Tag Archives: Greenland

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Trekking Greenland – Arctic Circle Trail – Summary

If you love long-distance hiking and want to experience real solitude and untouched wilderness, the Arctic Circle Trail in West Greenland is definitely for you.

Schematic of the Arctic Circle Trail Route from Destination Arctic Circle
Outline of the Arctic Circle Trail route by Destination Arctic Circle

Stretching for 160km along the Arctic Circle from Kangerlussuaq to Sisimiut, it is quickly rising in popularity after being featured in several “Top 10” lists in recent years. And while nowhere in Greenland is ever going to feel crowded, if you want to avoid other hikers, I would suggest doing it sooner rather than later.

Perfect reflections of mountains in the lake - Arctic Circle Trail - West Greenland

[move cursor over the image to see the full panorama]

I have to admit, it is not the most beautiful long-distance hike I’ve ever done (especially the first couple of days out of Kangerlussuaq), but then again I’ve done some incredible hikes and am drawn to tall peaky mountains with snow and ice. This is not the landscape along the Arctic Circle Trail. That being said, there are some spectacularly epic vistas along the way, and it is magical to have the opportunity to hike alone (if you choose) in the middle of nowhere for over a week.

Tyson looking out over Ole’s Lakseelv (Itinneq) Valley on Day 4 – one of several epic vistas along the Arctic Circle Trail

How difficult is the Arctic Circle Trail?

The great news is that it is actually a very easy hike, if you are accustomed to hiking long distances carrying a full pack. There are no technical challenges (the most difficult thing is avoiding the boggy areas), and any difficulties will likely arise due to weather.

When should I hike the Arctic Circle Trail?

The peak hiking season for this part of Greenland is from late-June to mid-September. During this period the average temperature along the Arctic Circle Trail ranges from around 0o Celsius at night to 17o Celsius during the day. However, keep in mind this is the Arctic and the weather can change quickly. You should therefore not be surprised by hotter temperatures, and absolutely must be prepared for colder weather. As always, layers are the secret to comfort on the trail!

Views of different weather conditions on the Arctic Circle trail in late August 2018 - West Greenland
We had terrible (top) and fantastic (bottom) weather hiking the Arctic Circle Trail in late August

Another consideration is that the infamous Greenland mosquitoes tend to be at their worst in July and early August, though it depends on when the weather becomes warm enough for their eggs to hatch. If you don’t want to have to wear a head net the whole way (though I would recommend bringing one with you regardless), try to aim for earlier or later in the season.

I hiked the trail from August 15 – 22, 2018. You can see how the weather changed on a daily basis by reading my other blog posts (linked from the bottom of this post), but the weather wasn’t too bad and we only had one night with a light frost. The mosquitoes didn’t drive us crazy and there were only a handful of occasions where I put my head net on for a while.

How long does it take to hike the Arctic Circle Trail?

This will depend on a number of factors including your fitness, your motivation, your purpose in hiking the trail, etc. However, the average time taken by most people is 8-9 days from Kelly Ville/Kangerlussuaq to Sisimiut. This is basically the schedule defined by the huts.

Views of some of the huts along the Arctic Circle Trail - West Greenland
Some of the huts along the Arctic Circle Trail

If you want to walk from the Icefield to Sisimiut, add another 2-3 days. You really want to be able to enjoy a decent amount of time at the very impressive Russell Glacier!

Me standing on rocks looking across the river at the 60m high face of the Russell Glacier
Looking up at the 60m high face of the Russell Glacier

Is it possible to do this trek guided/supported?

At this stage, no. This is an independent hiking trail and you need to be self-sufficient and confident in hiking long distances by yourself. That being said, the trail is extremely well marked. You would have to try very hard to get lost!

Stone cairn with reindeer antlers in front of a lake - Arctic Circle Trail - West Greenland
Typical route marker for the Arctic Circle Trail – a stone cairn with red semi-circles. They are easy to spot which makes navigation simple!

Where can I go for more detailed information?

Visit Greenland will publish an “Ultimate Guide to the Arctic Circle Trail” in March 2019. This will be the most comprehensive web page on hiking the Arctic Circle Trail, with loads of practical information on preparing for the hike, how to get the most out of the hike, and what to do after the hike.

I know this because I wrote a lot of it ūüėČ I will link it here as soon as it is live!

View of Nasaasaaq from the pass - Arctic Circle Trail - West Greenland
Another of my favourite “epic vistas”. This one is actually just outside of Sisimiut

Destination Arctic Circle has a web page that contains brief trail notes, and the other detailed reference is the Cicerone guide: “Walking the Arctic Circle Trail”. Many hikers had this book tucked away in their rucksack and it does give a very detailed description of the route for each day. Paddy Dillon (the author) was actually hiking the trail again while I was there and the updated edition is now out.

Should I budget time at either end to explore?

YES! Absolutely! 100%!

Unfortunately I only ended up with one day in Kangerlussuaq thanks to flight schedule changes, but I spent 9 days in Sisimiut and never ran out of things to do!

Images of some of the many things I did after the Arctic Circle Trail while in Sisimiut, West Greenland
Teasers of some of the many, many things Tyson and I got up to while we were in Sisimiut

I had an absolutely brilliant time in Greenland’s second largest town (population 5,500), and even had the classic Sisimiut experience of being stranded for an extra day due to bad weather grounding the flights ūüėÄ That meant I ended up missing out on seeing my absolute favourite band, Nanook, play at the Taseralik Cultural Center by only 12 hours! 😞😭

Me wearing my "Stranded in Sisimiut - Lucky Me!" t-shirt at the Hotel Sisimiut - West Greenland
Wearing my “Stranded in Sisimiut – Lucky me” t-shirt. Lucky me indeed! I had the BEST time in Sisimiut, thanks in great part to the amazing staff at the Hotel Sisimiut.

Search for “Sisimiut” in my blog posts to see what I got up to, and/or follow the links in Visit Greenland’s “Ultimate Guide to the Arctic Circle Trail”.

Two last things…

Million thanks to my trekking buddy, Tyson, for a hugely fun trip. I’m glad that you enjoyed your first Greenland experience after hearing me rave on about the place for more than 12 months! See you back there in 2019!

And for those who have read all my other posts about this trek…

Yes.  I did manage to make it all the way from Kangerlussuaq to Sisimiut with dry feet 😂

Read more about hiking the Arctic Circle Trail

If this post has piqued your curiosity about hiking and trekking in Greenland, read about my adventure over 8 days on the Arctic Circle Trail:

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.

Like what you have read? Please follow and like me:
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Trekking Greenland – Arctic Circle Trail -Kangerlusarsuk Tulleq Nord to Sisimiut

Last day on the Arctic Circle Trail.  Hard to believe it is over already!

Tyson and I were up early (well, for us anyway) for a 7am departure.  It was 22km to Sisimiut and we wanted to get there just after lunch to ensure we managed to secure a bunk at the hostel.  No more drafty tent for us!  Well, me anyway.  Tyson was still deciding where he would stay.

It was an absolutely glorious morning

[move cursor over the image to see the full panorama]

as we said goodbye to our new German friend 

Leaving the Kangerlusarsuk Tulleq Nord Hut - Arctic Circle Trail - West Greenland
Heading away from the Kangerlusarsuk Tulleq Nord Hut

and chose-our-own-adventure across the spongy ground and up to the Kangerlusarsuk Tulleq Sud Hut.

Kangerlusarsuk Tulleq Sud Hut - Arctic Circle Trail - West Greenland
Approach (top) to the Kangerlusarsuk Tulleq Sud Hut (bottom)

Beyond there, the trail followed the fjord for a while, and it was incredible to finally be hiking in the sunshine under blue skies.

