Tag Archives: hiking and trekking

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Trekking Iceland – Hornbjarg – Hornstrandir

21 June. The longest day of the year. I was almost on the Arctic Circle, and I never saw the Sun ūüôĀ  In true Icelandic fashion we went from perfectly clear skies yesterday to completely overcast today – this being the view after I’d packed up camp and set off towards Hornbjarg along the beach. 

Beach at Hornvík on a very overcast day - Hornstrandir - Iceland
Weather doesn’t look great!

Given it was low tide, I was able to cross the river where it entered the sea rather than hiking up the valley to wade through at its shallowest point.  My first river crossing in Iceland!  And let me tell you – it is no better than a Greenlandic river crossing as far as temperature and pain goes!

Tidal river crossing at Hornvík and my poor suffering from the cold feet - Hornstrandir - Iceland
Looking back at the tidal river that needed to be crossed (top) and my poor cold feet (bottom)

After booting up again on the other side, I stopped to explore a beautiful waterfall

Waterfall with driftwood logs - Hornstrandir - Iceland
Iceland is the land of waterfalls

and started to pick my way through the rocks as the trail stopped and started along the Eastern edge of Hornv√≠k.

Beach with large rocks - Hornbjarg - Hornstrandir - Iceland

Once past the farmhouse where day-trippers arrive, the trail became more obvious and eventually started climbing up to the ridge.

Trail from the ocean to the ridge is just visible - Hornbjarg - Hornstrandir - Iceland
You can just see the trail curving up to the ridge. If you look closely, you can also see 2 hikers at the top of the trail

Exploring Hornbjarg

It was steep and tough going carrying a full backpack. But one foot after the next I eventually reached the top, and still ahead of the day-tripping group that started just after me.  Competitive?  Who me?!

Views of the trail and the ocean as I hike the ridge to Hornbjarg - Hornstrandir - Iceland
Views from the trail as I climb to the ridge

The trail stopped very, very suddenly at a sheer, several-hundred-metre drop straight into the ocean.  It was a good thing I was paying attention!

Looking straight down at the ocean from the Hornbjarg Cliffs - Hornstrandir - Iceland
It drops straight down!

I had reached the famous bird cliffs of the Hornbjarg.

Here, thousands of Arctic Terns and Black Guillemots nest in the sheer rocky cliff walls Рtheir eggs an important source of food for the people who lived in Hornstrandir over 70 years ago (there have been no permanent residents since the 1950s).  During these times, men and boys would abseil down the cliffs to collect one egg from each nest, leaving the others to hatch in order to maintain the population.

Looking along the Hornbjarg cliffs at the birds nesting there - Hornstrandir - Iceland
Birds nesting in the Hornbjarg cliffs

I spent about 20 minutes lying on my stomach in the wet grass holding tightly to my camera and peering over the edge to watch the birds circle and sit.  Unfortunately, 20 minutes was all I could bear before the cold drizzle that had started about 1/2 way up the ridge forced me to start moving again.  

I let the day-trippers go ahead of me as I constantly wiped water droplets from the front of my camera lens (not always successfully), trying to capture the majesty of this incredible place!

Group of hikers making their way towards the higher portion of Hornbjarg - Hornstrandir - Iceland
Next section of the trail

The views of the cliffs became more and more spectacular as I traversed a relatively flat section of the trail

Looking back down on the flat section of trail - Hornbjarg - Hornstrandir - Iceland
Looking back down on the flat section

before facing the second steep uphill of the day.

The higher cliffs of Hornbjarg - Hornstrandir - Iceland
I love this view!

The muddy trail eventually guided me to a narrow spit of a ridge with panoramic views back down over Hornvík.

Panorama over Hornvik - Hornstrandir-Iceland

move cursor over image to see full panorama

If only it hadn’t been windy and raining (quite a strong wind had also picked up by this stage), this would have been an incredible spot to hang out for quite a while enjoying the view!

A promonotory with views back towards Hornvik - Hornbjarg - Hornstrandir - Iceland
Amazing view from here!

Looking the other direction was just as dramatic,

Trail on Hornbjarg - Hornstrandir - Iceland
Really, incredible views no matter which direction you look

and the view to the next stage of the trail was again – in a word – incredible.¬† There really aren’t enough superlatives in the English language!

Hornbjarg view including lake - Hornstrandir - Iceland
Yes, those are rain spots on the lens

From there, the trail itself dropped very steeply off the ridge and ran along the edge of the cliff with more great views of the birds (this is not a good hike if heights are a concern), before curving inward and around a small lake. 

Views of Hornbjarg - Hornstrandir - Iceland
The trail closely follows the cliff edge (top-left), me taking a break in the rain watching the birds (top-right), the day-trippers near a small lake around which the trail skirts (bottom)

I watched as the day-tripping group headed back down to the farmhouse and their waiting boat, while I headed up another incredibly steep hill in my quest to camp at the lighthouse at Hornbjargsviti. That sharp peak at around the 11km mark in the altitude profile below is not a mistake!

