I was on my third cup of tea over breakfast at the Hotel Sisimiut when Jan from Sisimiut Private Boat Safari called. Yes, it was unbelievably foggy outside, but some of the calmest waters occur after a heavy fog lifts he told me – so could I be ready in 15 minutes?
We’d been waiting a couple of days for the waters to be calm enough to set out on a “Sea Safari” around Sisimiut. As the name suggests, the goal is to spot and observe the marine animals that are so plentiful in the fjords and off the coast of Greenland. Seals and whales in particular are very common but, as with any safari, there are no guarantees…
Down at the harbour I once again donned the freezer suit that I’d worn on the trip to the abandoned settlement of Assaqutaq the day before, and off we set.
Heading out of Sisimiut you pass several small islands which are used by locals as “holiday islands” for their Greenlandic sled dogs. The name stems from the fact that the dogs are free to roam the island as they please, a welcome change from being chained up all summer!
It was stunningly beautiful out on the almost mirror-like water as we set about looking for wildlife.
Though I was also captivated by the low fog that lay across the water, at times completely obscuring the horizon line.
Unfortunately, despite the calm seas and our best efforts – there were simply no animals to be seen! The chatter on the radio told us we weren’t the only ones having problems. The local hunters were checking in with each other and reporting their unanimous bad luck in Greenlandic. In almost 4 hours on the water, we managed to spot only a handful of individual seals that promptly disappeared as soon as we approached.
That was it.
Well, apart from the sea birds that is 😊
Although this was disappointing, it is the nature of animal safaris the world over. Sometimes you are unlucky when the animals don’t play the game!
We decided to abandon the search for animals for a while and Jan took me over to Nipisat Island – home to one of the most well-studied archaeological sites in this part of Greenland. Extensively excavated between 1989 and 1994, the dig uncovered more than 70,000 bone fragments and 1,000 artefacts (including 314 tools) from the Saqqaq culture (~2500 – 1500BC). If you are keen to learn more – you can read the full report by Anne Birgitte Gotfredsen and Tinna Møbjerg online 😊
What remains now is a low, rectangular stone wall, partially covered in vegetation, that stands watch over the sea.
After hiking up to the top of the island for an amazing view
[move mouse over image to see the full panorama]
it was back in the boat for more tea
while we made our way around to a beautiful white shell beach
and past the abandoned settlement of Uummannaarsuk, where Jan used to have a summer home.
Unfortunately, we still had no luck with the animals on the way back to Sisimiut, though Jan never stopped searching!
One of the best ways to get close views of marine animals is on a sea safari in a small boat. Unfortunately, I was very unlucky on this occasion (apparently there were seals everywhere 2 days later!) but it was still an amazing experience to be out on the water for an extended period of time.
The freezer suit that Jan provides kept me warm for the whole 4 hours (and trust me, I feel the cold!) so you just have to make sure you have a good beanie, gloves and warm shoes to guarantee your comfort.
Cost: Depends on the amount of time spent. Have a look at the Sisimiut Private Boat Safari website for details.
Time: 4 hours
Discover more about Greenland
I have a large number of blog posts about Greenland, so feel free to read more about my experiences and adventures here on my blog.
Or, if this post has piqued your curiosity about Greenland in general, learn more about this amazing country by:
- reading my Greenland-specific blog at Guide to Greenland
- checking out the information and wide range of trips available at Guide to Greenland
- exploring the Government tourism site at Visit Greenland