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Summer 2011

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Ships and icebergs at the harbour of Narsarsuaq Bookmark and Share

Narsarsuaq was the first place we visited in Greenland and if you go to Southern Greenland, well, it will probably be the first place you visit too.

hiking from Qassiarsuk to Sermilik Fjord

Narsarsuaq is not the largest town in Southern Greenland, nor it is the most attractive. In fact, it is not attractive at all.
But... here's where the main airport is located and it's the best place in the area to do your travel arrangements!
If you're going to Southern Greenland, you're almost sure to transit through Narsarsuaq.

Houses in Narsarsuaq

Some people use Narsarsuaq as a base for exploring the region.

Most travellers use it only as their starting and ending point of their journey.
So we did. We only spent two nights in Narsarrsuaq and it was enough.

My advise would be... get out of there as soon as your travel arrangements are done!

Block buildings in Narsarsuaq

So, what makes Narsarsuaq so unappealing?
First, its lack of charm.
Narsarsuaq is not an ugly place, but compared to other places in Greenland, it's not very attractive.

There are some long and grey apartment blocks buildings. Those date from the times of Bluie West One Airbase.

There is only a handful of colourful houses.

Camping in Narsarsuaq, Greenland

Second, the mosquitoes! No matter where you go, kamikaze arctic mosquitoes won't leave you alone in Narsarsuaq!

I had often heard in the past about annoying arctic mosquitoes in the tundra, but I've never met them before!

I don't know why there were so many mosquitoes here... we didn't see a single one earlier, in Igaliku or Qassiarsuk.

An awful muural painting about arctic animals and food in Narsarsuaq, Greenland

Narsarsuaq was created in 1941 as the US Air Base Bluie West One.
US planes stopped there for refueling on their way to Europe, during World War II.

In 1943, the US started the construction of a larger base in Northern Greenland, the Thule Air Base.
Bluie West One became useless and the US Forces left in 1958, leaving an airport, buildings and a few legends.

Houses in The town of Narsarsuaq, Greenland

Since then, Narsarsuaq's economic activity has developped around the airport, becoming a transport hub: many supplies from Denmark transit here, tourism has flourished...

But don't expect a metropolis! Narsarsuaq has only some 200 inhabitants, and is as peaceful as you can imagine.

The Youth Hostel of Narsarsuaq

As an important travel hub, Narsarsuaq has everything a traveller needs.
The red house on the left picture is Narsarsuaq youth hostel.

There is also a hotel in Narsarsuaq. You can't miss it, it's simply called Hotel Narsarsuaq.
It looked nice but was too expensive for our backpackers budget. Nevertheless, we went to the lobby for a cash advance when we arrived.

The Blue Ice Cafe in Narsarsuaq, Greenland

In Narsarsuaq we also choose the camping option. We sat our tent a few meters from the airport's runway so we had a nice view of the coming planes and helicopters.

We were also quite close to the Youth Hostel, so we could use the showers, the bathroom and do some laundry for a fee.

An airplane flying over the Blue Ice café in Greenland

In Narsarsuaq there's a large shop where all supplies for a long trip are available. Compared to the shops in other settlements, it looked like a supermarket!

Two local travel agencies have offices in Narsarsuaq: Tasermiut and Blue Ice.
Both can arrange tours, boat transfers, helicopter transfers, guides and even larger expeditions.

The Blue Ice Café is the place to hang out, drink a beer, have some coffee, check out e-mails and meet other travellers.
It's located right next door to the airport. It boasts a terrace with nice views of the fjord and the airport runway.

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Monument to Erik The Red in Narsarsuaq, Greenland

The café is also the headquarters of the Blue Ice Travel Agency, managed by Jacky Semoud, a man who truly loves Greenland and who's lived there for many years.
We did our travel arrangements with him as soon as we arrived in Greenland: the boat transfer to Itilleq for Igaliku, then to Qassiarsuk and the boat trip to Qooroq Ice Fjord.

This is a monument to Erik The Red, riding a horse with his wife Thorhild and their son Leif Eriksson.

Abandoned buildings in Narsarsuaq, Greenland

Narsarrsuaq fely like the big city, when coming from places like Igaliku or Tasiusaq. The main road is the only paved road we saw during our stay in the country.

well, Narsarsuaq might not be the prettiest place around, but still it's far rom being ugly. Moreover, it has an interesting museum and some incredible surroundings with mountains, waterfalls and the ice sheet.

All tree houses of Narsarsuaq

Plus, if you're looking for something more charming and traditional, Qassiarsuk and the ruins of Brattahlíð are just a short boat ride across Tunulliarfik Fjord.

Before our holidays were over, we visited Narsarsuaq Museum.
Click here to read about Narsarsuaq Museum.

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Small icebergs on Sermilik Fjord, near Narsarsuaq

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