Travels in the North

Musings on arctic holidays

Dog Sledding Ilulissat style

Having had my previous two day trips in Greenland cancelled due to a lack of numbers, I’m fairly chuffed to find out both my planned trips for today are going ahead.

Dog Sledding

Dog Sledding

First up in the morning it’s dog sledding. I did this once before on a trip to Tromsø in Northern Norway, but felt like I couldn’t really come to Greenland and not go sledding. Especially in Ilulissat, where there are dog kennels all around the town. The dogs used to have the run of town, but it was decided about twenty years ago that all dogs over six months old need to be chained up when not out sledding. The chains are long and they have a decent space to run around, but understandably when chained up for the first time at six months old wail for days, poor things. But then as I learnt in Norway, these aren’t pets, they are work dogs, almost half way between wolves and domestic pets I guess.

Dog Sledding Ilulissat

Dog Sledding

It’s just me and the sled owner Jens. I don’t think he spoke much English so we didn’t chat much, but I was happy sitting on the back of the sled with him sat on the front shouting at the dogs occasionally. The dogs were amazingly responsive to his calls, turning left or right or just hurrying up, the calls were along the lines of “yip yip yip” and “yo yo yo” rather than the stereotypical “mush”, not sure where this came from.

Dog Sledding Ilulissat

Dog Sledding

There was one particularly steep hill where the dogs where struggling to make it up, Jens got off and was pushing the sled. I offered to get up but he told me to stay put, but felt a bit useless as the dogs and Jens strained up the hill whilst I sat back relaxing.

Dog Sledding Ilulissat

Dog Sledding

It was a slightly different set up to the sledding I did in Norway. The Norwegian dogs were arranged in 4 sets of pairs, with the strongest two dogs being the lead dogs in front. The Greenlandic system seems a bit more basic, where each dog is just attached on a rope to the sled, and they’re all free to move around as they please (left, right, front, back etc). It seems to work well enough, although did require Jens to untangle the ropes every time we stopped.

Dog Sledding Ilulissat

Dog Sledding Ilulissat

I was slightly disappointed not to have a go at driving a sled as I had done in Norway, but it was a fantastic feeling to be sat on a sled travelling through the wilderness and taking in the scenery.

Naleraq Ilulissat Lunch

Lunch in Naleraq

After the sleding I had lunch in Naleraq, which is a bar/restaurant. I can’t remember the Danish (or indeed Greenlandic) name for the lunch I had but I think it transalted as fish plate and was five different types of fish, apparently a traditional dish. Washed down with a Danish lager which seems to be equally as traditional.

Boat trip Disko Bay

Boarding the boat for our trip out into Disko Bay

My second trip of the day was a small boat trip out into the Disko bay to view the icebergs and Ilulissat Glacier. As the ship was quite a bit smaller than the AUL ferry I’d been on a few days before we were able to get really close to the icebergs, which was absolutely incredible, I must’ve taken about 200 photos but none of them could really do it justice. The conditions were absolutely perfect too, the sea was so calm it looked like marble, and the sun was beginning to set.

Boat trip in Disko Bay

Boat trip in Disko Bay

Boat trip in Disko Bay

Boat trip in Disko Bay

Boat trip in Disko Bay

Boat trip in Disko Bay

Boat trip in Disko Bay

Boat trip in Disko Bay

Boat trip in Disko Bay

Boat trip in Disko Bay

Boat trip in Disko Bay

Boat trip in Disko Bay

Boat trip in Disko Bay

Boat trip in Disko Bay

Boat trip in Disko Bay

Boat trip in Disko Bay

Boat trip in Disko Bay

Boat trip in Disko Bay

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