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Dog Sledding, Northern Lights, and a Cabin Trip – Chanett’s Great Winter Experiences

Inspiration / Dog Sledding, Northern Lights, and a Cabin Trip – Chanett’s Great Winter Experiences

Chanett Christensen has been on three trips to Greenland in a year and a half. Here, Chanett cheerfully tells about her winter experiences in Greenland

Dog sledding is the ultimate Greenlandic experience, gliding across the snow as the Inuit have done for over a thousand years. Chanett Christensen wanted to try it all, and she’s had plenty of opportunities, having been to Greenland three times in a year and a half. The first time was in the summer of 2019, and then she went again in February 2020.

In the summer of 2020, Chanett talked to a friend and mentioned that her friend should come along next time. On the spot, they agreed to plan a trip, and soon Chanett had booked another ticket. Unfortunately, her friend had to drop out, but that didn’t stop Chanett, who was back in Greenland again in October 2020. Here, Chanett talks about her winter experiences in Greenland.

Northern Lights

“On my second trip, I went to have dinner at Restaurant Rowing Club, which is about six kilometers from Kangerlussuaq. It was fascinating to look out of the windows on my way there, and I saw a reindeer, which was cool. I went alone to the Roklubben. They were so nice and welcoming, and I had a good chat with the waiter and driver about seeing the northern lights. I was really excited to see the northern lights,” Chanett says.

“Luckily, the Rowing Club is so secluded that there’s not much light around, and so there were just northern lights. So I went outside where the sky was clear, and it was so beautiful! I’m not lying; all kinds of colors were dancing in the sky in different shapes. I was so excited that the whole party that was inside the restaurant came out to look, and even the kitchen staff came out to look too!”

“I couldn’t hide my excitement at all because to me, it’s not normal to see the northern lights. I think even some of the people who live up there were thinking, “no, it’s not normal to see the northern lights.” So it was very nice that my excitement rubbed off on the others and we stood out there together and experienced it.”

Beautiful – and Cold – Dog Sled Ride

“I was out dog sledding in Kangerlussuaq when I landed in February. It was amazing. I booked the ride before I booked the ticket. It was very important for me to experience a dog sled ride.”

“First, I was driven down to where the dogs are. And there was that thing where you could hear the dogs barking and howling. It’s like what you’ve seen on TV about people going dog sledding. That’s exactly what you experience: a lot of dogs barking, just ready to get out and run.”

“It was -31 degrees Celcius, but because there was also wind, it felt like -41 degrees Celcius. Luckily, they had sealskin clothing I could borrow. My trip lasted 1½-2 hours, and that was plenty. This was February, and it gets warmer later in the winter. I was wearing a lot of clothes. Three or four layers. Three sets of mittens and three layers around my ears. My face wasn’t covered, so I actually got a little frostbite on my nose and cheeks. I could feel it the next day; I was peeling a bit on my nose. But that’s how it is,” Chanett says.

“It was twice as cold as inside a deep freezer, and I was out for an hour and a half, so yes, it was cold. But you forget it’s cold because it’s so beautiful. And it’s so unique to get out on a dog sled ride. But you have to be aware that it’s a bit of a different experience. The dogs are fed, and then we’re off. And they’re actually pooping while they run,” Chanett laughs and continues: “They’re trained to do that. You don’t stop just because they have to go. ‘Smells a bit here,’ I thought. And then I could see that the dogs were taking turns to do their business,” she says, laughing again. “That was an experience too! And they were so cute, the dogs. I got to pet them. I was a bit worried if they were wild dogs, but you could pet these. I wasn’t scared at all. It was also a good musher I was with. He kept his dogs under control, but he also said that they were semi-tame,” Chanett says.

