The fjords and towns of South Greenland

At the end of August, I went on a trip to the south of Greenland, sailing the fjords and coast for four days of beautiful scenery, picturesque towns, misty mountains, icebergs, glaciers, wonderful light and sightings of whales!

Day one – 24th August 2018

After an overnight sail from Ísafjörður in Iceland, I was up at 5:30am to see our arrival at the east coast of Greenland. Seeing huge icebergs floating out in the open sea was an amazing introduction to Greenland, but just a taste of what was to come over the next four days. As the ship made its way towards the coast we saw a pod of pilot whales swimming by and just before entering Prins Christian Sund a sperm whale appeared close to the ship and swam alongside before diving back under the sea.

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Despite the drizzle and low hanging mist, Prins Christian Sund was spectacular, with glacier tongues coming down from the ice sheet straight into the sea, chunks of ice floating past and steep-sided mountains disappearing up into the mist.

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The sail through the sound took us past the small village of Aappilattoq. With a population of around 130 people and only accessible by sea (for two months a year) or by helicopter, this is a very remote place to live.

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We came to the end of Prins Christian Sund and made an S-bend turn into Torssukátak Fjord which has some of the highest sea cliffs in the world. As we neared the end of the fjord the wind picked up, making for some dramatic scenes as the sea was whipped about and some small gaps in the cloud let shafts of sunlight shine through.

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Day two – 25th August 2018

The first landing stop was at the small town of Qaqortoq, with a population of around 3000, it’s the most populous town in South Greenland. I had a good walk around the town, finding the colourful cemetery, market, harbour and stone sculptures.

 

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I then decided to have a walk up the hill behind the town for a view over the colourful houses. It was well worth the walk and I met some lovely doggos on the way as well! After my walk, I went to the Qaqortoq Hotel for some lunch and a beer before heading back to the ship.

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Day three – 26th August 2018

The next stop was the village of Narsarsuaq, there isn’t much to the village – a former US Air Base with a population of around 160. But I had a wander about and was lucky to spot an Arctic hare.

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The real attraction of Narsarsuaq is the nearby Qooroq Ice Fjord, so I took the short boat trip out to the fjord for a close-up encounter with icebergs. The icebergs calve from the Qooroq glacier, which releases over 200,000 tons of ice into the fjord every day. The icebergs are a beautiful sight towering out of the water along with the white and blue ice and turquoise water. Amazing to think how much bigger they are under the water as well!

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The rest of the day was spent back on the ship sailing through Tunulliarfik Fjord, with more icebergs, blue skies and a lovely soft sunset stretching well into the late evening.

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Day four – 27th August 2018

My last day in Greenland was spent in the small town of Nanortalik, which has a population of just over 1300. Nanortalik means Place of the Polar Bears, as polar bears live and hunt on the sea ice outside of town, but unfortunately there were no sightings (it was an extremely small chance on this trip at this time of the year anyway). I was up at 6:30am to see our arrival; it was a glorious morning – still and calm with a lovely sunrise and low hanging mist. As we neared the town I caught sight of a humpback whale that eventually flipped its fluke up and headed down under the surface.

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Nanortalik was my favourite place visited on this trip. The lovely sunny weather helped, but the town also had a lovely feel to it and was beautifully located. The locals were all really friendly as well – not many people in Greenland speak English, but everybody had a genuine smile for visitors and said hello.

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It was time to leave Greenland, but not before sailing along Tasermiut Fjord, which, with its blue sky and imposing mountain peaks emerging from the top of a low cloud bank, made for a very dramatic goodbye.

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In just four days, Greenland well and truly took hold of me. I never thought I could love somewhere as much as Iceland, but Greenland is just as beautiful, rugged and awe-inspiring (if not more so) and it feels much more like Iceland did 20 years ago before the whole world found out about it! I’ll definitely be back… in fact, I’m just about to book a week in Ilulissat in West Greenland for next August!

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