Put the world on standby! Get yourself comfortable in nature's own bathtub, where the crystal clear water at a constant temperature of 38 degrees Celsius originates from the geothermal springs deep down in the fells.
The large tub, which the Norse settlers constructed some 1,000 years ago, is surrounded by a colourful richness of flowers. And there, right in front of you, enormous icebergs and last winter's field ice are beached out in the fjord, which has some of South Greenland's highest and most dramatic fells as a backdrop. Steam rises as the water evaporates gently, your toes dig down into the warm, soft silt, whilst small bubbles indicate the constant new supply of water. Let time go by while you enjoy peace and quiet in the midst of this fantastic landscape.
Heat from the depths
South Greenland is well-known for its hot springs. At several locations the water bubbles up from the underground during both summer and winter at temperatures several degrees above freezing point. Nowhere else, however, are the springs as hot and as big as in Uunartoq. The name in Greenlandic refers to "the warming island", which lies halfway between Qaqortoq and Nanortalik and can be reached on a daytrip by boats from each of these two towns. Uunartoq's unique characteristic is that it's still completely as nature intended. There are no tarmac bus car parks, spa complexes with expensive additional products and nor is it overrun. The only structures fashioned by the hand of man are a gangway and two sheds in which to change. Luxury on nature's terms.
As if it's boiling
The uniqueness of the location has attracted scientists for centuries. Back in 1778 the explorer Aron Arctander reported how the water bubbles up "like living pearls", before going on to say that it "makes the water look like it's boiling".
1,000 years of health and alleviation of pain
People have appreciated Uunartoq's life-giving springs for more than 1,000 years. The oldest traces date back to the Norse settlers, who constructed the bathtubs in boulders in order to create a medieval spa. The Benedictine nuns living on a neighbouring island in a convent dedicated to Olaf the Holy helped the sick benefit from the health-giving powers and pain-relieving effects of Uunartoq's warm water. Stories dating back to this period relate how it was believed that the sick had regained their health and were relieved of their suffering. When the Norse settlers disappeared, the Thule race, the ancestors of present-day Greenlanders, took over. Their history is still clear to see and easy to access just a few hundred metres from the pools themselves. There are plenty of opportunities to explore the remnants of 500 years of different building styles and communal graves in the area. Several sites and graves date back to the 16th century.
Do you wish to know more?
One thing's absolutely certain: You'll only leave Uunartoq's springs with reluctance - and with fingers and toes that rather resemble raisins. The tourist offices in Nanortalik and Qaqortoq organise daytrips to the hot springs. Read more on their websites (www.nanortaliktourism.com, www.sagalands.com). Also read more about the hot springs on greenland.com here