Ittoqqortoormiit has around 450 inhabitants and the main source of income comes from hunting and tourism. The area is very sparsely inhabited. There are no other settlements of over 200 inhabitants for around 1,000 kilometers. Ittoqqortoormiit was founded in 1925 with settlers from Tasiilaq and a few families from West Greenland, in part, by Danish territorial demands on Greenland. The town has one grocery store and a couple of small convenience stores. The nearby National Park is the largest in the world and within its borders is the tallest mountain in the Arctic region, the 3,694 meter tall Gunnbjørn’s Mountain. The most isolated town in Greenland, where dog sledding, expedition cruises and wildlife dominate the opportunities for adventure. Ittoqqortoormiit is not quite like the other towns. For many guests, just getting to Ittoqqortoormiit is in itself an adventure, as the town is almost as far as one can get from any other inhabited area in Greenland. The closest neighbour is the world’s largest national park with the Danish Sirius Patrol as the only human presence in a vast landscape dominated by small game, birds, polar bears, musk oxen, reindeer, walrus and 18,000 kilometers of rugged, pathless coastline. Furthermore, the city is right next to the world’s largest and deepest multi-branched fjord system, and a special basalt rock formation with horizontal lines running through the cliffs, is quite different from other parts of the country, marking the transition to the even more desolate area of Northeastern Greenland.
Even though the sea ice blocks ship access to the town for about nine months of the year, Ittoqqortoormiit has nevertheless become an important cruise destination for small expeditionary vessels exploring the nature, wildlife and culture of Northeastern Greenland. Hunting and fishing at sea are the only ways the community can survive; in addition, the sea ice is like a road providing new routes through the countryside. During early spring, when the sea ice is still thick yet the sun is high in the sky, many of the local people will go out for a weekend on dog sledding or snowmobile trips. Tent camps and camping life are the norm for a short while, a reminder of the spring experience you will have when going out on the land with local guides. These tours reflect how tourism has evolved out of normal everyday activities by the local populace.
GETTING TO ITTOQQORTOORMIIT
There is no airport in Ittoqqortoormiit. To get in by air one first needs to travel to Nerlerit Inaat airport (CNP) and get a transfer to Ittoqqortoormiit Heliport (OBY), this can be booked via Air Greenland who run this as a scheduled service. Air Iceland Connect runs a seasonal service from Akureyri, Iceland to Nerlerit Inaat Air Iceland runs a seasonal service from Reykjavik airport, Iceland. During the summer there are generally two weekly flights, in the winter there is only one flight per week. There are also several cruise ships that stop in Ittoqqortoormiit during the summer months when the sea is not frozen over.
GETTING AROUND ITTOQQORTOORMIIT
In the winter, the best way to get around the town is on dogsleds, skis or snowmobiles. In the summer most locals use boats to get around, it is pretty easy for tourists to get around this way as well. The only way to see Scoresby Sund is by boat as there are no roads in this very remote area. The fjord system is the largest in the world and is of breathtaking beauty. The area is untouched and is home to some of the world's largest icebergs. Due to the remote nature and the sea ice conditions, only a handful of private yachts make it here every year. Secret Atlas is one of the few operators that offer week-long sailing expeditions and photography tours departing from Ittoqqortoormiit. The price is expensive but well worth it.
WHERE TO STAY IN ITTOQQORTOORMIIT
You'll be staying in Ittoqqortoormiit Guesthouse, an intimate and cosy space with just seven rooms. It's also the only hotel in the town.
The 7 heated accommodations feature 2 bathrooms and afford space to spread out with dining areas. For entertainment, guests can enjoy flat-screen TVs. Refrigerators, ovens, and stovetops are other standard amenities. Bathrooms are shared. Each of the 7 rooms at this guesthouse includes a dining area, a refrigerator, and an electric kettle. Guests of Ittoqqortoormiit Guesthouse enjoy features like microwave in a common area, refrigerator in a common area, and laundry facilities. Airport transportation is made easy with an airport shuttle at scheduled times for DKK 100 per person one-way. Staff members are on hand to provide dry cleaning/laundry services and luggage storage. This smoke-free guesthouse also has a TV in a common area.
PLACES TO GO & THINGS TO DO IN ITTOQQORTOORMIIT
The Ittoqqortoormiit Museum is relatively small, but it houses many historical photos, paintings and costumes from the area. The building the museum is housed in has also served many functions for the town over the years, adding to its character. The museum is managed by the towns school, it can be opened on request.
Experience Midnight Sun in Ittoqqortoormiit
The Midnight Sun in Ittoqqortoormiit lasts from May 17th to July 28th, it is a truly amazing experience to witness the sun above the horizon at midnight.
It is possible to see the Northern Lights in Ittoqqortoormiit; the best viewing places are slightly away from the city, away from artificial light.
Trophy hunting for muskoxen, reindeer and seal are available. The best way to organize an excursion is with the local tourist office. Usually there is an agreement with the hunter for the him to keep the meat, but tourist still receive the pelt, cranium and pictures.
