Greenland is home to the largest national park in the world – the Northeast Greenland National Park. It is also the 9th largest protected area in the world – the only largest protected areas being the marine reserves and primarily the sea. Greenland is a completely different world and the one best explored by expedition cruise ships .
Greenland is a country administered by Denmark and one of the most difficult and expensive places in the world to visit. Know what to expect in Greenland before you go. Northeast Greenland National Park is still the only national park in Greenland and is also the northernmost national park in the world. Much of the park is part of the Greenland Ice Sheet – but there are some ice-free areas along the coast.
Northeast Greenland National Park – The largest in the world
Northeast Greenland National Park was established in 1974 and expanded to its current size in 1988. At 375,000 square miles of protected land, it is larger than most countries in the world. It is significantly larger than Texas – but much smaller than Alaska.
- Greenlandic: Kalaallit Nunaanni nuna eqqissisimatitaq
- Danish: Grønlands National Park)
- Cut: 972,000 km2 (375,000 sq mi)
- Population: 0 – No permanent population
There is no permanent human population in this massive area – although there are around 400 sites which have occasional summer use. In 2008, only 31 people (with about 110 dogs) were present at the various stations during the winter months.
The only people residing in the park are the Danish Armed Forces Surveillance Unit, staff from some weather stations and the elite Sirius Patrol. Some stations include Daneborg, Danmarkshavn, Station Nord, Mestersvig, Zachenberg and Summit Camp.
Wildlife of the Northeast Greenland National Park
The park is home to many of the world’s muskoxen, and you’re more likely to spot a polar bear here than in any other part of the Arctic. The area is home to arctic wildlife, including:
- musk oxen
- Polar bears
- arctic fox
- arctic hare
- Greenland Wolf
On the coast, there are narwhals, beluga whales and various species of seals. There are also many types of birds that inhabit the part seasonally.
Getting to the park
Greenland is isolated, sparsely populated and difficult to visit at the best of times. Northeast Greenland National Park takes this to a whole new level.
The only people who have regular access to this remote area are traditional sealers and whalers from Ittoqqotoormiit – a remote village in northeast Greenland. With a population of only around 345 people, Ittoqqortoomitt is one of the most remote settlements on the planet.
Access to the park is more strictly controlled than in other areas of East Greenland. Some places – like Scoresby Sound – require separate permits to enter. But it is possible to visit the park with some arctic expeditions. One company that visits the park is Oceanwide Expeditions.
Ocean expeditions to Spitsbergen and northeast Greenland
The expedition begins in the Norwegian arctic islands of Svalbard in the town of Longyearbyen. Guests should book their own flights to the island while they take the time to explore these beautiful Arctic mining islands. Then begins the 18-day expedition; along the way, you’ll see breathtaking scenery and areas home to seals, seabirds, whales, and polar bears.
- Departures: Longyearbyen, Svalbard
- Ends: Constable Pynt, Greenland (Take a charter flight to Iceland)
The first few days the expedition explores the spectacular islands of Svalbard (keep your eyes peeled for reindeer). Explore the Fuglefjorden with a view of Svitjodbreen and Birgerbukta, two breeding grounds for great skuas. Look for polar bears, beluga whales and more.
Then it’s a few days sailing to Greenland. The first landing takes place at Myggbukta, where Norwegian trappers once hunted polar bears and arctic foxes. Admire a sprawling tundra inhabited by musk oxen. Then pass by the Kaiser Franz Josef Fjord and discover more interesting formations. Land at Blomsterbugten (there is a good chance of seeing arctic hares and musk oxen there).
- Iceberg: Some over 328 feet high and 0.6 miles long
Another attraction of Kaiser Franz Josef Fjord is seeing colossal icebergs and quintessential arctic landscapes. While exploring other features along the coast, one will also see Scoresbysund – the largest fjord system in the world. There, passengers will also see the remains of an Inuit settlement that was abandoned some 200 years ago. The site is well preserved. You can still see the circular stone tent rings, graves and bear proof meat caches.
- Meal: All meals throughout the trip included
- Shore Excursions: By Zodiac
- Shared cabin: From $7,000
- Cabin for three people: $21,100
- Cabin for two people: $15,500
- Single cabin: $13,175
Note that prices do not include airfare or onshore expenses.
After exploring more of the coastline (and the area’s current settlements), the expedition ends at Constable Pynt, where you take a charter plane flight to Keflavik in Iceland.