Overlooking the Kangerlusarsuk Tulleq fjord - Arctic Circle Trail - West Greenland
Taking in the Kangerlusarsuk Tulleq fjord under brilliant skies!

After about 5km, the trail turned away from the fjord and started to ascend steeply, following a river to the highest pass along the route.

Final pass on Day 8 - Arctic Circle Trail - West Greenland
Trail up to the final pass of the Arctic Circle Trail

Towards the top, we came across a toilet with one of the best views in the world

Toilet with stunning view over the lake on day 8 - Arctic Circle Trail - West Greenland
Toilet with a view!

before continuing over the pass for the downhill run to Sisimiut. 

Random things along the trail indicated that we were getting close to civilisation again 

Random things along the Arctic Circle Trail heading into Sisimiut - West Greenland
And old dog sledge (top-left) and a fork stuck in the ground (middle) were two of the weird objects we found as approached the outskirts of Sisimiut

but the Arctic Circle Trail had one last epic natural vista for us ūüôā 

A clear view into the valley at the base of the impressive mountains (including the iconic Nasaasaaq) just outside of Sisimiut. 

View of Nasaasaaq from the pass - Arctic Circle Trail - West Greenland
Another of my favourite views along the trek was just outside of Sisimiut

Yet another highlight of the trek!

Unfortunately we couldn’t spend too much time admiring the view, as a freezing wind had come up (I even had my thick, wind-proof gloves on!) and I was even more motivated to get to the hostel early to secure a bed.

After one final river crossing and a quick lunch on the other side

Final river crossing - Day 8 of the Arctic Circle Trail - West Greenland
Tyson getting ready to change back into hiking shoes for the last time

we began hiking through the valley we had admired from on high

Hiking into the valley below  Nasaasaaq - Arctic Circle Trail - West Greenland
Hiking into the valley below Nasaasaaq

and finally saw our first glimpse of our final destination.

Sisimiut airport just glimpsed from the Arctic Circle Trail - West Greenland
Can you spot the buildings at Sisimiut airport?

The trail turned into a road a few kilometres further on

From trail to road on the outskirts of Sisimiut - Arctic Circle Trail - West Greenland
Where the Arctic Circle Trail ends and the road into town begins

and this seemed to go on for-absolutely-ever as it led us eventually into town.

Entering Sisimiut - Arctic Circle Trail - West Greenland
The never-ending dirt road (top) finally gave way to bitumen (bottom) at the top of Sisimiut. Almost there!

We headed straight for the Sisimiut Hostel, only to discover that it was not open until 4:30pm.  It was 2pm.  So much for arriving early!

In another impulsive change of plan, Tyson suggested we head back to the Hotel Sisimiut – the best hotel in town.  We had seen an advertisement for their “hiker’s special” on the way into Sisimiut and, given that we needed 3 nights of accommodation and would share a room, it wouldn’t actually be much more expensive for each of us than staying at the hostel.

Sign with deals for Arctic Circle Trail hikers at the entrance to Sisimiut - West Greenland
The hiker’s offer at the Hotel Sisimiut was very appealing!

Bad news when we arrived – they didn’t have any more of their double rooms left with the “hiker’s special” ūüôĀ However, they did offer us the business suite at a very good rate and, in the end, Tyson and I decided to throw Danish Kroner to the wind and enjoy a little luxury ūüôā 

Read more about hiking the Arctic Circle Trail

If this post has piqued your curiosity about hiking and trekking in Greenland, read about the rest of my adventure over 8 days on the Arctic Circle Trail:

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.

Trekking Information

Distance = 25.8 km

Time taken = 8hrs 19mins

GPX File =Arctic-Circle-Trail-Kangerlusarsuq-Tulleq-Nord-Sisimiut.gpx

Strava Link =https://www.strava.com/activities/1813015249

Map

Basic Map of the route from the Kangerlusarsuk Tulleq Nord Hut to Sisimiut on the Arctic Circle Trail, West Greenland - from Strava

Altitude Profile

Altitude Profile of the route from the Kangerlusarsuk Tulleq Nord Hut to Sisimiut on the Arctic Circle Trail, West Greenland - from Strava
This post contains some affiliate links.  If you make a purchase through one of these links, I will earn a small commission at no extra cost to you.  Your support is appreciated!
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Trekking Greenland – Arctic Circle Trail -Nerumaq to Kangerlusarsuk Tulleq Nord

The weather had turned to crap again today as we continued our hike towards Sisimiut.

Hiking Day 7 - Arctic Circle Trail - West Greenland
It was actually really cold hiking through this

There were several rivers to cross

River crossings on Day 7 - Arctic Circle Trail - West Greenland
I had to take my boots off to cross both of these

and boggy patches to negotiate on this stretch of the trail.

A muddly  Arctic Circle Trail - West Greenland
This stretch and Day 4 had the worst of the boggy areas

By this time, Tyson had well and truly given up on keeping his trail runners dry and was just hiking through the mud and water – protected by his GoreTex socks.  I was still picking my way around these obstacles – so far succeeding in my efforts to keep the insides of my boots dry!

The next huts along the trail were Kangerlusarsuk Tulleq Nord (located on the water at the head of the Kangerlusarsuk Tulleq fjord) and Kangerlusarsuk Tulleq Sud, which was located up on a hill overlooking the fjord.   Although our aim was to camp beyond these two huts at the pass over to Sisimiut (our gas supply concerns were by now a distant memory), we decided to head down and check out Kangerlusarsuk Tulleq Nord before climbing up to re-join the main trail at Kangerlusarsuk Tulleq Sud, and then continue on to an appropriate campsite.  

You know what they say about the best laid plans…

We left the main trail and bush-bashed our way towards where we thought the hut would be.

Bush-bashing in the general direction of Kangerlusarsuk Tulleq Nord Hut - Arctic Circle Trail - West Greenland
Bush-bashing in the general direction of Kangerlusarsuk Tulleq Nord Hut

We eventually found it – right where it was meant to be – and headed inside for a look.

Approaching Kangerlusarsuk Tulleq Nord Hut - Arctic Circle Trail - West Greenland
The hut sits at the head of the Kangerlusarsuk Tulleq fjord

And that’s where our plan unraveled.  It was lovely inside!

Interior of Kangerlusarsuk Tulleq Nord Hut - Arctic Circle Trail - West Greenland
Light, bright, with loads of space and an awesome view. How could we not stay here?

There was an older German man staying there and we sat down with him to have our lunch.  It turned out he was as enamoured with Greenland as I am (this was his 7th trip!) and we fell into a great conversation about past and future adventures over never-ending cups of tea.  

To the point where it became impossible to leave ūüėČ  Add in the fact that the weather had cleared up and the views of the fjord were stunning

Panorama Kangerlusarsuk Tulleq Fjord - Arctic Circle Trail - West Greenland

[move cursor over the image to see the full panorama]

and it didn’t take much to convince us to stay here rather than wild camp.  Yes, it would mean a long day tomorrow … but meh ūüôā

With almost an entire afternoon up our sleeves, we decided to take a short hike over to the summer/weekend homes we could see further around the fjord. 

Summer homes near the Kangerlusarsuk Tulleq Nord Hut - Arctic Circle Trail - West Greenland
Summer homes or weekend homes on the Kangerlusarsuk Tulleq fjord

We made our way across the tidal river without too much trouble, took a rest beside a flat-pack home that had yet to go up (though the holes for the foundations were dug)

Taking in the view beside a yet to be constructed house near the Kangerlusarsuk Tulleq Nord Hut - Arctic Circle Trail - West Greenland
Taking in the view beside a flat-pack home

and made ourselves comfortable in the sun on someone else’s porch, surrounded by astroturf!

