Greenland Stories and Tips

Kangerlussuaq Tips

Ice Cap Excursion Without the Barbeque: We paid extra for the barbeque option of this tour thinking it occurred during the tour. Instead, it occurred when were returned to town. Had we known this, we would not have paid for this meal. We would have gotten lunch at one of the other eateries where there are more choices.

Know The Cash-Only Attractions: We walked 45 minutes to the museum only to find out they do not accept credit cards. I did not have any of the local currency (Danish kroner) with me at the time; and thus, could not enter the museum.

Know The Plate Of The Day Before Dining At Roklubben: We weren't aware there is no menu at this restaurant - just the plate of the day. Because of the remote location, everyone is shuttled there and back at the same time. This could be a long evening if the plate of the day is not your preference.

Mosquitoes: The arctic is plagued by these pesky, biting insects in July and August. Although they were not as bad in Kangerlussuaq as they were when we were further north in Ilulissat, you should still be prepared with insect repellent containing DEET and/or a mosquito head net (especially if you plan on hiking). These items are sold in Greenland but I'm glad we bought them at home and not at the outrages Greenlandic prices. I paid $1.68 per mosquito head net at the Wal-Mart up the street from my house. Mosquito head nets were being sold at the equivalent of $14 in Greenland.

CITES Requirement: Common souvenir items in Kangerlussuaq are rugs and clothing made from furs such as seal, fox, reindeer, and polar bear. There were also carvings (tupilak) and jewelry made from animal bones and tusk. Some of these items such as those made from walrus, polar bear, and whales are prohibited from being brought into the U.S. unless you show proof that the animal was not poached. Therefore, if you are considering purchasing these items, ask for a CITES certificate at the shops to verify the product will pass U.S. customs. There are some items made from certain species of whale that are flat out banned. The CITES documentation can help you determine which ones.

Dress in Layers: We visited Kangerlussuaq in early July. It was warm enough in town for me to wear a short-sleeve shirt (at least while the mosquitoes were not out). However, as one would expect, it was quite a different story when we did the ice cap excursion just 20 miles away. The weather became cold and windy. During this tour, a fleece layer covered by a windbreaker is recommended along with gloves and a cap. Also, it is a good idea to wear boots or shoes with good traction for your walk on the ice cap.

Language: The official language of Greenland is Greenlandic; however, since Greenland is a territory of Denmark, Danish is also widely spoken. Fortunately for us Anglophones, most of the people also speak English because it is a required language in the Greenlandic school system.

Currency: The local currency is the Danish Kroner (DKK). There are no ATM machines in Kangerlussuaq but money can be exchanged at the reception desk of Hotel Kangerlussuaq.

Credit Card Usage: I used my credit card for most purchases but I normally had to warn the merchants that my purchases require a signature as opposed to a PIN required by European credit cards.

Musk Ox Safari or Not: There is no need to sign up for this tour if you are doing the ice cap excursion. Your chances of seeing musk oxen are just as good on the ice cap tour – especially in July when the weather is too warm for the animals. We spoke to several tourists who told us they did not see any musk oxen during the 4-hour safari; however, we saw several on the ice cap tour. In either case, bring a good pair of binoculars.

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