Narsarsuaq to Igaliku, Greenland

So my flight to Narsarsuaq was on time and 2 hours and ten minutes later we cleared the clouds and got a beautiful view of the Tunulliarfik fjord and all the icebergs floating in the bay as we descended into Narsarsuaq.

Looking down on Greenland
Looking down on Greenland
Looking down on Greenland

Now Narsarsuaq used to be a U.S. military base established in 1942 after the Germans took over Denmark.  (Greenland was and is under the flag of Denmark.). The minister of Greenland sought the U.S. assistance as it was believe the Germans would try to establish a base in Greenland.  As a result, the Narsarsuaq air base was established and was operational here until the mid 1950s.

Anyway, we landed shortly after 5:30 Greenland time (two hour time difference from Iceland and 5 hour time difference from the West Coast of Canada and the U.S.). After landing and meeting my local host, I took my luggage to the van and opted to walk the few hundred meters to the hotel past colourful houses and the local museum in the glorious sunshine.  Bad choice.  There were two tour groups on our plane and both were checking in ahead of me because of my walking choice.  Now the large tour group was just fine with their guide clearly having his act together and quickly handing out the keys.  However, the small group of 5 was another story.  Their tour guide had her head up her butt – she was brutal).  I ended up waiting 20 minutes before she finally got the group of 5 checked in.

Anyway, after the lengthy wait,  I got to my room, changed, had dinner (locally caught shrimp … yum) and was happily in bed by 9.  It had been a long day and there was apparently a 5 km hike tomorrow to the next town of Igaliku.

The village of Narsarsuaq
Gorgeous mural in Narsarsuaq

Next morning (Sunday) I was up and at breakfast by 8:30, which I figured gave me plenty of time to walk around the little town of Narsarsuaq (population less than 200) and visit the little museum before I had to leave at 10:45 to catch the 11:00 a.m. boat to Itilleq and that 5 km hike to Igaliku.  Fortunately, I nailed it.

Once breakfast was done, I walked outside and the weather was glorious.   Very few clouds, a bit of a breeze and sunshine.  Far superior to the Icelandic weather.  Anyway, I started my walk turning left from the hotel and walked down the gravel road toward the last house I could see, which appeared to have a large mural painted on the side.  Bingo.  It was some local art featuring a hump back whale, native Greenlanders (who looked like they were at the last supper), a polar bear, a musk ox, a seal, an arctic fox, a fish, a narwhal, a bird, another fish, a walrus and of course, a killer whale.  It was fabulous.  I wondered how many people had walked by to see it.   The mural was signed, but I could not read the signature.  Anyway, it was fabulous!

Statute in front of the Narsarsuaq Museum

I then turned around and headed back in the direction of the museum.  Now it was at this point that I noticed the black files and mosquitoes.  I had been warned in advance that they can be brutal in certain areas of Greenland when the wind was not blowing and at this point there was bit of a breeze, but nothing much so the little buggers were literally dive bombing me.  Ugh.

Anyway, I continued my walk past the old wooden houses swatting flies and mosquitos as I walked finally reaching the museum.  And how I missed this yesterday, I don’t know, but there was a fantastic carved statute out front that depicted “the gateway to Viking history” with Eric the Red on a horse lifting his sone Lief while his wife Tjodhilde holds the horse by the head.  It was fantastic, was made out of Greenland granite and had apparently be lent to the museum by the artist.

Now the museum was really interesting.  One side of the little building featured Greenland’s WW II history while the other side of the building was split into local history and the Narsarsuaq base history.  And while the base history was of not much interest to me, the WW II history and local history I found fascinating.  The most interesting tidbit was that the Germans actually did establish a small presence in the northern part of Greenland and went undetected until a local patrol found clothing with a Nazi swastika on sewn onto the sleeve.  There was an eventual confrontation involving sled dogs and local patrols.  The Germans killed one of the patrols (allegedly in error) and were ultimately captured.  Facts I did not know.

The local history was also quite fascinating detailing the Vikings landing and establishment of settlements and then the eventual landing of Christians spreading their faith.  The display also featured local animal life as well as bird and whales found in and around Greenland (there are many).  I could have easily spent another couple hours at the museum.  It was really, really well done.  Unfortunately, it was time to catch a boat.