Greenlandic flag and astroturf at a weekend home - Arctic Circle Trail - West Greenland
Tyson relaxing on the lower deck of this weekend escape with astroturf

I decided that the mountains I had seen beyond these homes looked interesting and wanted to see what lay over that way.  So while Tyson relaxed, I threaded my way through more bog and headed up the ridge.   All I can say is “wow”!

Panorama of alternate valley near Kangerlusarsuk Tulleq Nord Hut - Arctic Circle Trail - West Greenland

[move cursor over the image to see the full panorama]

Although the low cloud was obscuring the tops of the mountains, the next valley over was absolutely stunning, and I lamented not having more time to take a side excursion for a couple of days to explore further.  

Instead, I collected Tyson and headed back across the now much higher river (oops, I’d forgotten it was a tidal river!) to our German friend and the 2 Asian Girls who had joined us at Kangerlusarsuk Tulleq Nord.   More wonderful conversation and tea over our evening meal, topped off with a beautiful sunset over the fjord.

Sunset from Kangerlusarsuk Tulleq Nord Hut - Arctic Circle Trail - West Greenland

Read more about hiking the Arctic Circle Trail

If this post has piqued your curiosity about hiking and trekking in Greenland, read about the rest of my adventure over 8 days on the Arctic Circle Trail:

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.

Trekking Information

Distance = 16.9 km

Time taken = 7hrs 33mins

GPX File =Arctic-Circle-Trail-Nerumaq-Kangerlusarsuq-Tulleq-Nord.gpx

Strava Link =https://www.strava.com/activities/1813014972

Map

Basic Map of the route from the Nerumaq Hut to the Kangerlusarsuk Tulleq Nord Hut on the Arctic Circle Trail, West Greenland - from Strava

Altitude Profile

Altitude Profile of the route from the Nerumaq Hut to the Kangerlusarsuk Tulleq Nord Hut on the Arctic Circle Trail, West Greenland - from Strava
This post contains some affiliate links.  If you make a purchase through one of these links, I will earn a small commission at no extra cost to you.  Your support is appreciated!
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Trekking Greenland – Arctic Circle Trail – Innajuattoq to Nerumaq

Staying at Innajuattoq II was an inspired idea ūüôā

Innajuattoq II (the Lake House) overlooking the lake - Arctic Circle Trail - West Greenland
Hard to leave this spot!

Tyson and I actually dragged ourselves out of bed early for a change (7am), and I finally had hot porridge (and tea!) for breakfast since we no longer had to ration our gas.  Porridge really is a whole lot more tasty with wild blueberries!

We eventually set out at 9am, just after the Kiwi-Canadians.  And while Tyson (with his long legs) decided to rock-hop across the river where it met the lake, I’d ascertained that there was no way my shorter legs were going to make it.  Instead, I headed down the river a little to try to find a way across in collaboration with the Kiwi-Canadians.  Hmmm… there was no obvious route… In the end, I decided to simply take my boots off and wade across.  Again – I’m determined to reach the end of the trail with dry boots!

Hikers crossing the river near Innajuattoq II Hut - Arctic Circle Trail - West Greenland
The Kiwi-Canadians endeavouring to find a way across the river that ran right beside the Innajuattoq II Hut

Tyson and I spent a lot of today hiking with Jo and Andrew (yes, we did actually know the names of the Kiwi-Canadians ūüėČ ).  The weather was glorious as we hiked along the trail 

Hiking views Day 6 - Arctic Circle Trail - West Greenland

and both Jo and I spent a lot of time taking pictures of the flowers that we saw.  At this time of year, there is an abundance of wildflowers along the trail!

Montage of flowers found along the Arctic Circle trail in late August. West Greenland
I love the wildflowers in Greenland

The trail that we ended up following took us up onto a ridge 

looking behind us from the ridge on Day 6 - Arctic Circle Trail - West Greenland

where we had lunch overlooking the most incredible view out towards the mountains ahead of us and the river valley (with another trail) below us. 

Ridge view on Day 6 - Arctic Circle Trail - West Greenland

I loved the open vista as we descended into the valley

Descending into the valley from the ridge on Day 6 - Arctic Circle Trail - West Greenland

collecting blueberries for breakfast along the way.  Yes, by this time I’d convinced Tyson that wild blueberries made everything taste better ūüôā

Tyson picking wild blueberries along the  Arctic Circle Trail - West Greenland
I spent a lot of time doing this. Here Tyson is getting in on the act.

The trail led us through a small forest of Arctic willow – always a strange feeling to be walking through vegetation as high as you are in Greenland

Forest of arctic willow - Arctic Circle Trail - West Greenland
Such a strange sight to see vegetation taller than ankle-height

before it turned the corner in another valley to arrive at Nerumaq Hut, stunningly situated at the base of a rocky bluff.

 Nerumaq Hut - Arctic Circle Trail - West Greenland
The Nerumaq Hut is in an amazing setting

The Kiwi-Canadians had decided to camp here for the night, but we decided to push on up the valley a little further.

Hiking away from the Nerumaq Hut on Day 6 - Arctic Circle Trail - West Greenland

We were starting to wonder if we’d ever find a spot that was sheltered from the wind (bloody tent!), and in the end we lucked out and camped at a beautiful spot with a clear view up the valley we’d just walked along.

Tent and campsite on Day 6 - Arctic Circle Trail - West Greenland
Gorgeous campsite! Terrible tent ūüôĀ

We ran the gauntlet with the Greenlandic mosquitoes once more as we prepared our dinner outside

Preparing main meal on the Arctic Circle Trail - West Greenland
I had bought packets of dry trekking food with me from the Czech Republic. You just need to boil some water and add for a surprisingly tasty meal!

and enjoyed the view while the sun set. Life doesn’t get much better than this!

Room with a view from our tent at the end of Day 6 - Arctic Circle Trail - West Greenland
Room with a view!

Read more about hiking the Arctic Circle Trail

If this post has piqued your curiosity about hiking and trekking in Greenland, read about the rest of my adventure over 8 days on the Arctic Circle Trail:

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.

Trekking Information

Distance = 21.4 km

Time taken = 8hrs 27mins

GPX File =Arctic-Circle-Trail-Inajuattoq-Nerumaq.gpx

Strava Link =https://www.strava.com/activities/1813015191

Map

Basic Map of the route from the Innajuattoq II Hut (the Lake House) to the Nerumaq Hut on the Arctic Circle Trail, West Greenland- from Strava

Altitude Profile

Altitude profile of the route from the Innajuattoq II Hut (the Lake House) to the Nerumaq Hut on the Arctic Circle Trail, West Greenland- from Strava
This post contains some affiliate links.  If you make a purchase through one of these links, I will earn a small commission at no extra cost to you.  Your support is appreciated!
Like what you have read? Please follow and like me:
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Trekking Greenland – Arctic Circle Trail – Eqalugaarniarfik to Innajuattoq

Another relaxed start to the day meant it was a minor miracle that I arrived at the viewpoint over the next large lake before the wind picked up.  Oh, I was so very, very thankful!

Perfect reflections of mountains in the lake - Arctic Circle Trail - West Greenland

[move cursor over the image to see the full panorama]

The perfect reflections were absolutely stunning

Mirror reflections of mountain detail - Arctic Circle Trail - West Greenland
I love these abstract reflections

and it was not possible to get enough of this view!  Nor of the absolute silence and solitude that you feel while trekking in one of the most remote places on Earth.

