Until last month, flying to Greenland from the U.S. was a complicated exercise and involved a series of connections in Denmark, Sweden or Iceland. But fortunately Air Greenland (tel. +299/343-434; www.airgreenland.com) has just introduced direct flights from Baltimore, Maryland to Kangerlussuaq, Greenland -- the first direct route between the two countries in history. From now until August 30, 2007, there will be twice weekly service to Greenland -- with the five-hour flight departing on Mondays and Thursdays (in the low season from September 1 to 20, 2007 and again in May next year, flights will only operates once weekly).The route closes down for the season from September 21, 2007 and re-opens in May, 2008. This is by no means a budget destination, but it is certainly a unique opportunity to visit one of the most pristine and isolated locations on the planet and experience the sheer beauty of the arctic wilderness. Greenland's natural and adventure-based attractions include hot springs, ice climbing and caving, rugged mountain biking, dog-sledding, backcountry hiking, waterfalls, kayaking, boat trips, wildlife viewing, histories Inuit and Viking settlements, colonial cities, glaciers, skiing and taking in the beauty of summer landscapes including abundant wildflowers and native fauna.
In case you think that Greenland will be freezing cold no matter when you go, you may be surprised to know that in summer, temperatures can hover around the 70° F mark, especially in the south. You should also be aware, that similar to Alaska (and all arctic areas), July and August are the height of the mosquito season, so be prepared. With the summer months comes the midnight sun which is present north of the Polar Circle but extends southwards plus you can experience the Northern Lights (Auroras Borealis) in late August and September in much of southern Greenland.
To celebrate this auspicious link between the U.S. and Greenland, Greenland Travel (tel. +45/3313-1011; www.greenland-travel.com) is offering a number of Greenland Getaways and summer tours. A note of warning: Despite listing many of the excursions below as "highlights" on the tour package pages, the excursions are actually purchased a la carte -- some costing up to $560. A complete list of add-on excursions is available on Greenland Travel's Excursions website.
The five-day "Glacier Heaven" tour uses the town of Ilulissat in the west of Greenland as a base for a journey of discovery. Staying in three and four-star hotels for four-nights (Hotel Kangerlussuaq and Hotel Arctic), highlights include a helicopter tour to the Kangia Glacier (a UNESCO World Heritage site), a boat tour of the fjords to see icebergs and seal colonies, a guided tour under the midnight sun and a visit to the 4,000 year old Inuit settlement. The tour departs each Monday from June 11 to August 24, 2007 and is priced from $3,300 per person including round-trip airfare from Baltimore, a round-trip domestic flight to Ilulissat, four-nights' accommodations, all transportation within Greenland, guided tours, all local taxes, breakfast daily and a welcome dinner. Single supplement is an additional $300.
The four-day Wild Adventure tour offers a variety of excursion options like joining a musk ox safari, a four-wheel-drive ice-cap trip, a grill party near the ice cap, a guided tour of Garnet Rock to search for garnet stones and a hike to the peak of Sugar Loaf to experience the stunning views and waterfalls. The trip includes round-trip airfare from Baltimore, three-nights accommodations at the Kangerlussuaq Hotel, breakfast daily, a welcome dinner, guide services, and all local taxes. This adventure is priced at $2,350 per person based on double occupancy and departs each Monday from June 11 to August 24, 2007.
The five-day Arctic Capital tour is based in the country's historic capital of Nuuk in Greenland's south. Highlights include bird viewing and iceberg sightings on a fjord boat trip, a guided tour to the Greenland Institute of Natural Resources, visits to Nuuk museums and the colonial harbor, a helicopter tour over the mountains and a visit to 1,000 year old Viking settlement. This tour is priced at $3,075 and includes round-trip airfare from Baltimore, a round-trip domestic flight to Nuuk, one night's accommodations at the Kangerlussuaq Hotel and three nights at Hotel Hans Egede in Nuuk, breakfast daily, a welcome dinner, guide services and all local taxes.
And last but not least, the eight-day Explorer tour invites visitors to explore the vast diversity of Greenland, its landscapes, culture and Inuit history. Highlights include a selection of the following excursions: a guided city tour of 17th century Sisimiut, located just above the Polar Circle, a visit to Teleøen -- a 4,000 year old Inuit settlement, the historical Inuit settlement of Sermermiut -- home to some of the world's best views of icebergs, a hike from Sisimiut to Præstefjeldet mountain to experience the summer fauna and flora, a boat trip to see seals and whales, dining with a local family, Northern Lights tours (September only) and deep sea fishing.
The tour departs each Friday until September 21, 2007 is priced at $4,000 and includes round-trip airfare from Baltimore, round-trip domestic flights to Ilulissat and Sisimiut, two nights' accommodations at the Kangerlussuaq Hotel, two nights at Hotel Arctic and three nights at the four-star Hotel Sisimiut, breakfast daily, two dinners, guide services, and all local taxes.
For those preferring to see Greenland independently, Air Greenland offers the following airfares to Kangerlussuaq and beyond:
- Round-trip flight from Baltimore to Kangerlussuaq -- from $1,086.03
- Round-trip flights from Baltimore to Kangerlussuaq and on to Ilulissat - from $1,523.15
- Round-trip flights from Baltimore to Kangerlussuaq and on to the capital of Nuuk -- from $1,566.15
Prices include taxes and service charges.
For more tourism information about Greenland, visit www.greenland.com.
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