When President Trump tweeted recently about buying Greenland following reports he was interested in purchasing the country, predictably, uproar ensued. He wrote, "Denmark is a very special country with incredible people, but based on Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen’s comments, that she would have no interest in discussing the purchase of Greenland, I will be postponing our meeting scheduled in two weeks for another time..."
Another week, another controversial comment. (Remember his criticism of Baltimore last month?) But this time, the President's agenda is causing friction with Denmark, one of the United States' oldest and most loyal allies.
There is one upside to President Trump's recent spotlight on Denmark's region, however: Greenland is getting some well-deserved attention. According to Greenland Tourism, the President's remarks have led to a sharp uptick in interest in the world’s largest island. In fact, tour operator Intrepid Travel has reported a 237 percent increase in Greenland-related web traffic in the past week.
Denmark is a very special country with incredible people, but based on Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen’s comments, that she would have no interest in discussing the purchase of Greenland, I will be postponing our meeting scheduled in two weeks for another time....— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) August 20, 2019
So, why Greenland, where a staggering 81 percent of the land is covered by ice? What makes this country so special? We spoke to frequent travelers about why it should be at the top of your bucket list.
1. It offers remote beauty.
“Greenland is incredible because it’s one of the last bastions of virtually untouched and undiscovered natural beauty,” says professional traveler Lee Abbamonte, who has been to every country in the world, plus the North and South Poles.
2. There aren't many crowds.
“Due to its small size and remote location, Greenland has the potential to remain a less-crowded, less-explored version of Iceland,” says Stacy Small, founder and CEO of Elite Travel International, "primarily because you can’t (yet) fly here directly from North America and there are no flights between towns.”
3. It offers big adventure.
“It appeals to the adventurous crowd wanting to check the Northern Lights off the bucket list, while at the same time, experiencing outdoor activities including dog sledding, kayaking, fishing, snowmobiling, helicoptering to icecaps, diving and island hot springs," says Small. "It’s a great choice for travelers who enjoy destinations like Bhutan, which are remote enough to require effort and planning to visit, but accessible and super interesting to the been there, done that crowd.”
4. And a sense of mystery.
In this age of Instagram travel—where majestic sites like the Taj Mahal, Machu Picchu, and the Great Wall of China can almost seem sadly ubiquitous on social feeds—Greenland offers a rare opportunity to visit a locale that remains a mystery to travelers at large.
“The people are fascinating, living in a unique world that most could never fathom,” Abbamonte says. “It’s one of nature’s masterpieces.”
5. Remote cruises and unique expeditions abound.
“Greenland is like visiting the last frontier in 2019, because it's one of the few places unaffected by the idea of tourism—and that's refreshing,” says Olivia Balsinger, who took a Hurtigruten cruise last year. “We pulled up to ports with perhaps 43 people inhabiting the entire village. While all of these people were welcoming and curious, they were still going about their daily lives. This authentic experience is what differentiates the destination.”
Tour operators are honing in on Greenland, with offerings such as Intrepid Travel’s brand-new 2020 Greenland Expedition, which includes visiting a local home, cruising through icebergs to the fishing community of Oqaatsut, a trip to the capital of Nuuk, and a stay on the Illulissat Icefjord. And there's also 50 Degrees North’s eight-day Greenland Experience, with a sailing expedition across Scoresby Sound fjord.
6. Of course, you'll have bragging rights.
Although it’s the largest island in the world—836,000 square miles—Greenland is largely covered in ice and sparsely populated, home to fewer than 60,000 people. Visitors can expect a trip unlike any other, with glacier kayaking, clear views of the Northern Lights, and close-up encounters with animals like polar bears—more akin to Antarctica than to the Alps.
7. Want to see Antarctica? Greenland's easier to get to.
“U.S. travelers should add Greenland to their bucket lists because it’s closer, easier and cheaper than Antarctica—with a lot of similar attributes," says Abbamonte.
8. Greenlanders have a whole lot of spirit.
Balsinger still remembers her trip fondly. "A native Greenlandic man invited us into his small cottage in the village of Igaliku, a southern Greenlandic settlement. He must have been one of the elder statesmen. He proudly displayed wedding rings made of stone, which we learned through an interpreter he had found and was saving for a future bride. His optimism exemplified the hope and the spirit of love that Greenlanders seem to have an abundance of."
“Honestly, Greenland is good for anyone with an adventurous spirit, who loves nature and unique cultures,” adds Abbamonte. “I’ll be returning soon!”
And he's in good company: Conan O'Brien has just touched down in the country for his own tour.
Would you book a trip to Greenland? Let us know in the comments below.
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