Perfect reflections in the lake - - Arctic Circle Trail - West Greenland

[move cursor over the image to see the full panorama]

Tyson and I ended up hiking separately for this first part of the hike.  Given he was wearing GoreTex socks (which kept his feet dry) and trail-running shoes – he chose to take the low trail along the lake.  I was trying to avoid as much boggy ground as possible and so decided to take the high trail.  Plus I figured the views would be better ūüôā

The high trail along the lake on Day 5 - Arctic Circle Trail - West Greenland
The high trail that I was on eventually descended to meet the low trail that Tyson took

We met again for an early lunch (including soup and tea now that we had a decent amount of gas!) on a large slab of rock jutting out into the lake, and took the opportunity to have a wash – all while being attacked by Greenland’s infamous Summer mosquitoes!  Yes, this is another thing you read a lot about when planning to hike the Arctic Circle Trail.  And while they weren’t too bad for the most part, there were a few occasions along the trail where I broke out the head net to keep them at bay!

After lunch, we caught up with the Kiwi-Canadians and fell into step with them as we made our way along a wide, rocky river.

Following a rocky river  on Day 5 - Arctic Circle Trail - West Greenland
This was by far the largest river we’d seen on the trail

After a brief sunny interlude during the morning, the clouds closed in again as we headed towards the Innajuattoq huts.

Views while hiking on Day 5 - Arctic Circle Trail - West Greenland
Can you see the Kiwi-Canadians in the top image?

There are actually 2 huts quite close to each other and we decided to climb the hill to check out the tiny Innajuattoq I

Approaching Innajuattoq I hut - Arctic Circle Trail - West Greenland
Tyson approaching (top) the Innajuattoq I hut (bottom)

before carrying on down to Innajuattoq II – otherwise known as the Lake House.

Innajuattoq II (the Lake House) overlooking the lake - Arctic Circle Trail - West Greenland
The view from the Innajuattoq II is spectacular!

Tyson and I had originally planned to continue hiking, but upon entering the Lake House it quickly became clear why this is everyone’s favourite along the trail.  We didn’t have to work too hard to convince ourselves to just stay put – especially as we were in time to snavel a bottom bunk each, the weather was closing in, and we were really enjoying chatting with the Kiwi-Canadians, who were planning to stay there the night.

Interior of the Innajuattoq II (the Lake House) - Arctic Circle Trail - West Greenland
The large living area and dormitory of Innajuattoq II

I did a very quick exploration around the hut (mostly to gather more wild blueberries for my porridge the next morning)

Wild blueberries - Arctic Circle Trail - West Greenland
We picked (and ate) a lot of wild blueberries on this trek

and then sat around drinking copious amount of tea and eating some of our surplus snacks, now that we were going to arrive in Sisimiut 2 days early. 

Read more about hiking the Arctic Circle Trail

If this post has piqued your curiosity about hiking and trekking in Greenland, read about the rest of my adventure over 8 days on the Arctic Circle Trail:

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.

Trekking Information

Distance = 12.8 km

Time taken = 5hrs 23mins

GPX File =Arctic-Circle-Trail-Eqalugaarniarfik-Inajuattoq.gpx

Strava Link = https://www.strava.com/activities/1813015009

Map

Basic Map of the route from the Eqalugaarniarfik Hut to Innajuattoq II Hut (the Lake House) on the Arctic Circle Trail, West Greenland- from Strava

Altitude Profile

Altitude profile of the route from the Eqalugaarniarfik Hut to Innajuattoq II Hut (the Lake House) on the Arctic Circle Trail, West Greenland- from Strava
This post contains some affiliate links.  If you make a purchase through one of these links, I will earn a small commission at no extra cost to you.  Your support is appreciated!
Like what you have read? Please follow and like me:
Hiking-Greenland-Arctic-Circle-Trail-Ole-Lakseelv-Itinneq-Valley.jpg

Trekking Greenland – Arctic Circle Trail – Ikkattooq to Eqalugaarniarfik

After a 24km day and a 23km day, today was a relative doddle at only 18km.  We’d heard from some hikers coming the other direction that it was all downhill to the next hut.  And that was true … so long as you discounted the first 2km that rose quite steeply to another ridge!

View back down over Ikkattooq Hut from half-way up the ridge - Arctic Circle Trail - West Greenland
Leaving the Ikkattooq Hut

There we entered a strange landscape of large rocks and isolated boulders, presumably left in place as the glaciers retreated,

Hiking through a boulder field on Day 4 - Arctic Circle Trail - West Greenland
Tyson hiking through the boulder field

before arriving at one of the most spectacular viewpoints on the trail.

Tyson overlooking Ole's Lakseelv (Itinneq) Valley from the ridge - Arctic Circle Trail - West Greenland
One of my favourite views

Ole’s Lakseelv (Itinneq) Valley is absolutely spectacular from this vantage point!

Panorama of Ole's Lakseelv (Itinneq) Valley - Arctic Circle Trail - West Greenland

[move cursor over the image to see the full panorama]

We spent quite a while up here admiring the view and waiting to check in with Rob (who’d set out before us) via walkie-talkie.  He told us to look for an inflatable boat about 50m upstream to help us cross the river, and that he could see some Musk Oxen (“Umimmak” in Greenlandic) further up the valley.  This last piece of information was finally motivation enough to get us moving (Musk Oxen were the only animals in this region that we hadn’t yet seen), and we set off down into the valley.

Tyson descending into Ole's Lakseelv (Itinneq) Valley - Arctic Circle Trail - West Greenland

The floor of the valley was, surprisingly, no more boggy than other areas we’d already hiked through

Tyson hiking across the floor of Ole's Lakseelv (Itinneq) Valley - Arctic Circle Trail - West Greenland
Arctic Cottongrass (the white things) indicate very wet areas. But the trail wasn’t too bad

and we ended up finding Rob’s boat exactly where he told us to look for it.  It took us a few minutes to sort out the exact angle of approach so that we could climb into the boat without getting our shoes wet, before pulling ourselves and our packs across with the rope.

Rubber dinghy across the river - Arctic Circle Trail - West Greenland
Much better than having to change out of hiking boots to cross!

We hiked very quickly along the other side of the valley in an effort to reach the Musk Oxen before they moved on.  Unfortunately they were just a little too quick for us, but we did manage to see them from a distance and decided to have lunch on a nearby rise to see if they would come closer.

Musk Oxen and Rob eating lunch at Ole's Lakseelv (Itinneq) Valley - Arctic Circle Trail - West Greenland
The elusive Musk Oxen (top) and Rob waiting them out over lunch in the Itinneq Valley

Unfortunately not ūüôĀ  Oh well. Still some days to go…

It was at this point that we also had to have the conversation about the schedule for our hike.  Rob wanted to climb an unnamed mountain the next day.  Tyson and I wanted to get to Sisimiut earlier than planned to spend extra days doing day-hikes around there.  In the end, we agreed to go our separate ways but keep in touch via walkie-talkie. We also made a time to meet up one last time in Sisimiut – partially to make sure Rob arrived safely, but also to say goodbye.

And then there were 2.

After lunch, Tyson and I headed out first and climbed a small pass to arrive at the Eqalugaarniarfik Hut, the next stop along the trail according to the Cicerone Guide.  However, several of us last night had felt that 11km was too short a day and, in discussion with the Kiwi-Canadians, we had decided to continue for another 6km to a spot that looked like a good campsite on the map.  Tyson and I were happy to go along with this plan because A) 11km is a very short day.  And B) we really needed that canister of spare gas the Kiwi-Canadians had promised us ūüôā  Especially since we’d given the extra canisters we’d collected to Rob.

