Immerse yourself in nature without limits, with the sensational and impressive landscapes of Greenland.
I’ve always searched for wild places and a taste for adventure, and this growing urge led me to begin three expeditions to Greenland.
For a total of more than three months, I hiked, kayaked, sailed, and dogsled through the vast island. I was also able to immerse myself in the culture by living with the Inuit, who taught me how to survive the icy, unrelenting weather.
I couldn’t have imagined the wide variety of feelings I experienced during the first month spent in Greenland. I was moved by the contemplation of the wild untouched landscapes I had crossed, fascinated by the enormous icebergs, and truly inspired by this island’s people.
Imagine somewhere away from remotely tucked away from all traces of human life. Here, you can see a valley filled by a calm and a greenish-blue lake that bounces back your reflection. Bright green mountains symbolize the welcoming atmosphere of the land. Two thousand meter-high peaks fall steeply into the water as if to highlight how small we stand in comparison. Mountain passes and snowy summits relinquish melting glaciers, reminding us that nothing is eternal. Finally, there’s a bright sun to warm our hearts and a sandy white beach, where you can rest all day and contemplate the beauty of the universe.
This is quite simply the beauty of Greenland. It’s here that there seems to be an invisible force that keeps nature, and our body and soul, in equilibrium.
After being caught up by a storm that was 15 degrees Celsius below zero and a blizzard whipping winds of 160 km that restricted our visibility for a few days, Angani, an Inuit from Kulusuk, and I set off on a dog sled to hunt for seals, polar bears or whatever else we stumbled upon. In Greenland, hunting is not a sport but a way of life. In the Ammassalik region, the Inuit have always survived with the bare minimum amount of food, given this area is surrounded by ice for nine to ten months a year. It is one of the most remote areas in the world, which has led to the creation of a dialect called Tunumiu, different from the normal Greenlandic language.
It is April, and a spring sun has already shown up. The sled glides a dozen kilometers per hour, the dogs struggling in the soft snow and melted ice due to the abnormally high temperature for this time of the year. The dogs here endure the cold, blizzards, and storms, but this weather is now almost too warm for them.
Angani screams, “Yoyo yoyo yoyo yo!”, which echoes in the air and directs the dogs to turn left. Suddenly, Angani stops the dogs, and silence lingers in the valley. The dogs sense that it’s hunting time.
Giving me a quick look through his rifle lens, Angani excitedly says, “Puisi, puisi”, which means “seal” in Greenlandic. Dressed in a white painter's suit with his gun slung over his back, he walks slowly towards the seal.
The seal, which had been sunbathing, looks up every 30 seconds to keep an eye out for predators. Every time the seal looks up, Angani stops and waits before walking toward the seal again. When Angani is close enough to shoot the seal, he lays down on the ice, holds his breath, and pulls the trigger. The seal, wrapped in a layer of blubber, is able to slide down quickly into his ice hole. Angani comes back with no prey. Hunting requires much patience. Another Inuit had spent over five days looking for a polar bear, without ever finding it. It’s like looking for a needle in a haystack.
My days are spent blowing cold embers to rekindle the fire, heating water for tea, running a photography time-lapse, collecting firewood, watching the weather, spotting the next passage of the river to cross, and finding a place for the campsite.
These simple actions take on new meaning when you live minimally, and are so close to nature. I’ve been fortunate enough to experience this on different expeditions, wandering through various countries and landscapes.
Benefiting from these experiences has allowed me to have a better understanding and appreciation of protecting the environment, and preserving age-old Arctic traditions and customs.
As I’ve gone on long hikes and reveled in the beauty of a wild place, it’s always been important to take care of the fragile and unique beauty of places like Greenland. The landscape is so unreal that pictures carry only a sliver of magic. But my hope is that they inspire others to seek out traveling to these places for their own peace and serenity.
I arrived in Greenland with a very heavy backpack, loaded with food and water. Over time our resources depleted, making our bags lighter – but now I am filled with memories and emotions from my time here.
I believe that photography can make a real connection to people, and can be used as a positive tool for understanding the challenges and opportunities of tomorrow. Photos can convey so much to a person, and now that I’m going home, I’m ready for my next adventure.