Follow an Inuit Hunter under the Midnight Sun | Qaanaaq
The northernmost town of Greenland is the only place on our planet, where the skills of hunting with kayak and harpoon are still alive. Join an Inuit hunter on his hunting trip. This is a first-hand experience of life in the Arctic.
Numerous glaciers in the fiord release gigantic icebergs, and the midnight sun circles above your head 24 hours. Tiny arctic flowers bloom, hugging the ground. Pods of narwhal visit the fiord. Listen to the wind, and to the bubbling of icebergs. Welcome to summer in the Far North.
Click on the Itinerary tab to read more information about each day of the tour, and then reserve your place by clicking on Book Now.
Arrival to Qaanaaq
Your flight from Ilulissat to Qaanaaq is breathtaking. You will fly over Melville Bay, with the inland ice on your east and countless icebergs below. You may be able to spot the heart shaped mountain of Uummannaq, the towering rock of Kullorsuaq, and the flat mountain-top beside Pituffik.
Upon arrival, we will pick you up at the airport. Settle in to your accommodation, and explore the small town. This is one of the towns in Greenland where sled dogs outnumber humans. Walk along the beach, where there are kayaks, meat racks, and dogsleds parked for the summer. Hunters arrive and depart in their boats at high tide, and children are playing around.
We will have a short meeting with the hunter, who will take you out tomorrow.
Into the fiord
The fiord of Qaanaaq (Inglefield Fiord), with gigantic tidewater glaciers at the bottom, is full of icebergs of all sizes. Seals frequent waters around glacier fronts, migrating birds such as eider ducks and arctic terns guard their nests.
A local hunter will take you on his hunting trip for narwhal. In a land where vegetation grows for 2 months of the year, and the largest ‘tree’, the arctic willow rises 10 cm (4 inches) from the ground, the narwhal has been a precious source of vitamins over generations. It is one of the main sources of food during the summer in this region, to keep both family and dog team healthy.
Overnight in fiord will be in the hunter’s tent or a hut. The midnight sun circles high above your head 24 hours from April to August. Life here does not follow the clock. It follows the tide and the movement of animals. Hunting is all about searching and waiting, searching again, waiting again. You will have time to explore the tundra landscape, feel the wind, and watch the sun sparkling on the icebergs. Empty your mind and tune in to the local rhythm.
On the lookout for narwhal
Qaanaaq is the only place in the Arctic where people still hunt by kayak and harpoon. Kayaks and hunting tools are hand-made by each hunter, to fit his own size and preferences. Locals say that narwhales are sensitive, the animals dive deep at the faintest sound. The silent kayak is much more efficient than a motorboat. And by using the harpoon, they lose no prey, whereas rifles used elsewhere in the Arctic for indigenous catches have a risk of hurting prey but also losing them.
This fiord welcomes thousands of narwhal every summer and is the best place in Greenland to catch a glimpse of this legendary whale. With 5 days out in the fiord, you have a fair chance to see some. And with luck, a pod may cruise by close to your boat, or you may hear their mystic call during the night.
Settlements in the fiord
You might have a chance to visit a settlement in the fiord. Qeqertat, the settlement of 20 people at the bottom of the fiord, is surrounded by huge glaciers pouring into the sea. With a view over the whole fiord, you can see narwhal - tiny black dots in your binoculars - travelling into the fiord from many kilometres away. Qeqertarsuaq, a former settlement, is on the large island at the entrance to the fiord. The eastern point of this island is a watch-out point for narwhal coming into the fiord. Kangerluarsuk, in the side fiord to the north, is a former settlement and very good hunting grounds.
Where we go and how we move in the fiord, will depend on your wishes, and what nature brings. Is seeing narwhal your first priority? Or is it the hunting skills that interest you? Do you want to enjoy walking around? Are you interested in birds? Photography? We will follow your interests to enjoy the days out in nature.
Summer in the High Arctic
By now you are used to looking out for icebergs on the beach at low tide, to drink water from thousands of years ago. You may have learned a handful of Inuit words, heard the call of an arctic fox, or picked some berries in late summer.
Return to Qaanaaq
After another day in the fiord, we will return to Qaanaaq today. Let’s enjoy the last day in the fiord. It can be a hike with views of glaciers and icebergs, meeting local people, a last attempt on a narwhal hunt, or a photo opportunity that you would like to catch.
The last day in Qaanaaq is free time. It’s a nice walk either towards the east or west along the coast. Or if you go up the hill behind town, the view is beautiful and you will reach the icecap in 2 or 3 hours. The ice cap here is a gentle slope of ice with small streams of ice cold glacier melt running down here and there. Be careful not to slip, and take a walk on the huge field of ice.
Optional tour: If you would like to explore the area north of Qaanaaq, take an optional boat trip to Siorapaluk. The first fiord to the north is summer fishing grounds for Arctic char. Locals set up their tents, take care of their nets, and enjoy the summer days with children and grandparents. Siorapaluk lies in the next fiord, which has several nesting grounds for little auks. The mountains are lush and green here, because the birds fertilize the land. There is a tidewater glacier, and you may spot seals if you sail to the bottom of the fiord. Or you can spend time at the northernmost settlement Siorapaluk, or visit the valley close by, where millions of little auks nest and feed.
Enjoy your last night in the far north. The sun is up all the time, so you can take a long evening walk under the midnight sun. In August the sun starts to get low, so there will be beautiful colours at midnight.
Depending on the flight schedule you may have half a day or almost a full day. Some carvers in Qaanaaq are extremely skilled, if you are looking for a souvenir. Contact us if you need advice on this.
Enjoy the view on your flight back south. Now you know how big the icebergs you see below are. We wish you good weather!
Let us know if you would like to make changes to this itinerary, or extend your stay in Qaanaaq. If you wish to make a stop at Ilulissat or Kangerlussuaq on your way home, we will be happy to make arrangements. Contact us by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Accommodation: 3 nights in Qaanaaq, 4 nights in tent or hut
- Boat transport: 5 days from Day 2 to 6
- Local Guide: 5 days from Day 2 to
What to bring
- Sleeping bag
- Pocket knife
- Personal medication
- Food for the 5 day hunting trip, if you have special preferences
- Binoculars, if you have one, will enrich your experiences
- Layered clothing. Ideally, you should pack a thermal underwear layer (top and bottom), activity layer (e.g. hiking pants and shirt), insulation layer (e.g. fleece or down jacket), and outer layer of windproof clothing (top and bottom). You may not need all of this on any particular day, but you should have it available. You should always bring a windproof jacket, regardless of the weather.
- Warm hat, gloves, buff or scarf, gloves
- Sturdy shoes (e.g. hiking boots)
- Sunglasses, sunscreen & sun hat (depending on weather)
- Camera with extra batteries
- Day pack
- Water bottle
- The actual itinerary for this tour will be determined by the weather and the movement of ice and narwhal. The final decision on where to go and what to do each day will be made by your hunter guide. We will follow any wishes you have, as long as conditions allow.
- Various arrangements can be added to this itinerary: Flight tickets, extra days in Qaanaaq, stay in other towns in Greenland, etc. Please inquire for anything that you need, by contacting us at email@example.com.
- For families with children, we have a discount. Please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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