The way to Hornbjargsviti

According to my map (which I was growing to trust less and less), there should have been a high trail off to my left once I reached the top.  I could see a trail going that way, ending in a vertical rock wall about 50m distant.  And while I may have investigated it a little closer had I only had a daypack, there was no way I was going to risk it carrying an 18kg backpack!

So I bush bashed straight down the other side in the hope that I would connect with the lower trail marked on my map. In doing so, I startled one of Hornstrandir’s many Arctic Foxes (they are protected in this area) making him very concerned indeed.¬† This one started walking straight towards me with intent while making hissing and whooping noises.¬† Meanwhile, I was wondering whether they carried the rabies virus and what would happen if it bit me!¬† Yes, I’ve had the full course of rabies shots, but still…¬†¬†In the end, he approached to about 20 metres and then circled around behind me from that distance. I continued my wet descent through calf-deep vegetation.¬†

Bush bashing to try to find the trail (top) and a sprinting Arctic Fox (bottom) - Hornbjarg - Hornstrandir - Iceland
Bush bashing to try to find the trail (top) and a very unhappy (and very blurry) Arctic Fox (bottom)

Eventually I spied what I thought looked suspiciously like a trail heading off in the direction of Hornbjargsviti.  Yes! I had finally found the lower trail.

Glimpse of the lower trail to Hornbjargsviti - Hornstrandir - Iceland
Can you see it?

Which of course meant that I had one more interminable climb before reaching my destination for the night.¬† I have to admit, I was tired and more than a little over (fed up with) the constant drizzle and stiff wind by this point.¬† But I’d seen pictures of the lighthouse and I really, really, really wanted to camp there…¬†

So big girl pants on – off I set.

The lower trail to Hornbjargviti - Hornbjarg - Hornstrandir - Iceland
Yes, it was the trail I was looking for. I would have preferred the high trail, but no matter. The blurry parts of the images are where I simply can’t keep up with getting rain off my lens anymore

Arctic Fox Research

About 3/4 of the way to the next pass, I came across a bloke sitting on a rock.¬† Mike ran an ecological charity in the UK and was here volunteering with an Icelandic Institute that monitors the behaviour of Arctic Foxes each Summer.¬† In particular, they look for changes in behaviour that may have been brought about by contact with humans.¬† He couldn’t have found a better spot from which to observe, as it was the only place I’d come across in the past several hours that was not subject to the strong, biting wind, and it happened to be located right above a snow drift with a den of foxes in it!¬† He was telling me that the day before was wonderful as all the cubs were out in the sunshine playing for hours.

Arctic Fox research volunteer monitoring a den of foxes - Hornbjarg - Hornstrandir - Iceland
Arctic Fox research volunteer monitoring a den

I ended up chatting with him for about 20 minutes, and then finally made it over the last pass of the day.  I can’t tell you how happy I was to spy the lighthouse, even though it was still quite far away!

View of Hornbjargsviti and its lighthouse from top of the pass from Hornbjarg - Hornstrandir - Iceland
Finally! Hornbjargsviti Lighthouse and my campsite for the night.

Hornbjargsviti

The last few kms were spent watching the lighthouse get closer and closer with each step and, despite being incredibly tired and cursing the wind and the rain, taking more photos.  I know, I know.  I kept telling myself I was an idiot as well.  But it was impossible to predict what the weather would do tomorrow, and it was just so beautiful.

Views around the Hornbjargsviti Lighthouse - Hornstrandir - Iceland
Looking one way, and then the other, as I near the Hornbjargsviti Lighthouse

By the time I’d reached the lighthouse, the winds were up around the 70km/hr mark.  The lighthouse was not open yet for the Summer and I was the only one around, so I dumped my pack and scouted for the best place to pitch my tent out of the wind.  This turned out to be right in front of the door to the toilet – so that’s where I camped ūüôā  It was also quite convenient for going to the loo, getting water out of the tap, storing my pack out of the rain, and drying my rain gear as well!

My strategically placed tent at the Hornbjargsviti Lighthouse - Hornstrandir - Iceland
My strategically placed tent at the Hornbjargsviti Lighthouse. The wind was howling a gale!

I made myself dinner, heated up my Coke-hot-water-bottle, and settled in listening to the wind howl outside and the wind gauge spin manically on the top of the lighthouse.  No, it didn’t take long for me to fall asleep!

The Hornbjarg as a Day Trip

If you are not keen on hiking alone, or don’t have as much time as I did, Westtours offers a day trip to explore hornbjarg.  This is what the group I saw were doing.  It costs 43,900ISK (USD$416, AUD$564) per person (minimum age = 12).

Trekking Information

Distance = 17.3km

Time taken = 9 hours and 53 minutes.  Several short breaks taken.

Map

Basic map of the route I took to explore The Horn in Hornstrandir from Movescount

Altitude Profile

Altitude profile of the route I took to explore the Horn in Hornstrandir from Strava

Download track as .gpx

Read more about my solo trek in Hornstrandir

If this post has piqued your curiosity, read about the rest of my adventure in Hornstrandir:

Alternatively, check out my other posts about hiking and trekking in Iceland and around the world.

