Excerpts from a Greenland dog sled ride

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.

5 thoughts on “Excerpts from a Greenland dog sled ride

  1. I always wonder why so many people think that sled dogs are huge beasts 🙂
    Not that I had any sled ride yet but I know the dogs used and well, they are basically just mid sized animals. My wife had about eight years ago in Finland a sled ride in Lapland 🙂

    • Probably because we think of reindeer pulling sledges, and since Santa is huge the reindeer have to be too. Here, the sled dog drivers are usually fairly small. They have to run up and down a few slopes at least so the fitter they are the better!

      What did your wife think of the experience? By the way i Am In China now doing a Road trip! Where are You based??

  2. If you didn’t mention it, I would have thought the dogs were enormous. Great shots, love the one of you petting one of them, trying to make friends. I suppose being the dog sledge driver you’d have to be in tune with your emotions in order to steer the dogs in the right direction. Looks like an energetic bunch of dogs that drag the sled fast. Hope you didn’t fall off 🙂

    • I only fell off once! Yes the dogs look huge in the pictures for some reason…

      The really love the running and pulling… There were some pups that ran all the way to the end destination on another trip!

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