Qilakitsoq, West Greenland

Sep 05, 2018 - National Geographic Explorer


All morning we steamed south with the mountains of West Greenland to our port side along with a steady stream of icebergs glinting in the light.

We had two presentations for our morning at sea. Jennifer Kingsley, our National Geographic Explorer, shared stories from her time in the Russian Far East. Then Michael Jackson, naturalist and teacher, gave a clear and compelling explanation of the science of climate change.

We then approached the community of Uummannaq, which sits on a small island almost entirely occupied by a beautiful mountain peak. The site of Qilakitsoq sits just across the way. It is in a small bay but covered by so much bright green vegetation that it stands out against the shoreline.

This is the site where, in the 1970s, six women and two children were discovered in burial sites dating back 500 years. Because of the cold, dry wind that blew across their graves, the bodies were remarkably well preserved. They have since been termed the Greenland Mummies, and they are kept at the museum in Nuuk.

The grave sites were accessible to us after a short, uphill hike, but the entire area is full of other burial spots and the remains of Thule houses which are now covered in thick vegetation. Our archaeologist, Lynda Gullason, spoke with many of us about the significance and structure of these houses.

In addition to the interesting history here, this was a gorgeous site to explore. Layers of rock, lichen, moss, lush plants (comparatively!), and a couple of reflecting pools made this a peaceful and meditative place from which to reflect on our voyage. We only have a few days left together, and we will make the most of them.

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About the Author

Jennifer Kingsley

National Geographic Explorer

Jennifer Kingsley is a Canadian journalist, a National Geographic Explorer, and the Field Correspondent for Lindblad Expeditions. She has travelled extensively in the global Arctic and throughout the temperate rain forest of the Pacific Rim. After completing her biology degree, she worked in Canada's Rocky Mountain National Parks before moving to British Columbia to specialize in grizzly bear ecology. Jennifer spent several seasons sailing among the whales, bears, and wolves of the Great Bear Rainforest. 

About the Photographer

Michael Jackson

Naturalist

An experienced traveler, Michael has lived on several continents, including a year spent working as a naturalist and zoologist in Galápagos and three months in Kenya conducting a study of birds of prey. He is the author of Galápagos: A Natural History, a comprehensive guidebook which details the natural history of the plants and animals found on the islands. 

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