Greenland Kayak / About

Over the last 12000 years the Greenland Ice Sheet has retreated and  fluctuated but generally the East Coast has been covered in ice while the West Coast has had a fringe of land between the sea and the ice cap. Where the East Coast is not covered in ice many of the fjords and bays are clogged with icebergs calved from huge glaciers and navigation is difficult. However on the West Coast the ice has withdrawn sufficiently to reveal a series of vast fjords, sounds and islands which are generally ice free in the summer. Some of these fjords are 100 km long before they either reach the ice cap and disappear under the ice or they terminate in a deep valley which inevitably leads up to the icecap. 

A map of Southern Greenland showning out route in yellow and the South West tip near Cape Farewell

It is every sea-kayaker’s dream to go to Greenland, arguably the spiritual home of kayaking. So when Stanley and Belinda Mulvany invited Fiona and Myself to go on a small private expedition there, we jumped at the chance. They had invited two other friends, Auke Raaff and John Sinclair. I had been with Stanley and Belinda for a trek in the Karakoram in Pakistan a couple of years previously so knew it would be an exciting and fulfilling trip. Stanley had managed to rent some kayaks at Nanortalik from a much respected Dane who lived there called Niels Jepsen. Niels also had a small hostel and ran the tourism service at Nanortalik. Between Stanley and Niels they put together a plan to kayak up the Tasermiut Fjord for 10 days before returning to Nanortalik, and then paddle up the Sondre Sermelik Fjord before returning to Nanortalik again.  

26. The whole team at the bottom of the Sermeq Glacier. From left Auke Raaff, John Sinclair, Stanley Mulvany, Belinda Mulvany, Fiona Burnet and James Baxter.

The plan seemed very easy logistically. There were two shops in Nanortalik where we could get some provisions but we also took some 30 dehydrated meals for the two of us and much of our own kayaking equipment like drysuits, spraydecks, lifejackets and even split paddles. However the kayaks were very small at just 16 feet and we struggled to get everything in. Indeed I could not get in one myself comfortably, so Niels arranged for us to have a short double. There was still little room for our equipment so we strapped some bags to the deck in waterproof holdalls. 


We flew from Copenhagen to the large runway at Narsarsuaq, the gateway to South Greenland. From there we had to take a Greenland Air helicopter to Qaqortoq and then on to Nanortalik. At Nanortalik we stayed in Niels’ small hostel for a couple of days to get ourselves sorted out. Unfortunately Fiona and Myself had to stay an extra day as my luggage was delayed in Copenhagen for 2 days and only arrived as the others set off up Tasermiut Fjord. It was assumed we would catch them up in our faster double kayak. 


At the end of the trip we reversed the travel arrangements but had to spend the night at  Narsarsuaq which gave us a great opportunity to explore some old early viking settlements in the region. When we arrived back in Copenhagen we all spent a few days in this glorious city before dispersing back to our various homes. Stanley and Belinda returned the next year for a month to explore the Prins Christian Sund area which they said was even more spectacular.