The Arctic Expedition: Viking Hot Springs and Nanortalik



Another sunny day in the north Atlantic, the Clipper Adventurer continued on its viking-inspired journey along the coast of southern Greenland. Although uncomfortably shallow water prevented us from visiting Paradise Island, we took that as an opportunity to instead explore another island.

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Students on Ice hike to the hot springs. Photo Credit: Lee Narraway, Students on Ice
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Youth aboard a zodiac. Photo Credit: Lee Narraway, Students on Ice

A ten minute walk from our zodiac landing site brought us to a hot spring! It was about six metres in diameter and one metre deep, with large black rocks around the edge and dark gravel on the floor. Steam gently rose from the surface. We waded in the circular pool, enjoying the view of icebegs floating by in the ocean behind us. This exact hot spring is likely to have been used by the vikings who settled here hundreds of years ago. I think they’d be surprised to know that in 2011 Students on Ice would be using the same bathtub!

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Taking a bath in an Arctic hot spring. Photo Credit: Lee Narraway, Students on Ice

After drying off, we took the zodiacs back to our ship. Beyond the horizon, the people of Nanortalik were expecting us! Nanortalik is a coastal town on the southern coast of Greenland. While we docked we were greeted by a dozen children waving at us by the platform.  We walked down to an outdoor stage area and watched native drum and throat singing performances by our own David and Sylvia, accompanied by students. The local Inuit also put on a show for us, demonstrating their kayak expertise and tradition that has been in their culture for generations. Nanortalik is a small but beautiful town. In this picturesque community of colourfully painted homes are also rocky shores and rolling mountains. Icebergs float in the water and Arctic cotton grows in the grass.

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Visit to the community of Nanortalik. Photo Credit: Lee Narraway, Students on Ice

Different from the mountainous or icy places we’ve been, this community also has life; a people rich with culture and tradition. Nanortalik showed us another side of the Arctic. Beyond the natural world, there are people who have lived in northern regions for hundreds of years. We were reminded that although indeginous people of the north live in environmentally sustainable ways and are not significant contributors to greenhouse gas emissions, they will still be affected by climate change.

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Zodiac sits beside a glacier. Photo Credit: Lee Narraway, Students on Ice

The Arctic region is experiencing some of the most drastic environmental changes on the planet, and this means that Inuit tradition and lifestyle will be forced to change to reflect this. When evaluating global climate issues, we must consider that everything that happens in many ways affects the Inuit people. In the process of protecting glaciers and wildlife, we are also ensuring the preservation of indeginous culture and way of life.

Together let’s protect our poles and protect our planet.


Up next…Inuit Snacks and an Icy Swim

While you’re waiting don’t just sit tapping your toe, find out more about Joey, Students on Ice and this amazing Arctic and expedition.

Earth Rangers is a non-profit organization that works to inspire and educate children about the environment. At kids can play games, discover amazing facts, meet animal ambassadors and fundraise to protect biodiversity.