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Trekking Iceland – Vei√įileysufj√∂r√įur to Hornv√≠k – Hornstrandir

When you are a little nervous about something, it always makes you feel better when the sun is shining ūüôā   

boats in √ćsafj√∂r√įur harbour
Glorious morning!

I arrived early at the Borea Adventures dock to catch my boat transfer from √ćsafj√∂r√įur to Vei√įileysufj√∂r√įur and was beginning to think I may have been the only passenger.  However, with 5 minutes to go, 2 guys from the US (Sean and Daniel) and a group of about 15 people on a day tour showed up and we set out on the ~1 hour journey to Hornstrandir.

Views from the Borea Adventures boat transfer from √ćsafj√∂r√įur to Vei√įileysufj√∂r√įur - Hornstrandir - Iceland
Great journey, but unfortunately no whales

Boat transfer to Vei√įileysufj√∂r√įur

It was a very calm crossing in glorious weather, so I sat on the back deck enjoying the views and chatting with some of the other passengers.  We dropped the group of day-hikers off as we entered the Vei√įileysufj√∂r√įur inlet, and then continued on to a triangular structure (which turned out to be a pit toilet) that identifies the locations of campgrounds in Hornstrandir.

The crew launched the small zodiac off the back of the boat to deposit myself, Sean and Daniel on dry land, and then headed back to √ćsafj√∂r√įur.  There was no turning back now and I had 8 days to get to my pickup point in Hesteyri.

Images of the zodiac transfer to Vei√įileysufj√∂r√įur campsite - Hornstrandir - Iceland
Lowering the zodiac (top-left), en route to Vei√įileysufj√∂r√įur campsite (top-right), and there is no turning back now! (bottom)

It turns out Sean is an award-winning professional wildlife photographer (a give-away being the enormous lens that was permanently attached to his camera) who had come to Hornstrandir to photograph a personal project on Arctic Foxes.  He and Daniel (also an amazing wildlife photographer) had met the year before in Alaska and were spending the next 5 days in the Hornv√≠k area (my destination for the day) to capture the images.  Given we were heading the same direction and had similar interests we decided to hike together. 

Although there was a sign pointing in the direction of Hornv√≠k, there was no obvious trail to follow.  So we simply set out across country in the general direction of the waterfall that we could see at the end of the inlet – the direction we should head according to the map. 

Vei√įileysufj√∂r√įur campsite - Hornstrandir - Iceland
Vei√įileysufj√∂r√įur campsite. The pyramid-shaped building is the dry toilet

From Vei√įileysufj√∂r√įur to Hafnarskard Pass

After wading through knee-high shrubbery for much of it (very reminiscent of several of the hikes I did in South Greenland last year), we arrived at the waterfall, and found our first marker and the trail.

Views heading from Vei√įileysufj√∂r√įur campsite to the waterfall - Hornstrandir - Iceland
Bush bashing towards the waterfall from Vei√įileysufj√∂r√įur campsite

From there, the route to the Hafnarskard Pass was obvious and marked by large stone cairns stretching off into the distance.  It was also clear to us looking ahead that there was going to be snow in our very near future!

Large stone cairn - Hornstrandir - Iceland
Nice and obvious cairn, finally

As we climbed higher, the views behind us down to the inlet became more and more spectacular

Cairn and view back down to Vei√įileysufj√∂r√įur - Hornstrandir - Iceland

and indeed, we started to hit patches of snow that we had to cross.  This wasn’t entirely unexpected given how early it was in the season (the boats had only start running a couple of weeks earlier at the beginning of June), and this was one of the things I’d read about online that was adding to my concerns about hiking alone.  However, we weren’t the first people to pass this way and there were boot prints that seemed to be a few days old marking the trail across each of the snowy patches.

Following other people's bootprints in snow drifts - Hornstrandir - Iceland
Daniel leading the way through the snow, following in the boot prints of others

The fun really started towards the top of the pass, where we could see we would have to conquer a very steep snow slope to gain our destination.  

View of bootprints in the snow we would have to conquer leading up to Hafnarskard Pass - Hornstrandir - Iceland
A trail of boot prints leads to Hafnarskard Pass – it was going to be quite a climb

It was every bit as steep as it looked and, given I was in the lead, I ended up having to kick snow-stairs into the slope with my boots in order to make progress.  Good thing that I’d seen Maxime do this last year in East Greenland!  It seemed that trekkers coming from the other direction had had much more fun – bum-sliding down the slope rather than hiking it!

bum trail and bootprints in the snow leading to the pass - Hornstrandir - Iceland
Boot prints and what I took to be the imprint of a bum-slide on the climb to the pass

But I made it eventually

Me at Hafnarskard pass looking back towards Vei√įileysufj√∂r√įur - Hornstrandir - Iceland
Me at Hafnarskard pass looking back towards Vei√įileysufj√∂r√įur

and watched as the others struggled their way up.  I had no idea how Sean was going to manage carrying that enormous lens of his, but he eventually joined us and explained that he basically used it as a trekking pole all the way up!

