Greenland is home to the world's largest national park - the Northeast Greenland National Park. It is also the 9th largest protected area in the world - with the only larger protected areas being marine preserves and mostly sea. Greenland is a whole different world and one that is best explored by expedition cruise ships.
Greenland is a country that is administered by Denmark and is one of the most difficult and expensive places in the world to visit. One should know what to expect in Greenland before going. The Northeast Greenland National Park is still the only national park in Greenland and is also the northernmost national park in the world. Much of the park is part of the Greenland Ice Sheet - but there are some ice-free areas along the coast.
Northeast Greenland National Park - The Largest In The World
The Northeast Greenland National Park was first established in 1974 and expanded to its current size in 1988. At 375,000 square miles of protected land, it is larger than most of the world's countries. It is significantly larger than Texas - but much smaller than Alaska.
- Greenlandic: Kalaallit Nunaanni nuna eqqissisimatitaq
- Danish: Grønlands Nationalpark)
- Size: 972,000 km2 (375,000 sq mi)
- Population: 0 - No Permanent Population
There is no permanent human population in this massive area - although there are around 400 sites that have occasional summer use. In 2008 only 31 people (with around 110 dogs) were present in various stations over the winter months.
The only people who reside in the park are the Danish Armed Forces surveillance unit, personnel at some meteorological stations, and the elite Sirius Patrol. Some stations include Daneborg, Danmarkshavn, Station Nord, Mestersvig, Zachenberg, and Summit Camp.
Wildlife Of Northeast Greenland National Park
The park has much of the world's Musk Oxen, and one is more likely to spot a polar bear there than perhaps any other region in the Arctic. The region is home to Arctic wildlife, including:
- Musk Oxen
- Polar Bears
- Arctic Fox
- Arctic Hare
- Greenland Wolf
On the coast, one will find narwhals, beluga whales, and various species of seals. There are also many types of birds that inhabit the part seasonally.
Getting To The Park
Greenland is remote, sparsely populated, and difficult to visit at the best of times. The Northeast Greenland National Park takes this to a whole new level.
The only people who have regular access to this remote area are the traditional sealers and whalers from Ittoqqotoormiit - a remote settlement in North-East Greenland. With a population of only around 345 people, Ittoqqortoomitt is one of the most remote settlements on earth.
Access to the park is more strictly controlled than in other areas in East Greenland. Some places - like Scoresby Sund - require separate permits to enter. But it is possible to visit the park with some Arctic expeditions. One company that does visit the park is Oceanwide Expeditions.
Oceanwide Expeditions To Spitsbergen And Northeast Greenland
The expedition begins in the Norwegian Arctic islands of Svalbard in the town of Longyearbyen. Guests need to book their own flights to the island while there take time to explore these stunning mining Arctic islands. Then begin the 18-day expedition; along the way, one will see breathtaking scenery and areas that are home to seals, seabirds, whales, and polar bears.
- Starts: Longyearbyen, Svalbard
- Ends: Constable Pynt, Greenland (Take A Chartered Flight To Iceland)
On the first days, the expedition explores the dramatic Svalbard islands (keep one's eyes peeled for reindeer). Explore the Fuglefjorden with views of Svitjodbreen and Birgerbukta, both breeding places for great skuas. Look for polar bears, beluga whales, and others.
Then it's a couple of days sailing over to Greenland. The first landing is at Myggbukta, where Norwegian trappers once hunted for polar bears and Arctic foxes. See a sprawling tundra inhabited by musk oxen. Then go through Kaiser Franz Josef Fjord and see more interesting formations. Land at Blomsterbugten (one has a good chance of seeing Arctic hares and musk oxen there).
- Icebergs: Some Over 328 Feet High and 0.6 Miles Long
Another attraction of the Kaiser Franz Josef Fjord is seeing colossal icebergs and quintessential Arctic scenery. While exploring other features along the coast, one will also see Scoresbysund - the largest fjord system in the world. There, passengers will also see the remains of an Inuit settlement abandoned around 200 years ago. The site is well-preserved. One can still see the circular stone tent rings, the grave sites, and the bear-proof meat caches.
- Meals: All Meals Throughout The Voyage Included
- Shore Excursions: By Zodiac
- Shared Cabin: From $7,000
- Three-Person Cabin: $21,100
- Two-Person Cabin: $15,500
- Single Cabin: $13,175
Note that prices do not include airfares or expenses while ashore.
After exploring more of the coastline (and current settlements in the area), the expedition comes to an end at Constable Pynt, where one takes a chartered plane flight to Keflavik in Iceland.