Qoornoq settlement in the Nuuk Fjord

Abandoned in the 1960s as part of the Danish government’s G60 program, the small settlement of Qoornoq has found a new lease on life as a Summer getaway for the families of its former residents. Exploring this small village on a boat tour from Nuuk offers a wonderful 1/2-day trip into the Nuuk Fjord from Greenland’s capital.

The weather was not looking brilliant as we rounded the 3 sides of Nuuk to start our journey up the Nuuk Fjord to Qoornoq.

Looking out the windscreen of our boat towards Sermitsiaq mountain with its top lost in cloud - Nuuk - West Greenland
The top of Sermitsiaq is still just visible

And although some of my travelling companions decided to brave the cold for a brief period, we spent most of the journey inside the warm cabin of our Nuuk Water Taxi, chatting and watching the spectacular scenery slide by through the large windows.

Passengers sitting outside the warm cabin (top) and inside with the captain (bottom) - Nuuk Fjord - West Greenland
We didn’t last long out on the front deck of the boat (top). It was lovely and warm inside the cabin though (bottom)

Fortunately the clouds were high enough that we could still see the peaks of most of the mountains, and the overcast day created a more subdued feeling than the bright sunshine I enjoyed on my first trip up the Nuuk Fjord. Perfect really for exploring an abandoned settlement.

Move cursor over image to see the full panorama

It took us about an hour to make our way up the fjord, and it turns out Sermitsiaq is not the only mountain with a frozen waterfall!

Frozen waterfall in the Nuuk Fjord - West Greenland
This one was much smaller than the frozen waterfall behind Sermitsiaq, but still…

Arriving at Qoornoq

Our first view of Qoornoq was a string of brightly coloured houses spread out over a peninsula.

Colourful houses of Qoornoq line the fjord - Nuuk Fjord - West Greenland
The colourful houses of Qoornoq lining the fjord

and our landing point was around the back at a set of wooden stairs.

Our boat approaching the wooden stairs leading up to Qoornoq - Nuuk Fjord - West Greenland
There was no dock as such. Thue just nosed the boat into these wooden stairs and held it there while we jumped off

Our captain, Thue, dropped us off and said to be back in an hour … then headed off to go fishing for his dinner.

Nuuk water taxi in Nuuk Fjord near Qoornoq - West Greenland
Thue leaving us temporarily so he could catch some dinner while he waited for us

This early in the season (mid-March), there is nobody at Qoornoq. In fact, I was asked later in the week by a person who owns a home there about how much ice there was and where we had made our landing.

Exploring Qoornoq

It was absolutely silent as we headed our separate ways to explore this hibernating village, footsteps muffled by the sometimes quite deep snow that covered the ground.

Colourful houses of Qoornoq and a path leading through the settlement - West Greenland
A path leading through the settlement

The bright, colourful houses really stood out against the white landscape

Some of the bright, colourful houses of Qoornoq - Nuuk Fjord - West Greenland
I love the colourful houses of Greenland

but all were locked up for the winter.

Padlock and decoration on the exterior of one of the houses of Qoornoq - West Greenland

The cemetery was a poignant reminder that there used to be a permanent community here. People who hunted and fished and lived out their lives in this remote place.

The cemetery at Qoornoq and one of its houses set against the mountainous backdrop - Nuuk Fjord - West Greenland
A white landscape

It was very easy to imagine that they left only yesterday.

Unlike in Assaqutaq near Sisimiut, almost every house in Qoornoq is very well maintained and there are no derelict buildings. I could see solar panels adorning most of the houses

Solar panels on a green house in Qoornoq - Nuuk Fjord - West Greenland
Most houses had solar panels

and other evidence that this small village comes alive during the summer months.

Kids soccer field in need of repair, but waiting for the Summer months - Qoornoq - West Greenland
I’m sure the nets will be repaired come Summer

It was a strange feeling to be wandering around a well maintained settlement with not another soul in sight. Almost like I’d only just missed the zombie apocalypse!

Houses of Qoornoq settlement with the fjord and mountains in the background - Nuuk Fjord - West Greenland
It was like a recently abandoned ghost town

Unfortunately, an hour is nowhere near long enough to fully explore Qoornoq and I didn’t manage to get down to the fish processing plant, nor discover the remnants of the abandoned railways that used to transport fish wagons. Clearly I’m going to have to return for another visit, and also spend some time searching for the Norse and ancient Inuit archaeological ruins that are meant to be in the area.

Move cursor over image to see the full panorama

A fishing interlude on the way back to Nuuk

When we returned to our boat, we were all very impressed by Thue’s fishing haul. So we stopped off for 15 minutes on the way back to Nuuk to try our own luck.

Catching cod on a Nuuk Fjord trip - West Greenland
Success! Many times over

Cod fishing in Nuuk Fjord is so ridiculously easy! You simply drop an unbaited line overboard, and within minutes (sometimes seconds) you have a sizable fish! This was my second experience of cod fishing (when I went around Sermitsiaq a few weeks ago we also dropped lines in) and it is crazy how quickly you can catch your dinner!

On the return journey to Nuuk, Thue took us quite close to mountains that towered above us and dropped more than 1000m straight into the Fjord.

Detail in the mountains in Nuuk Fjord - West Greenland
I love Greenlandic rock

It is an immense and rugged wilderness surrounding Greenland’s capital city and I can’t wait for my next chance to explore it further.

Explore the Nuuk Fjord by boat

If you are heading to Nuuk as part of your trip to Greenland, make sure that to head out on one of the many fjord tours available. There are actually several small settlements in the Nuuk Fjord (not just Qoornoq), so take your pick of whichever one interests you the most and go exploring.

Temporary dock for Qoornoq with the colourful houses waiting above - Nuuk Fjord - West Greenland
Final view of Qoornoq

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, if this post has piqued your curiosity about Greenland in general, learn more about this amazing country by:

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