Waiting for the boat
My boat to Igaliku
Passing through an icefield
Passing through an icefield
Windy on the boat

I headed back to the hotel, grabbed my luggage and put it into the van and hopped in for the short trip to the dock.  We were going to be sailing south in the Tunulliarfik fjord to the small port of Itilleq and from there we would go on a 5 km “easy” hike to cross the Kongevejen, to the small settlement of Igaliku. There were seven of us going on the trip to Igaliku (all independent travellers, but all headed to the same place as arranged by Greenland Tours).

Anyway, once at the dock, we were surprised to see two icebergs floating really close by.  This turned out to be the first of many we would see on the trip.  Once on the boat, the 30 minute trip turned out to be spectacular.  The weather was perfect, albeit rather chilly, and the views were incredible.  Within 10 minutes we found ourselves in the middle of iceberg alley.  Icebergs were everywhere.  We even saw some deep blue icebergs, which is a sign of very old ice that has caved from a glacier.  (I guess that is probably bad, but a sure sign of global warming.)

Unfortunately, before we knew it we were landing at Itilleq.  The boat captain and the driver from Igaliku who would transport our luggage hauled the luggage off the boat, but there was more luggage than people.  Turns out that horrible tour guide and her people had dumped their luggage with the boat captain and had gone hiking near Narsarsuaq.  We ended up pitching in and hauling all of their luggage as well as our luggage up the hill to the van.  (I tracked the guide down later and told her she needed to thank us for not letting the luggage sit on the dock.  She feigned ignorance and never did thank us.  Wretched woman.)

The beginning of the hike
Hiking to Igaliku

Anyway, after helping the driver and captain move all the luggage, the 7 of us started our hike on a VERY rocky path.  Now one of the ladies was very slow and had a bit of a limp.  I had no idea how she was going to make it 5 km on an all rock path so her companion and another guy told us they would walk with her.  (She had refused a ride with the driver taking out luggage to town.)

So the remaining four of us (2 students from Australia and 1 student from Germany and me) set out a a much faster pace.  Eventually, the three students outpaced me, which was fine as I kept stopping to take pictures.

Funky plant in Greenland
Children’s Forest on the way to Igaliku
Sheep farm on the hike
Looking down on Igaliku

Now the hike had been billed as a “mostly flat easy hike”, which to that I call B.S.  The hike was for the most part straight up hill.  Now don’t get me wrong, the hike was glorious.  Beautiful bays, wild flowers, sheep, farms and forests.  The downside was the rocky path was brutal.  This was not a small stone path.  This was huge rocks laid down to make it easier to drive, not walk path.

Anyway, the hike up eventually reached a crest where I could like down into a valley and the little town of Igaliku.  It was a beautiful view and even included a random iceberg floating in the bay fronting the town.

The hike down took about ten minutes and as I walked, I passed the local graveyard, lots of sheep and humongous boulders in the middle of the various hillside fields.

I eventually reached Igaliku about 1:10 (we had left at 11:30).  I got the key to my little cabin and collapsed on my bed.  Although the students decided to go on a hike to see a lake, I opted to sit on my little veranda, enjoy the sun and watch the local sheep that were grazing outside my cabin.  5 km (not 4 km like I reference in the video) uphill was good enough for me.

View from my cabin
Sheep hanging out near my cabin

I ended up napping for a couple hours before heading down the hill to the Country Inn where dinner was being served.  And it turned out to be wonderful.  First up was smoked Arctic Char and then for the entrée … reindeer.  Yep old Rudolph was the main course.  Now, I have never eaten reindeer before, but I must say it was incredibly tasty.  Zero fat.  Very, very tender.  A bit like beef, but not really.  Another one to add to my list of exotic foods I have eaten.

Anyway, by eight I was done and in bed.  I was spending another day in Igaliku tomorrow and expected I would do another hike somewhere, but hopefully it won’t be as rugged as today.

Author: lawyerchick92

I am a lawyer by trade, but long to be a full time traveller. My life changed for the better when my brother donated a kidney to me on October 14, 2002.

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