The Trip to Narsaq, Greenland

My cabin

So I was thrown a bit of curve on Tuesday morning.  I thought we were leaving early and would be on the boat to Nusak (about a 45 minute trip) at 11:45.  Turns out that the two Aussies (Steve and Chewey  – Steve’s nickname for her) and I would be on the later 3:55 boat.  Apparently two of the staff were going to another location and we were bumped to the later boat to accommodate them.  Now I had no idea what I was going to do with an additional 4 hours on my hands.  I could go on another hike, but I was already going to be hiking 5 km back down to the boat so that was out.  I ended up doing absolutely nothing.  Sat on the porch of my cabin and stared out at the scenery, read my book and wasted away several hours before they picked up my luggage at 1:30 and decided it was time to start the trek.  (The two Aussies had already set out as they were going to go a different route to the boat and were not sure how long it would take.)

The trail to the boat
Farm on the way back to the boat

Now the hike back to the boat was far, far easier than the hike in.  To start with, there was really only one steep hill to climb and that was at the start after that, it was literally, all down hill.

I set off just after 1:30, climbed the switchback road passing numerous very skittish sheep before reaching the crest of the ill around 1:50.  I turned and took one last look at Igaliku and set off down the hill retracing the steps I had taken two days before.  I passed the same huge farm, this time on my right.  I took in the amazing views of the bay with the numerous icebergs floating along, passed more sheep than I could count and saw the little grove of young trees called the “Children’s Forest”.  Along the way, I passed two lone hikers and that was it.

Mountains on the way to Narsaq
Waterfall on the way to Narsaq
Lone house on the way to Narsaq

I eventually reached the shore of the bay and turned right and spotted the two Aussies off in the distanced.  By 2:35, I had caught up to them as them were sitting on some large rocks looking off in the direction of the dock where our boat would come to pick us up.  Unfortunately, we were all massively early and would end up sitting around until 3:45 before the boat finally came into view.

Fortunately, the dark skies that promised rain held off and we grabbed our luggage that had been transported by the Inn and left under a tarp near the dock and walked down the ramp to the boat.  Chewey and I decided to sit at the front of the boat while Steve sat inside with three other people already on the boat.   And while it was rather chilly, it turned out to be a great choice.  We were rewarded with fantastic views of waterfalls, little houses dotting the land, icebergs floating all around us and gorgeous mountain views.

The flat iceberg
Iceberg entering Narsaq

One iceberg in particular fascinated us (and would proved to be even more fascinating later that night).  The iceberg was a huge, flat rectangle.  And what really puzzled me was how the heck did it get so flat.  There were not perceptible bumps or rises.  When I say flat, I really mean flat, flat flat.

Anyway, as we passed the peculiar iceberg, the little town of Narsaq with its wide array of colourful houses came into view.  Once we docked, we had to drag our luggage up the ramp and looked around to find no one there to help us.  Steve pulled out his phone with a map of Narsaq and found we just had to go up hill about a ¼ mile (another damn hill) and we would be at the hotel.


So off we set, dragging our luggage behind us.  Fortunately, the air was quite cool so while it took some muscle, at least it wasn’t hot.  Once at Hotel Narsaq, I checked into to my VERY tiny dorm style room, took a look at the map and decided to do a little exploring before dinner.

Thirty minutes later I was back.  Nothing was open, except the grocery store, and there wasn’t a great deal to see in the little town of 1,000 people.  The museum, which features a history of the area was apparently closed the next day, which was weird since Tuesday/Wednesday are the two days when tourists are in town to take the coastal ferry Sarfaq Ittuk on Wednesday night.  However, the hotel promised to call the proprietor and have him open the museum in the morning as there were around 20 of us staying in the hotel who were taking the coastal ferry the next day so there were a few tourists who needed entertaining.

Greenlandic beer (2nd from right thumbs up)

Anyway, after my quick tour of Narsaq, I went back to the hotel restaurant for dinner.  There was only one other restaurant open in Narsaq and it was serving hamburgers and Thai food, which left me highly skeptical so hotel restaurant it was.

Steve, Chewey, Paulina (the gal from Germany) and Christof (also from Germany) were in the restaurant so I joined them and we proceeded to spend the next 2 ½ hours drinking Greenland beer, exchanging travel stories and watching that peculiar iceberg move at breakneck speed through the harbor and eventually out of site.  It was remarkable how fast it moved and left us all wondering where the hell it went.  We are hopeful that once on the coastal ferry we will spot the wandering iceberg again.  It has now fascinated us all.

By 9:00 p.m. the restaurant staff was looking anxious for us to leave so we called it a night.  Now the strange thing about this hotel is that it is only populate with tourists who are going on the coastal ferry, which is picking us up at 9:00 p.m. the next day, but they required us to check out of our rooms by 10:00 a.m.  That left us with 11 hours with no place to go and an empty hotel.  Weird.

Traditional Inuit clothing
Sea eagle

Anyway, the good news was that by the next morning, the proprietor of the museum had promised to open the building so Steve, Cheweey, Pauline and I set out for a little walk around the town to find the fish market, which was a big disappointment as it was nothing more small room with cooling cabinet holding the fish, so we moved on to the next place on our list, the local artisan studio.  And after some false starts, we finally found the little shop where two local artists were carving jewelry and statutes out of local stone and bone. I found a lovely carving of a local Inuit with a harpoon made out of reindeer bone, but so far have been shut of Christmas ornaments.  However, I have yet to travel to the two largest towns, so I remain optimistic.  (I have never been shut out and am not going to be shut out now!)

View towards Narsaq
Oval carving in Narsaq

After the visit to the artisan shop, we walked down the hill to the museum where we spent about 2 hours looking at the history of Narsaq, which was first settled in 1830. Turns out that the museum was housed in three different buildings and included the original 1830 building that housed the general store.   The main building housed an exhibit of local life in Narsaq through the years while a separate building housed a geological exhibit featuring the various stones and minerals found in Greenland.  The last building was the general store and included a display of the proprietor’s office as well as local art from up and coming Greenland artists influenced by Aaron of Kangek, an early 19th century Greenlandic Inuit hunter and painter who depicted Inuit culture and the violent relationship between the Inuit and the Danish missionaries who tried to colonize them.  There was even a half hour film we were able to watch about his paintings.

The old church in Narsaq (dates to 1800s)

So after the trip to the museum, Steve, Chewey and Pauline decided to go for a hike, while I opted to go the the local grocery store to pick up some lunch and go back to the hotel.  After lunch, I went back outside to see if I could  find the Norsk ruins located behind the hotel.  The search turned into a bid of an adventure as the ruins weren’t ruins per se, but rather a marker where the former Landnamsgarden Farm was located 1,000 years ago.  Apparently (according to the marker), a former employee of Eric the Red (who is credited with finding Greenland) was given the land to farm.

The Norse farm site

Now finding the damn marker turned into a bit of a challenge.  The lady at the front desk of the hotel gave me the directions, but it took 3 passes before I finally took a chance on what appeared to be a path between “the green house and the blue house” and as I walked down the mostly grass covered path I finally saw a marker in the distance.

Anyway, after checking out the marker and spotting a few rocks, I went back to the hotel.  There were still 6 hours to go before we had to board the ship.

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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