Author Archives: lgermany

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Nordafar – abandoned fish processing factory near Nuuk

The image of a large, grey, two-story abandoned building with hints of red around its window panes had haunted me ever since I first moved to Nuuk. I desperately wanted to visit this building and see what else the site contained (other images were few and far between) and finally had my chance on a trip to Nordafar (Færingehavn / Kangerluarsoruseq) with Greenland Cruises.

The days are very short in Greenland in December, and it was still completely dark as we rendezvoused with our captain, Uli, and his helper, Anja, at the Tidewater Stairs at 9am.

Greenland Cruises boat at Tidewater stairs in Nuuk

It was a heavily overcast day with snow falling gently, so there wasn’t much to see as we took about 1.5 hours to sail ~50km south to the abandoned fishery. A good opportunity to chat to Uli and find out a little more about where we would be visiting.

View out of the cabin windscreen on our way to the Nordafar Abandoned Settlement near Nuuk

Nordafar started out as an emergency Faeroese fishing base in 1926 and was expanded in 1937 to become an international fishing port. At its height in the 1950s and 60s, the Norwegian-Danish-Faroese company (hence the name NorDaFar) received daily catches from over 1000 fishermen and employed the more than 200 people who lived here with their families. But a 2-decade dream run came to an end as cod stocks suddenly dwindled and all but disappeared. The company was liquidated in 1990 and its assets sold off. The last person left permanently in 1998 and the remaining infrastructure abandoned.

Arriving at Nordafar

It is an eerie scene sailing quietly past the crumbling factory buildings that line the fjord. Judging by the state of decay, it won’t be too much longer before whole buildings fall into the ocean.

Approaching Nordafar Abandoned Settlement near Nuuk
Crumbling factory building at Nordafar Abandoned fish processing plant near Nuuk
Coming into Nordafar Abandoned fishing plant near Nuuk

I caught a glimpse of the building that had drawn me here through a gap in the buildings

Nordafar - the Abandoned Fish processing plant near Nuuk

as we navigated to a point where we could climb (literally) up onto land (the fishery’s long jetty no longer exists).

Entering Nordafar Abandoned Settlement near Nuuk

We then followed Anja through knee-deep powder snow to explore the site.

Off to explore Nordafar Abandoned fishing village near Nuuk

Exploring the settlement of Nordafar

The first building we entered was a warehouse/store – its shelving mostly empty and the remaining items slowly fusing to rust.

Warehouse shelves - Nordafar Abandoned fish factory near Nuuk
Ledger - Nordafar Abandoned fish factory near Nuuk
Scale - Nordafar Abandoned fish factory near Nuuk
Rusting stock - Nordafar Abandoned fish factory near Nuuk

Then, the postcard building that I had come to see – which turned out to be the admin building.

Admin building - Nordafar Abandoned fish factory near Nuuk

We explored both downstairs and upstairs – rooms full of peeling paint and wallpaper with broken windows overlooking the whole of the site.

View from admin building - Nordafar Abandoned fish factory near Nuuk
Inside admin building- Nordafar Abandoned fish factory near Nuuk
Bathroom inside admin building -Nordafar Abandoned fish factory near Nuuk

Next up was the community hall, with it beautiful, wood-lined main hall, complete with stage and podium.

Walking to community hall - Nordafar Abandoned fish factory near Nuuk
Inside community hall - Nordafar Abandoned fish factory near Nuuk

And then the Seamen’s Home – a hotel where visitors could stay.

Walking to Seamens Home - Nordafar Abandoned fish factory near Nuuk

Inside was industrial kitchen equipment, a few scattered tables in the old dining hall with a piano slowly disintegrating in the corner, bedrooms (some with furniture still in them), and long spooky corridors.

Inside Seamens home kitchen - Nordafar Abandoned fish factory near Nuuk
Inside Seamens Home dining room - Nordafar Abandoned fish factory near Nuuk
Bedroom in Seamens Home - Nordafar Abandoned fish factory near Nuuk
Window in Seamens Home - Nordafar Abandoned fish factory near Nuuk
Corridor in Seamens Home - Nordafar Abandoned fish factory near Nuuk

Tell me this doesn’t look like the perfect place for a horror film to be shot!

Seamens Home - Nordafar Abandoned fish factory near Nuuk

We also poked our noses into one of the houses on the site

Workers house - Nordafar Abandoned fish factory near Nuuk
Inside a house - Nordafar Abandoned fish factory near Nuuk

before heading over to the factory area through the now reasonably heavy snow.

