Responsible tourism: Greenland hiking vacation, The Iceberg trail
“Treat the earth well: it was not given to you by your parents, it was loaned to you by your children”. Old Kenyan proverb. This proverb has been the foundation for our ‘Mission Statement’ since 1988 when it was featured in our first brochures.
Travel on this trip is as low carbon as possible. While backpacking on this trip, our travel is energy efficient. We use boat transfers rather than helicopter transfers in Greenland, in order to use less fuel and to employ local boatmen.
On trek we follow the principles of ‘No Trace Travel’ by doing the following: We choose campsites carefully, choosing durable ground We remove all signs of each campsite before leaving All rubbish carried out or burnt, with care taken to extinguish the flame We don’t pick flowers or remove rocks from the landscape We respect the flora, fauna and local people Human waste is buried, toilet paper is burnt
We buy local goods from local people as much as possible and maintain close relationships with a number of East Greenlanders who provide us with boat transport, local advice, and invaluable support.
We encourage group members to take an interest in the flora and fauna. On this trip we often see whales, seals, the occasional arctic fox, snow buntings, lapland buntings, wheatears and, if we are lucky, can listen to the haunting call of the great northern diver (loon). Where possible, we choose food with minimal packaging to reduce plastic waste and are guests are advised as to how to dispose of waste responsibly. As there is no suitable recycling available for batteries, we encourage group members to dispose of used batteries safely in their home country
We set an example in our own office - we recycle paper and ink cartridges and minimise the amount of printing we do etc.
We are aware that a trip to Greenland involves air travel. We encourage each traveler to consider how to redress this by reducing their carbon footprint at home. Friends of the Earth offer guidelines: http://www.foe.co.uk/carbon_calculator/elements/pdf/total_tips.pdf
We support the local economy by buying local goods from local people and employing the services of local Greenlanders for boat transfers. Over the years we have developed friendships with many of the locals in Tasiilaq and Kulusuk who offer substantial backup. They keep us in touch with any events, weather or sea ice issues. On our travels there are several opportunities to buy hand made souvenirs made by local people we have come to know, which helps to support more rural communities. We also visit local museums and arts and craft outlets in the villages we visit.
For accommodation, we avoid larger hotel chains, preferring locally-owned accommodations with a traditional flavour.
On several occasions a young local has joined one of our groups. This provides a valuable exchange of cultures as well as a mutual platform for exchanging language skills. We always encourage learning a little Greenlandic. ‘Good morning’, ‘Thank you’. ‘Goodbye’ and encourage their use.
We keep our group sizes small (12) meaning that we fit better into the communities we visit and don't impose too much. We brief our guests on cultural issues and ask group members to avoid consuming any alcohol in the presence of local people for example, due to the problems alcohol has created in the local community. We encourage discussing current issues, recent Greenlandic history, environmental and economic issues effecting Greenland and the local community etc