Deep fjords, rugged mountains, dramatic sheer-wall sea cliffs, ice that stretches as far as the eye can see; the northern stretch of Greenland’s eastern coast is as beautiful as it is desolate. This Arctic land is home to small game, birds, polar bears, musk oxen, reindeer, walrus and a small community of Inuit. Tucked away in an inlet just off the mouth of Scoresby Sound, visiting the remote town of Ittoqqortoormiit is like taking a trip back in time to a frontier town. The most isolated village in Greenland, with only 452 inhabitants, supply ships can only reach it in July and August when temperatures rise to 5˚C (41 °F) and the eastern Greenland Sea ice melts. Meaning “the place with the big houses” in Greenlandic, Ittoqqortoormiit has its fill of brightly coloured homes set against the austere backdrop of a snow-covered landscape.
Reaching this small town is as much an adventure as life is here for the locals. During the summer months, Ittoqqortoormiit can be reached by cruise ship and flights from Reykjavík; in winter — when the harbour water is transformed into a thick sheet of sea ice — the town is reachable by dogsled, skis or snowmobile.
Ittoqqortoormiit is bordered to the south by the vast Greenland National Park, which, at 18,000km (11,184 mi), is the largest national park in the world. To the northwest is the world’s deepest multi-branched fjord system, Scoresby Sound. Here locals enjoy traditional ways of life and work hard to keep their customs thriving. As a result, visiting this small community is an excellent way for travellers to experience Inuit daily life and local customs.
The Inuit live close to the land. Hunting and fishing are the main ways for them to feed their families through the long winter months. Travellers can enjoy both Arctic wildlife safaris with these expert trackers. Single-day and multi-day dogsledding, snowmobiling and skiing trips are available with local guides. These outings provide travellers the chance to see the stunning beauty of the area alongside the locals who call it their home.
Ittoqqortoormiit is also an excellent starting point for exploring the colossal fjord system of Scoresby Sound, or heading north into the wild Greenland National Park. For outdoor enthusiasts, there is plenty of spectacular scenery to explore by boat or by hiking. Away from the lights of the village, you can spot the magnificent northern lights. During the short summers, visitors can also organize camping trips and sea kayaking.