Exploring - Nordafar Abandoned fish factory near Nuuk

Here, I stopped for a moment to let the others go ahead. As I stood in the falling snow – I could have been the last person on Earth – such was the deafening silence of this abandoned place where we were the only visitors.

The Nordafar fish processing plant

The buildings that make up the processing plant are numerous and vast. We didn’t get to see everything – but it seemed as if we found the inhandling area, the packing area, the machinery room, one of the large freezer houses, and the workshop.

Looking out through the ruined front of the fish factory - Nordafar Abandoned fish factory near Nuuk
Inside fish factory - Nordafar Abandoned fish factory near Nuuk
Inside fish factory snowmobile - Nordafar Abandoned fish factory near Nuuk
Scales inside the fish factory - Nordafar Abandoned fish factory near Nuuk
Machinery room - Nordafar Abandoned fish factory near Nuuk

We probably spent about an hour exploring these buildings, keeping well away from their front wall which used to adjoin a large quay. Now fallen into the fjord, we didn’t want to follow in after it! In fact, we were a little wary the whole excursion and followed in each other’s footsteps for the most part, as the snow made it impossible to tell if there was solid ground beneath us or only a decayed part of the building that we would fall through.

I particularly loved finding bits and pieces that were stamped with the factory’s name and which showed the “daily life” of the plant.

Packaging inside the fish factory - Nordafar Abandoned fish factory near Nuuk
Freezer room in fish factory - Nordafar Abandoned fish factory near Nuuk
Sign in card holders inside the fish factory - Nordafar Abandoned fish factory near Nuuk
Time cards - Nordafar Abandoned fish factory near Nuuk
Work cards - Nordafar Abandoned fish factory near Nuuk

All up – we spent 2 hours exploring the site. This is nowhere near enough time for a photographer and a lover of abandoned places, but is a good amount of time to see most of the key parts of Nordfar.

Back on board, we carefully backed away from our “docking” place through the thin surface layer of sea ice

Leaving - Nordafar Abandoned fish factory near Nuuk

and watched as the derelict buildings of this abandoned ghost town disappeared into the falling snow.

Looking at Nordafar Abandoned fish factory near Nuuk disappearing into the snow

A surprise on the way back to Nuuk!

On the way back to Nuuk, the snow was heavier and there was even less to see than on the way out. But our eagle-eyed captain Uli had spotted a water spout in the distance, and we changed course to take a closer look.

It was a Humpback whale!

Humpback whale in December near Nuuk

December is extremely late for a Humpback whale to still be hanging around in the waters of Greenland (they migrate to warmer waters during the northern winter) so this was a special treat indeed! We followed at a respectful distance for about 20 minutes, watching this graceful giant of the sea. Then, with a final flick of its tail, he bid us adieu and dived – leaving us to continue our journey back to Nuuk.

Humpback whale tail in December near Nuuk

Explore the Nordafar for yourself

Visiting Nordafar is possibly my favourite excursion from Nuuk. Unfortunately, it does not run very often, and even this trip had been postponed twice due to bad weather. But if you get the chance, you should definitely go see it for yourself – especially as there are plans to demolish the site and clean it up in the near future.

Although we had 2 hours to explore on this excursion, I could have easily stayed 2 days! There is so much to see, and I’d love to return in Summer when other elements that were hidden under the snow on this trip would be revealed.

Thank you Greenland Cruises for an amazing trip!


If you are planning a trip to Nuuk, I recommend reading the Ultimate Travel Guide to Nuuk.


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Sisimiut Snowshoeing adventure

In case you haven’t noticed, I’m a mad, keen hiker 😉 And in the last year I’ve discovered the winter equivalent – snowshoeing!

Snowshoeing into the wilderness

Read more about a relatively short snowshoeing trip I did in February with  Hotel Sisimiut and Tours in my Snowshoing in Sisimiut blog post at Guide to Greenland.


For more information about Sisimiut- check out the Ultimate Travel Guide to Sisimiut that I wrote for Guide to Greenland.


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Whale watching in Aasiaat


During Summer, the waters around Greenland are a playground for a large number of whales. Disko Bay, in particular, offers some incredible whale watching experiences, including from the rarely visited town of Aasiaat.

Whale blows near Aasiaat
Whale blows in the Aasiaat archepelago

Read more about whale watching with the Aasiaat Seamen’s Home at my Whale Safari in Aasiaat blog post at Guide to Greenland.


For more information about Aasiaat – check out the Ultimate Travel Guide to Aasiaat that I wrote for Guide to Greenland.


