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South Greenland - Day 7 : Waterfalls

As soon as I woke up it was clear the weather was going to be good. I didn't feel like getting up but managed to drag myself out of the tent. After packing and breakfast I started walking uphill. Despite the 'suggested route' I was mostly navigating by myself. I walked for about a kilometer over a hill, about 230 meters higher than where I had camped, before descending back to a different part of the lake. This was necessary because the hill was almost vertical near the shore. Most of the time it wasn't very clear where I was supposed to walk. The 1:100.000 map meant the 1 mm thick 'suggested route' was already 100m wide in real life. Even if I was exactly in the right spot this left a 100 meter window in which I needed to figure out from which precise plateau and rock to descend.


The descent was very steep and I kept ending up in situations where I couldn't go down any further. Both horizontally as vertically zig-zagging I slowly managed to get lower. I continuously had to pay attention and everytime it became risky I forced myself to backtrack and try somewhere else. As long as I kept doing that it wasn't very dangerous.


At the bottom, near the river draining the lake, were 2 emergency cabins. I had been looking out over those for over an hour but hadn't seen anyone. After the huts I reached the tip of the lake. There was a large waterfall which ended up in a second, smaller lake. The wateral was very nice, but the shore of the lake was filled with high bushes. Depending on how far removed from the lake I walked I had the choice between quicksand, swamp, bushwhacking, or boulder fields.

river in greenland
greenlandic river
greenlandic bird
waterfall in greenland


After about 2 kilometers I reached a second large waterfall. It wasn't immediately clear how I was supposed to pass it. I needed to follow the river, but it wasn't clear if it was best to walk directly along the steep waterfall, or about 30 meters removed from it on top of a 30 m high cliff. I couldn't see further than the next 100 meters and wasn't sure if I would be able to climb back up again after starting the descend. After checking the GPS, map, and route description I decided to walk over the cliff. It turned out much less dangerous than it had seemed, the descend again involved a lot of puzzling and backtracking, but was pretty safe as I forced myself to not take any risks.

waterfall in south greenland
hiking north of narsarsuaq

Close to the river it was again full with bushes. There were also some strange insects, they looked like fruit flies and there were literally thousands. I was completely covered in the critters. I was near a suggested camping spot, but it was only 16:00 and it would be hell to camp with the flies. The next section would be tough, first I had to cross a large river that came out of an adjacent canyon and ran into the large river with the waterfall. Next, I would have to follow the river upstream up a second canyon. I didn't see how all that was supposed to happen. The area looked like a big pile of loose rocks.

greenlandic valley
greelandic mosquitoes

Covered in bugs

I considered taking a shortcut using my packraft, but as the river was fast flowing that didn't seem safe. Whatever the map was claiming, it was way too dangerous so close to the ravine. Half a kilometer further the hill was just as steep but at least covered in moss and bushes rather than loose rocks. The chance of slipping was much lower there and if I would fall I would only slide down 1 or 2 meters instead of being dragged into the ravine with a pile of rocks.


I found a sheep path going up. These were 10 cm wide stretches of sand where the wild sheep in the area had walked. It was extremely tough to climb uphill in the heat. Half an hour later, 250 m higher, and about 500 meter removed from the river I reached the top. Along the ravine were some steep sections with grass and bushes, but I couldn't imagine having climbed up that way.


Next I had to walk around the summit of the mountain, which involved some more climbing and crawling. I also saw an arctic hare running away. The weather was getting better and amidst the sunshine and the mosquitoes I sat down to rest and cook dinner.

camping in greenland
camping in greenland
greenlandic lake

The next day I would have to descend back to the river and then most of the climbing would be over for the northern loop of my hike. I planned a route along the river and considered following it by packraft. According to the map there were no more waterfalls and the height difference resulted in only a 1% decline, so I expected the river to be calm. This day I again didn't see anyone (day nr. 5).

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