Hiking Greenland – Icefjords and Remote Villages – Tasiilaq to Kulusuk

We awoke early to find a note from Lars saying that we now didn’t need to meet at the harbour until 11am.  This was because the clients that he was meant to be picking up in Kulusuk were no longer arriving today – so we could relax and enjoy another morning in Tasiilaq.  Bonus!

He also called by to let us know some special news!  

Over the past several years, there has been an extensive project to salvage the sunken wreck of Roald Amundsen’s polar ship “Maud“, and return her to Norway after being stuck in the Northwest Passage for over 80 years.  The wreck and the tugboat towing her had arrived in Tasiilaq harbour last night!

With their interest in polar exploration, this caused a great flurry of excitement for Eric and Allan in particular and, after breakfast, each of us set out to take a look before meeting at the harbour at 11am.

Panoramic view of Tasiilaq harbor - East Greenland

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It was yet another bright, sunny morning and it turned out that the best view of Maud was to be had from right in front of the fuel tanks opposite the harbour.  There was plenty of interest from the locals as well, who headed out in their own boats to get a closer look at this famous ship.

Locals checking out Roald Amundsen's ship "Maud" at Tasiilaq harbor - East Greenland
Modern vessel next to Roald Amundsen’s ship “Maud”

From there I decided to visit the Tasiilaq church for a quick peek – especially since Andrea had said that it was really beautiful.  It is quite a modern construction from the outside

Exterior of Tasiilaq Church - East Greenland
The modern exterior design of the Tasiilaq church

and very simple and beautiful inside

Interior of the Tasiilaq Church - East Greenland
Interior of the Tasiilaq church (top) and a Greenlandic hymnal (bottom)

with a model of a boat of course ūüôā  set against subtle paintings depicting East Greenland landscapes around the lower reaches of the ceiling.

Umiaq model against a painted East Greenland - Tasiilaq Church
Model umiaq (women’s boat) set against a painting of an East Greenland landscape in Tasiilaq church

I wasn’t the only one admiring the church at that time of the morning, and I met one of the Norwegian crew of the tugboat making the journey with “Maud”!  He was telling me a little about their journey so far and that they were leaving again later in the afternoon for their 6 day voyage to their next stop – Iceland.  I wished him a safe trip!

I also talked to the lady caretaker of the church – saying in my limited Greenlandic that the church was very nice.  “Assut kusanarpoq” (how am I doing Karl? ūüėČ )  She was clearly very surprised that I even got it vaguely right and asked if I could speak Greenlandic.  At which point I had to disappoint her greatly by saying “naamik“.  I explained that I only knew a very, very small amount but was working on it, and she asked me how on earth I was learning.  Thank you Memrise ūüôā 

Upon leaving the church I still had about an hour before I had to be at the harbour, so I decided to go see if I could see anyone on the sailing boat that I thought was likely to belong to another Instagrammer I was connected to and who was also meant to be in Tasiilaq. 

Yacht docked in Tasiilaq - East Greenland

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I was in luck, as there were 2 people out the back of the yacht in the sunshine, so I called out

“Hello! A strange question.  But is there a Michael on board?”

It was quite a distance to shout, but once they’d understood what I said one of the guys replied “Yes, I’m Michael”

Hmmmm… He didn’t look like the Michael in the pictures I’d seen on Instagram…

“OK – well I’m Lisa from Instagram!”  Big smile ūüėÄ

“Ummmm… I don’t know any Lisa from Instagram.  I’m not actually on Instagram.”

Puzzled look from me.

“Oh. OK.  Sorry to disturb.  Its just that there was meant to be a Michael arriving on a sailboat to Tasiilaq around this time and we’ve been conversing on Instagram.” 

“Where was he sailing from?”  said with a big British accent.

“The UK.”

What are the chances that there was a sailboat in Tasiilaq at the time I was expecting, that had come from the UK and that had a Michael on board … but it wasn’t the correct one?!  

{It actually turned out later that Michael from Instagram had been delayed and was still in East Iceland.  Apparently the chances of that coincidence are pretty good!}

I met the rest of the group at the dock at 11am for our final boat transfer back to Kulusuk.  Once again, we had Lars’ new boat, and it was great to finally get to do the trip from Tasiilaq on water (last year I had to change to helicopter transfers due to too much pack ice in the fjords).

Leaving Tasiilaq on a boat transfer to Kulusuk - East Greenland
Leaving Tasiilaq on the boat transfer to Kulusuk

Although there was very little ice this year, we did have some great views of pretty decent-sized icebergs on the 40 minute trip between the two towns.

Icebergs on boat transfer from Tasiilaq to Kulusuk - East Greenland
The three peaks of Trillingerne peaking out from behind mountains and icebergs (top) and iceberg details on the boat transfer from Tasiilaq to Kulusuk (bottom)

We had lunch midway between the “airport harbour” (really just a “pull your boat up to the slippery rocks and get out” situation) and the airport on Kulusuk Island, with a great view of some local icebergs.

Lunch spot near Kulusuk airport - East Greenland
Not a bad lunch spot, especially given it is only a 10 minute walk from here to an international airport

And then it was time to board our Air Iceland Connect plane back to Reykjavik.

Air Iceland Connect plane at Kulusuk airport - East Greenland

We had a few minutes of magical views over the mountains and fjords of East Greenland before our plane turned east and headed out over open ocean back to Iceland.

View over the fjords of East Greenland from my Air Iceland Connect flight

Summary

Icefjords and Remote Villages by Greenland Adventures is a relaxed and moderately easy trip to East Greenland that is a nice mixture of day hiking and a taste of daily life in this remote corner of the world. 

If you are accustomed to doing day hikes of 6-7 hours, are prepared for basic (but clean and warm) accommodation, are prepared to chip in and help a little with carrying supplies, fetching water, washing up, and/or helping with the cooking, it is a wonderful experience in this beautiful area.

Million thanks to our guide, Andrea, who was fantastic in every way and really just one of the group.  We appreciated your great humour, slow walking speed and wonderful conversations around the dinner table ūüôā

Special thanks also to all my trekking companions who made this trip a ton of fun and who I really enjoyed hanging out with for 10 days.  I hope we get to meet again sometime soon!

BTW: if you are looking for a more intense trekking experience in East Greenland, I can also recommend the 12-day Unplugged Wilderness Trek that I did last year with the same company.

Read more about the Icefjords and Remote Villages Tour

If this post has piqued your curiosity about hiking and trekking in East Greenland, read about the rest of my adventure on the 10-day Icefjords and Remote Villages tour with Greenland Adventures:

If it has sparked an interest in Greenland more generally, learn more about this amazing country at Visit Greenland, and check out the wide range of tours of all kinds (not just hiking and trekking) at Guide to Greenland.

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