The west coast of Greenland may be the most hospitable, but it is still wild enough that Viking settlements gave way to the original Greenlandic inhabitants that remain to this day. This is a harsh and unforgiving place and life here is governed by rules imposed by seasons. It does not bend to the will of new inhabitants. The Inuit people understand this and have thrived here for hundreds of years before the first Viking pushed west from Iceland in search of new lands to settle and farm. Not unexpectedly, the first Viking arrived after disagreements resulting in a fatality, which necessitated a hasty exit by the victor. This was a perfect recipe for territorial expansion by Eric the Red.
I recently explored the Greenlandic Viking trail from Kangerlussuaq to Igaliku with Hurtigruten on deft and able MS Fram. This small, expedition-class ship with just 127 cabins is more luxury SUV than
At first blush, life still has
Visiting Maniitsoq, I saw a lone returning hunter in a small boat. He lifted out a 1.5-metre Harbour Porpoise that he has just shot, while his friend in another boat close by began carving up a Harp Seal. As he deftly worked over the carcass, he looked up at me with the smile, offering a choice piece of sushi. There was an obvious fervour about this hunt, as he explained that he was preparing meat for his father for the winter.
We headed deep into the Qassiarsuk Fjord. Our photographic guide, Camille Season said “this is as close as we can get to the glacier”, as we felt the crunching of the water that was firming up around us. “In a couple of weeks, this water will be a 2-metre-deep ice sheet”. We looked for a small, fresh-water ice chunk that broke away from the glacier. Our guides are picky, like specialist jewellers, rejecting anything that was not crystal clear. A select piece was hauled onto the boat and aggressively chipped into shards before filling our glasses to chill a local liquor. The ice was so compressed that when placed on the tongue, it feltlike popping candy as the oxygen escaped while we sipped cocktails in the shadow of icebergs.
Dan Avila shot these images on the Fujifilm GFX50S Medium Format Camera System with the Fujifilm GF23mm, GF32-62mm, GF120mm Macro, GF250mm lenses and a Gitzo GT3533LS Tripod.
Ben Tours: bentours.com.au