Trekking companions making their way up to Hafnarskard pass through the snow - Hornstrandir - Iceland
Daniel (top) and Sean (bottom) struggling up the snow towards Hafnarskard pass

The view back to Vei√įileysufj√∂r√įur was amazing of course

View of Vei√įileysufj√∂r√įur from Hafnarskard pass - Hornstrandir-Iceland
Final view of Vei√įileysufj√∂r√įur from Hafnarskard pass

but it was also very exciting to see what lay ahead of us.  No surprises – it was another beautiful vista!

Me looking towards Hornvik from Hafnarsgard Pass - Hornstrandir - Iceland
Looking towards Hornvík, our destination, from Hafnasgard Pass

Hafnarskard Pass to Hornvík

We tucked ourselves behind a rocky ridge out of the wind to eat lunch, relax, soak up the sunshine (after all, it’s not often you get weather like this in Iceland!) and admire the views.  Then it was time to continue on to Hornv√≠k through the snow that lay on the northern side of the pass.

Trekking companions heading across the snow in the direction of Hornvík - Hornstrandir - Iceland
Daniel and Sean leading the way to Hornvík through the snow

My guess is that we were walking in snow for about 1/4 of the hike from Vei√įileysufj√∂r√įur to Hornv√≠k.  It wasn’t terribly deep for the most part but it was a little slushy, and again I’m very happy with my Lowa boots that kept my feet blissfully dry and warm ūüôā

slushy snow and great hiking boots
So happy with my waterproof boots!

We stopped for another rest much further down the slope, though really it was just an excuse to get the packs off and lie in the sun for a while.

Taking a break on the way to Hornvík - Hornstrandir - Iceland
Taking a break on the way to Hornvík

Not too long after, we reached a steep drop-off that revealed the river valley leading down to Hornv√≠k.

Amazing view of the bright green  river delta at Hornvík - Hornstrandir - Iceland
Amazingly green!

Wow!  We were not expecting such a verdantly green reveal, made even more so by the bright sunshine and blue skies!  Being photographers, we had a great time here playing with the composition of the river and small lakes as they punctuated this vibrancy.  

Water patterns in the green of the Hornvík river delta - Hornstrandir - Iceland
Nature is an artist

We could also see our home for the night – the Hornv√≠k campsite – which was located just past the yellow house on the edge of the inlet.

View of Hornvík campsite and the Horn - Hornstrandir - Iceland
The campsite is located just past the yellow house

The path became a little boggy as we descended into the valley, but we finally arrived.

Path and signs on the final stretch to Hornvík - Hornstrandir - Iceland
The final stretch…

Hornvík Campsite

Given that Hornv√≠k is the most popular destination in Hornstrandir, the campground is large and really well set up.  There is a bright orange emergency shelter (you don’t want to have to go hunting for it in an emergency), a sink, flush toilets, and a permanent Ranger station. When the Icelandic flag is flying, the Ranger is in ūüôā  

Images of infrastructure at Hornvík campsite - Hornstrandir - Iceland
The rangers station with flush toilets (top), fresh water (bottom-left) and the emergency shelter (bottom-right) at Hornvík campsite

It was here that I met the extremely helpful and lovely V√©steinn M√°r R√ļnarsson and talked him through my hiking plan for the next week.  He gave me updates on the status of the trails (especially pertaining to bogginess) and made several suggestions given I was wearing hiking boots and not gumboots ūüėÄ   He also had the latest best guess as to what the weather would do tomorrow…

Ranger at the rangers station at Hornvík campsite - Hornstrandir - Iceland
The ranger is in!

Armed with this information, I found a place to pitch my tent with an awesome view (it wasn’t difficult as there were only 7 people camping here this night), and went for a walk along the beach admiring “The Horn” where I would be heading tomorrow on my hike.

view of the horn from my tent - Hornvík campsite - Hornstrandir - Iceland
My view ūüôā

Million thanks to Sean and Daniel for hiking with me today!  Loved hanging out with you guys and I hope you have a ton of luck with your Arctic Fox photography!

My trekking companions for the day
Sean (left), Daniel (centre) and myself at Hornvík campsite

Trekking Information

Distance = 9.9km

Time taken = 7 hours and 20 minutes.  But probably 2 hours of that was spent chilling in the sunshine and taking photos ūüôā

Map

Basic map of the route from Movescount

Altitude Profile

Altitude profile of the route from Strava

Download track as .gpx

Read more about my solo trek in Hornstrandir

If this post has piqued your curiosity, read about the rest of my adventure in Hornstrandir:

Alternatively, check out my other posts about hiking and trekking in Iceland and around the world.

Like what you have read? Please follow and like me:
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My first solo multi-day trek – Hornstrandir in Iceland

Although I have now done several long-distance treks

all of them have been guided. 

Trekking group descending towards Karale Fjord with Knud Rasmussen Glacier and mountains in the background
Views over the Knud Rasmussen Glacier in East Greenland as the group descends to the Karale Fjord

My first solo trek

I had never really considered doing a solo, unguided multi-day trek, and 8 months ago when I decided I wanted to hike the Arctic Circle Trail in West Greenland, I was desperate to find trekking companions (turns out Lonely Planet Thorn Tree Forums are pretty good for that ūüôā )

However, I’ve discovered that a lot can change over the course of half a year, which is how I now find myself about to embark on an 8-day solo hike in the most remote part of Iceland – the Hornstrandir Nature Reserve in the Westfjords region.

