Hiking Greenland – Icefjords and Remote Villages – DYE-4

The great weather continued for Day 2 for the Icefjords and Remote Villages tour in East Greenland, and I was super-excited that I might finally make it to the former DYE-4 radar station!  Unfortunately my attempt to hike out there last year failed due to bad weather.

While Bluie East Two (which I visited last year on Day 5 of the Unplugged Wilderness Trek) is a left-over from World War II,  DYE-4 was part of the Distant Early Warning Line established during the Cold War.  And although we’d been told that little of the original installation remained, I was still curious to see it.  Plus, its location on a mountain at the southern end of Kulusuk Island promised great views over the Atlantic ocean – weather cooperating!

Icebergs in the ocean and very low cloud. Seen while hiking from Kulusuk to Isikajia in East Greenland
The very cloudy view I had last year on my hike out to DYE-4!

After an 8am breakfast where we could choose from toast (yay!  I get excited about simple things) with all manner of spreads, muesli, porridge, tea and coffee, we each made a packed lunch for the day from an equally lavish spread of breads, cheese (brie, blue, Havarti), processed meats, tomato and cucumber.  You don’t go hungry on an Greenland Adventures trip to East Greenland!

Breakfast on an Icelandic Mountain Guides tour - East Greenland
So much awesome food!

We then set off across a partially deconstructed bridge in the bright sunshine.

Hiking companions crossing the bridge at the start of the hike to DYE-4 - Kulusuk Island - East Greenland

Rather than walking out and back along the (boring) road that runs all the way to the facility, we hiked without a trail towards the West coast of Kulusuk Island. 

Trekking companions hiking on Kulusuk Island - East Greenland

After about 45 minutes, we came to a line of large stones with a gap in the middle, located in a relatively clear patch of ground between two small hills.  The remains of a Reindeer Fence. 

The Reindeer Fence - Kulusuk Island - East Greenland
The Reindeer Fence. We are standing near the gap in the middle. Note the line of rocks continuing behind us

Andrea explained that the Greenlanders would “hunt” the reindeer by chasing them towards the gap in the fence.  Their colleagues would hide behind the stone wall and kill the beasts as they ran through unaware.  This was clearly an effective strategy as there are no reindeer remaining on Kulusuk Island!

Our guide explaining about the Reindeer Fence - Kulusuk Island - East Greenland
Andrea explaining a little about how the Reindeer Fence worked

We continued our hike to the West, picking our way across boggy ground and snow drifts in turn.

Hiking through bog and snow on Kulusuk Island - East Greenland

I loved the views of the large icebergs and almost invisible horizon line of the ocean ahead of us.

Hiking towards the west coast of Kulusuk Island - East Greenland

Once we reached the coast, we turned South and started skirting around the rocky mountain we’d been following.  I loved this part of the hike!  Icebergs and ocean to our right, the ever-impressive and interesting Greenlandic rock to our left, and an amazing view back down over the whole lot behind us.

Rocks, snow and ice in the fjords- Kulusuk Island - East Greenland

In front of us, DYE-4 appeared on the mountain top

Hiking towards DYE-4 radar station - Kulusuk Island - East Greenland
You can see the antennae of DYE-4 on the hill in the background

and as we climbed the rather steep slope, the views became more and more spectacular.

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As promised, there was little left of the original radar station at the site – the cold war defenses replaced by modern telecommunications antennas.

Antennas at DYE-4 radar station - Kulusuk Island - East Greenland
The modernization of DYE-4

However we did spy this ptarmigan pair on our way to a very special lunch spot that Andrea had “reserved” for us. I was particularly excited to see these birds as I actually know the word for ptarmigan in Greenlandic (go figure)!  Aqisseq is one of the roughly 150 Greenlandic words I currently have in my vocabulary – it is a tough language to learn!

male and female ptarmigan- Kulusuk Island - East Greenland
Male (top) and female (bottom) ptarmigans

Given the day was so amazing, we spent about an hour relaxing, soaking up the sun and enjoying the amazing view of the icebergs floating in the ocean

Enjoying the view over the ocean and icebergs at DYE-4 radar station - Kulusuk Island - East Greenland
Andrea knew the perfect spot for lunch

before starting our descent past the abandoned foundations of buildings to the road leading back to Kulusuk.

