meat and dried fish to caviar-like sea hare rye: the treasures of the sea are the main ingredients in Greenlandic cuisine. The national dish is a stew called suaasat, which is traditionally made with seal meat, but can also include reindeer or poultry. Mattak is served on special occasions: whale skin with narwhal bacon. And seafood such as the arctic shrimp are real delicacies.
Greenlanders have been hunters and fishermen since ancient times and still enjoy these activities today. They are reluctant to be reprimanded for this, even if whale is on the hunt plan.
Powerful spirit beings play a major role in the myths and legends of Greenland. The ancestral spirits are still held up in traditional folk beliefs.
Crime does not play a role, the dangers emanate from nature. Due to the unpredictable Arctic climate, the huge, sometimes inaccessible areas and the poor infrastructure, the German Foreign Office urgently advises against exploring Greenland on your own.
No special vaccinations are required to enter Greenland. The sparse settlement also means limited medical care. It is therefore recommended that you take a personal first-aid kit with you.
Climate and travel time
The sun almost always shines in East Greenland: The low pressure areas that form over Newfoundland and along the Gulf Stream and move eastward are deflected by the winds coming from the Greenland ice sheet, the so-called katabatic winds, and directed to Iceland.
While Iceland only has around 50 good weather days per year, there are 200 in West Greenland – but 300 in East Greenland!
All about money
The unit of currency in Greenland is the Danish krone (DKK), divided into 100 ore. We generally recommend that you bring enough cash with you. Any optional excursions can only be paid for in cash, but there is an EC machine in the post office in Tasiilaq / Ammassalik (Monday-Friday 9 am-4pm) and one in the supermarket where you can withdraw cash. However, we advise you not to rely on the functionality of this, but also to have cash (Danish kroner) with you if necessary!
Exchange rate (January 2018): 1 euro = 7.07 DKK
In general, it is difficult to make statements about your private budget for on-site expenses. You have booked the trip including full board in Greenland (from dinner on the 2nd day to breakfast on the 13th day) and with breakfast on Iceland. This means that meals and drinks (except breakfast) on Iceland, as well as special drink requests on Greenland are not included. We therefore recommend that you expect an amount of around 250 to 300 euros for further expenses on your trip, depending on other consumer behavior. Please also consider the costs of any souvenirs. And your tour guide is also happy to receive a tip, the amount of which you can of course determine yourself, depending on your satisfaction with his performance.
Other essential information
The time difference to Central European Time is -4 hours.
The electrical voltage in Greenland is like ours 220V with 50 Hz alternating current. The round, two-pin plugs common in Central Europe fit into the sockets. In Greenland this is only possible to a very limited extent (e.g. for a fee at the “Red House”). There is no electricity in the outlying locations in Kummiut and on the Rasmussen Glacier. You have to be prepared for the fact that you will not be able to recharge your devices for 6 to 7 days at a time. So please remember to have enough spare batteries.