Ittoqqortoormiit serves as the gateway to the National Park, and tourists can organize long journeys into the wilderness. The dog sledding season in Ittoqqortoormiit last until June and trips across the sea ice or the snowy terrain are available.
The ski season in Ittoqqortoormiit is relatively long, from January to June, and there are several good mountains and glaciers with fantastic downhill runs for expert skiers. It is also possible to cross-country ski near the town.
Danish expert flyfisher , Steen Ulnits , visited the Ittoqqortoormiit area a few years ago , to check out possibilities for flyfishing . Conclusion was that there's many good places for regular rodfishing , but the rivers are too unclear for flyfishing . However , rodfishing is seasonal due to the water level in the rivers.
Experience Greenland from the seaside and enjoy the arctic beauty and quietness . They have single and double kayaks (with childrens seat and extra equipment) for rental - you can rent on daybasis or hire a kayakguide to join you.
The best time to hike in the areas near Ittoqqortoormiit is in the summerseason when the snow has melted. The summer season is approximately from July until October. The weather is not always reliable, and it is wise always to bring equipment in case a fog or storm is coming. Recommended equipment would be: satellite – or cell phone, in case you need to get in contact with someone. GPS to help you with the direction and especially in foggy weather, where the vision can be very limited. A rifle for selfdefense in case you meet a polarbear or a muskox. A hikingstick can also be a good idea both to support your knees but also to keep balance when crossing a creek. Bring extra warm close in case the weather changes. It is always a good idea to bring a binocular. And of course some good hikingboots are recommended.
Rent a snow tube for a day and have great fun in the surrounding snowcovered mountains . If you want even more speed , you can hire a scooter + driver to help you! There are several small cabins in the Scoresby Sund region and you are welcome to use these huts for camping. In Hurry fjord you can find cabins at Kap Stewart, Dombrava and Kalkdalen.
In the Ittoqqortoormiit area you can find hot springs several places , but the one in Kap Tobin is the warmest spring in Greenland . The spring can be visited year around , whatever you go there on foot , by boat or by dogsled . The hot spring is not geysers like you may have seen it in Iceland , but its a little pool with a maximum of temperature of 62 degrees . If you are tough , you will take a short dip in the spring in winter . When pouring snow in the spring , you can lower the temperature so the water is suitable for a dip. The spring is marked on the maps of the local area , which you can purchase in the tourist office.
This is truly an arctic riviera in summer . The blue sea , the endless beach , people fishing arctic char in the lake , children swimming in the river …!
An American base was established here after the second world war and the ruins still remains . For visitors with historical interest , the ruins is worth a visit .
Years ago , the bay was inhabited by a walrus colony . Photographs from back then can be seen in the local museum .
The bay is still a paradise for wildlife . Almost every year lonely musk oxen can be seen in the bay – you should be aware of them , since a lonely musk ox can be dangerous . But observing a musk ox from a safe distance is a great experience . Once in a while , polar bears also stops by the bay . So always carry a gun when trekking in the bay . Foxes and arctic hares can be seen in the bay year round and if you are lucky , you can get very close to them . Several places in the bay you can find old fox trappers , which is a quite simple system used in the old days to catch foxes .
A few year ago , a road was build between the bay and the town . This means that you can walk from town to bay in about 20 minutes . You are welcome to camp in the bay in tent – there’s a freshwater river and lots of dried wood for building camp fires . A fishing license can be arranged via the tourist office . During summer , there’s often activities in the bay . The youngsters play football , the old hunters sits next to the road all day , waiting for seals in the sea , local people are fishing with rod and net in the sea or the lake , families are having barbecues at the beach and people are camping in the area . The bay has a multitude of arctic flora , berries and even mushrooms .
The adult inhabitants had in 1925 been baptized during the period 1900-1921 in Ammassalik , but very few of them had been in touch with Ammassalik and thereby the mission . So in spite of the baptism , a lot of them had kept some of their old religion. The colonists had wanted to bring a priest along to the new place , because of insecurity to the new surroundings . This insecurity was not only caused by ignorance to the new surroundings and its hunting possibilities , which people now was about to learn ; it was also caused by the supernatural forces , lying in the nature . The west greenlandic Sejer Abelsen , Catechist ( a native person , who both works as a teacher and a helping priest at the missionary station ) in Kulusuk , was going to be the new priest of the new colony . To be able to maintain his functions at the new place , it was necessary during the journey from Ammassalik to Ittoqqortoormiit , to pass by Iceland , so he could take his holy orders . Originally , there had only been build one big building for the administration , which contained habitations for the colony controller and the priest , separated by a smaller store , which split the building into two parts . The church affairs was therefore taking place in the priests living room , which originally was meant to be a supply store . A major wish from the inhabitants , made Ejnar Mikkelsen start a money collection for a church in Scoresbysund . An announcement in the Danish press resulted in that Court Official Valdemar Uttendal offered to give the new colony a church and in the summer of 1928 the new church was finish build , with a priest habitation in the first wing and a school room in the other .
Rent snowshoes on daybasis in the touristoffice and experience Greenland in a new way ! Snowshoes are an excellent way of getting forward , when the snow is deep and soft .