All photos by Mads Pihl, Visit Greenland.
“Yew yew yew yew!” shrills Niels Lynge in a soft voice. He is my dog sled driver. Lynge is directing the dogs to move forward, to move left.
“Ili ili ili ili ili”, he then repeats…and they veer left.
Lynge is a master of the dog sled, commanding the Greenland dogs. He encourages them by the sound of his voice, and the dogs listen with twitched ears. His tone of voice tells all. The more urgent he sounds, the faster they run. He is in complete control.
This is my first dog sled ride. I’m surprised at how small the sled and dogs are in Ilulissat. Pictures can be deceiving. The simple wooden sled can soar over rocks, and the dogs operate as a team. They growl and fight and lick each other when at rest, but when they begin to pull, they become one. There is little room for rebellion.
A break. They sit.
I crouch in front of them, to see if any of them will approach me. Their full attention is placed on Lynge, who is detangling the lines. As he moves back and forth between the dogs and the sled, 14 dogs turn their gaze in the same direction. It is like watching slow motion ping-pong.
Lynge sees that I am curious, and tells me that I can try and touch them, something one should never do without the owner’s consent. The dogs are wild, but the most talented dog sled drivers, the cream of the crop, exercise complete control. The closest dog is a beautiful white furred dog with a touch of brown. She sniffs my offered sealskin-gloved hand and then consents to some patting. I am instantly entranced by these strong canines of the extreme north.
Soon it is time to go again. I sit on the sled, Lynge gives a sharp call, and off we go into the amazing ice scape.
These are notes from a diary from my first dog sled ride, taken from Ilulissat city to a hut in Kangersuneq, travelling with Ilulissat Tourist Nature.