By Stephanie Lee, WWF Program Coordinator, Alaska

Traveling, to me, is meant to expand your view of the world. It is to see new things, meet new people, and come home with a better understanding of how we’re all connected. Going to East Greenland with Nat Hab fulfilled all those expectations with a once-in-a-lifetime trip. Being in one of the most remote places in the world with such a small group of people gave me a chance to have a deeper experience of the landscape and the culture.

Woman with Nat Hab helmet hiking in Greenland

© Stephanie Lee / WWF

The first thing that struck me about East Greenland is the stunning natural wonder everywhere you look. Flying into Kulusuk, the mountains rise directly out of the ocean to a runway beside an iceberg-filled fjord. For the first of many times over the next week, I thought to myself, “It can’t possibly get any more beautiful than this.”

First Stop: Tasilaq

Then we took the helicopter to the small village of Tasilaq with its colorful buildings and walked up the Valley of Flowers to a hidden lake and waterfall. Our travel group (of all women, including our Nat Hab guide) instantly bonded over our shared wonder at the fact that we were even there. To be able to access a place so remote is a real privilege.  

The highlight of our time in Tasilaq was the excursion to a nearby glacier and ice cave. It was a gorgeous day, and as we neared the face of the glacier via boat, the sheer scale was almost impossible to understand. It wasn’t until we were hiking up that we turned around to see the boat dwarfed by the face of the glacier. But the biggest reveal was the amazing ice cave the guide led us into. The jewel-toned blue and green ice above our heads was clear and smooth. We were standing in a place where only a few hundred people had been before. It can’t possibly get any more beautiful than this. 

Ice cave in East Greenland

© Stephanie Lee / WWF

That afternoon, we were welcomed into the home of a local storyteller and retired teacher to hear about her life in this unique place. We heard the story of her grandparents’ amazing lives, of her birthplace, and of her childhood village that is no longer occupied.

Base Camp Greenland

As we made our way to Base Camp, our temporary home, the boat was able to take us to each of the places the storyteller had told us about, adding extra depth to our journey.

Two whales surfaced near the boat, and we began seeing truly enormous icebergs. Rounding the last corner past the tiny village of Tinit we got our first glimpse of the base camp. Taking in the deep valley behind the camp and the hint of the Greenland ice sheet in front made me feel both small and huge at the same time. It can’t possibly get any more beautiful than this. 

Our next adventure was a Zodiac trip to Johan Petersen Fjord to get an up-close look at the edge of the Greenland ice sheet and more amazing icebergs. It was our first chance to see the various rocks and minerals that make up the geology of the place and hear the snapping and popping of the ice. We saw remnants of sod houses and held muscovite “books” while eating lunch in front of an ice wall. It can’t possibly get any more beautiful than this. 

A morning of hiking a dramatic and misty river valley was followed by a trip into the small village of Tinit, which can be seen from Base Camp. There, we were treated to a tour around town with one of the local guides, including a chance to visit his home and see the traditional clothing made by his family for special occasions. As children rode their bikes by us and splashed in puddles, our group looked out at a mirror-calm Sermilik Fjord filled with icebergs. It can’t possibly get any more beautiful than this. 

Sea kayak with icebergs in the distance

© Stephanie Lee / WWF

The last full day at Base Camp was a sea kayaking adventure in the fjord. Paddling through the icebergs gave me a whole new appreciation of their scale. From a distance, some appeared to be whole islands, with waterfalls streaming off them. Being closer to the water let us see the extent of them under the water and the eerie blue glow from beneath them. It can’t possibly get any more beautiful than this. 

Last Night: Kulusuk

Watching a dazzling sunset while petting Greenlandic sled dog puppies on our last night in Kulusuk, I thought about a word I learned during the trip: apricity. It means the feeling of the sun on your face during the winter, and it reminded me of the time I’d spent in East Greenland. The landscape could be seen as cold and distant, but the people, the culture, and the experiences offered so much warmth. It can’t possibly get any more beautiful than this. 

Sunset view in Greenland

© Stephanie Lee / WWF