And as if that wasn’t enough, I even went swimming among them too
I slid past an icy giant, a behemoth casting a shadow over me, small waves gently lapping at its side. All around me I could hear dripping water, small rivulets forming on the surface of the ice, channels starting at the top and ending in cascades at the bottom.
After spending a couple of weeks on the water in Greenland, this was as close as I’d got to an iceberg, close enough to reach out and touch it alongside in a kayak. If you want to get up close and personal with these things then this is the way to do it.
We were in Nunataaq in southern Greenland. Coming from Igaliku, a small village of just 28 people, we thought things couldn’t get any smaller in this country; that was until we got here.
Driving along a small dirt track, we eventually arrived in Nunataaq, a place that consisted of just the four houses, one of which we were in for a couple of days. To say this place was remote is an understatement – it doesn’t get much more secluded and isolated than this place.
Of the four houses, every summer one of them is packed out with Spaniards who come to the area for one reason and one reason only – to kayak. And with the mountains in the distance and icebergs for as far as the eye could see, you couldn’t ask for a more beautiful place to do it in.
In Greenland icebergs are a part of daily life, especially in the south of the country where they easily outnumber the people who live here. On our trip we had become accustomed to seeing them every time we looked out the window and every time we caught a boat. But saying that, we never managed to get this close to them before, from this low-down perspective too.
The afternoon we decided to go kayaking we walked down to the pebble beach from the house which we were staying in. There we were greeted by Juan, one of the Spaniards who call this remote part of the country home for the summer.
There he kitted us out with a few kayaks and took us into the water, silently sliding past these things.
It’s hard to describe the feeling of being in a kayak alongside an iceberg. Like with the rest of Greenland, you can’t help but be overawed by the beauty of these things, you can’t help but find peace from being within touching distance of them too.
We set off late in the afternoon around 5/6pm for a reason, and as the sun started to get lower and lower bathing these things in gold it truly felt like we were explorers, like we were the only ones on the water navigating these channels for the first time.
Once we finished kayaking the fun didn’t stop there. I don’t know why – call it male bravado – but I got it in my mind that I had to go swimming too. For me, to say that I’ve swam among icebergs in Greenland, I don’t know, I thought it’d be pretty damn cool, something that not many people have done.
So, there I was, on the beach stripped down to my boxers with Brianna and Brian joking around, laughing as I stood there shivering. I’m sure they didn’t think I’d be able to do it. Heck, I didn’t think I’d be able to do it, but I had to give it a go. I had to try.
The first time I went in I was pretty pathetic. I got up to my thighs before the cold water hit my special place and I just froze. There was no way I could go any further and I immediately turned around with my tail in-between my legs. But that’s when Brianna said it – “You know you can’t do it, right?” Red rag to a bull.
I turned around, put my head down, and hit that water as fast as I could. I’m not going to lie, it was the coldest water I’d ever been in. I instantly felt my body shut down, my limbs seize up, and I was only under the water for about three seconds. I don’t know if that really counts as swimming among icebergs but I’m 100% claiming it. How many other people can say the same?
There aren’t many places in the world where you can kayak or swim with icebergs, and they certainly don’t come more beautiful than here in Nunataaq, but that’s the beauty of travelling in Greenland.
Everything you do, even if it’s something you’ve done countless times before such as kayaking and swimming, it’s just better, more magical, more poignant in this country. That’s just the Greenland effect I guess.