Touring Greenland: a day trip to the ice cap and Kapisillit


Kapisillit in August

We sailed in an open boat past icebergs, hiked up to see the beginning of the inland ice, stuffed ourselves with blueberries and ended with a delicious kaffemik at a local’s home at Kapisillit.



Getting ready for Kapisillit and the Nuuk fjord!

Jon our guide started the day off by warning our group of six that we were going to be cold. It was hard to believe since I was already wearing two layers of thermals and an anorak, plus rain pants over my normal pants. That wasn’t enough, though, so he gave us some bright orange survival suits to put on top. I felt like a big ball of too much orange, and couldn’t really move – but I definitely felt warmer and safer in them!

Feeling very safe under all the survival gear!

Feeling very safe under all the survival gear!

Our end game was to see the ice fjord near Kapisillit, a relatively large settlement two-hours sail away from Nuuk. Once close, we would hike up a long hill to a sight-seeing point. This was to be our first time viewing the inland ice!

We sailed in a Poca 550, which is the most common type of boat in Greenland. It’s a simple but sturdy open-boat, meaning that you are exposed to the elements, but also closer to the stunning nature.

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The water was a silky hue of green, blue and purple.

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Icebergs are so much cooler in real life!

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Once you leave Nuuk area, the blue skies start to appear….

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Many hues of blue

Two hours after we reached an area near Kapisillit where we would begin our hike. We started stripping off our many layers. Apparently Nuuk is the cloudiest area in the fjord system, but if you get away from there the sun is nearly always shining.

Kapisillit - protective gear

This image reminded me of the melted wicked witch from the Wizard of Oz. Definitely not ruby slippers!

Arctic summer: viewing the inland ice

You could smell the arctic summer everywhere. Heady scents from herbs and flowers dominated our senses.

Everywhere you looked berries were growing on the hearth – mainly crowberries, but also an abundance of juicy plump blueberries…. they were delicious!


Spring flowers blooming. It looked so idyllic

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Half way up to the view point – you can see our little boat near the shore!

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Jon told us that people use the herbs in the nature for tea and pot-pourri. The fragrance was infused into our senses.

Summer in the arctic means a plethora of mosquitoes. Luckily Jon came ready with mosquito nets, which all the men thought they needed.

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Notice there’s only one person not wearing a mosquito net 😉

And then we climbed up about 50 minutes to see the view. And what a view! If you look into the depths of the picture below, you will see the beginning of the ice cap.

As I was looking into the distance, I noticed a dark little dot slipped off an iceberg. It was my first seal spotting.

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The ice cap begins

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It was a serene view

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Evidently going for the natural not-posed look 😉

Visit to Kapisillit

The next stop was the settlement Kapisillit, where our local hosts Kristine and Karl invited us over to have a kaffemik. We filled our bellies with blueberries and popular Greenlandic style cakes.

Kapisillit is a hunting and fishing community in the Nuuk Fjord, about 75 kilometres away from the capital. Kristine has lived in Kapisillit her whole life, but in October she is moving to Nuuk to study. Karl is the teacher at the local primary school. He currently teaches three students. When children turn eleven, they need to move to Nuuk to continue school. It can’t be easy to leave your parents at such a young age!

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The harbour of Kapisillit

Our hosts Kristine and Karl are sitting on the left

Our hosts Kristine and Karl are sitting with their kid on the left

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Kaffemik food – the sweet variety

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Drying fish

With our bellies full of cream and berries, we headed home with a sugar-high.

Our hosts walked us back to the boat, to pick up some whipped cream that Jon had brought in from Nuuk. The local store only gets a new delivery every 14 days with the postal boat, so you can imagine that it runs out of things sometimes. Jon became the postman. =)

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Walking us back towards the boat

Collecting the cream

Collecting the whipped cream

It was then time to head home. On the way back we tried a new type of surfing – on an open boat! (Perhaps it was to balance out the boat a bit, but it was sooooo fun).

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Back on board

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Sailing back towards Nuuk

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Jonas open boat surfing

This sailing trip was with Touring Greenland, one of the two main touring providers in Nuuk.

