W1610 – Nanortalik non-tour

In my last post, W1610 – Icebergs at Dawn, I described an epic day viewing icebergs both at dawn, and later from up close in a small boat, close to our second port in Greenland, Narsarsuaq.

The next day, Saturday, saw us sailing to our third and final port of call in Greenland, Nanortalik – which means ‘the place of polar bears’ in Greenlandic. Once again we anchored in the bay as there was only a tiny harbour in this small and attractive town, and we would be ferried ashore by the ship’s tenders.

The unusual thing about this port is that there were no shore tours laid on as usual. Instead we were free to walk around and explore the town, including it’s extensive open air museum. The local residents were also putting on a demonstration of kayaking a couple of times during the day for us to see.

As usual I was up on deck to watch as we approached the port. Sailing into the bay on yet another lovely sunny morning, the multicoloured town looked appealing reflected in the still water of the bay:


I was determined to be on the first shuttle boat ashore for two reasons – to get to see and photograph what were likely to be the most popular parts of the town while they were still quiet, and also to take photographs in the lovely early morning light with the low sun. I was therefore in the lounge and in a short queue for tickets before they even started issuing them.

Safely on the first shuttle boat, it was a short and very calm sailing across to a small pier where we alighted. As we stepped ashore a local family group were waiting there in traditional clothing for us to see and photograph:


I initially headed for the attractive church I had seen from the ship. We were told that a service was being held there at 9am which we could attend if we wished. While not wanting to do this, I was pleased that I did have the chance to stand for a second in the open doorway of the church and take a quick photograph of the inside of the church, especially as it was all locked up after the service.


After taking some pictures of other old building close to the church, I then walked across to the open air museum which was located in a number of old buildings beyond the church, near a tranquil inner harbour. I took the opportunity to look around these buildings while they were still almost empty of people:


Next to the museum buildings was a lookout tower, the viewing platform being reached by climbing a steep set of wooden steps. From the top there was a good view down onto the museum area and the nearby inlet, complete with icebergs:


I then walked down beside the inlet, and in the wonderful peaceful surroundings I stood for a while listening to the gentle fizzing and cracking noises coming from the icebergs as they slowly melted.


I then decided to walk a circuit around a good part of the town, hopefully returning to the museum area in time for the kayaking display. A house with a huge satellite dish and a pickup truck caught my eye – the encroaching of Western life-style, and also another house where there was a single sheep bleating in a small pen outside:


As I walked up this street of multicoloured houses, a resident sang a traditional song to me, while his dog made friends with me:


Slightly delayed I hurried back to the museum area, stopping briefly to snap this mural on the end of one of the buildings I passed:


I managed to find a vantage point amongst all the other passengers who had gathered to watch the demonstration that was just getting under way. There was one larger boat containing the family I had photographed earlier on the quayside, and three kayaks. The local Inuit people invented the kayak, which is actually spelt ‘qajaq’ in Greenlandic. One of the men in kayaks demonstrated the Eskimo roll in the icy water, turning over once a few times, then doing four continuous rolls, and finally his ‘party piece’, paddling the kayak whilst upside-down!


During the time that I had been ashore I had noticed a bank of sea fog out to sea, and now this was starting to come further in, and it looked quite dramatic how it engulfed a nearby island, and also how it was speading inland behind our waiting ship:


After a few more photographs I made my way back to the pier to catch a shuttle back to the ship via an extremely busy souvenir shop.


Our sailaway was an early one at 3pm, and as I watched from up on deck as we sailed out into the fog bank, I reflected on what an extraordinary and wonderful time I had experienced in Greenland over the past four days. Each day was so different – sailing through Prins Christiansund, visiting the historic church at the top of a fjord, icebergs at dawn & up close, and exploring a traditional town – but each of them have added special memories I will treasure. Of course as with the remainder of the cruise the stunning weather has helped, but I have been so impressed with Greenland that I am certain I will return one day.


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