Greenland. Dogsledding and Daring Sites
Today I go dogsledding!
The outside temperature is -20C. And I am rugged up in the three required layers – thermals from top to toe, down jacket and windproof/waterproof jacket and pants. But prior to setting off on our adventure, we put on another layer of sealskin from top to toe. I now know what a turkey would feel like at Christmas time but I’m warm.
I am paired with Neil, a chatty Greenlandic ‘musher’ who introduces me to his team of 11 dogs. When all the dogs are secured, we are off. Initially, I am saddened by the effort these dogs put in to pulling me up steep slopes but Neil is quick to pacify me saying that this is what these dogs do best and they love it. OK then!
So, for the next five hours, I sit back, hold fast, and enjoy this exhilarating, heart-racing, incredibly thrilling ride. The views are truly breathtakingly beautiful and I am gobsmacked by the picturesque snow white mountainscapes as they contrast with the sky’s blue to create nature’s amazingly beautiful sights. Together with the rhythmic sounds of the dog’s paws as they maintain a continuous run against the backdrop of the pure silence of the hills, I sit and enjoy this amazing ride.
Dogsledding is one of the most popular representations of Greenland. This Inuit tradition goes back 2000 years, and one of the few means of transportation to have survived so long without changes from the age of the Vikings. Neil explains that sled dogs are a ‘pure’ breed due to strict crossbreeding regulations and if a dog leaves the area, it cannot return. And apparently sled dogs have a special ability to read the environment and can sense when ice is too thin to cross, and they will stop.
On this 7-kilometer ride, we travel over a mountain called Little Akinnaq to reach a beautiful vantage point.
On our way back, it is mostly downhill and this time, the sled races ahead of the dogs who follow obediently. Neil is wedged onto the back of my sled and I am facing the mountain’s cleavage head on, with heart in mouth!
We also stop at the Ilulissat Icefjord , a UNESCO World Heritage Site, that has made Ilulissat the most popular tourist destination in Greenland. This Icefjord is filled with icebergs that calve from Sermeq Kujalleq, the fastest moving glacier in the world (40 meters daily). It is the same area as 66,000 football fields, is six km wide and approximately 55 km long.
It has been an amazing day and soon it is time to return to the Guesthouse to witness another spectacular midnight sunset.
At a little past midnight, two of us venture out into the still, snowy night and witness a short performance of the Northern Lights or aurora borealis. Somethings will remain etched in my memory forever. Tonight is one of them.