The boat to Alluitsup Paa at times felt like a rollercoaster. After winding through a couple of fjords, we hit more open sea about 20 minutes before docking, and the waves, although not looking too high, managed to push the little boat around quite a bit. It wasn’t one for people with a weak stomach.
To hop between towns in Southern Greenland, we used the Diskoline ferry. We’re not talking a P&O type vessel, ready to carry hundreds of passengers between ports. The Diskoline ferry rocked up ten minutes before the departure time, everyone – all seven passengers – got off, and the handful of us waiting at the pier at Nanortalik got on. It was a tiny boat which could seat 12 people at a squeeze, no facilities. Then it set off, skimming across the waves to take people and mail to each settlement it stopped at along the way.
Naturally the scenery on the route was stunning. The journey took us north of Nanortalik, through the fjord, passing icebergs and mountains. And after 50 minutes or so, the little town of Alluitsup Paa started to appear on the horizon. We were the only two passengers getting off here and within a few seconds, the boat was already on its way again.
Alluitsup Paa is a little village of little under 300 people. It’s quiet – there’s a shop, a town hall, a church. I don’t recall seeing any cars but there were two vehicles to help with some construction. It has that lovely small town thing where people say hello and smile when they walk past. And it had one hotel – the Seaside Whale hotel, which was heavenly for our two nights. Our room had an uninterrupted view across the fjord
Our time here was quite limited but enough for some decent hiking and to see the local area. It’s rolling hills rather than jagged-peak mountains so there’s plenty of walking to be done – like most of Greenland, pick your direction and set off. We stuck by the coast each day, once heading around the southern parts to sit and enjoy the views of the icebergs, and once to head north.
Around 6km north of Alluitsup Paa is a tiny settlement called Alluitsoq (previously Lichtenau). It has a few houses, a church, lots of sheep. The walk there is really quite pleasant, following a fairly well-trodden path along the coast for the most part. It’s easy to miss part of the path when it’s a bit more overgrown, but with a cliff on one side and the ocean on the other, there isn’t much chance of getting lost.
Unfortunately for us, around 30 minutes from the town, the wind died down and the mosquitos were out in force. They were hungrier than their pals in Narsarsuaq. In fact, they were relentless in their swarms. The spray kept them from biting but there were dozens around each of us and they could not be shaken off. It ruined the last part of the walk – even when we reached Lichtenau, instead of being able to have a bit of a wander, or a sit down, it was a quick view and then we turned back. I struggled to even get a photo without dozens of blurry black dots across the screen and my frustration from batting them away was quite obvious by this point.
The walk back was far quicker and reaching a windier area meant the flies disappeared. There had been one Arctic Hare nearby, which quickly took off, and, that aside, we were entirely alone. It was one of those wonderful moments, sitting in total silence with amazing views and barely a care in the world. Even in some remote areas, I’ve struggled to get this kind of peace and quiet before.
Our last day in Alluitsup Paa was, unfortunately, a rainy one. It’s the downside of a trip so focused on being outdoors, if it rains, there isn’t a plan B. We were lucky to have an accommodating host who didn’t mind us hanging around for a few hours longer until the rain eventually stopped and it was time to leave for the boat. Looking on the bright side, that made for a very relaxing few hours, and we watched a few dramatic views with the clouds, icebergs and mountains in the fjord and the time passed quickly.
We were the only passengers boarding the little boat at the pier. We sailed around the coast, south of Alluitsup Paa with a great view of the town and incredible close-up views of the icebergs. Next stop: Qaqortoq.