Hiking past foundations of buildings that use to service DYE-4 radar station - Kulusuk Island - East Greenland
There are many left-over foundations around the DYE-4 site

To be honest, I’m not a fan of hiking along roads, and this one was no exception (especially since I’d hiked 3/4 of it last year).  However, we had a great view of the mountain that stands behind Kulusuk airport, the shape of which has given both the town and the island their name.  Kulusuk = “chest of a black guillemot” in Greenlandic, where a guillemot is a black bird.

Hiking towards the main mountain on Kulusuk Island - East Greenland
Does this look like the breast of a black bird to you?

We wove our way between semi-frozen lakes that this time last year were completely ice free (it’s been a long, cold winter this year in Greenland)

Semi-frozen lakes - Kulusuk Island - East Greenland
Last year the lakes on Kulusuk Island were ice free. This year, still semi-frozen!

and were rewarded with amazing views over the village of Kulusuk, the fjord and the mountains as we hiked the final kilometres into town.

Panorama of Kulusuk and its surroundings - Kulusuk Island - East Greenland

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We all sat out on the deck of the Kulusuk hostel basking in the warm sunshine, drinking tea and eating leftover chocolate cake, before being called in for a dinner of prawn cocktail breads, Greenlandic lamb chops and roast veggies, and rice “pancakes” for dessert (we had loads of rice left over from last night’s dinner after all).

Sample dinner with Icelandic Mountain Guides - Kulusuk Island - East Greenland
Sample meal with Greenland Adventures. You won’t go hungry!

After dinner and instructions for the next day, everyone headed to bed.  However, we’d been told about a live band playing in the local community hall that night starting at 10pm, so I decided to head on over there by myself.  

Kulusuk community hall - Kulusuk Island - East Greenland
The community hall in Kulusuk

I’m so glad I did!  The band was made up of local musicians (e.g. the guy who runs the “service house” in Kulusuk was one of the guitar players), and was actually pretty good!  There weren’t a lot of people when I first arrived, but within a minute of sitting down, 3 Greenlandic girls who were dressed to the absolute nines in tight black lacy dresses got me up to dance with them.  Love these experiences!

The music was a mixture of slower songs, rock, and fast country, with the most popular being the fast country.  Every time the band launched into one of these songs, all the girls in the room would hit the dance floor, pair up, and spin and turn together in what almost seemed to be a “standard” dance that everyone knew.  

They were so energetic about it, and there were older women as well as the younger girls flinging themselves around the room.  Awesome to watch, and I really, really wanted to join in – it looked like so much fun!

At about midnight, the band took a break, and I walked out to the statue of Milka Kuitse to take in the sunset.  It was so peaceful and so beautiful, and I was so thankful to be back in Greenland 🙂    Oh how I love this place!

Panorama from Kulusuk at midnight - Kulusuk Island - East Greenland

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Read more about the Icefjords and Remote Villages Tour

If this post has piqued your curiosity about hiking and trekking in East Greenland, read about the rest of my adventure on the 10-day Icefjords and Remote Villages tour with Greenland Adventures:

If it has sparked an interest in Greenland more generally, learn more about this amazing country at Visit Greenland, and check out the wide range of tours of all kinds (not just hiking and trekking) at Guide to Greenland.

Hiking Information

Distance = 15.9km

Time taken = 7 hours 17 minutes

Strava Linkhttps://www.strava.com/activities/1704297204

Map

Basic Map of hike to DYE-4 radar station on Day 2 of Icefjords and Remote Villages Trek - from Strava

Altitude Profile

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