Map of Iceland showing Hornstrandir location, and map of Hornstrandir
Top: Map of Iceland with Hornstrandir highlighted. Bottom: Map of Hornstrandir with main hiking trails indicated

Could I have chosen an easier place to start?  Most definitely!  But I do tend to dive into these things head first…

Why I’m nervous about Hornstrandir

I had two main concerns going in:

  1. The weather.  Iceland is notorious for its changeable weather (even in Summer) and several of the accounts I’d read online about hiking in Hornstrandir talked of the cold (a constant fear of mine, despite spending most of my time in cold places), rain and fog.  
  2. Whether the trails are well marked.  There is conflicting information online that mentions everything from an obvious track, through to stone cairns (which can often be obscured by fog) through to nothing at all.  What would I find?

In order to address the first concern (of the cold and rain at least), while home in Australia I spent a small fortune upgrading all my camping gear except for my tent.  Given how much camping I’m doing between now and the end of the year (and probably into the future), it was a strategic investment and I now have an Enlightened Equipment -18 degree down sleeping quilt, mittens, hood and booties, the Thermarest NeoAir XTherm sleeping mat, 260gsm thermals, Smartwool socks, plus all the gear I talk about in my summary for the South Patagonia Icefield Expedition

Almost all the gear I took on my hike in Hornstrandir, Iceland
Almost all the gear that had to fit into my 65L backpack for my 8 day hike in Hornstrandir. Love how small all my down gear from Enlightened Equipment packs (white compression dry-bag) and how small my sleeping mat is (green dry-bag). But even with that, the tent (brown bag) had to be strapped to the outside. I also had a separate chest bag for my camera, with the second lens and other accessories stored in the main pack.

To mitigate the second concern (and for their own sanity as well), my mum and dad bought me the Garmin InReach SE+ personal emergency beacon which, in addition to calling the emergency services if you really get into trouble, allows you to program GPS waypoints, track your route, and send and receive messages (I could check in each day saying I was OK).  I also had my flash new Suunto Ambit3 Peak watch (yes, I have all the gadgets!) which again allows you to set GPS waypoints and track your route, as well as an old fashioned Suunto global compass and map.

Navigation aids - Garmin InReach SE+, Suunto Ambit3 Peak watch, map and Suunto M3 compass
Navigation aids – Garmin InReach SE+, Suunto Ambit3 Peak watch, map and Suunto M3 compass

But it wasn’t just mum and dad that were concerned about safety. 

You need to book boat transfers to and from Hornstrandir in advance.  In order to do so, you must provide your planned itinerary so that if you are not at your scheduled pickup, emergency services can be alerted and they have some idea of where to start searching for you. You are also strongly encouraged to register your hiking itinerary with Safetravel.is. Iceland really tries to take care of its visitors!

So, with both watch and personal emergency beacon programmed, I am as prepared as I can be!  Let’s see what the reality is like…

Read more about my solo trek in Hornstrandir

If this post has piqued your curiosity, read about the rest of my adventure in Hornstrandir:

Alternatively, check out my other posts about hiking and trekking in Iceland and around the world.

Like what you have read? Please follow and like me:

Hiking Greenland – Sisimiut’s UFO Hut

My plan upon arriving in Sisimiut after trekking the 160km Arctic Circle Trail from Kangerlussuaq, was to spend several more days in town doing day-hikes around the area. I found .gpx trails for several hikes at Destination Arctic Circle (thanks guys!) and was super-keen to do the “UFO Hike” in particular. After all, what exactly would I find at the end of a “UFO Hike”??

As with the hike to the summit of Nasaasaaq mountain, the first 3.5km of this trail follows a dirt road out of town. Fortunately it is a different dirt road to the one that leads to Nasaasaaq and the Arctic Circle Trail (which I’d already seen 3 times by now), and there is a period of interest when it leads you right through the middle of “Dog Town”. This is the area on the outskirts of Sisimiut where the majority of town’s Greenlandic Sled Dogs are chained awaiting the winter months. I grumbled to Tyson about hiking along roads (it’s definitely not my favourite thing) as we made our way to its end and the start of the trail.

Hiking along the road at the start of the Sisimiut UFO hike - West Greenland
Not the most interesting part of the hike

The narrow track we followed through the wilderness led us slowly upward, and my complaining stopped completely when we crested the first ridge and had a clear view of the valley we’d be hiking through. The landscape in front of us was absolutely stunning!

Panorama of the valley leading to the UFO -  Sisimiut UFO hike - West Greenland

[move cursor over image to see the full panorama]

We stayed on the high track (we could see another below us) for several kilometers before it seemed to just disappear. The track below us was also no longer visible. Checking the trail notes we had picked up in the foyer of the Hotel Sisimiut, we had clearly come to the part described by the following:

…it may be difficult to find the trail at this point, but when in doubt follow the running water that flows between the mountains at the bottom of the valley…

Hotel Sisimiut

Hmmmm…

“Oh well” we figured as we headed down towards the boggy ground around the river – something we’d been trying to avoid by staying high ūüôĀ

Hiker approaching the boggy ground at the bottom of the valley -  Sisimiut UFO hike - West Greenland

Our hope was to find a physical trail at the bottom of the valley that would coincide with the .gpx trail I had downloaded (the ridge trail was off by about 500m). But alas, there was no trail to be found.

