Difference between revisions of "Narsarsuaq"
Revision as of 10:02, 3 October 2012
Narsarsuaq is a village in Southern Greenland. The village is based around the airport, which was built in 1941 by the US military, but is now in commercial use. When arriving in Southern Greenland by international flight this will be your destination. Most of the buildings in the town support the airport, the surrounding area has some spectacular sights.
First thing to do, when arriving, is to go to the Blue Ice Explorer Café/Tourist Office/Museum , where you will leave your bags, and find out what to see/do. Remember that, as everything else in Greenland, the availability of transportation and sight seeing depend on the current weather conditions.
Narsarsuaq is home to one of Greenland’s international airports; the other is located in Kangerlussuaq. It is one of the only flat plains in Greenland making it ideal for an airport. The small settlement around the airport is bustling though, with passengers arriving daily. The town has a hotel, hostel, shop, café and a nurses station.
Narsarsuaq airport is one of the two airports (the other being Kangerlussuaq) in Greenland large enough for international air traffic. Air Greenland  used to offer weekly flights form Copenhagen, Denmark and Airiceland  has 5 weekly flights from Reykjavik, Iceland. In the summertime, Atlantic Airways  also has flights from Reykjavik, Iceland, but not as regular as airiceland.
From May to September the Arctic Umiaq Line  has a weekly ferry to and from Narsarsuaq. It follows the coastline to the west and, if possible, sails all the way to Ilulisat, passing Qaqortoq, Nuuk and Sisimiut on the way. To Greenlanders, the ferry is used like the Intercity trains in Europe, thus you'll meet ordinary people visiting their families, not just tourists on a cruise. The company is trying to make the route more attractive to tourists, i.e. the captains are instructed to sail annouce and sail closer to any whales spotted on the route. So if you hear a sudden speaker mumble ressembling the danish word hvaler, do hurry to the upper deck for a spetacular view of jumping whales.
Small boats sail the waters south of Narsarsuaq all the time. The tourist office arranges boats to most of the cities in Southern Greenland, but you might be able to catch a lift on a fishing boat going your direction.
On the other side of the river a dirt road leads to the settlement Qassiasuk on the other side of the fjord. But to arrange to cross the river, you have to talk to the tourist office in Narsarsuaq.
Most places are within walking distance, but taxis can be arranged by the hotel or tourist office. If you need to go to the harbour, a bus (owned by the hotel) can be arranged to pick you up. The fare is approx. 10 DKK or free if you live at the hotel. Further distances can be reached by boat. Check with the tourist office or a fisherboat at the harbour.
For easy trips you can climb the Signal Hill (Danish: Signalhøjen), which gives you a beautiful view over the fjord. Otherwise you can go to the harbour or the beach to watch icebergs sail by and hear them break.
One official sight is the lone standing fireplace of a burned down hospital north east of town.
The museum in Narsarsuaq features many historical artifacts from the American Blue West One base that was built in 1941 during WWII, there collection features pictures and artifacts from when the base was active from 1941-1948.
The Inland ice is within walking distance from Narsarsuaq. To get there, follow the road to the burned down hospital and walk through the scenic Flower Valley (Danish: Blomsterdalen). An almost vertical 300 m climb gets you to the beautiful view of the Narsarsuaq Glacier, and it is even possible to get quite close (though it is important to keep a very long safety distance!!!). Aside from the climb, it is an easy walk (approx. 10 km), and the climb is possible for people who are in reasonable condition, as the steepest parts are supported by ropes that you can hold on to. Guided tours can be arranged with the tourist office .
Hiking maps of the area make longer trips possible, but beware that trails on the map are suggestive, meaning it may be possible to walk this route and the route may not actually be marked. Green trails are routes along roads which are easy to navigate and difficult to get lost on. Blue are fairly easy cross country paths. Red trails are difficult. Black routes are extremely difficult and should be avoided if you are not a very experienced hiker or with an experienced guide. The trail down from Nakkaalaaq, for example, is little more than over-steepened talus slope. Don't expect anything to be marked, nor that lakes and streams have the size indicated, as this varies throughout seasons. Beware of the mosquitos and flies. Though not dangerous, they are quite a nuisance, so bring a net and lots of bug repellant.
River fishing is possible on the inlets of the fjord system near Narsarsuaq. Char is the most common catch, and it can be found in both salt- and freshwater.
Kayaking was invented in Greenland, and in Narsarsuaq there are great inlets in the fjord system to explore. Although they are protected from the wind and more turbulent seas, it is still necessary to be careful because the water is ice cold.
From the airport, it is possible to arrange a tourist flight to some of the most remote areas in Greenland. Tourist can arrange quick stops to take a look at the scenery, or overnight stays at remote settlements.
Souvenirs and postcards are available at the hotel and at the tourist office. There is a Supermarket (Pilersuisoq), but it is easiest found by asking directions.
The grocery store does not sell much besides dried reindeer meat to eat while hiking or camping. If you want dried camping food you will need to bring it from outside Greenland
Fast food can be bought at the airport, and you can probably get a bun, coffee or cake at the tourist office.
A restaurant is situated in the hotel.
There's a small bar in the hotel that serves local beer (Tuborg) and various imported drinks along with some interesting cocktails. The general store also sells some alcoholic drinks.
Alcohol is expensive in Greenland, so it's worth bringing your own if you can.
The youth hostel is situated 600 m northeast of the airport a bit of the side of the main road. Prices can be found on the Blue Ice café website .
The more expensive solution is to stay at the hotel. Take the bus from the airport (free if you stay at the hotel) or ask at the tourist office.
The cheap option is to put up a tent. Just stay out of the gasoline tank areas, the airport and the centre of town, then nobody will mind. If you do it near the water you will have the music of the iceberg to sleep to. Don't be surprised when you wake up in the middle of the night because a giant iceberg chose to turn upside down just outside your tent. For this reason you should avoid camping directly on the shoreline - a rolling iceberg can create a sizeable wave, a bit like a small tsunami, there have been isolated reports of tents being swept away by these waves.