Yough Pioneer Tours

Docking at Ittoqqortoormiit (that’s easy for you to say)

Nature is nature. But there really is only so many times that you can see an iceberg – or even something as spectacular as the Northern lights – without getting fatigue from it. My main reason for being on this trip was to be the ‘guide’, or in this instance to be the YPT rep (the ship crew actually do most of the guiding).

But I’d chosen to guide this trip for two main reasons: firstly to tick Greenland off the list, and secondly to visit an actual Inuit settlement to see what life there is like. I present to you, ladies and gentlesirs, Ittoqqortoormiit!

A cursory glance at Wikipedia tells me that the name of the unpronounceable settlement means ‘big house-dwellers’ in the Eastern Greenlandic dialect. It’s known as Illoqqortoormiut in the equally incomprehensible Western Greenlandic dialect, and Scoresbysund in Danish.

Originally our ship was supposed to dry-dock, with gangplanks and the like, but following our run of obscenely good weather it was to be a wet dock. Unfortunately this turned out to be a failure, with the initial groups returning without having set food on land.

And then, the waiting game…

Eventually, at around 4pm, we were given the green light and rushed down to be the first ones on the Zodiacs, and thus the first to arrive in Ittoqqortoormiit (honestly the last time I’m typing that word out).

The town/village is slap-band in the middle of nowhere, and ranks as one of the most remote places on earth. Allegedly, it was founded after some Inuit was shipwrecked there.

We arrived on a Sunday, which isn’t good as apparently Greenlanders like to get hammered all weekend and do no work on a Sunday. Even the church was closed, which I found a bit ironic.

The tourist shop did eventually open, and we had a chance to do souvenirs. I got a t-shirt for $20.

There was one other shop open that was kind of like a convenience store. In a nod to having their fingers on the pulse they even rented out modern format of DVDs. Sadly they only took Danish money, which I lacked.

But despite the lack of stuff, visiting this town was not only a highlight of the trip overall, but also one of the highlights of my travel history. Seeing how people live in remote areas has always fascinated me, and always will. With Greenland I feel that I’ve barely touched the surface yet.

Watch this space for future Greenland tours, but for now get your fill of the Arctic with our Svalbard tour!

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