Qoornoq in Winter

From Kangerlussuaq, Chanett flew to Nuuk to see her friends. “From Nuuk, we sailed to a deserted settlement called Qoornoq. There we were allowed to go ashore and walk around. It’s deserted, so that day, we were the first to go there and set footprints. I wasn’t wearing snowshoes, so I fell through when I walked. There was at least 50-60 cm of snow when you walked, so you could easily fall through and stand in snow up to your thighs. It wasn’t a problem, though. I had a walkie-talkie with me from the boat, so he would have come to help me if I got stuck. It’s one of those fascinating things: Nature rules in Greenland. You’re just a dot in the landscape. Nature sets the framework. You have to respect it, that’s for sure,” says Chanett.

Cabin Trip

“Experiencing Nuuk in two different seasons is fantastic. In winter, it’s a completely different city because it’s so full of contrasts. Summer is one thing, and winter is something else. And I’m usually a type who gets cold, but minus 20 degrees Celcius? That’s nothing. You don’t feel it. Sure, it’s cold on the cheeks, but you’re wearing clothes that match the weather. So in that way, it didn’t deter me at all.”

Chanett was also on a cabin trip with three other women.

“We got there on Friday at 5 pm. They took our luggage up to the cabins and, thankfully, they had preheated the cabins. It was a bit primitive because there was no running water or electricity. However, there was an outhouse with a nice toilet a bit away. They were kind enough to get water for us in advance, but, normally, you have to go down to the lake and chop the ice yourself and then melt it afterward.”

“It was very healthy to get out into nature where there was no internet. We couldn’t use our cell phones, so you travel back in time. We played games, had conversations, and we were out exploring nature around the cabin. It was nice to slow down into first gear. Electronics and social media just take up so much time, so getting away completely and resting was nice. We completely unplugged. You also find out how important it is to have various things at home. Geez, you use so many things at home. You’re so glad that you can just turn on the water in the sink, for example, and water will actually come. We didn’t have that in the cabin, but there was a gas stove and gas oven, so we could easily cook. We made pizza in the evening, and we made pancakes in the morning and oatmeal and tea and coffee.”

“Two of the girls I didn’t know, so it was also nice to meet some new people and get close to other people in a different way than you might have if you had a cell phone and could just go on Facebook and Instagram. It was nice. Those are certainly some of the things I’m going to try to prioritize more going forward: that you can have your phone with you to take pictures, but it’s not the one that’s going to dictate your life.”

“Since there was no electricity, we brought headlamps. And we also had power banks, but you don’t use that much battery. All we did was listen to music and take pictures. We hung up headlamps in the evenings when we were playing games, and we had candles, and then there was also a kerosene burner that heated. And it was quite hot. It had nice facilities.”

In he picture above: Chanett Christensen with Kathrine Karup, Anna Sofie Starup, and Anne-Sofie Flintrup

Active Holiday – even in the Dark

I’ve never been on an active holiday before. Sure, I might have gone to New York and walked twenty miles in the city, but it wasn’t like a trip to Greenland. It surprised me that I felt completely safe and that wilderness tours are something I like. I never thought of myself as an outdoorsy person, but I like being in nature and staying in cabins.

I’m a little afraid of the dark, but that doesn’t stop me from doing it. I just need someone to be there with me if I have to venture out after dark. But this has been my first out-in-nature-active holiday, and it’s been really good. Before this, it’s always been beach holidays, charter holidays, and city breaks. But not so much nature. I want to go on active trips like that in the future.”

Get Going!

We end Chanett’s story back where we started, on her way back from the Rowing Club in Kangerlussuaq: “If you need to sell some holiday trips, just give me a call, and I’ll sell some for you,” Chanett tells us while laughing.

“From the Rowing Club, we took a bus together back to the hotel and hostel. A woman behind me said she was so happy to see someone my age up in Greenland; that I wanted to travel to places like that because she didn’t see this very often. I think I entertained the whole bus because I was so excited to have seen the northern lights, and I had seen a whale, and my cell phone was passed around because I had to show everything that I had experienced.”

“If you’re curious, go for it. I can’t say it any other way. What’s holding you back? Get going! All my life I’ve thought ‘I want to, but…’”
Now I do it!”

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