Hunting and fishing are a very important part of the Greenlandic culture. The skill and ingenuity of the Inuit allowed them to live for thousands of years relying primarily on the skins and meat of the sea and land animals available to them. But they also made use of the limited plant life that grew in their harsh Arctic environment – knowledge that has also been passed down from generation to generation.
While we were at Sassannguit, we joined Leif and Agathe for some foraging fun amidst all the fishing.
Hiking at Sassannguit
Sassannguit is an incredibly beautiful area! The main river flows down a long, wide valley that is bordered on its southern side by high, jagged mountains that still had snowy peaks in mid-July. As a keen hiker, I couldn’t resist spending one of our afternoons there hiking up the valley to the first lake – where it is possible to catch rainbow-coloured Arctic Char throughout July and August.
There is a trail for part of the route, which essentially follows the river but at a distance.
Judith taking photos at one of my favourite viewpoints of the valley
It is an easy 1.5-2 hour hike to the first lake – mostly flat but it can be boggy in patches.
We found a reindeer skull along the way
And the reward is incredible!
Judith commented that this was one of the most beautiful places she’d ever been.
The view of the lake from its shore
I would really like to return and spend more time hiking in this area. Apparently it is a rich hunting ground for reindeer and musk-ox, and there are loads of arctic foxes, eagles and other birds as well. How incredible to have such a bountiful place in your family as Leif has had for generations!
Foraging plants at Sassannguit
As Judith and I hiked up the valley, we came across a patch of young Angelica (Kvan) and foraged some of the leaves. Kvan is one of the most popular herbs in Greenland and all parts of the plant are used to create such diverse products as: jam, chutneys, salads, candies, schnapps, dried spices, or just eaten raw.
We later combined our angelica leaves with leaves foraged from dandelions to create a salad for dinner on the second night at camp. Who needs lettuce, spinach or rocket?!
We also went out with Agathe on our last morning to forage the flowers and leaves of the Bog Labrador tea plant to be dried for, as the name suggests, Labrador Tea. Although I’m not a fan of herbal teas, this is very popular here in Greenland and is also thought to have medicinal properties.
Is this foraging or fishing? 🤔
The reason we had to switch from the Targa to a smaller boat for the last leg of the trip to Sassannguit was that access to the camp is very shallow and full of rocks at low tide.
You can see the Targa waiting to take us home just beyond the last of the rocks
But these are prime conditions for collecting mussels 🙂 So on our last morning, we donned gumboots and headed out with Leif into the shallows.
I LOVE collecting mussels!
There’s something really, really relaxing about it. Fishing around in the enormous variety of seaweed to see what you might uncover. Excitement beyond reason when you find a mussel bigger than all the others you’ve collected. And super easy!
The only thing you have to be careful of is the incoming tide! So after about 45 minutes we had to head back if we wanted to walk, rather than swim for the shore.
Once back at camp, we cleaned the mussels
Cleaning the mussels to remove the beards, barnacles and other bits and pieces
and then packed them in seaweed to help keep them fresh for the trip back to Sisimiut.
Laying seaweed over the mussels helps keep them cool and fresh if you aren’t going to eat them immediately
And the best bit?
Enough for 4 feeds of mussels back home 🙂
I highly recommend a visit to Sassannguit with West Greenland Wildlife if you are into fishing or want to learn a little about the traditional way of life in Greenland.
Leif and Agathe are beautiful people who open their home, lives, experiences and family history to all who are interested, and you return home with a full belly, a full heart, and nature’s bounty for your freezer.
Read more about Sassannguit
If this post has piqued your curiosity about our experiences in Sassannguit in Greenland, read about the rest of my adventure:
- Sassannguit – a traditional Greenlandic experience
- Fishing Arctic Char at Sassannguit
- Drying fish (Arctic Char) at Sassannguit
- Smoking fish (Arctic Char) at Sassannguit
- Foraging and hiking at Sassannguit
Sassannguit is located just south of Greenland’s second-largest city, Sisimiut. If you are planning to visit Sisimiut – you should also read my Ultimate Travel Guide to Sisimiut over at Guide to Greenland.
Discover more about Greenland
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!