Right.

Time to start bush-bashing!

Hiker mid-way through bush-bashing along the bottom of the valley leading to the  Sisimiut UFO - West Greenland
Tyson searching for a trail through the vegetation

This is not the easiest thing to do when your boots have sunk so far into the spongy moss that they have all but disappeared (I actually ended up face-first a couple of times after stepping in hidden holes). Nor is it easy when, having made it through the moss, you are then confronted with a hip-high wall of Arctic Willow!

Disappearing boots (top) and almost disappearing bodies (bottom) -  Sisimiut UFO hike - West Greenland
Moss (top) and Arctic Willow (bottom) were the main obstacles along the UFO hike

2km later and wringing wet (the dew-laden Arctic Willow saturated me within 5 steps) it was a relief to finally recover the trail and exit this “uncharted” section of the hike.

Trail leading off into the distance -  Sisimiut UFO hike - West Greenland
This was a welcome relief from our bush-bashing

The trail became more obvious (and much dryer!) as we started to climb. Then – a sudden surprise! A beautiful lake with almost perfect reflections!

Mountains reflected in a still lake -  Sisimiut UFO hike - West Greenland

Given that this relatively large body of water didn’t appear on Maps.Me (the offline map app of choice for both Tyson and myself), we decided to name it “Hidden Lake” as we hiked around its edge.

Hiking around the end of a still lake -  Sisimiut UFO hike - West Greenland

A second lake appeared after the first, and both the views in the direction we were heading and back down over the lakes became more and more stunning as we crested several false passes.

Views from the trail -  Sisimiut UFO hike - West Greenland
Views towards the pass (top) and back down over the lakes (bottom) became more and more beautiful as we climbed

Eventually, we arrived at the actual pass and could see our final destination – still about 3km distant.

First sight of the UFO from the top of the pass -  Sisimiut UFO hike - West Greenland
Can you see the UFO on the right-hand part of the hill in the mid-ground?

Crossing this final stretch towards Sisimiut’s UFO was a bit of a surreal experience. How cool is it to have a back-country hut in the shape of a UFO?!

Hiking towards the UFO -  Sisimiut UFO hike - West Greenland

We climbed the ladder into the heart of the ship to check out the inside. There was no lock, just a circular disk of plywood covering the access hatch, and nothing inside either.

Climbing into the UFO -  Sisimiut UFO hike - West Greenland

It was a great place to escape the cool breeze that had sprung up and have lunch, but I imagine it would be extremely noisy, and the structure would move quite a bit if you had more than about 4 people in there! It is an actual Hut that you can stay at, and our friend Aqqalooraq, who works reception at the Hotel Sisimiut, told us he’d been there several years ago on a school excursion.

Inside Sisimiut's UFO Hut -  Sisimiut UFO hike - West Greenland

[move cursor over image to see the full panorama]

One thing about Sisimiut’s aliens – they picked an amazingly beautiful spot to land!

View of the UFO Hut overlooking the Kangerlusarsuk Fjord -  Sisimiut UFO hike - West Greenland
An amazing view!

Well … actually, they didn’t initially.

The UFO was originally located just outside of Sisimiut and was transported to its current location overlooking the Kangerlusarsuk Fjord (at the opposite end to the Kangerlusarsuk Tulleq Nord hut) by helicopter in the 1980s. Why it was built in the first place … I don’t have the full story yet, but will update this post once I do ūüôā

The hike back to Sisimiut was along the same route as we took to get out to the UFO. It really is a very, very beautiful hike, and I entertained myself with a game of “could this be evidence of alien life?” as we made the return trip.

Views hiking back towards the pass -  Sisimiut UFO hike - West Greenland
Looking up towards the pass from the bottom of the area leading to the UFO (top) and evidence for alien life??!! (bottom)

When we got back to the “uncharted” part of the hike, we did another search for a trail (the last thing we wanted to do was bush-bash through again), but there was nothing visible from this direction either. We suspect the trail has simply been overgrown. Let me know if you find it!

Just before we reached the end of the trail where it rejoins the road, we started to come across lots of locals picking crowberries. It was a Sunday afternoon and whole families were out with buckets collecting these slightly tart berries to turn into desserts for the week.

Locals collecting crowberries -  Sisimiut UFO hike - West Greenland

I was only introduced to the joys of wild foraging earlier this year, and certainly picked my fill of blueberries as I hiked along the Arctic Circle Trail. I love that gathering crowberries, blueberries and mushrooms seems to be a common past-time for the residents of Sisimiut – at least from what I saw during my week and a half there at the end of August ūüôā

Recommendation

The hike out to the UFO Hut from Sisimiut is not technically challenging (unless you count the bush-bashing part) but it is long.