The small pass (top) to the Eqalugaarniarfik Hut (bottom) - Arctic Circle Trail - West Greenland
Hiking over the small pass (top) to the Eqalugaarniarfik Hut (bottom)

Just after the hut, we came across our first stream for the hike!  Up until this point we had been drinking water from mountain tarns that form when rainwater (more likely snow in the case of Greenland) gets trapped in depressions in rock.  They have no inflow or outflow, so the sudden appearance of running water came as quite a surprise.

Stream near the Eqalugaarniarfik Hut - Arctic Circle Trail - West Greenland
So refreshing!

The trail then climbed fairly steeply up to another ridge

Looking back down on the Eqalugaarniarfik Hut from the ridge - Arctic Circle Trail - West Greenland
Looking back down on the Eqalugaarniarfik Hut from the ridge. Can you still see it?

with spectacular views into the next valley lying at the base of the Taseeqqap Saqqaa range.

Panorama of the lake at the base of the Taseeqqap Saqqaa range - Arctic Circle Trail - West Greenland

[move cursor over the image to see the full panorama]

It was a really beautiful hike.  Another of my favourite parts of the trail.

Views around the Taseeqqap Saqqaa range from the ridge - Arctic Circle Trail - West Greenland
Gorgeous vistas!

We had come across the Young Germans camped part-way along the ridge in a sheltered spot, and eventually found the¬†Kiwi-Canadians¬†at the base of a hill on the shore of a lake – pretty much exactly where we had planned to camp.¬† It was an awesome spot with an amazing view, and very close to a small waterfall.¬† We ended up camping a short distance away and gratefully accepted their proferred gas after they had finished cooking their dinner.¬† Hot tea again tonight ūüôā

Sunset over the camp of the Kiwi-Canadians - Arctic Circle Trail - West Greenland
The Kiwi-Canadians at home on the lake

Read more about hiking the Arctic Circle Trail

If this post has piqued your curiosity about hiking and trekking in Greenland, read about the rest of my adventure over 8 days on the Arctic Circle Trail:

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.

Trekking Information

Distance = 18 km

Time taken = 8hrs 30mins

GPX File =Arctic-Circle-Trail-Ikkattooq-Eqalugaarniarfik.gpx

Strava Link = https://www.strava.com/activities/1813015213

Map

Basic Map of the route from the Ikkattooq Hut to the Eqalugaarniarfik Hut on the Arctic Circle Trail, West Greenland- from Strava

Altitude Profile

Altitude profile of the route from the Ikkattooq Hut to the Eqalugaarniarfik Hut on the Arctic Circle Trail, West Greenland- from Strava
This post contains some affiliate links.  If you make a purchase through one of these links, I will earn a small commission at no extra cost to you.  Your support is appreciated!
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Trekking Greenland – Arctic Circle Trail – Canoe Center to Ikkattooq

It turned out Tyson and I were the only people to camp last night at the Canoe Center, despite both of us hating his tent.¬† Everyone else took the opportunity to sleep inside and had hit the trail early – long before we even got out of bed.¬† Admittedly, we took a very relaxed approach to our mornings…

My sleeping quilt and bowl of porridge in Tyson's tent - - Arctic Circle Trail - West Greenland
We were all for late starts and breakfast in bed!

Even though it was only the start of Day 3, we had already started to recognise and strike up conversations with most of the hikers heading in the same direction as us.  There were the 3 Poles, the 2 Red Germans, the 2 Green Germans (denoted by the colour of their pack covers), the 2 Trolley Germans (they were pulling a trolley as well as carrying backpacks!!), the 4 Young Germans (yes, a lot of Germans!), the 2 Austrians (just for a bit of a change), the 2 Asian Girls, the Crazy Hungarian Guy (his plan was to hike the Triple Crown in an insanely short amount of time), and the 2 Kiwi-Canadians (a New Zealander couple living in Canada).   Yes – we had nicknames for everyone, but they also had them for us ūüôā

All up, about 20 people that we would see every now and then as we hiked (often in the distance) and perhaps at the end of each day at the huts (along with a handful of people coming the other direction).  That’s it.  And this was peak season for Greenland’s most famous trek!  

The first part of today’s hike delivered us to the end of the Amitsorsuaq Lake and our first section of really boggy ground.  This is something that you read a lot about when planning to hike the Arctic Circle Trail, and my goal was to complete the trek without getting wet feet through my boots.  I figured I had a good shot at it with my Lowa mountaineering boots ūüôā

Boggy sections of the Arctic Circle Trail - West Greenland
Hmmm…. how to get through this?

Although the trail had already presented us with some mud and wet areas to negotiate, it had not been too bad.  This was the first time we really had to pick our way through and sometimes backtrack a little.  That being said, we hoped that it wouldn’t get much worse and that the reports we were getting from hikers coming the other direction were over-blown! 

Aside from negotiating the bog, the rest of the hike until lunchtime was easy going, with low-lying cloud obscuring the tops of the mountains.

Tyson hiking through the arctic tundra under heavy grey skies

We had our lunch perched on a small rise above the Tasersuaq Lake, with the Green Germans and another dead reindeer perched on a stone cairn for company

Stone cairn with reindeer antlers in front of a lake - Arctic Circle Trail - West Greenland
Beautiful spot for lunch

before descending to the one of the very few sandy shorelines along the trail where the Red Germans had decided to stop early and set up camp.  One of the many beautiful things about hiking in Greenland is that you are allowed to camp anywhere.

Campsite by the beach in the arctic wilderness - Arctic Circle Trail - West Greenland
Can you spot the tent in this landscape?

From there, we had the first real climb of the trek – a relatively steep ascent of 400m.

Rob ascending the trail to a ridge - Arctic Circle Trail - West Greenland
This trail was surprisingly steep!

Fortunately, the views back down into the valley and across the lakes were spectacular and provided an awesome excuse to stop for numerous breaks.

[move cursor over the image to see the full panorama]

Rob also thought it looked like a good location to spot Musk Oxen and so set himself up to see what he could find.

Rob looking for Musk Oxen from a high vantage point - Arctic Circle Trail - West Greenland
Looks like Musk Ox country doesn’t it?

He didn’t end up seeing any there, but did manage to spot an Arctic Hare a little further along the trail.  They are surprisingly large animals!

Arctic Hare sitting and stretching - Arctic Circle Trail - West Greenland
This hare stretched in exactly the same way as a dog!

From the top of the climb the view was unbelievable!  This is one of the many reasons why I love long-distance hiking – to fill my heart with scenes like this ūüôā

Panorama of lakes on Day 3 of the Arctic Circle Trail - West Greenland

[move cursor over the image to see the full panorama]

But there was still no sign of the Ikkattooq Hut!  The next 6kms were up and down across the Arctic tundra

Hiking the tundra on the way to the Ikkattooq Hut - Arctic Circle Trail - West Greenland
Beautiful hike along the plateau

until, finally, we spied the hut on a ridge in the distance.

First view of the Ikkattooq Hut - Arctic Circle Trail - West Greenland
Can you see the Ikkattooq Hut?

It was surrounded by burned ground – a stark reminder that Arctic vegetation does not re-grow quickly after a fire (this one from back in 2017)

The Ikkattooq Hut surrounded by burned vegetation - Arctic Circle Trail - West Greenland
Fires in the Arctic Tundra are devastating

and had a very clever and sneaky resident ūüôā  

Arctic Fox near Ikkattooq Hut - Arctic Circle Trail - West Greenland
Our host for the night – an Arctic Fox

Our Arctic Fox kept us entertained as we pitched Tyson’s terrible tent right down on the lake (it was the least windy spot and his tent didn’t do wind well, despite what the marketing material said!)