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Sisimiut Monster Snowmobile

Having just done my first snowmobile adventure, I discovered that Sisimiut also has monster snowmobiling trips into the backcountry!

The monster snowmobile from Sisimiut Hotel and Tours
Our guide and monster snowmobile!

These are a little more sedate and definitely a lot warmer than the typical snowmobile tour!

Read more about this fantastic way to see the marvelous Sisimiut backcountry in comfort with my Monster Snowmobiling in Sisimiut blog post at Guide to Greenland.

Million thanks to the Hotel Sisimiut and Tours for the experience.


For more information about Sisimiut- check out the Ultimate Travel Guide to Sisimiut that I wrote for Guide to Greenland.


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Hotel Sisimiut’s Arctic Spa

I hadn’t walked the Arctic Circle Trail again. But that didn’t stop me from indulging in an Arctic Spa experience at the Hotel Sisimiut on my most recent visit.

In addition to the sauna that I so enjoyed last time, their hot-tubs (called “Wilderness Baths” were also finished and ready for me to soak in. I couldn’t wait to try it!

Read more about this wonderful way to spend an hour or so in Greenland’s second-largest town with my Arctic Spa at the Hotel Sisimiut blog post at Guide to Greenland.

Million thanks to the Hotel Sisimiut for the experience.

This could be you!

For more information about Sisimiut- check out the Ultimate Travel Guide to Sisimiut that I wrote for Guide to Greenland.


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Snowmobiling adventure in Sisimiut

Given I’m a bit of an adrenaline junkie, I’d always been curious to try snowmobiling. I had my first chance to do so earlier this year when I was up in Sisimiut to learn Greenlandic at KTI’s Oqaatsinik Pikkorissaavik (language school).

Read more about my first experience of snowmobiling at my Snowmobiling in Sisimiut blog post at Guide to Greenland.

Million thanks to Magnus at the Hotel Sisimiut Seamen’s Home for the tour!

Me on the snowmobile near Sisimiut
Me driving the snowmobile outside Sisimiut

For more information about Sisimiut- check out the Ultimate Travel Guide to Sisimiut that I wrote for Guide to Greenland.


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Day trip to Upernaviarsuk – South Greenland

Upernaviarsuk Research Station is an experimental farm and school, and important component of the Kujataa UNESCO World Heritage-listed areas of South Greenland. They have managed to grow everything from root vegetables to iceberg lettuce to strawberries here, despite the sub-arctic climate.

The regular green fields of Upernaviarsuk near Qaqortoq
Green fields and farm sheds at Upernaviarsuk

Read more about this Government initiative to expand the range of produce that can be grown locally on my Upernaviarsuk blog post at Guide to Greenland.

Inside a greenhouse at Upernaviarsuk research station near Qaqortoq
Inside one of the greenhouses at Upernaviarsuk

For more information about Qaqortoq – check out the Ultimate Travel Guide to Qaqortoq that I wrote for Guide to Greenland.


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Day trip to Hvalsey Church – South Greenland

The best-preserved Viking (Norse) ruin in Greenland, Hvalsey Church is a must-see for visitors to the southern part of the island.

UNESCO Heritage Listed Hvalsey Church near Qaqortoq - South Greenland
UNESCO Heritage Listed Hvalsey Church near Qaqortoq – South Greenland

Inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage List as part of Kujataa (5 areas of South Greenland protected for their evidence of sub-arctic farming practices spanning several centuries), it is a wonderful half-day trip from Qaqortoq and a step back in time.

Read more about my trip to this remarkable site (Qaqortukulooq in the Greenlandic language) in my Hvalsey Church blog post on Guide to Greenland.

You can also read about my explorations of other Viking ruins in South Greenland during my first trip to the island in 2017 – including Gardar (Igaliku) and Brattalid (Qassiarsuk).


For more information about Qaqortoq – check out the Ultimate Travel Guide to Qaqortoq that I wrote for Guide to Greenland.


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The abandoned settlement of Kangeq near Nuuk

The abandoned settlements of Greenland are fascinating places. They stand as quiet, melancholy reminders of Government policies in the 1960s and 70s to consolidate the infrastructure of Greenland. During this period, many of the small settlements where hunters and fishermen lived were closed and their residents forcibly moved to the larger towns and cities – often with devastating effects on the people.

I had visited the old settlement of Assaqutaq near Sisimiut a couple of years ago and had spent ages wandering around the derelict buildings and peering through the broken windows at the disintegrating interiors. The peeling paint and weathered buildings are magnets for photographers such as myself and I’d wanted to visit Kangeq – the abandoned settlement near Nuuk – ever since I moved here last year.