The reward is hiking through an incredibly beautiful valley, and the surreal experience of being able to climb into a UFO at the end of it! I loved this hike!

Trekking Information

Distance = 23.2km

Time taken = 6hr 39mins

GPX File = Hiking-Greenland-Sisimiut-UFO.gpx

Strava Link =https://www.strava.com/activities/1813014060

Map

Basic Map of Sisimiut UFO Hike- from Strava

Altitude Profile

Basic Altitude Profile of Sisimiut UFO Hike - West Greenland

Discover more about Greenland

I have a large number of blog posts about Greenland, so feel free to read more about my experiences and hiking adventures here on my blog.

Or, if this post has piqued your curiosity about Greenland in general, learn more about this amazing country by:

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Hiking Greenland – Nasaasaaq Mountain – Sisimiut

The most popular day-hike from Sisimiut is the climb up Palasip Qaqqaa – the 544m mountain that overlooks the airport. However, Tyson and I aren’t really ones to follow the crowds, and so on the first clear day after arriving in Sisimiut, we decided to tackle the pyramid-shaped Nasaasaaq Mountain (784m) instead.

Nasaasaaq mountain rises steeply behind the colourful houses of Sisimiut - West Greenland
The summit of Nasaasaaq is the triangular peak to the left of the image, and a key landmark above Sismiut. It is actually much higher than the bluff on the right, which we also climbed

We picked up the trail notes for the “Hard Route” (of course!) from the foyer of the Hotel Sisimiut and headed along the extremely boring 2km of road past the lakes that provide the town with drinking water. We had already hiked this section of road a few days earlier when we arrived in Sisimiut after 8 days on the Arctic Circle Trail. It wasn’t interesting then, and was even less so now! But as soon as we left the road and started trying to follow the trail notes, things became very interesting indeed!

We headed across boggy ground towards the rocky knoll as per the instructions

Start of the "Hard Route" up Nasaasaaq mountain - Sisimiut, West Greenland
The start of the “Hard Route” up Nasaasaaq mountain

and figured that the steep gully to our left looked about right.

Steep gully at the start of the "Hard Route" up Nasaasaaq mountain - Sisimiut, West Greenland

The added bonus was a fairly well defined track that we followed for most of the way up, and the occasional small stone cairn with blue paint on it.

Hiking up the trail along the gully at the start of the Nasaasaaq mountain hike - Sisimiut, West Greenland
We had a fairly early start to our hike

At the top of the pass we had a beautiful view over the valley we’d hiked along on the last day of the Arctic Circle Trail

View from the small pass at the top of the gully along the Hard Route up Nasaasaaq mountain - Sisimiut, West Greenland
The valley through which the Arctic Circle Trail approaches Sisimiut

before turning right along a very faint trail leading off to what looked to be a cairn in the distance. Hmmm… Is this right? It was what the trail notes said to do, but it didn’t inspire confidence that our “superhighway” trail suddenly became barely visible.

Heading along an uncertain trail - Nasaasaaq mountain - Sisimiut, West Greenland
Tyson is thinking “Are you sure??”

We persevered, however, and eventually arrived at the structure I had seen from the pass. It was indeed a cairn, and it even had blue paint on it!

Hiker approaching a cairn on the flank of Nasaasaaq mountain - Sisimiut, West Greenland
Thank goodness this thing that I’d seen in the distance turned out to be a cairn!

This was a relief, as we were clearly not following the .gpx trail I’d downloaded. That trail was about 100m straight up the cliff towering above us, with no way for us to reach it from our current location. We really had little choice but to follow the edge of the cliff or backtrack and try to find a different route. We decided to press on…

View of Sisimiut from above, hiking the flank of Nasaasaaq mountain - Sisimiut, West Greenland
Sisimiut, with its two lakes that act as drinking water reservoirs, spread out below the route we took to the summit of Nasaasaaq mountain

Fortunately, we encountered several other cairns, which ultimately led us along the upper flank of the mountain. Meanwhile, Tyson did his best to ignore the very steep drop-off to our right (fortunately dodgy heights don’t worry me too much)!

View over hiker and distant valley as we flank the side of Nasaasaaq mountain - Sisimiut, West Greenland
Cliff on one side, steep drop on the other. There was only one way forward.

Eventually, the trail turned upwards and we played “spot the blue spot” as we ascended through the rocks to the saddle point mentioned in the trail notes. It did exist! Despite us long having given up hope of ever finding it.

Hiker making his way up steep rocky slope - Nasaasaaq mountain - Sisimiut, West Greenland
Fortunately it wasn’t too hard to spot the next “blue spot” amongst all the rocks

Now that we’d managed to make it onto the ridge, we decided to first of all head over to our right to explore the rocky bluff in that direction.

Rocky bluff that forms the end of Nasaasaaq mountain - Sisimiut, West Greenland
Rocky bluff at the end of the Nasaasaaq mountain range

We had a great view back over to our goal for the hike – the summit of Narsaasaaq,

View of Nasaasaaq peak from the rocky bluff - Nasaasaaq mountain - Sisimiut, West Greenland
The triangular Nasaasaaq peak from the rocky bluff at the end of the mountain

as well as Sisimiut

View of Sisimiut from rocky bluff of Nasaasaaq mountain - Sisimiut, West Greenland
Greenland’s second largest city – Sisimiut – seen from the rocky bluff. Palasip Qaqqaa, the most popular day-hike, is the mountain at top-right

and the alpine peaks along the Arctic Circle to the South of the city.

