Top 5 wildlife experiences in Greenland
1. Humpback whale
Humpback whales migrate to the cooler waters of the Arctic to feed each year. It’s a mammoth journey, often spanning thousands of kilometres (and all at travelling just a few kilometres per hour). That’s probably why humpbacks like to blow off a bit of steam in Greenland. Around Aasiaat, Qeqertarsuaq and Sisimiut between April and November it’s not an uncommon sight to see a 30-tonne humpback leaping clear out of the water.
In the Middle Ages, Inuits and Norse tribesmen would trade narwhal horns for fabulous sums (they were the marine equivalent of a unicorn). Thankfully the horn trade is over and these beautiful toothed whales can swim and eat in peace. They’re usually found in Melville Bay and around Qaanaaq, where their spiralling three-metre tusk can be seen poking through the surface of the water.
3. Polar bear
This is the world’s largest land predator, and the chances of seeing one increase when you’re on the water. Cruising along the coast of west or north-east Greenland is your best shot at spotting one of these creatures, but don’t hold your breath – they can be quite aloof. But the good news is that if they are out there, they are quite easy to see due to their off-white fur standing out against the snow-white ice.
4. Arctic fox
Technically there are two types of Arctic fox in Greenland – the classic white and the blue. Both species change colour depending on the season in order to blend in with the rocky landscape and the polar ice sheet. Arctic foxes live on an almost exclusive diet of lemmings – so when lemming populations drop, so do the number of foxes. Thankfully numbers are strong, and the Arctic fox isn’t a threatened species.
5. White-tailed eagle
Don’t forget to look up every now and then: Greenland has a huge and colourful variety of birdlife. The biggest and most striking bird is the white-tailed eagle (known as the nattoralik in Greenlandic). You’ll usually find them circling along the west coast down to Cape Farewell, hoping to find a cod, char or smaller sea bird to stoop. These birds are as rare as they are beautiful, and are officially a protected species in Greenland.