Tyson's tent set up on the lake near Ikkattooq Hut - Arctic Circle Trail - West Greenland
We hated this tent

and went about preparing our dinner.  Once again, Tyson and I begged for gas.  And once again, our fellow trekkers were more than generous ūüôā  The Kiwi-Canadians promised us whatever gas remained in their first canister after they cooked dinner tomorrow night, and we also found 2 canisters in the hut with a sniff of gas in each.  Yes – we totally took them!

Cooking dinner outside the Ikkattooq Hut - Arctic Circle Trail - West Greenland
The Kiwi-Canadians cooking dinner

Read more about hiking the Arctic Circle Trail

If this post has piqued your curiosity about hiking and trekking in Greenland, read about the rest of my adventure over 8 days on the Arctic Circle Trail:

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.

Trekking Information

Distance = 22.8 km

Time taken = 8hrs 23mins

GPX File =Arctic-Circle-Trail-Canoe-Center-Ikkattooq.gpx

Strava Link = https://www.strava.com/activities/1813015327

Map

Basic map of the route from the Canoe Center to Ikkattooq Hut on the Arctic Circle Trail, West Greenland- from Strava

Altitude Profile

Altitude profile of the route from the Canoe Center to Ikkattooq Hut on the Arctic Circle Trail, West Greenland - from Strava
This post contains some affiliate links.  If you make a purchase through one of these links, I will earn a small commission at no extra cost to you.  Your support is appreciated!

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Trekking Greenland – Arctic Circle Trail – Katiffik to Canoe Center

Tyson and I awoke to the sounds of Rob and Emilio in confused discussion.  It turned out that the thought of cold food for the next 9 days was too much for Emilio and he was planning to turn back to Kangerlussuaq.  Rob was trying to understand why it was such a big deal and working to convince him to stick it out. 

I cracked open my cold-soaked porridge and eavesdropped as the conversation unfolded.  And even though hot porridge is not my favourite thing in the world and I figured cold porridge would be infinitely worse, it turned out to be not too bad!  Especially with the wild blueberries I’d collected yesterday along the trail thrown in ūüôā

Plate of porridge and wild blueberries - standard breakfast along the Arctic Circle trail in West Greenland
My standard breakfast on the Arctic Circle Trail. Porridge and wild blueberries.

In the end, there was no changing Emilio’s mind. However, we did manage to convince him to leave us the 1/2-canister of screw-in gas as we watched him head back in the direction from which we’d arrived yesterday.

And then there were 3.

Rob, Tyson and myself agreed that we would need to camp at the huts each night so that we could try to scavenge gas.  None of us really fancied cold dinners, so the idea was to search the huts for gas left by other hikers and/or beg other hikers staying there to share enough gas for us to heat water for our meals.  This was going to be interesting!

Our first port of call today was Katiffik Hut – the first official hut of the Arctic Circle Trail and the place where almost everyone stops at the end of Day 1 out of Kangerlussuaq.  Tyson and I took a bit of a “choose your own adventure” route up the hill that overlooks the hut and lake

 Tyson starting down the hill towards the Katiffik Hut and Amitsorsuaq Lake.  Arctic Circle Trail - West Greenland
Can you see the Katiffik Hut at the end of 
Amitsorsuaq Lake? 

before descending once more to arrive at this small wooden structure.

Katiffik - the first official hut of the Arctic Circle trail - is very cute but very small.  West Greenland.
It is tiny, and very cute!

All the information on the web makes it very clear that many of the huts along the trail are small, and that hikers should be prepared to camp each night in their own tent.  They aren’t kidding!  Katiffik Hut has a small cooking area and a platform that will sleep 3 people.  Another 3 could sleep underneath the platform in a pinch, but any more than that are going to have a hard time fitting in!

Interior of the Katiffik hut - Arctic Circle Trail - West Greenland
Inside Katiffik Hut – it is cozy!

Rob had beaten us there and had already snavelled another half canister of gas off a group of 3 hikers from Poland (hereafter known as The Poles) so that was great news!  And while he went on ahead, Tyson and I spent some time checking out the old canoe rack and the surroundings of the hut.

Old canoe rack with katiffik hut in the background - Arctic Circle Trail - West Greenland
An old canoe rack at the Katiffik Hut

The Amitsorsuaq Lake is one of the longest along the Arctic Circle Trail. If you are lucky, there are occasionally canoes here that will allow you to take the weight off your shoulders (ie your backpack) and paddle most of the way to the next hut on the trail – the aptly named Canoe Center.

Unfortunately, luck was not on our side today so we shouldered our packs and headed off around the lake on foot.

Leaving Katiffik hut - the Arctic Circle Trail - West Greenland
Leaving Katiffik Hut

The trail kept relatively close to the shore of the lake, though was not without some minor rocky challenges

rocky obstacles along the Arctic Circle Trail - West Greenland
There are only a few places along the trail that present some minor technical challenges

and a highlight was this awesome sculpture made from reindeer antlers.

Sculpture made of reindeer antlers along the Arctic Circle Trail, West Greenland
Arctic Circle Trail artwork

Then, about half-way down the lake, we spotted the glint of a man-made object in the distance.  A canoe! 

Tyson checking out the canoe we found half way down Amitsorsuaq Lake - Arctic Circle Trail - West Greenland
Tyson was very excited to find a canoe

Complete with lifejackets and what can optimistically be described as “half a paddle”.

Tyson sitting in the canoe showing the half-paddle - Arctic Circle Trail - West Greenland
Well, it was a paddle of sorts…

Tyson did a test launch off the bank to check that the canoe was not going to sink on us (all good, despite the massive duct-tape patch on the hull!)

Despite the massive duct tape patch on the underside of the canoe - it was water-tight. Arctic Circle Trail - West Greenland
Believe it or not, the canoe was water-tight once we’d re-stuck the duct-tape. No wonder MacGyver was such a fan of the stuff!

before loading it up with our packs and heading off down the lake to find a place to pick me up.

Views of Tyson paddling along the Amitsorsuaq Lake  - Arctic Circle Trail - West Greenland
Although I was on foot, at least I wasn’t carrying my heavy pack

It was awesome fun and very relaxing being out on the silent water,

Relaxing and paddling along the Amitsorsuaq Lake - Arctic Circle Trail - West Greenland
This was so much fun!

and I learned an important lesson: always trek with a Canadian in case you need to do some paddling!  It turns out I’m not a natural at paddling a canoe with only half an oar, and so had to rely on Tyson’s superior skills to actually keep us heading in the right direction.  

Even with a very slight breeze helping us, our progress was slower than had we been on foot.  And although Tyson managed to improve on this slightly by duct-taping (magic stuff!) his hiking pole to our half-paddle to give it a longer handle, we could see The Poles catching up to us. 

Finally, after about 4km and with the cold starting to infiltrate our layered clothing, we decided to ditch the canoe and get back on our feet.  We pulled up at a lovely sandy beach, rolled the canoe over, and hoped that Rob would find it as he hiked along the trail.

Our canoe left on the shore of the Amitsorsuaq Lake - Arctic Circle Trail - West Greenland
Beautiful landing spot

Almost immediately, we came across another reindeer that was much closer than those we’d seen yesterday

Reindeer - Arctic Circle Trail - West Greenland

as we continued our journey along the lake’s edge.

