Exploring South GreenlandExploring Greenland was a dream

Bert Poffé is a Belgian explorer married to Kiki Nárdiz from Spain. They tried quite a lot worldwide, but found Greenland to be a unique place of immense beauty, – but also not a place for the weak.

Photo: Inusuk

In August 2011 Kiki and Bert went to the region of Narsarsuaq in the South, to hike and kayak among the Greenlandic icebergs. 

Travelling to Greenland was quite an experience. The approach was spectacular; flying over the icecap made them feel very small and humble. Visibility in Narsarsuaq was poor and the chance of landing was small, but somehow the experienced crew made it and secured a perfect landing on Greenlandic soil.

The weather in Greenland

Because of these weather circumstances, they ended up doing more hiking and less kayaking, but had many new experiences on this adventure. Just seeing an iceberg, something trivial for Greenlanders, aroused strong emotions. 

- The two strongest and memorable experiences were being in a tent during a Greenlandic storm, and drinking pure water directly from the rivers, anytime, anywhere. A tremendous feeling of freedom, they say. 

Exploring South GreenlandMore than enough ice 

Sleeping seemed like wasting time; during the day there are incredible views, and at night, they didn’t feel like sleeping because they might miss the next borealis.

Travelling by kayak in to the Qooroq Ice Fjord with icebergs of indescribable colours and textures was definitely one of the highlights of their trip. 

The Greenland Ice Cap

The Greenland Ice Cap is producing millions of tons of ice every year, as icebergs break off the glaciers. Close to Narsarsuaq the Qooroq Glacier, for example, is filling the fiord with beautiful white and blue icebergs

- It was all both exciting and overwhelming. One cannot describe the feeling of paddling alongside steep hills, experiencing the view and even more the sound of icebergs calving, and camping within sight of active glaciers, they say. 

Small and vulnerable

- When paddling in iceberg territory, one instinctively takes care to respect the ice and keep a good distance from even the most peaceful looking bergs.

The very strong headwind made crossing the fjord from Qassiarsuk into the port of Narsarsuaq a perfect ending of their first kayak experience. They felt small and vulnerable, a feeling which made it always easy to respect nature.

- As an explorer you have that urge to always go further north, nevertheless I was very happy to have started in the south, say Bert.

I am an explorer. I explore nature, I explore the earth, noises, smells, cold, heat, comfort and dis-comfort, and I explore friendship and camaraderie while out on the trail.

Bert Poffé

Mentally strong people

Bert like to go and see nomadic people in faraway places who still are pretty much connected to nature. 

- To me Greenland is a place of immense beauty, but it is no place for the weak. A people that have been able to live in this inspiring, sometimes harsh and unforgiving, environment for centuries, have to be mentally strong and intelligent.

I know changes are taking place in Greenland faster than ever. But the Inuit have the ability in their DNA to adapt to ever-changing circumstances.

Exploring South GreenlandGreenland is actually a »green« land

- Greenland is a surprising country. Its unique landscape and the overwhelming impression, seeing it from the air, does not make you suspect at any time that it is actually a »green« land, says Kiki. 

- While paddling the icy waters, one inevitably wonders how life has been developed in Greenland’s extreme weather conditions, yet many species inhabit these waters: seals, whales, cod, halibut, trout and Arctic jellyfish. I tasted for the first time whale blubber and whale meat, and beef of musk ox. Very strange and something I will never forget.  

Future plans

- I am talking with the Explore Foundation about setting up a new adventure to Greenland with a group of young people. I would love to show them, that Greenland is so much more than qajaqs (kayaks), polar bears and igloos, Bert says.   

Despite a long track record of adventures worldwide, like crossing the Algonquin Provincial Park by canoe, camel and dogsled expeditions, winter ascent of Munkh Saridagh (3492m), ultra desert race and more, both agree that Greenland has conquered a place in their hearts, and they certainly want to head back.