The Grand Canyon of the Arctic Circle

Qeqertarsuaq, Greenland (CNN) — Approaching Disko Island by boat appears like heading towards Cranium Island in the hunt for the nice ape, King Kong. A prehistoric land looms as the ocean succumbs to unforgiving terrain — craggy, jagged and mountainous.

Cast by hearth, the island is a number of hours boat experience from the icy mainland of Greenland. Its panorama is totally completely different from the remainder of the Arctic nation as a result of a volcanic previous gave Disko black sand seashores and rugged panorama.

However its most placing options are large, pink flattop mountains that locals name the Grand Canyon. They tower over Qeqertarsuaq, the island’s solely settlement. It is a small city of colourful homes the place folks by no means fail to wave whats up and smile to anybody passing them on the road

Qeqertarsuaq is house to about 1,800 folks, together with a lone taxi driver who, surprisingly, is named Steve. “My dad and mom actually appreciated Steve McQueen motion pictures,” he says with a wry shrug.

Steve and his taxi are just about all of the tourism infrastructure there may be on Disko. Anybody desirous to see the island’s magnificence will want the assistance of a neighborhood fisherman or not less than somebody who owns a ship.

Dikso Island has just one settlement, Qeqertarsuaq. The world is named the Grand Canyon of the Arctic by locals.

Chris Scott/CNN

That might all change if Mark Mølgaard will get his approach.

“My dream is to construct an enormous lodge right here and have boats and an airstrip so extra vacationers can come right here,” says Mølgaard, a neighborhood who takes guests on casual boat excursions.

“Have you ever ever seen whales? You may see some at this time,” he says as we climb aboard his boat. “We see whales day-after-day, largely humpback and fin whales.”

They could be simple to seek out, however Mølgaard says constructing a lodge on the black seashore simply outdoors of city would make it even simpler. However, in the interim, that is still only a dream.

“The whales feed very near the coast there and so they leap within the air,” he says. “Earlier than they leap, the small fish, the capelin, run for his or her lives and instantly the humpback whales come up from the water, and we will see the entire of the physique. They leap and land on the water after which splash!

“Will probably be perhaps the one lodge on this planet that has a view from the mattress to whales solely 50 meters (about 165 toes) from them.”

Basalt columns

Heading east from the black seashore, glacial soften water sends little waterfalls over coastal cliffs. Farther on, basalt columns — pure formations of rock that look utterly unnatural — rise out of the water.

“They seem like LEGO,” says Mølgaard. “Like somebody has lower them into layers.”

Exploring this terrain requires a leap from the boat onto a comparatively protected piece of rock and a scramble up the aspect of one of many basalt cliffs. It is well worth the effort.

Atop the cliffs is a shocking panorama that transforms from black rock right into a lush land of streams and angelica vegetation. The vegetation, recognized regionally as kuannit, give this a part of the island its title.

“You may simply take them and decide them up and eat them,” Mølgaard says. “They style like gin.”

The streams on the island may be drunk from immediately. It is a few of the tastiest and freshest water on the planet.

Persevering with east by boat, large stone arches large enough to sail via seem from the water. One, sacred to the Greenlandic folks, was the place fishermen would historically supply an animal sacrifice to the Mom of the Sea earlier than heading out to hunt.

Because the boat navigates previous icebergs that shimmer within the solar, large canyons that resemble the panorama of the Colorado River open up. It turns into clear why locals name these mountains the Grand Canyon of Disko Island.

“It is a once-in-a-lifetime expertise,” Mølgaard says, smiling.

Hike to the waterfalls

The greenery of the valley is not grass, it is moss. And it feels spongy once you stroll on it.

Chris Scott/CNN

Ultimately we arrive at a inexperienced valley, break up by blue rivers, sandwiched between pink mountains. Mølgaard moors the boat on a black seashore so pristine it appears like nobody has ever left a footprint on it. The prehistoric look is so intense, it would not really feel misplaced to see a dinosaur.

This valley is why Mølgaard has introduced us right here.

“To the waterfalls it is a 20-minute hike,” he says, main the way in which alongside rivers lined on both financial institution by Greenland’s nationwide flower, a pink fireweed.

The flower’s native title means “younger lady,” after the legend of a kid who died instantly. She was buried, winter got here, and when the snow melted, her grave was coated in these stunning pink blooms.

Because the hike continues on delicate, spongy moss, the rivers converge into one. A waterfall’s roar declares its presence lengthy earlier than it comes into view. The moss offers method to rocks that vibrate from the ability of the falls. It is a tremor you can really feel in your chest.

Then they seem — large twin waterfalls about 100 toes tall. They’re breathtaking. And when the solar hits them good, they produce a tremendous rainbow.

“It is magic, spectacular and there is a rainbow,” says information Mark Mølgaard.

Chris Scott/CNN

“I do not know the way I really feel after I see them as a result of I’ve by no means felt this sense earlier than,” Mølgaard says. “It is magic, spectacular and there is a rainbow. Folks from all around the world ought to come right here as a result of that is essentially the most stunning nature I’ve seen.”

The winter freeze

Within the winter, this island of fireside is roofed with ice and the ocean freezes over, making boat journeys not possible.

That does not imply Disko Island is only for the hotter months. Quite the opposite, it’d get much more spectacular throughout winter.

Final winter, it was doable to canine sled the 55 miles from Qeqertarsuaq to its closest mainland neighbor, Illulissat, a two to three-hour boat experience in the summertime.

“We have seen polar bears, narwhals, belugas, bowhead whales and seals from our front room,” Mølgaard says. “There have been two polar bears contained in the city final winter. It is the primary time since 1972 we had a polar bear within the city.”

Timooq Mølgaard, chairman of the native ski membership (and no relation to Mark Mølgaard), stated locals try to do as a lot as they will to encourage guests throughout winter.

“We are able to really feel there may be rising tourism curiosity as a result of numbers of holiday makers are rising,” he says. “Our half is to make actions out there for this rising tourism.”

And the “Grand Canyon” — excellent for climbing and tenting in the summertime — transforms itself into one of many world’s most pristine ski slopes when the snow arrives. The city has employed German firm Mountain Planning to put in a chair raise and discover the opportunity of constructing a ski village with inns.

German firm Mountain Planning is wanting into the opportunity of constructing a ski village on Disko Island.

Emil Mølgaard

“It could possibly be extremely popular,” says Armand Windisch, Mountain Planning’s managing director. “The character is gorgeous in summer time there, it is unbelievable. And for the winter we made a grasp plan for the ski middle.”

The middle would come with each slope and cross-country snowboarding along with canine sled excursions, that are at the moment out there all 12 months spherical.

The plans additionally embrace heli-skiing. Disko would not have its personal airport, and the one method to attain the island in winter — for these not enticed by a 55-mile canine sled experience — is by helicopter.

So heli-skiing makes excellent sense, Windisch says.

“There should be a helicopter anyway so why not begin with this?”

The best way to get there

Printed at Tue, 31 Oct 2017 14:36:57 +0000