Destination Discovery: Qaqortoq, Greenland

by Janis on September 16, 2010

 

A large, frozen island 

If you enjoy visiting unique destinations, the frozen tundra of Greenland may be a country to add to your must-visit list.

Three times the size of Texas, Greenland is the world’s largest island (not including continents.)

Whiteland would be a more descriptive name since 81 percent of the island is covered with icecap.  Most of the 56,452 Greenlanders live along the narrow strip of barren rocky coast.

Seal and Whale Hunts Still Major Food Source 

 The population of Greenland is predominantly Inuit, a people bearing an affinity with the Inuits of Canada, Alaska and Siberia. Fishing dominates industry but traditional seal and whale hunting are also still important, and provide a major source of food for Greenlanders.

What country is it, anyway?  

 

Greenland is self-governed but Denmark continues to exercise control of Greenland’s foreign affairs, security, and financial policy in consultation with Greenland’s Home Rule Government.

Greenland ties to the US. 

To defend against German invasion, the United States occupied Greenland from April 8, 1941 until 1945.

The US then tried to buy Greenland from Denmark for $100,000,000 in 1946. Denmark refused to sell.

An agreement was reached allowing the US to build Thule Air Base in Northern Greenland, precisely midway between Moscow and New York City.

Construction of the base began in 1951.  Thule Air Base is the U.S. Armed Forces’ northernmost installation, located 750 miles north of the Arctic Circle.

Brightly colored buildings, seal skins and a unique café 

Qaqortoq (pronounced Quak-or-toc) is the most populous town in southern Greenland, and country’s fourth largest.  Qaqortoq has less than 3,500 residents.  Its name means “the white one”.

 

 

An ideal cruise ship call. 

During the July, August and early September, cruise ships visit Qaqortoq on transatlantic or Northern European cruises. The compact town is easily explored during a day visit.

We visited Qaqortoq in early September on via a northern transatlantic cruise from Copenhagen to New York.

Stone and Man in Qaqortoq 

In 1993-1994, Aka Hoegh led Scandinavian and local artists in chiseling  sculptures and reliefs on the granite rocks throughout the town.  These are easily viewed on walking paths.

  

A Unique Café 

Walking around Qaqortoq, it is not difficult to spot The Arctic Café among the brightly colored buildings, since there’s a car coming out of it.  

Inside, the café and bar features comfortable seal skin seats, and hosts lives bands in the evenings.

Seal Jerky Along with Your Fur? 

One of Qaqortoq’s major employers is the Great Greenland, a factory that produces fur garments from seal skin.

It has a visitor’s shop that sells sealskin jackets, hats and gloves, and seal “jerky”.

 

There’s ice flow in the water.  

 Upon leaving the port of Qaqortoq, there are ice masses in the water.  As you are enjoying dinner onboard, it is not uncommon to sail by giant icebergs.

We enjoy discovering new places with interesting history, even those a little cool in temperature.

What’s your favorite destination discovery? Please share in comments.

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