Still excited from the helicopter ride, I meet Salik in Nanortalik, the southernmost city of Greenland. For the past forty minutes I have seen the most spectacular landscape gliding by – and this is just the beginning of my trip. Salik is also enthusiastic – he wants to show me around the region. First stop: Nanortalik and its island. After a quick stop at the hotel, we hike the little mountain, Qaqqarsuasik. I wonder out loud what kind of view awaits at the top, and Salik answers: “Wait and see, it’s worth it.” About an hour later, I realise Salik is to be trusted. I’m overlooking a horizon of clouds, drifting up the vertical cliffs of Greenland. Even though we’re only at 1,559 meters, I feel like I’m right on top of the world. Salik: “In clear weather, all you see is ocean. It’s very peaceful. Just below the cliffs, there are small islands. Our local fishermen often camp out there for a couple of days, to catch fresh fish and seal.” I also have a good view of Nanortalik itself: the houses colour the landscape.
Back in time at the Nanortalik Museum
The next day Salik takes me to the Nanortalik museum. He explains: “To be able to understand South Greenland, you need to learn something about its history and culture. A visit to this museum is a must.” The museum is located in the old town of Nanortalik, and consists of a dozen small houses. The museum guide, David, explains that back in the day, every house had a different purpose. For the next two hours, I’m all ears. I learn about the first hospital, the kayak, the women’s boat and whale hunting. With about 60 years of life under his belt, David remembers how the whales were pulled ashore in the harbour. The entire village came to help, as strong people were needed to pull the animal ashore. Once there, the whale was processed in the small houses. David shows me where they extracted the oil, how the meat was prepared, and how the skin was used for gear and clothing.
Uunartoq Hot Spring
That afternoon, we travel to Uunartoq. In Greenlandic, uunartoq means “warm water”. Very applicable, as Uunartoq is an island with a natural hot spring. During our two-hour boat ride, I am focused on the ocean, hoping to spot a whale. Unfortunately, I have no luck today – they’re off on their own adventures. The views along the way don’t disappoint, however. We pass small, abandoned settlements; the white peaks of icebergs float along the water. Some are meters high. When we arrive at Uunartoq, I jump in the hot spring as quickly as possible. Mosquitoes swarm around the pool, and I prefer not to be their target. In the distance, the horizon is once again filled with mountains. Moments later, Salik calls: “Dinner is ready.” Shrimp with toast and soup awaits, seasoned with herbs from the area. Salik shows me Greenlandic thyme: “I look forward to the later summer months, when it is full of herbs here.”
Sailing into the Tasermiut Fjord
The next day, it’s time for our camping trip. Salik takes me to the Tasermiut Fjord. We have quite the boat trip ahead of us, as the fjord is more than 70 kilometers long. It’s well known for its natural beauty, and is often known as the Greenlandic version of Patagonia. When I fail to contain my excitement at the first mountain, Salik says: “This is just the beginning.” Of course, he’s right again. The further the captain takes us, the steeper the mountains get. Every time I think I’ve spotted the most beautiful mountain, an even more spectacular view follows. It almost looks like the mountains rise vertically from the water. Salik: “Tasermiut is well known among climbers – the granite walls are a climbers’ paradise.”
At the furthest point of the fjord, a glacier awaits us. Because of the two rocks on both sides, it’s also called The Devil’s Ears. Nothing seems evil about this view, though. Aside from the water I can hear running down the glacier and the waves crashing to the shore, there is complete silence. It’s rare to be at such a beautiful and peaceful destination, without any other tourists. We truly have the entire view and fjord to ourselves. It’s a surreal experience. I simply cannot compare it to anything I’ve ever seen before.