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Greenland Day Trip from Iceland: Is it Worth It?

Wendy Perrin | July 21, 2015

There are only two ways to fly to Greenland—that icy remote country that many of us jet over but few of us land in, that monster of the Mercator projection.  You can fly there from Copenhagen, Denmark, or from Reykjavik, Iceland. So, if you’re in Iceland, it’s natural to consider popping up to Greenland (it’s just a two-hour flight) for a glimpse. After my husband surprised me with a trip to Iceland last week, he surprised me all over again a couple of days later with a day trip to Greenland.

Air Iceland runs a daily eight-hour tour where you leave Reykjavik at 10:15 am for Kulusuk, Greenland, landing back in Reykjavik at 6:15 pm. You spend four hours in the air and only four on the ground in Greenland, but that’s enough to get a taste of East Greenland’s scenery and the local way of life.

It’s expensive, though: The tour price is $800. That includes airfare and the guide in Kulusuk but does not include the reservation fee for airline seats (I paid $11 to reserve a window seat on both flights); taxi fare between your hotel and Reykjavik Airport, 1.2 miles from the city center (I paid $26 roundtrip); lunch (I bought a sandwich at RKV pre-security and two bottles of water post-security; fellow tour members wished they had); the $40 boat ride in Kulusuk from the town marina back to the airport (this photogenic icebergs-and-glaciers boat ride was not part of the Air Iceland tour but was a highlight of the day); or the tip for the guide.

In the end, this day trip easily cost $900. Was it worth it? Well, here were the biggest pros and cons:

The cons:
The Air Iceland tour was bare bones. It did not include most of the professional niceties or advance instructions that are par for the course on trips designed by my WOW travel specialists. There is no tour vehicle in Kulusuk; you walk the 1.8 miles from the airport into town. No lunch is included, nor are you told ahead of time where and how to get lunch. None of these things bothered me (I mention them because they might bother you), but what did disappoint me is that we did not get to interact with any locals, aside from our guide, the curator in Kulusuk’s museum, and the cashier in Kulusuk’s one store. I felt very much like the tourist I was. In my mind, I kept comparing this experience to the week I spent in the tiny town of Point Hope, in remote Arctic Alaska. That trip was far more interesting and enjoyable because I got to know the local people—tribal elders, whale hunters, schoolteachers, students, artisans, the pastor and his wife, and storytellers galore. In Kulusuk the only person we got to know was our guide. Then again, I’m comparing a week-long trip to a four-hour one.

The pros:
We couldn’t have asked for better weather: It was sunny and clear, which I was told is the summertime norm in Kulusuk. And we lucked out with our charismatic guide, 25-year-old Massanti Riel, who grew up nearby in Greenland, lives in Kulusuk in the summertime, and works for Icelandic Mountain Guides (the tour firm used locally by Air Iceland). Massanti and I are now Facebook friends, and you can spot him in the boat-ride video below (he’s the one in a hat).

Hopefully these photos and videos from my day in Greenland will help those of you who are Iceland-bound determine whether such an excursion would be worth the price tag for you. In my case, my husband made that determination for me. I would never have splurged like this on my own…but, in the end, I’m glad I can say I’ve been to Greenland.

If you have questions about the trip, feel free to ask me in the comments.

#Kulusuk #Greenland, pop. 250

A photo posted by Wendy Perrin (@wendyperrin) on

Not all houses here have running water, but you can get it from the town tap. #Kulusuk #Greenland

A photo posted by Wendy Perrin (@wendyperrin) on

 

Boats can access this part of the world only 5 months of the year. #Kulusuk #Greenland

 

A photo posted by Wendy Perrin (@wendyperrin) on

 

 

  #Greenland   A photo posted by Wendy Perrin (@wendyperrin) on

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6 Comments

  1. John Amodeo

    Do you know if this 1 day tour still exists with Iceland Air? Their site did no allow me to select any dates.
    Thanks for all your good information!

    John

  2. Shelley Fry

    How exciting! I adore Greenland, and after my visit a couple years ago I felt it is one of the most underrated places I’ve ever been. My trip was a bit different, in that I was onboard an expedition ship and was able to spend a bit more time exploring the impressive fjords, appreciating the magnificent ice, and watching for whales as we traveled from point to point. Since we had a charter flight back to Ottawa, it was surreal to be walking on the Greenland ice cap one day and back at home in Seattle the next! While I generally prefer time for more in-depth exploration, my take on a one-day trip from Iceland is GO FOR IT! Whether you experience Greenland for a day or for a week, it’s worth it!

    1. Wendy Perrin

      I’m with you, Shelley. A small expedition ship hugging the coastline, stopping in settlements that would otherwise be very hard to access, sounds like a smart way to see Greenland.

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