Compared to Patagonia, Lofoten or Iceland, tourism in Greenland is still in its infancy. Although cruise ships are increasingly traveling towards Greenland, few tourists find their way to the southern fjords. This is likely to change in the coming years, however, due to the multitude of natural highlights.
Between the fjords plants and trees grow and sprout. Thick pack ice, that one would expect from Greenland, can only be seen as photogenic ice floes during summer, as it swims with the current and into the fjords. South Greenland offers perfect trekking conditions, unless you are plagued by mosquitoes or when you fight your way through tall bushes while struggling against the weather.
Once I had seen the stunning photos of Max Rive, I realized that a Greenland trip would only be a matter of time. In August 2017 it was time and I joined Max on one of his Greenland tours. In my last travel reportage about Wildlife in Kenya I mentioned that an individual trip would almost always offer advantages compared to a group trip. In Greenland, however, it is different, because travel is only possible with boats and helicopters for the most part and thus it’s also very expensive. In such remote and difficult to reach areas with limited travel time, a small group is absolutely recommended.
In the tourism center in Nanortalik boat trips can be arranged or you can take a packraft with you to cross a fjord (which can be up to 70km long). If you are interested in a similar Packraft adventure, you should read Alex Nail’s and Willem Van Doorne’s blog.
If you prefer a boat trip to a trekking tour and prefer to stay in a rocking cabin than in the tent, you might also be interested in the tour of Daniel Kordan.
To capture the evening mood, we climbed the hill on the west side in the evening, climbing about 400 meter this time. Finding a suitable foreground here was, however, much more difficult, and the perspectives of the rock walls are somewhat less spectacular.
In front of us was a 20-kilometer-long hike on the «sheep trail» through the beautiful valley of Itillersuaq, along the river and accompanied by many mosquitoes.
In the middle of the valley we set up our tents, surrounded by a marshy area with various small lakes. The wind passed through the valley and it cooled down strongly during the night.
We had to cross several streams and smaller rivers to reach the next fjord. The 8-km-long hike – like the day before – was a unique scenic experience. At the end of the valley, at the Stordalens Havn, much more ice floes were drifting across the river than in the Tasermiut. A captain from the nearby small village of Aappilattoq took us to the other side of the fjord. There we climbed 500 meters to reach a beautifully situated place, where we set up our tents.
After this wonderful day there was a change of weather and so we spent the next day almost exclusively in the tent. We made up for the lack of sleep and in spite of the rain we went to search for another good photospot or two.
The following day was gray and wet as well, nevertheless we had to pack the tents and descend the 500m back to the fjord once again. There we were picked up by boat by Timo, our polar bear hunter.
We drove to Aappilattoq and were able to stock up on all the important things in the small shop. The shop is only open for a few hours and only on a few days per week – a visit should be planned well!
By boat we drove past numerous icebergs. While the big chunks come from pack ice, the pointed ice floes come from the glaciers. Each copy is unique and would have deserved its own photoshooting.
At the end of the Kangikitsoq fjord, we set up our tents, right next to the water. The deep and fast-moving clouds provided a dramatic atmosphere – perfect weather for photographers so to speak! After much sunshine, cloudless skies and two rainy days, we also had the long awaited drama.
The following morning we drove back to Nanortalik by boat, which took about 3-4 hours. Fortunately, the open sea was mostly calm and so we arrived in Nanortalik with a healthy color on our face. The nicely located and furnished house is being rented out to Backpackers by the tourism center. We made ourselves comfortable and thought back to the fantastic tour once again.
I took the D810 with the 14-24mm, 20mm and the new 70-200mm f2.8 with me. The Telezoom I have received for this trip was kindly provided by Nikon. I had a CircPol filter for all lenses (for the 14-24mm I used the filter of Wonderpana).
The 70-200mm was rarely used – also due to weather conditions. The over 1 kg heavy lens is not really suitable for a trekking tour, but the quality of the photos speaks for itself. A lighter alternative would be the 28-300mm or the 70-200mm f4.
Fortunately you can drink fresh water from the rivers in Greenland (but please not from glaciers). You won’t get better and fresher water anywhere! Katadyn filters or other drinking water tablets are not needed in Greenland and fortunately no large bottles of water have to be carried around – which could of course allow you to bring another lens …
With a stable tent (typically 4-season tents) you are also equipped for stormy weather. If it comes to clothes one should – as is standard for a trekking tour – put the onion layer principle to good use.
The hightlights of this year’s Greenland tours have been captured in Max’s video.