Greenland 2009 part III: Nanortalik

Greenland 2009: Tasermiut fjord tourist boat tour
The front of Sermeq glacier in the head of Tasermiut fjord. It is sad to see how fast this glacier is melting and retreating. Probably 2 or 3 years to go and the glacier will not touch the fjord anymore.

Greenland 2009: Tasermiut fjord tourist boat tour
A visit to the falls of the Uiluiit Kuua river into the blue waters of Tasermiut fjord at Klosterdalen while on the tourist boat tour through Tasermiut. When I arrived at this spot 3 weeks earlier I had a hard time finding a possibility to ford the river.

Greenland 2009: Tasermiut fjord tourist boat tour
Nulamertorsuaq and Ulamertorsuaq seen from the boat on the fjord.

I must admit, I had been counting the last days in Tasermiut. I was exhausted by a lack of sufficient food towards the end of the hike. Now it was time to recover and strengthen again before the last few days on Mellem Landet. I had taken into account a few days on Nanortalik to rest before heading to Mellem Landet. These resting days came now much appreciated.

Greenland 2009: Tasermiut fjord tourist boat tour
Searching a passage between the ice to reach Nanortalik’s harbor.

There was a group of tourists in Nanortalik which wanted to make a tourist boat tour into Tasermiut. Niels was able to arrange the boat tour exactly the day of my previously agreed day of return. The cruise through the fjord was a welcome gift from Niels. We visited the glacier front of Sermeq from the boat and went on land in Klosterdalen to search for the ruins of the ancient monastery from the late middle ages. It’s unbelievable that Norse monks were once able to survive here in this rugged environment. But actually they didn’t survive. At the time the little ice age struck Greenland, all the Vikings and the monks which came with them in a later stage, died by the harsh climate, unable as they were to adapt. Only the Inuit remained. They were the only that had the knowledge to survive the colder and longer winters.

Greenland 2009: Nanortalik
The village of Nanortalik in the evening, surrounded by sea ice and mountains.

Tasermiut fjord had been filled with ice from the Atlantic like a funnel the days before due to the southerly winds. Luckily the wind had changed now so most of the ice had been drifted out of the fjord again. However, it still remained quite a difficult job for the boat to reach the harbor of Nanortalik. I said hello to Niels at the tourist office and went plundering the supermarket with resupply. Then I slowly walked along the coast to the most southern point of the island, called Tuapassuit Nuua, where I had a nice view over the icy Atlantic and the village with the mountains behind. The small Angissoq island group was visible a few kilometers deeper in the ocean. It was a strange feeling to be standing there in the cold breeze along the ocean with all those ice bergs drifting by and sometimes clashing and roaring on rocks underwater. Polar bears could have been stranded on the Angissoq islands over there, even though the risk was low since most of them usually begin to swim back north along the east coast during ice break up at spring. Yet, an Inuit at Nanortalik told me one fisherman had noticed a residual female polar bear with her cubs on one of the Angissoq islands during last may. The word Nanortalik even means village of the ice bear. But for one or another reason the polar bears know they better don’t visit Nanortalik. A polar bear which tries to come close to a village gets immediately shot and luckily for us hikers, the bears don’t like the warmer climate of the inner fjords.

Greenland 2009: Nanortalik
Icebergs near the coast of Nanortalik Island.

Greenland 2009: Nanortalik
The Atlantic Ocean filled with field ice and a few icebergs as seen from Tuapassuit Nuua on Nanortalik Island.

Greenland 2009: Nanortalik
Bivouac near Tuapassuit Nuua with the Angissoq islands on the horizon.

On day two I climbed a hill on the northern side of the island and pitched my tarp again for the night. The views were again amazing. In the north there was the vast Sondre Sermilik fjord filled with field ice. The next morning sea fog had formed over the Atlantic during the night and was now slowly approaching the island, swallowing the ice bergs on its way. Luckily the fog never came ashore. I remained admiring the phenomenon for the entire morning to finally return to the village in the afternoon to catch my flight by helicopter to Narsarsuaq on Mellem Landet.

Greenland 2009: Nanortalik
Sondre Sermilik fjord seen from Quassik.

Greenland 2009: Nanortalik
Approaching sea fog over the icy Atlantic Ocean.

Greenland 2009: Nanortalik
The church of Nanortalik.

It was a relaxing few days on the island and I was strong enough again for a few days of hiking through the harsh mountain terrain close to the ice cap.