February 15, 2016 2:00 PM ET
Finding Zen In Greenland With Quark Expeditions
PHOTO: What could be more spectacularly peaceful than the Aurora Borealis? (Courtesy Quark Expedition)
Zen: it’s your oneness with the world and everything in it; your freedom from the distractions of material life. It’s living in the present, experiencing reality as fully and peacefully as possible. With that understanding, it’s hard to imagine any place on Earth better than Greenland for finding Zen.
The largest island in the world, it’s sparsely populated, with limited cell phone service. Add in beautiful mountain vistas, glaciers, ice-choked fjords, polar bears and other arctic wildlife, hot springs, volcanoes and spectacular views of the aurora borealis (northern lights) you will find anywhere. Sound idyllic? It’s not hard to understand why Greenland was at the top of Lonely Planet’s “Best in Travel” list for 2016.
SEE MORE: A Bird’s Eye View Of The Arctic
Greenland is one of the most pristine and spectacular places on the planet. Second only to Antarctica for ice cover, it’s home to the northern hemisphere’s fastest moving glacier. The Ilulissat Icefjord is known as the iceberg capital of the world, with as much as 20 billion tons of ice flowing through the fjord each year.
There are many ways to experience this UNESCO World Heritage Site free of the distractions of everyday life, including kayak, helicopter and Zodiac. Quark Expedition passengers also have the option of hiking in Greenland for varying lengths and skill levels, from an hour to a full day. The terrain is hilly, isolated and spectacular.
Greenland Park Largest National Park in the World
Greenland National Park is the place to be aware of your oneness with the world and everything in it. At 375,000 square miles, it is the largest park in the world, covering the entire northeastern coast and much of the interior. An international biosphere preserve, the park is home to 40 per cent of musk ox in the world, as well as to polar bears, walrus, arctic foxes, beluga whales and many species of seals and birds.
There are also several nature reserves in Greenland, the largest being Melville Bay in northwest Greenland, established to protect breeding polar bears. Along the western coastline, you’ll find other protected areas; the Lyngmarken Landscape Protection Area, and Arnangarup Qoorua, Akilia, Ikka and Qinguadalen, all of which are nature reserves that vary in size.
Greenland below the Surface
Experience reality from the surface of the amazing waters surrounding Greenland. Several species of seals, walrus and whales live in its food-rich waters. You can experience these magnificent creatures from the deck of a ship, but kayaking in Greenland may be the best way to get up close and personal with marine life.
The marine residents of this area aren’t afraid of humans; in fact they’re likely to show off if they know there’s an audience nearby. As many as 15 whale species in Greenland, but only three (the humpback, minke and fin whale) are seen with any frequency. Walrus, seals and seabirds are also common in the waters around the island.
The People and the Land
Greenland has a rich history, stretching back beyond the first Viking explorers. At least six different Inuit cultures have called Greenland home, and the community of Brattahlio is where Erik the Red and his descendants lived until late in the 15th century when they mysteriously disappeared.
As interesting as its past, Greenland’s present is rich in traditional arts and culture. Many artists call the island home, and carving is a local specialty. An icon you’ll only find in Greenland is the Tupilak, a carved bone figure endowed with powerful magical properties.
Greenland, Home of the Aurora Borealis
If any one aspect of a visit to Greenland will bring Zen, it has to be the aurora borealis, known to many as the northern lights. Imagine: sitting in meditative calm on a ship's deck during a moonless night, with stars as far as the eye can see. Before long you see a bit of flickering, and within moment you’re witnessing the full beauty of the aurora borealis as it dances and undulates across the sky.
This is the place for Zen. Celebrate your oneness with the world and everything in it, in Greenland.
Contact one of Quark Expeditions’ experienced Polar Travel Advisers for more information.
This blog originally appeared on Quark’s site.
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