Panorama of the - Arctic Circle Trail - West Greenland

[move cursor over the image to see the full panorama]

When it came into sight, the Canoe Center was almost perfectly reflected in calm waters.

Canoe Center and mountains reflected in the still waters of Amitsorsuaq Lake - Arctic Circle Trail - West Greenland
Our destination for the night

This is by far the largest hut on the trail, and although there was still plenty of room for us to sleep inside, Tyson and I decided to pitch his tent.  We did, however, head back inside to see if we could scav some gas off our fellow trekkers to cook our dinner.  It was unbelievable that of the 30+ canisters in the cupboard under the sink, not one of them had even a sniff of gas in it!  Come on people!  Pack your used canisters out with you as well as your garbage!

Fortunately we found some very generous fellow adventurers who happily shared their gas with us, and we even managed a cup-of-soup starter and a cup of tea tonight with dinner! ūüôā

Read more about hiking the Arctic Circle Trail

If this post has piqued your curiosity about hiking and trekking in Greenland, read about the rest of my adventure over 8 days on the Arctic Circle Trail:

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.

Trekking Information

Distance = 23.9 km

Time taken = 9hrs 20mins

GPX File = Arctic-Circle-Trail-Katiffik-Canoe-Center.gpx

Strava Link = https://www.strava.com/activities/2022856613

Map

Basic map of the route from the Katiffik Hut along the Arctic Circle Trail to the Canoe Center - from Strava

Altitude Profile

Altitude profile of the route from the Katiffik Hut along the Arctic Circle Trail to the Canoe Center - from Strava
This post contains some affiliate links.  If you make a purchase through one of these links, I will earn a small commission at no extra cost to you.  Your support is appreciated!
Like what you have read? Please follow and like me:
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Trekking Greenland – Arctic Circle Trail – Kelly Ville to Katiffik

Interesting fact about Greenland:  the landscape is completely different depending on which part of the country you are in.

This is something that became abundantly clear to me last year as I moved from hiking through the rolling green sheep-country between Narsaq and Narsarsuaq in South Greenland

Sheep and green grass along the hike from Sillisit to Qassiarsuk in South Greenland
Sheep, green grass and rolling hills are characteristic of hiking in South Greenland

to hiking through the barren craggy peaks and deep fjords of East Greenland.

Hikers exploring the bare, rocky peaks of East Greenland with the Knud Rasmussen glacier and Karale Fjord in the background
Bare rock, ice and jagged mountains are typical scenery in East Greenland

Given that Kalaallit Nunaat (the Greenlandic name for Greenland) is the largest island in the world (technically Australia is a continent), perhaps this should not have come as a surprise to me.  But somehow it did.  And for this reason I was super-keen to expand my geographical and geological knowledge of my favourite place in the world, and explore part of West Greenland this year.

Map of Greenland showing the delineation between North, East, West and South
Usual delineations of Greenland into North, South, East and West.  Credit: Greenland Travel

The most famous hike in Greenland is undoubtedly the Arctic Circle Trail (ACT).  As the name suggests, this trek basically follows the Arctic Circle (latitude 66¬į 33′ 39″ N) for 160km from Kangerlussuaq to Sisimiut, allowing you to walk from the Greenland Icefield (the second largest in the world after Antarctica) to the ocean in under 2 weeks.  It has made several “Top 10” lists over the past couple of years and the number of people doing it has risen dramatically from around 300 per year a few years ago to over 1500 in 2018.   Given my love of remote treks with no people, I figured it was now or never to hike this epic trail.

Schematic of the Arctic Circle Trail Route from Destination Arctic Circle
Outline of the Arctic Circle Trail route by Destination Arctic Circle

We started out as a group of 4.  My friend Tyson, who I’d met on the boat to Antarctica back in 2016 and who had heard me talk non-stop about Greenland for over a year, and Rob and Emilio who I had “met” online in the Lonely Planet forums after my initial efforts to entice my friends to join me failed (Tyson was late to the party). 

Having spent most of the previous 2 months doing back-to-back long-distance treks in Iceland and East Greenland with Icelandic Mountain Guides, I decided to skip the initial 16km of the hike along the road (I hate walking along roads) and join Rob and Emilio in a transfer out to start of the trail near Kelly Ville.  

Road out to Kelly Ville and concrete plinth that marks the start of the Arctic Circle Trail near Kangerlussuaq, West Greenland
Road to Kelly Ville (top) and the concrete structure (bottom) that marks the start of the Arctic Circle Trail. You can see it heading off into the distance.

We’d passed Tyson on the road (we’d offered him a lift but he wanted to walk “from airport to airport”) and I sat down to wait for him as the others started along the trail.  Fortunately, he’s a fast walker, and it wasn’t too long before we were also heading out into the Greenlandic wilderness.  

Hiker and flowers on the Arctic Circle Trail - West Greenland

We nattered away to each other catching up on almost 2 years worth of news, as we followed the trail towards Hundes√ł lake and it’s unofficial shelter consisting of a caravan with various tacked-on structures.  Hmmm…  While it may look kinda cool and funky from the outside, the inside challenged even my low standards of cleanliness and, I have to admit, I’d only stay there in an absolute pinch.  I’d be much more inclined to camp outside.

Hundes√ł  exterior and interior
Hundes√ł is the first (unofficial) “hut” you encounter as you leave Kangerlussuaq

The first day of hiking along the Arctic Circle Trail is pretty easy going to be honest.  It is reasonably flat for the most part with innumerable small lakes (mountain tarns really, with no ingress or egress of water) as the main features.

Typical scenery - mountain tarns - on Day 1 of the Arctic Circle Trail, West Greenland
They look like lakes, but are actually mountain tarns

The trail is a foot-width track through Arctic willow, wild blueberries and other low-lying vegetation, and is clearly marked with red semi-circles (a nod to the Greenland flag) painted on stones that are arranged into cairns.  Many of these are adorned with discarded reindeer antlers – something that we would see a lot of over the coming days. In fact, the Arctic Circle Trail could easily be renamed the “Reindeer Antler Trail”!

Reindeer skull sitting atop a stone cairn marked with the red half-circle indicating the Arctic Circle Trail. The trail runs beside.  Near Kangerlussuaq, West Greenland.
A reindeer skull and a stone cairn painted with red semi-circles that mark the route of the Arctic Circle Trail  

The highlight of the day was spotting my first large land animal in Greenland – a reindeer (“tuttu” in Greenlandic)!¬† I’d never seen one before and, given that we don’t have native deer in Australia, it is always a thrill to see these creatures of Christmas carols and Disney stories.¬† Although these guys were quite far away, my hope was that it boded well for future wildlife sightings along the trail.¬†¬†

Reindeer along the Arctic Circle Trail - West Greenland
My first reindeer!

The first official hut of the trail is the small Katiffik shelter at the head of the Amitsorsuaq Lake.  We actually stopped about 3km shy of the hut and set up camp beside one of the small lakes that lined the route.

Our campsite at the end of Day 1 of the Arctic Circle Trail - West Greenland
Our first campsite

It was here that we discovered a slight issue…

I had spent the previous day out at the Russell Glacier and had left Rob and Emilio in charge of buying the camping gas for us all for the duration of the hike.  They had bought 4 large canisters (more than enough) but when we actually cracked the plastic seal over the top of the attachment point, they turned out to be “clip-in” canisters rather than “screw-in” canisters. 

Guess what type of stove we all had?!

Fortunately, Emilio had taken a half-full screw-in gas canister from the hostel, which allowed us to have a hot meal at least.  However, given that this paltry amount of gas possibly needed to last the 4 of us for several days, we boiled only enough water to re-hydrate our meals and nothing else.  Tyson and I lamented our lack of hot tea before bed (a simple and basic luxury while long-distance hiking), and I added filtered water to my porridge so that it could cold-soak overnight. 