Postscript: Thanks to Jonas’ parents for lending us their little handy camera too! Marianne and Carsten came to Greenland for a two and a half week visit, so we planned a few adventures into the nature. This included hiking up the mountains, visiting the whale graveyard, spotting whales and gorgeous icebergs. Besides that, it was just lots of relaxing time in the city and cafes!

10 thoughts on “Touring Greenland: a day trip to the ice cap and Kapisillit

  1. Hi Tanny. Such a treat to read your blogs from back home, as they say. With great pictures too! Being a greenlander my self and living in Denmark, I enjoy reading how Greenland can be explored from an other point of view, yet so similar to my own. Our paths could might as well have crossed during the summer of 2013, as I went around in the fjords around Nuuk with my family, going to Kapisillit, Qooqqut and the waters south of Nuuk. Your blogs and pictures are so alike my own in many ways – great fun! You’re my hero! 😀

    • Dear Abel, Thank you for your very kind words, it is so nice to hear that someone is enjoying my blog =). Unknowingly, we probably crossed paths walking on the main street in Nuuk, smiled at each other and then walked on. At least, I try to acknowledge everyone I go past!

      I am interested to know how your point of view is different, yet the same. Where do the differences lie most dramatically, in your opinion? Do you write a blog too? =) Please share the link =).

      Best wishes,

      • You’re most welcome, Tanny.

        I especially loved your blog about the eyebrows and nodding thing. It still makes me smile and giggle. 😀 Greenlanders in Denmark does the same. No need to mention if they know each other or not. Love it!

        As I moved to Denmark 1997, I’ve gradually become more a tourist than a native when it comes to culture, traditions and language. Naturally, I blend quite well in the crowd, but after nearlý 20 years in Denmark, I’ve found my self being almost a complete stranger when I’m trying to understand the politics, culture and realizing that my own network of friends and family are close to non-existant. I speak the language, but I am not even close to be able to feel like a part of the local community. i am more a Dane than a Greenlander today. 🙂
        I am familiar with many of the traditions and cultural diffences; I like to hunt and bring home my own food, and feel the pride in it, I pefer the family hunting grounds and waters and certain camping areas in the fjords, but in the recent years, I’ve learned of so many others parts of the huge Nuuk Fjord system than I could imagine. Hence the familiar way of seing things in such a different way than I used to. Kapisillit, the Icefjord and that corner of the Nuuk Fjord was completely new to me for 2 years ago. Qooqqut was nothing like I remebered, but Ameralik, Buksefjord og Færingehavn was just like going back in time. But exploring the entire Nuuk Fjord systems is just impossible during a whole lifetime. 🙂
        I love the traditional kaffemiks, mattak and all the other traditional cuisine, christmas and the way of living in and with the nature. That’s juat a part of my pedigree.

        I come to Nuuk for the nature and the adventures, and everytime I get there I get blown away of the nature and it’s beauty. I remember from my childhood when tourists always asked us if we were proud of our country, and the only thing we could think of was that we probably were, but then again, it’s home and we’re used to our surroundings. Today, I absolutely understand their point of view, because I used to take the nature and environment for granted. This alone is why I rather go out sailing than staying in town for the precious few week I stay there.

        I just started my own blog a couple of months ago, and it is about my personal view of seing things and random thoughts when riding my bike around i Denmark and with my team, and little about everyday things, but I am seriously considering to include the last part more. It’s in danish, though.

        • Dear Abel,
          First I must apologise for the late reply. I have been in Ilulissat and with only my telephone data to help me online I admit I’ve been conserving it.

          I am glad you liked the post about body language in Greenland, lots of people seemed to! The air flight magazine Suluk now has a (perhaps inspired!!) piece on this precisely this topic!

          Feeling like a stranger in your original home sounds very familiar. I think it’s because my parents said very much the same thing, just of a different place. It makes me wonder how many people feel displaced in this world at one point or another. It’s not necessarily a bad thing, it’s just an outcome of migration and cultural difference. I wonder if I will ever feel like I fully belong somewhere in this world, because I don’t think I will even feel ‘native’ back in my own home. Life changes you.

          I have read your blog and will be keeping in touch. Sounds so nice with all the cycling!

          My best wishes,

          PS you are right to be proud of your country it is truly stunning!

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