Day 5 |
Aug 11, 2013

Unartoq Island, Greenland

By Kara Weller, Biologist

Co-ordinates: 60º30.8’ N, 045º18.6’ W
Weather: Overcast and raining
Air Temperature: 12ºC
Pressure: 1008 hPa
Wind: 5 knots

Overcast skies and drizzling rain greeted us this morning. We had stayed most of the night at anchor near our destination of Lichtenau, and at 6:30 am the staff launched a few zodiacs to head to our proposed landing site approximately two miles away. Lichtenau is an old Moravian missionary established in 1774 and is comprised of just a few buildings in a quiet bay. However once on shore, we realized that the insect life was flourishing pretty horrendously here and so the morning’s activities at this spot were cancelled.

Our next destination lay only a short distance away, so we all enjoyed a leisurely breakfast and then headed to shore at Unartoq Island. This island is famous for one particular thing – a hot spring! Since the days of the Norse these hot springs have been renowned for their healing powers, and today a large number of people visit on a regular basis.

We landed by zodiac on a pebble beach and walked about 1 km through the low-growing vegetation to the spring, which was quite a large pool surrounded by rocks, with a small cabin nearby that some people used to change clothes inside of. The water was a balmy 38 degrees C and large enough for 30 people to fit quite easily inside at a time. Some of our guests stayed in for quite a long time, others dipped into the water to enjoy the pleasant sensation just briefly before coming out again and using some of the extra time then to explore the area, stretch legs and admire the green plant life around us, stare at the view in the rain or to chat to other tourists who had come by day boat to visit the hot springs.

At noon we were all back onboard the ship to enjoy lunch. During the morning we had seen a large number of beautiful icebergs on the other side of the island, so after lunch we took guests on a zodiac cruise to get a closer look.

Icebergs are always wonderful to look at with their strange shapes and beautiful and varying patterns and colours. Some loomed like giant monsters out of the water, others resembled swans or whales. We saw the Loch Ness Monster on vacation from Scotland made of ice here, towers of ice and dramatic castle-like structures that all sparked the imagination into fantasy. We marvelled at them and tried to imagine all the ice that remains unseen just below the surface of the water. Some saw icebergs rolling over, others heard loud cracks that boomed like the sound of gunshots across the bay.

The rain stopped and a fresh breeze blew the water into short waves. In the evening back onboard the ship we had our usual evening’s recap and briefing session and the day finished with yet another truly marvellous dinner.