After finally landing in Ilulissat, I was beyond eager to get out exploring and make up for lost time. I chucked my bags in my hotel and was out the door faster than you can say ‘Welcome to Greenland’.
Ilulissat is the third largest city/town in Greenland with a whopping population of approximately 5000 inhabitants. It is surrounded by ice and one of the best places in the country to see the northern lights.
I set out to hike the blue route around the UNESCO heritage site; the Ilulissat icefjord. Hiking trail maps can be found here. I will share all about this world class and unforgettable hike in my next post. Todays post however, is about the many furry creatures I met before I could even step foot onto a hiking trail.
If you’ve been following this blog for a while you may remember that I had an amazing day dog sledding with huskies in Iceland in early 2014. On that day I fell head over heels in love with huskies, so finding out that husky pups roam free in the town of Ilulissat made me as excited as is humanly possible.
Lucky for me, many of these huskies reside on the long stretch of road leading to the starting point of the Ilulissat Icefjord hiking trails, so when I set out to do my hike, I was hopeful that puppy cuddles would also be on the cards.
As I made my way from the World of Greenland office with a free hiking map in hand, I walked past the towns soccer field, and I use the term ‘field’ very loosely. Rumour has it that the Football Association of Greenland is unable to become a member of FIFA due to the countries inability to grow grass for a football field. Tough break!
I also got my first glimpse of the beautiful Greenlandic houses. They are all bright, colourful and look incredibly inviting. Every single local I walked past smiled and said hello. Ilulissat’s entire vibe is friendly, happy and welcoming.
After approximately five more minutes of walking, the husky pups made their first appearance!
I of course, being the kind of person that has to touch things in order to fully experience them, wasted no time in finding a willing husky cuddle buddy.
This little guy was unsure at first, but soon snuggled up in my arms and became the willing participant in an inpromptu photoshoot. He was so beautiful and snuggly, so I decided to name him Charlie, which he didn’t seem to mind.
There were some medium sized adult huskies looking at me from nearby and at first I was worried that they’d get territorial and try to protect Charlie from me, but it turns out that they were just curious about the strange husky cuddler! As Charlie got more comfortable with me, they began to come closer and closer until they were at my feet and demanding attention.
I found out later that some of the adult dogs with small puppies have been known to bite humans who get too close, which may explain why these animals weren’t totally acclimatised to cuddles; many people are scared to get too close!
These puppers however, were the definition of affectionate, and were only interested in how many pats they could get and how many face licks they could give.
One thing that I didn’t love was that most of the adult dogs were chained up. These dogs are used to guide sleds in the winter months, not for tourism – but instead for the survival of the inuit people in harsh arctic winters. As a result, the owners do not want to risk their precious dogs being stolen or going missing. Thusly, in the summer when they aren’t needed, they are kept chained up. This made me rather upset to see, but this is the Greenlandic way of life, and who am I to question it?
After getting my fill of puppy love (for the time being) I set off to start my hike along the Ilulissat Icefjord. All my stories about that hike will be in the next post, however I felt it only right that I give you a small preview.
T H E L O W D O W N
Getting to Ilulissat: Air Iceland flies to Ilulissat from Reykjavik and Air Greenland has flights from Copenhagen
Husky Love: Many huskies can be found along Elisabeth Thomsen’ip Aqq.
Camera: Olympus OM-D E-M1 with 12-40mm lens and 52mm HOYA polarising filter
Budget: Shoestring travel is impossible here, be prepared to crack open your piggy bank
Remember: Strong hiking boots, thermals, warm clothing and open arms