By Steffen Fog
Images of the hunter gliding silently across the shimmering water. The kayak as a natural extension of his body, a natural extension of his movements.
He raises his arm without a sound. In his hand is a harpoon. With an agile, controlled movement it is launched and penetrates the skin of the seal, without the kayak losing balance even for a second.
The hunter has once again secured his family's survival.
This is the traditional image of the kayak. But even if you are not intending to hunt seals or paddle for days in search of your dinner, there are still plenty of opportunities in modern- day Greenland to experience the kayak as an extension of your own body.
The kayak of today
Today in Greenland the kayak is first and foremost an instrument used for sport, even though there are still certain areas, especially in Northern Greenland and the Thule district, where the kayak is used for hunting.
So if you are visiting Greenland you too can take a trip in the more modern kayak, which is the result of thousands of years of tradition and development that historical kayaks have gone through.
If you go kayaking on Greenland's waters you will also be making a historical journey, where the vessel itself tells the story of the country's traditional culture from days gone by.
Kayaking in Greenland - An amazing feeling
I took a little trip on a kayak myself the other day, north of Ilulissat in the Disko bay. Following a good afternoon's walking of around 6 hours, we arrived at the cabin at the base of the little fjord. On the rocky coast in the water's edge lay our beautiful kayaks, in which we would be tempting the vagaries of the fjords as we paddled out on our adventure.
We managed to squeeze into the manhole of the kayaks, the spray deck was fastened and the kayaks launched into the water.
Then it was full steam ahead across the shimmering water of the fjord. What speed you can get up! What an amazing feeling! To be at one with the fjord's water and feel how this mode of transport has, over thousands of years, been adapted to suit this environment.
The kayak is definitely made for life in the Arctic! It is perfect for cold adventures!
Tips and tricks when you go on a kayak trip
Our experienced instructor gave us plenty of tips, tricks and good advice about how to handle the kayak and sail safely.
The sun was shining and behind us lay a giant iceberg rocking in the water, and it was a perfect day. And the kayak really felt like an extension of my body.
Back on dry land, the modest instructor reveals that he is in fact Greenland's kayaking champion and has also kayaked from Sisimiut to Ilulissat, a stretch of well over 200 km.
But who knows? If I get my kayak into the water often enough then maybe I too could become good at it. And challenge him to the title. It is certainly an exciting and addictive activity, and the surroundings of the Greenlandic nature help make any kayaking experience truly inspirational.
Practical information about kayaking in Greenland
There are several travel agents and tour operators in Greenland that offer trips by kayak. There are both shorter trips of just a few hours, and longer trips lasting several days with overnight stays in the natural surroundings.
It must be noted however that kayaking in Greenland is only for the experienced kayaker. The water is very cold and it can be dangerous if you cannot keep your balance in the kayak and end up tipping over. The weather in Greenland is also much more volatile than in Europe for example. The wind can suddenly pick up over an otherwise calm fjord.
But for the experienced kayaker, the kayak is one of the best ways to experience Greenland.