Sarah Elizabeth Woodall & Johan Arne Fleischer
Greenland Expeditions by Land and Sea
We are a new Greenlandic operator offering multi-day sailing expeditions in Greenland on board our own cabin ship, Nakuak’. We are local and family-owned, so the experience is personal. Arne was born and raised in North Greenland, and Sarah chose Greenland as her home several years ago. As a couple with a shared love to be on the water and a tourism background, we have turned our passion into a profession.
What inspired your team to create tours to Greenland?
We want to share our beautiful country with the world of explorers. We want to bring curious travellers to places so unique and overwhelming they can nearly change one’s whole perspective. Witnessing that excitement and unfiltered emotion in others is life-giving!
What are some of the tours you provide?
Our core product here in the opening summer 2018 season is the Tasermiut Fjord voyage in South Greenland. It is 6 days / 5 nights of immersing in the nature with a pop of cultural discovery. We take a dip in the natural Uunartoq hot springs, hike in the famed Tasermiut Fjord likened to Patagonia, visit a few of the newly honoured UNESCO World Heritage Sites and Viking ruins, plus walk through towns and settlement. All meals are provided and accommodation is onboard Nakuak’ in shared cabins.
We also offer private charters anywhere in Greenland, year-round. These trips are completely tailored to the guests’ time frame and desired destination, so we spend a lot of time coordinating directly with the guests to create their dream expedition.
Why should Greenland be a destination worth visiting?
There is simply no other place on the planet like Greenland. It is a land of so many extremes and yet Greenlanders love it and call it home, and travellers get bitten by it and cannot get it out of their minds. There is something about being able to stand in town yet also being able to see and notice the Earth we live on – it is a very special feeling.
How should someone prepare for a trip to Greenland?
Mentally prepare yourself to expect the unexpected! Be flexible and accept that humans are not the strongest force up here. Weather and environmental conditions often have a larger impact on logistics and travel in Greenland than other places, and suddenly a domino effect could leave you enacting the Plan C you never knew you had.
What sort of wildlife can someone taking part in your expedition expect to come across?
There are never any guarantees to spot wildlife and we do not use it in our core message, but seals, sea birds and whales are within the realm of possibility.
How should someone prepare before taking part in one of your expeditions?
We consider our expeditions suitable for anyone in good physical condition, with no extra-ordinary need for additional preparations. Some of the days’ activities are more physically demanding than others – like the day we hike in Tasermiut Fjord – but also the nature of the ship itself requires that our guests are mobile and flexible. The interior stairs between decks are steep and narrow, and outside it is necessary to climb a fixed ladder to reach the top deck. Additionally, there are stairs to come in and out of the ship.
What are some things travellers should bring with them?
Several different layers of clothes and supportive hiking boots. When we are sailing guests will want a windproof jacket and warm accessories like gloves and a hat so they can stay out on deck as long as they wish – even in summer. But when we are on land being active, it is best to have a long sleeve layer over a short-sleeve layer, and maybe a vest, so to regulate body temperature.
A bathing suit and sunscreen! We stop at the natural hot springs on the way south.
A good camera with extra batteries/chargers. Literally every minute is a photo op.
A reusable water bottle that is easily identified as yours. With 12 people on board, it is bound to get confusing whose things are whose.
What can you tell us about the boats used for the expedition?
Our ship, Nakuak’, is a real beauty, and in fact, she has been Arne’s dream ship since childhood. Nakuak’ is a 23-meter wooden ship with four cabins on the lower deck, sleeping 12 persons total. The heart of social life on board is in the saloon and galley on the main deck. Outside there are three decks with ample room to take in the sun and sights.
Additionally, we have a 6 meter dinghy on board that we use to come to land at the natural anchor locations. There is room for 12 passengers, so we can make it to land all together in one sweep.
At what time of year are the expeditions? What is the itinerary?
Our charter voyages are available year-round, and the itinerary depends entirely on the guests’ wishes.
We offer our core Tasermiut Fjord voyage in South Greenland in the summer months, June-September, as this coordinates best with the direct flights from both Copenhagen and Reykjavík. We depart from Narsarsuaq every Thursday and from there we take a welcome dinner onboard in front of a nearby glacier. The next day we tour Qaqortoq, the largest town in the region, visit extremely well-preserved Viking ruins from the 1300s, and finish the day in the Uunartoqhot springs with nothing but fjord and mountains on the horizon. On the third day we enter Tasermiut Fjord and spend the entire day sailing and hiking to explore this breathtaking part of the country. The fourth day is a full day of sailing through small islands, and we finish at the local brewery in the town of Narsaq. The fifth and final full day is dedicated to two living, breathing UNESCO World Heritage Sites – nowaday farming settlements that stand where Erik the Red and his Norse compatriots stood back in 900 AD. On the sixth day, Tuesday, we find ourselves once again in Narsarsuaq in good time for guests to catch their flights home.
What is the weather at that time of year? What can one expect the ocean to be like?
The weather in Greenland is constantly changing, and therefore why it is always a good idea to have several layers of clothing packed. It can be foggy and chilly one hour with clear blue skies and high sunshine the next. But in general, South Greenland is warm and comfortable all summer long and into autumn.
The ocean’s roughness will always depend on particular currents and changing winds or storm, but we will always be in areas where there are islands between us and the open sea, protecting us from large waves. When we are inside the fjords most days, we expect calm waters.
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