Sailing to Kangeq

After an extremely wet Summer with endless rainy days, we managed to pick an absolutely beautiful day for our excursion. There was no wind, and our boat “Ivik” was an older, slower people mover which meant we could comfortably sit upstairs on the roof around the picnic table for panoramic views while we were sailing.

Sitting around picnic table on Kang Tourism closed boat heading to Kangeq-Nuuk-Greenland
Sitting around a picnic table on the top deck of “Ivik” – loving the views!

One of the great things about a trip to Kangeq is that you sail in a different direction to almost every other boat tour that departs from Nuuk. Rather than heading into the Nuuk fjord, you head out towards the open sea. This gives wonderful views of Nuuk with the iconic Sermitsiaq mountain rising up behind it, but can also cause issues for those who are prone to sea-sickness. If you do get queasy on a boat – it is a very good idea to take precautions as the swells can be quite large.

Nuuk city and Sermitsiaq Mountain as you head to Kangeq-Greenland

Kangeq

It took us a little over an hour to sail from Nuuk to Kangeq, passing icebergs that had made their way down from the Nuuk Icefjord and approaching ever closer to the low-lying islands that make up Akia (Nordlandet).

Icebergs and the low-lying Akia - Nordlandet-Kangeq-Nuuk-Greenland
Icebergs on the way towards Akia / Nordlandet

Kangeq is tucked into a sheltered harbour and it is clear, even from a distance, that the settlement has been abandoned. Houses stripped of paint, the skeleton of a roof exposed to the sky, and the old dock at the fish factory falling into the fjord are just some of the sights that greet you upon arrival.

Sailing into the abandoned settlement of Kangeq-Nuuk-Greenland
Sailing into the abandoned settlement of Kangeq

Given that the dock had gone, our captain nudged Ivik over to a large rock and we all scrambled out over the bow for our 45-minute exploration of Kangeq.

Scrambling ashore at Kangeq – there is no dock anymore

It was amazing! Though 45 minutes is nowhere near enough if you are a keen photographer.

Graveyard and house in the abandoned settlement of Kangeq near Nuuk-Greenland
The crumbling buildings of the abandoned settlement of Kangeq near Nuuk-Greenland

Once I disembarked I headed to my right to see what I could find over a small rise. It turned out – this is where the church, bell tower, and the old graveyard were located.

church and belltower at the abandoned settlement of Kangeq nearNuuk-Greenland
Church and bell tower of Kangeq

I wandered around as many of the buildings as possible and also tried to see inside if I could. The mostly empty interiors with their pastel paints and fallen ceilings were just as interesting and, in a couple of the houses, I could still see the old iron stoves.

Peeling paint in colourful rooms at the abandoned settlement of Kangeq near Nuuk-Greenland
The coloured interiors of the houses of Kangeq – now dilapidated
An old stove in one of the abandoned houses at the settlement of Kangeq near Nuuk-Greenland
An old stove in a house that has collapsed in on itself

Unfortunately, I took so much time over in this part of the site, that I didn’t even get to the other section of Kangeq that lies across the harbour and the shattered bridge. Ah well – you always need an excuse to come back, and I would very much like to revisit the settlement on another occasion!

The abandoned settlement of Kangeq near Nuuk-Greenland
Looking across to the part of Kangeq I didn’t get to explore. Some of the houses have been restored and are now summer cabins for people in Nuuk

The “Island of Hope” and Hans Egede

From Kangeq, we headed a little further around the “Island of Hope” on which it sits to the point where the Danish-Norwegian missionary Hans Egede established his first settlement in Greenland in 1721.

A stone monument celebrating the 200 year anniversary of the settlement and the foundations of Hans Egede’s house are all that mark the site

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The monument to Hans Egede at the Island of Hope
Remains of the foundations of the house of Hans Egede at Island of Hope near Nuuk-Greenland
The remains of Hans Egede’s house

So I had plenty of time to climb the nearby hill for spectacular views over the lakes and nearby islands. It is difficult to imagine living in this remote outpost for 7 years!

Looking inland on the Island of Hope near Nuuk-Greenland
Looking inland on the Island of Hope
Looking out to see on the Island of Hope near Nuuk-Greenland
Looking out to see on the Island of Hope

Return to Nuuk

After 30 minutes, we re-boarded Ivik and ended up circumnavigating the island on our way back to Nuuk. Once again, the views of Kingittorsuaq (the “reindeer antlers”) and Sermitsiaq crouching over Nuuk were spectacular during the hour-long sail home.

