July 9-10, 2014
woke up this morning to a beautiful sunny day. We flew by 9 passenger
helicopter for a 10 minute ride to Angmagssalik Island and the town
of Tasiilaq. Tasiilaq means "Like a Lake" as it lies on
a fjord that is only accessible from the sea by a narrow entrance.
The fjord is covered by pack ice most of the year and there was
still some around the village. It lies just 62 miles south of the
Arctic Circle and is East Greenland's largest city with a population
of 1900. The Danish founded Tasiilaq as an East Greenland colony
in 1894. It services the rest of the 5 small settlements in East
Greenland and has a school, hospital, library and large grocery
store. Like Kulusuk, the houses are very colorful and perched on
rocky mounds overlooking the fjord. Unlike Kulusuk, many of the
houses have running water and electricity from a nearby hydroelectric
power plant. Today modern technology plays an increasing role in
the lives of the people but they still keep their traditional hunting
and fishing skills alive.
checking into Hotel Ammassalik and having lunch, we were offered
an unplanned, optional helicopter sightseeing tour since the weather
was so clear. We decided to go for it and it was spectacular. After
a 10 minute flight in a smaller 5 passenger bird, we landed on a
rocky ledge 3000 feet above a fjord and glacier. We walked around
the landing site with 360 degree panoramic views of the surroundings.
I don't know how Greenland got its name because it is definitely
not green and is covered with snow and ice. We
could see the Greenland icecap across the fjord. We were told that
all the jagged mountains surrounding us were not volcanic. Rather
they are basalt bedrock.
we got back from the helicopter tour, it was decided we should take
advantage of the beautiful weather and move the planned boat tour
up a day. So we all boarded the boat and headed out to sea, through
the remains of the pack ice and around icebergs floating in the
water. To see a short video of our boat ride thru the pack ice,
dinner, a local man gave us a demonstration of drum dancing. It
is very different from Indian drumming. The drum is beaten on the
wood surrounding the skin of the drum, not on the skin. It was used
in the past to communicate, celebrate and to settle fights. It is
a dying art as there are only 23 people in all of Greenland who
are currently drum dancers. Our performer was the grandson of the
woman whose statue we saw in Kulusuk. To see a short video of one
of the drum dances, click
next day the weather wasn't near as nice. Fog had rolled in and
it was cloudy most of the day, but no rain and about 58 degrees.
After breakfast we took a couple hour hike into an area called Valley
of the Flowers. The snow had just melted from the hillsides and
there were many wildflowers poking their way out of the ground.
waterfalls cascaded down the hillsides. Our guide said it was very
safe to fill our water bottles there. Since there are no animals
roaming around East Greenland, the water does not get polluted.
were some mosquitoes and black flies buzzing about our heads so
we got to use our head nets and bug spray that we had all carried
for the last few weeks.
lunch, we took a guided "walk" through the village. Our
hotel was on one of the highest points in the village so we were
driven down to the starting point for the walk and then brought
back up at the end. We visited the village museum where the docent
gave us interesting information about the history of the area and
The museum has a reproduction of a turf house that was still used
by the Inuit up until the 70's. Many families lived together in
the single room house, cooking on pots hung over seal oil stoves.
We were shown what is called the "Women's Boat".
It is a seal skin covered row boat that the women powered, carrying
supplies, children, etc. to fish camps. Men used kayaks, also made
of seal skin, as transportation and to hunt whale, seal and polar
Back in the hotel we were shown a film produced in 1934 called
"The Wedding of Palo." The people in the film were all
from Tasiilaq and it showed them going about their daily lives,
bringing home seal, skinning and eating it, living in their turf
houses. It was a great summary of what we had learned about Inuit
next day we flew back to Kulusuk by helicopter, then had a flight
back for a final day in Reykjavik, Iceland before flying home. It
was a great trip with wonderful travel companions and a terrific
To view more photos from our trip to Tasiilaq, please go to Tasiilaq
Photo Gallery. To read about other locations visited, go to
Iceland and Greenland.
Locations Visited Photos Map