Pioneer of the Month: Father and Son in the Kingdom of the Icebergs

Welcome to our “Pioneer of the Month” series! Every month we feature individuals that were inspired to take the road less traveled, venturing to Greenland with us to discover the powerful nature, colorful culture and pure beauty of this arctic country. Just like the first explorers from centuries past, our “pioneers” experience an adventure of a lifetime on pristine and untouched landscapes.

Dennis and Alexander, a father-and-son duo set out to Greenland with us to the Kingdom of the Icebergs on two trips in as many years. We feature them both here, side-by-side as they tell us all about their adventure. 

What motivated you to visit Greenland?

Dennis: my son and I had previously been to Norway, Denmark and Sweden and had done the complete route around Iceland twice. It seemed a natural progression of our “Viking/Nordic” experience to continue on to Greenland. I really did not know what to expect, except for the icebergs and mountains that we had seen from our flights over Greenland on the way between Canada and Europe.

Alexander: I was motivated to travel to Greenland by how similar I thought it would be to Iceland. As it turns out, Greenland is far more exciting and interesting than Iceland: all of the mountains and ice caps just make it such a photogenic place. It is a life changing experience. 

The mountains and ice caps just make it such a photogenic place. It is a life changing experience.

Alexander Raphael

How long was your stay? 

Did you travel solo or with a group?

Jointly answered: In the summer of 2015, I travelled with my son Alexander to Greenland for eight days and we repeated this in the summer of 2016. We traveled on self-guided tours by ourselves arranged through Greenland Adventures, flying from Reykjavik both times to Greenland and back. Greenland Adventures arranged all of the accommodations and the transport to and from Greenland and from town to town within Greenland. They also provided us with detailed information about what was available to do in each of the towns we stayed in as well as optional side trips.

Which tour did you take and why did you choose it?

Jointly answered: In the summer of 2015, we chose the six days Around Greenland Viking Settlements: Narsdaq, Igaliku, and Narsarsuaq with an extra two days added in Qaqortoq. We chose it because we were particularly interested in the Viking settlements in the South. However, once we arrived there we realized there was so much more there than the Viking settlements. In the summer of 2016 we chose the eight days The Kingdom of Icebergs tour that involved six days in Illulissat and two days in Oqaatsut. We chose it because we had heard about the tremendous icebergs in Disko Bay and we were drawn back to Greenland because of everything we had seen during the 2015 tour.

Photo: Alexander Raphael

Eqi glacier.

What is one thing you will always remember about your tour?

Dennis: What I remember most about the 2015 tour was the great open spaces and the contrast between the waters filled with large icebergs and the mountains of granite and quartz. What I remember most about the 2016 tour was the giant icebergs in Disko Bay and the massive size of the Epi Glacier.

Alexander: One thing I will always remember about my 2015 tour is how photogenic the icebergs and mountains were and how colourful the towns and individual houses were. From the 2016 tour, I will always remember the seal meat dinner prepared in western Greenland, the meal itself was incredibly well-made and delicious.

Photo: Alexander Raphael

Colourful houses of Qaqortoq.

What is something that you learned about Greenland that surprised you?

Dennis: The biggest surprise was the well-stocked supermarkets in all of the towns that we stayed in during both the 2015 and 2016 trips. This was a marked contrast to the food situation in the Canadian North where supplies are sparse and very expensive. This was a clear indication that the people of Greenland, as part of the Danish Kingdom, are provided with many of the necessities of life that the northern peoples in Canada are denied.

Alexander: I absolutely couldnt believe that Greenland it is the oldest island in the world and that the ice sheet is 3,200 meters thick at its thickest point!

Photo: Alexander Raphael

If you had more time in Greenland, what else would you like to see and do?

Dennis: If we had more time in Greenland I would have visited additional settlements across the South and the West. Each town is different and each town has different icebergs to see and mountains to climb.

Alexander: If I had more time in Greenland I would like to explore the capital city Nuuk, I have heard that it is quite a nice city

Photo: Alexander Raphael.

Church ruins at Hvalsey.

What tips do you have for people that want to visit Greenland?

Dennis: The primary tips would be to try and arrange as many side excursions as possible. In 2015, we went to the Twin Glaciers from Narsdaq and the viking settlement Hvalsey Church from Qaqortoq.  In 2016, we took the trip to the Eqi Glacier as well as the Whale Watching Safari from Illulisat. Make sure you bring a windproof jacket Gore-Tex type jacket, a warm hat or toque, as well as a pair of gloves. And of course do not forget to bring a camera to take some truly memorable photographs.

Try and arrange as many side excursions as possible.

Dennis Raphael

Alexander: don’t be afraid to try the food there. Seal meat tastes amazing and everyone should try it at some point in their life. Also, visit for as long as possible as you can’t experience how incredible Greenland is in just 8 days so try and book more than one trip.

Photo: Alexander Raphael

Whale safari.

What adventure are you off to next? 

Dennis: This summer we are off to Japan. Nevertheless, my body is still missing Greenland and I hope to be able to visit it again in the very near future.

Alexander: I am planning to go to Japan next year. I hope that it can compare to the beauty of Greenland, however, I doubt it will come anywhere close. 

Photo: Dennis Raphael

Photographer Alexander Raphael, hard at work

Words by Dennis and Alexander Raphael, Toronto, Canada. Photography by Dennis and Alexander Raphael.

Have you been to Greenland with us and would like to be featured as a “Pioneer of the Month?” Feel free to email us at joseph@mountainguides.is or call +354-522-4934.

Start planning your unforgettable winter adventure in Greenland by browsing our tours for an impressive diversity of adventures in Greenland.

  

 

 


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