Traveling with PolarJournal – South Greenland Adventure Blog 1 | Polarjournal

Greenland has fascinated people for centuries. The huge ice sheet, the mighty glaciers, polar bears and musk oxen, tundra areas, these are the images that shape our imagination of the largest island in the world. But Greenland is more diverse, because its dimensions are so vast that the lower part of the island is even further south than Iceland. And it is precisely the South that is so much different from the rest of Greenland that I got to explore it together with our partner Quark Expeditions. But not the usual coastal expedition trip, it goes much deeper.

Buckle up and stop smoking (which is forbidden on board anyway), because we are on the road from today on. Image: Michael Wenger

For most people, every trip to the polar regions begins with a flight. I, too, start our journey on a plane, from Zurich via Stockholm to Reykjavik, Iceland’s capital. While flying had become an everyday routine until two years ago, it turns out that two years of the pandemic have also left deep scars in the industry. And yet passenger numbers are on the rise again, including in the expedition travel industry. And even the war in Ukraine and the closure of the Russian Arctic could not stop this. People are simply cruising more around Svalbard or Iceland, or going to Greenland, but just to the “right” Greenland in the East or West. The North is only scratched at the corners, because the ships cannot (yet) enter the pack ice region of the North. 

Most cruises rarely stop in the South of Greenland. Sometimes Narsarsuaq is on the program. But usually the cruise ships don’t stay long and there is no income for the community. Picture: Michael Wenger

And the South? You inevitably pass by there. Often you make short stops in Prins Christian Sound at the southern tip for the picturesque surroundings, then in the Southwest of Greenland, in places like Hvalsey for the church ruins, or in Narsarsuaq to look at remains of a Nordmann farm, to stretch your legs a bit. But the rest remains unseen. And that leads to fear and discontent among the local population. Shortly before my departure, I receive the news that the stakeholders of South Greenlandic tourism have asked the government for help. They want to show the world that there is more here than ruins and a picturesque fjord. We will see if they are right, because that is the goal of this trip with Quark. 

Quark Expeditions’ flagship, the “Ultramarine” off Narsarsuaq will be our comfortable base for many activities. Image: Michael Wenger

The experienced tour operator wants to do it differently than the others, wants to show South Greenland in its diversity and splendor, let its flagship, the “Ultramarine”, sail from West to East and back, through the fjord landscapes, fly with the helicopters deep into the interior and up to the ice sheet, where we will spend time. Guests will travel with locals, try local specialties in a camp, learn about South Greenland, experience nature with all their senses. Others want to explore the landscape on mountain bikes or in kayaks. Tastes are different and there should be something for everyone. Not only the program is mixed, but also the guest list. The 130 or so passengers have come from all corners of the world, eager to learn and experience something new. For all that, in Reykjavik, after the document checks for COVID security are completed, we board a charter plane to Narsarsuaq and board our floating comfort accommodation. Finally there, back on board, in a polar region. Time now to explore our base. And that”s what I’ll introduce you to in the next blog.

Dr. Michael Wenger, PolarJournal

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