Ah well.  It could be worse.  And it all adds to the adventure ūüôā

Read more about hiking the Arctic Circle Trail

If this post has piqued your curiosity about hiking and trekking in Greenland, read about the rest of my adventure over 8 days on the Arctic Circle Trail:

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.

Trekking Information

Distance = 20.5km

Time taken = 8hr 36mins

GPX File = Arctic-Circle-Trail-Kelly-Ville-Katiffik.gpx

Strava Link = https://www.strava.com/activities/1813015313

Map

Basic map of the route from Kelly Ville to Katiffik Hut along the Arctic Circle Trail - from Strava

Altitude Profile

Altitude profile of the route from Kelly Ville to Katiffik Hut along the Arctic Circle Trail - from Strava
This post contains some affiliate links.  If you make a purchase through one of these links, I will earn a small commission at no extra cost to you.  Your support is appreciated!

Like what you have read? Please follow and like me:
Hiking-East-Greenland-locals-Maud-Tasiilaq-harbour.jpg

Hiking Greenland – Icefjords and Remote Villages – Tasiilaq to Kulusuk

We awoke early to find a note from Lars saying that we now didn’t need to meet at the harbour until 11am.  This was because the clients that he was meant to be picking up in Kulusuk were no longer arriving today – so we could relax and enjoy another morning in Tasiilaq.  Bonus!

He also called by to let us know some special news!  

Over the past several years, there has been an extensive project to salvage the sunken wreck of Roald Amundsen’s polar ship “Maud“, and return her to Norway after being stuck in the Northwest Passage for over 80 years.  The wreck and the tugboat towing her had arrived in Tasiilaq harbour last night!

With their interest in polar exploration, this caused a great flurry of excitement for Eric and Allan in particular and, after breakfast, each of us set out to take a look before meeting at the harbour at 11am.

Panoramic view of Tasiilaq harbor - East Greenland

[move mouse over image to see full panorama]

It was yet another bright, sunny morning and it turned out that the best view of Maud was to be had from right in front of the fuel tanks opposite the harbour.  There was plenty of interest from the locals as well, who headed out in their own boats to get a closer look at this famous ship.

Locals checking out Roald Amundsen's ship "Maud" at Tasiilaq harbor - East Greenland
Modern vessel next to Roald Amundsen’s ship “Maud”

From there I decided to visit the Tasiilaq church for a quick peek – especially since Andrea had said that it was really beautiful.  It is quite a modern construction from the outside

Exterior of Tasiilaq Church - East Greenland
The modern exterior design of the Tasiilaq church

and very simple and beautiful inside

Interior of the Tasiilaq Church - East Greenland
Interior of the Tasiilaq church (top) and a Greenlandic hymnal (bottom)

with a model of a boat of course ūüôā  set against subtle paintings depicting East Greenland landscapes around the lower reaches of the ceiling.

Umiaq model against a painted East Greenland - Tasiilaq Church
Model umiaq (women’s boat) set against a painting of an East Greenland landscape in Tasiilaq church

I wasn’t the only one admiring the church at that time of the morning, and I met one of the Norwegian crew of the tugboat making the journey with “Maud”!  He was telling me a little about their journey so far and that they were leaving again later in the afternoon for their 6 day voyage to their next stop – Iceland.  I wished him a safe trip!

I also talked to the lady caretaker of the church – saying in my limited Greenlandic that the church was very nice.  “Assut kusanarpoq” (how am I doing Karl? ūüėČ )  She was clearly very surprised that I even got it vaguely right and asked if I could speak Greenlandic.  At which point I had to disappoint her greatly by saying “naamik“.  I explained that I only knew a very, very small amount but was working on it, and she asked me how on earth I was learning.  Thank you Memrise ūüôā 

Upon leaving the church I still had about an hour before I had to be at the harbour, so I decided to go see if I could see anyone on the sailing boat that I thought was likely to belong to another Instagrammer I was connected to and who was also meant to be in Tasiilaq. 

Yacht docked in Tasiilaq - East Greenland

[move mouse over image to see full panorama]

I was in luck, as there were 2 people out the back of the yacht in the sunshine, so I called out

“Hello! A strange question.  But is there a Michael on board?”

It was quite a distance to shout, but once they’d understood what I said one of the guys replied “Yes, I’m Michael”

Hmmmm… He didn’t look like the Michael in the pictures I’d seen on Instagram…

“OK – well I’m Lisa from Instagram!”  Big smile ūüėÄ

“Ummmm… I don’t know any Lisa from Instagram.  I’m not actually on Instagram.”

Puzzled look from me.

“Oh. OK.  Sorry to disturb.  Its just that there was meant to be a Michael arriving on a sailboat to Tasiilaq around this time and we’ve been conversing on Instagram.” 

“Where was he sailing from?”  said with a big British accent.

“The UK.”

What are the chances that there was a sailboat in Tasiilaq at the time I was expecting, that had come from the UK and that had a Michael on board … but it wasn’t the correct one?!  

{It actually turned out later that Michael from Instagram had been delayed and was still in East Iceland.  Apparently the chances of that coincidence are pretty good!}

I met the rest of the group at the dock at 11am for our final boat transfer back to Kulusuk.  Once again, we had Lars’ new boat, and it was great to finally get to do the trip from Tasiilaq on water (last year I had to change to helicopter transfers due to too much pack ice in the fjords).

Leaving Tasiilaq on a boat transfer to Kulusuk - East Greenland
Leaving Tasiilaq on the boat transfer to Kulusuk

Although there was very little ice this year, we did have some great views of pretty decent-sized icebergs on the 40 minute trip between the two towns.

Icebergs on boat transfer from Tasiilaq to Kulusuk - East Greenland
The three peaks of Trillingerne peaking out from behind mountains and icebergs (top) and iceberg details on the boat transfer from Tasiilaq to Kulusuk (bottom)

We had lunch midway between the “airport harbour” (really just a “pull your boat up to the slippery rocks and get out” situation) and the airport on Kulusuk Island, with a great view of some local icebergs.

Lunch spot near Kulusuk airport - East Greenland
Not a bad lunch spot, especially given it is only a 10 minute walk from here to an international airport

And then it was time to board our Air Iceland Connect plane back to Reykjavik.

Air Iceland Connect plane at Kulusuk airport - East Greenland

We had a few minutes of magical views over the mountains and fjords of East Greenland before our plane turned east and headed out over open ocean back to Iceland.

View over the fjords of East Greenland from my Air Iceland Connect flight

Summary

Icefjords and Remote Villages by Greenland Adventures is a relaxed and moderately easy trip to East Greenland that is a nice mixture of day hiking and a taste of daily life in this remote corner of the world. 

If you are accustomed to doing day hikes of 6-7 hours, are prepared for basic (but clean and warm) accommodation, are prepared to chip in and help a little with carrying supplies, fetching water, washing up, and/or helping with the cooking, it is a wonderful experience in this beautiful area.

Million thanks to our guide, Andrea, who was fantastic in every way and really just one of the group.  We appreciated your great humour, slow walking speed and wonderful conversations around the dinner table ūüôā

Special thanks also to all my trekking companions who made this trip a ton of fun and who I really enjoyed hanging out with for 10 days.  I hope we get to meet again sometime soon!

BTW: if you are looking for a more intense trekking experience in East Greenland, I can also recommend the 12-day Unplugged Wilderness Trek that I did last year with the same company.

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.

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