Dogsledding in Greenland
The sled dogs in Greenland have been hitched to sleds for almost a thousand years, giving them plenty of time to develop into strong work dogs. And that is exactly what sled dogs are: Draught animals. And they love it. Normally, the dogs are safely chained to stakes. They are comfortable but often a little bored when they are not out running. Seeing them light up in sheer excitement when their owner and sled driver approaches is magical. It is obvious that they are looking forward to get on the move; to be harnessed to the sled and be led by the driver across the wide expanses at full speed, panting with their tongues sticking out.
Underneath the sled, the light whizz of the runners is heard as the sled is being pulled across the snow. Driving on ice and with a heavily loaded sled obviously makes the experience rather different. And the purpose of sled is to be heavily loaded. Dogsleds are a tool used by hunters and fishermen going out to work.
The dogsledding districts in east and west
In Greenland, you can experience the sled dogs on the entire east coast, and on the west coast you will see them north of the Arctic Circle. South of the Arctic Circle, the winters do not last long enough for the people to benefit from keeping sled dogs, which would mean that the dogs would not get out for quite a large part of the year. That would not only be unfair on the dogs, but dangerous too, as the sled dogs are both fierce and snappish.
There is a difference between the dogsleds in Eastern and Western Greenland due to the different terrains on which they primarily drive. In Eastern Greenland, the sleds are long and narrow because they often drive in a more undulating landscape, across many ice shelves and ice packs. In Western Greenland, the sleds are shorter and wider because the ground is flatter, such as sea ice. Moreover, there is third type – the sleds used by the Sirius Sled Patrol, the size of a jumbo jet compared to the traditional Greenlandic sleds. But the large sleds also have to carry their drivers for several months at a time.
We recommend that you put on sealskin clothing before setting out on a dogsled. In most places, it can be rented or borrowed at the tourist office and with the provider of the sled trip. These clothes have been thoroughly tested against coldness through hundreds of years. You may have paid a lot of money for a nice Gore-Tex insulated down jacket, but believe us when we say that you will prefer the thoroughly tested sealskin clothing.
Dogsled trips can range from a few hours to several days – depending on your temper. Have you come to get a taste of Greenland or to challenge nature? If the latter is the case, we recommend that you buy a package that includes meals, warm clothing and booking of hunters' lodges or tents. A dogsled trip from Kangerlussuaq to Sisimiut lasts three days and is a bestseller among our travellers.
You can also try dogsledding during summer. The Lyngmark glacier above Qeqertarsuaq on the Disco Island provides ice for the experience. This cannot be booked prior to your arrival, however, as we are unable to predict whether the condition of the ice and snow is good enough for dogsledding.
Big Arctic Five in Greenland
This guide is an introduction to “The Big Arctic Five” in Greenland, the most popular experiences in Greenland, when and how to experience them.