Adventures in Greenland
Here, we are in uncharted territory where even the most carefully planned excursions can have unexpected surprises. Our guides,
Eric and Melissa, are professional to a fault, imposing strict discipline to ensure that we prepare for whatever we might encounter in this extreme environment – including the possibility of polar bears. Fortunately, everything goes smoothly.
Using sea kayaks, we explore the bays around camp. Once we are comfortable with the equipment, a longer trip into the fjord provides close encounters with icebergs and even an inquisitive seal. Nearby, a pod of whales feeds peacefully in the bay, their spouts visible up to a mile away.
Using two inflatable Zodiac boats, we travel through Sermilik Fjord where Greenland’s most “active” glacier, the Helheim, fills the passage with icebergs, some as big as buildings. Our Inuit guide, Julius, shepherds us across the waterway, carefully threading a path between the behemoths of fantastical ice, where hidden dangers lurk under the surface. The expression “tip of the iceberg” takes on a new meaning as the crystal clear waters reveal turquoise-blue mountains that disappear under the surface.
Notwithstanding their beauty, icebergs (which come in a variety of shapes and colors) are completely unpredictable and must be kept at a distance to avoid the collapsing mountains of ice swamping the Zodiacs with tidal waves. It takes an experienced navigator to know where it’s safe to go.
On one excursion, the thickness of the ice forces a change of plans. Julius cannot find a safe way through the icebergs to reach the opposite side of Sermilik Fjord, where we hope to explore the Johan Petersen Fjord at the edge of the Greenland Ice Cap.
Instead, we land on a rocky beach beneath a soaring peak to hike up to a small waterfall surrounded by tiny, purple arctic flowers. The layers of rocks (about 1-2 million years old) look as if they have been squeezed and pushed by the cycle of freezing and thawing that takes place there.
Other hikes take us to the remains of ancient Inuit hunting camps, the turf houses still largely intact even though they were abandoned years ago.
We also visit Tinit. The village consists of a few wooden houses with racks outside to dry fish. Wooden sleds sit on the roof, kept there so that they aren’t buried when needed.
The Inuit are very friendly, even inviting us in for coffee. Thanks to Julius, we learn about Inuit culture that still survives by fishing and hunting, even as the people begin to adapt to contemporary 21st century life. They believe that within the next 10 years, the Inuit won’t be able to hunt anymore. “We hope that tourism will replace the income we make from hunting,” Julius says, “but at the same time, we must balance this against the beauty of our traditions so that our way of life is not destroyed.” The unknown factor is the impact that climate change and the rapidly melting Greenland Ice Cap will have on these fragile communities.
Base Camp Greenland gives us a unique opportunity to experience a little-known part of the world and provides us with valuable insights into the lives of the Inuit. We’re forced to confront our own insignificance in the face of nature. We leave humbled by the experience, but with a much better understanding of the reality of life in the Arctic.
if you go
- Natural Habitat Adventure is the only company that offers this unique travel opportunity.
- Natural Habitat partners with the World Wildlife Fund, donating a portion of all profits to support conservation efforts worldwide.