Sailing through the narrow channels of Akia Nordlandet - Kinngitorsuaq in the background near Nuuk-Greenland
Sailing back to Nuuk through the narrow channels of Akia / Norlandet. We are heading straight towards Kingittorsuaq – the big mountain in the background

Million thanks to Kang Tourism ApS for an awesome day of exploring!

Explore the Nuuk Fjord for yourself

If you are planning a trip to Nuuk, I recommend reading the Ultimate Travel Guide to Nuuk.

You should definitely get out on the water with one of the many fjord tours on offer.  There are options that are based solely around the scenery, and others (like this one) that include fishing, visiting a small settlement, or experiencing life in a small Greenlandic community.

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Sarfaq Ittuk – Day 5 – Sisimiut – Ilulissat

On the final day on board Sarfaq Ittuk, I awoke to the ship pulling into Aasiaat (population = 3164). Greenland’s 5th largest town is located on an archipelago of low islands and is the only place I’ve been in Greenland that doesn’t have a mountain standing over it!

Approaching Aasiaat - Sarfaq Ittuk - West Greenland
Colourful houses but no mountain near Aasiaat

Given I would be returning to Aasiaat later in my trip, I decided to stay on board and take photos of the very photogenic abandoned fish factory in the harbour during our 30 minute stopover.

Abandoned fish factory in Aasiaat harbour  - Sarfaq Ittuk - West Greenland
An abandoned fish factory in Aasiaat harbour

We departed Aasiaat under gorgeous blue skies for our crossing of Disko Bay to Ilulissat. Everybody was out on deck soaking in the Sun – though it was still a bit chilly so we were all rugged up. Some even wrapped themselves in sleeping bags 😀

Everybody out on deck for Disko Bay crossing  - Sarfaq Ittuk - West Greenland
Everybody was out on deck for our crossing of Disko Bay. Gorgeous weather!

We sailed past many giant icebergs that would have originated quite close to our destination – in the Ilulissat Icefjord

Huge icebergs in Disko Bay - Sarfaq Ittuk - West Greenland
Disko Bay is home to huge icebergs

and were eventually rewarded in our lookout for whales.

Disko Bay home to whales in the summer  - Sarfaq Ittuk - West Greenland
Disko Bay is also home to many many whales during Summer. Especially Humpbacks

Final destination of Sarfaq Ittuk – Ilulissat

The approach to Ilulissat (population = 4632) was spectacular as we sailed across the mouth of the Icefjord.

Unfortunately there was not a huge amount of ice outside of the Icefjord itself on this trip. Clearly the large icebergs were keeping all the smaller ice trapped behind them.

Enormous icebergs block the mount of the Ilulissat Icefjord  - Sarfaq Ittuk - West Greenland
Enormous icebergs block the mouth of the Ilulissat Icefjord

Ilulissat is the northernmost town on the epic journey of the Sarfaq Ittuk along the West coast of Greenland. Here I had to bid adieu to my home for the past several days and all the wonderful people I met aboard her, but I very much look forward to my next voyage with Arctic Umiaq Line.

Summary

The Sarfaq Ittuk passenger ferry from Qaqortoq (South Greenland) to Ilulissat (North Greenland) is one of the best ways to experience the world’s largest island. Travelling by sea (as the Inuit did) offers a true perspective of the enormous size of Greenland, and encourages you to slow down, relax, enjoy nature, and really appreciate where you are.

For a more practical look at the journey, I encourage you to read the Go-to Guide to the Sarfaq Ittuk journey that I wrote for Visit Greenland (soon to be published).

And if you have the time – I highly recommend that you include at least a part of this journey in your itinerary for Greenland.

Read more about the Sarfaq Ituuk journey

If this post has piqued your curiosity about travelling with Sarfaq Ittuk in Greenland, read about the rest of my adventure:

I also wrote the Sarfaq Ittuk Ferry – All you need to know page for Visit Greenland. Check it out for more of the logistical details.

Discover more about Greenland

I have a large number of blog posts about Greenland, so feel free to read more about my experiences here on my blog or on my Greenland-specific blog at Guide to Greenland.

For more information about Greenland, the best websites are Guide to Greenland (which is also a one-stop-shop for many of the tours available), and Visit Greenland, the Government tourism site.

This post contains some affiliate links.  If you make a purchase through one of these links, I will earn a small commission at no extra cost to you.  Your support is appreciated!