Peaks to the south of Sisimiut from Nasaasaaq mountain - West Greenland
Looking South to the Arctic Circle

After taking in the views for a while, it was time to turn around and head for the main event.

Hiker heading towards the triangular peak of Nasaasaaq mountain - Sisimiut, West Greenland

The closer we got to the final ascent, the more daunting it looked.

Side-view of the steep ascent to the summit of Nasaasaaq mountain - Sisimiut, West Greenland
Note the two hikers at the base of the slope!

And indeed. This is not one for the faint-hearted or vertiginous! For the most part, it is a very, very steep rock scramble/climb, though there is a trail to help guide you along the only accessible route

Scrambling up boulders on the way to the summit of Nasaasaaq mountain - Sisimiut, West Greenland
It was an impressive rock scramble/climb to the summit

which has ropes to help you up/down otherwise impassable obstacles.

rope assists on the way to the summit of Nasaasaaq mountain - Sisimiut, West Greenland
Thank goodness for the ropes!

In the end, the 360-degree panoramic reward was totally worth the effort and nerves – especially on a day like this with clear views and no wind.

Panorama of ridge view at summit of  Nasaasaaq mountain - Sisimiut, West Greenland

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

Panorama of valley with Arctic Circle Trail from the summit of Nasaasaaq mountain - Sisimiut, West Greenland

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

Views from the summit of Nasaasaaq mountain - Sisimiut, West Greenland
Views from the summit of Nasaasaaq – the Amerloq Fjord (top) and Sisimiut (bottom)

Unfortunately, the light was not the best for photography ūüôĀ If I ever get another opportunity, I will camp at the saddle and climb the peak twice – once in the evening for the views over the Amerloq fjord and the abandoned settlement of Assaqutaq, and again in the morning for views over the valley through which the Arctic Circle Trail runs.

Amerloq Fjord from the summit of Nasaasaaq mountain - Sisimiut, West Greenland
The Amerloq Fjord as seen from the summit of Nasaasaaq mountain. Can you spot the abandoned settlement of Assaqutaq on the island at bottom-right?

After about an hour at the top, we very carefully made our way back to the saddle and decided to follow the “Medium-hard Route” back to Sisimiut.

Medium-Hard route down Nasaasaaq mountain - Sisimiut, West Greenland
The Medium-hard route was very obvious

This trail led us down towards the valley with the Arctic Circle Trail, and there we discovered where we’d gone wrong on the way up.

At the top of the first gully, we should have walked about 100m further and started to descend before turning right. There is a VERY obvious trail heading up towards the saddle if you do that, and all of the “Hard Route” trail notes suddenly make perfect sense. I guess we followed the “Super-hard-core Route” up the mountain! But it did have more spectacular views ūüėČ

The “Medium-hard Route” is another obvious track that turns off from the Arctic Circle Trail rather than ascending up the gully. If you are hiking the Arctic Circle Trail, have time, and the weather is reasonable, I’d recommend taking this trail at the end of the hike and spending an extra night camping at the saddle of Nasaasaaq. This would allow you to climb the mountain on the way into town, rather than doing it as a day hike afterwards. Look for the cairn with both red (indicating the Arctic Circle Trail) and blue (indicating the Nasaasaaq trail) paint on it, and a trail leading off to your left as you approach Sisimiut.

Trail coming up from the Arctic Circle Trail - Nasaasaaq mountain - Sisimiut, West Greenland
The track for the “Medium-hard Route” heading down towards the Arctic Circle Trail

Recommendation

The hike to the summit of Nasaasaaq mountain is truly spectacular and a little challenging – even if you don’t take the “Super-hard-core Route”.

Both the “Hard Route” and “Medium-hard Route” have steep sections and parts where you need to scramble over rocks, but the real issue is the final ascent to the summit. If you are not good with heights or are uncertain about your abilities, do not attempt this part!! You still have amazing views over Sisimiut, the mountains along the Arctic Circle to the South, and up the Amerloq Fjord from the rocky bluff at the end of the Nasaasaaq range, so stick with that and don’t force a search and rescue operation (it is more common than you imagine!)

Trekking Information

Distance = 14.7km

Time taken = 6hr 35mins

GPX File = Hiking-Greenland-Nasaasaaq-Mountain.gpx

Strava Link =https://www.strava.com/activities/1813015128

Map

Basic Map of the route we took up Nasaasaaq Mountain near Sisimiut, West Greenland - from Strava

Altitude Profile

Altitude Profile of the route we took up Nasaasaaq Mountain near Sisimiut, West Greenland - from Strava

Discover more about Greenland

I have a large number of blog posts about Greenland, so feel free to read more about my experiences and hiking adventures here on my blog.

Or, if this post has piqued your curiosity about Greenland in general, learn more about this amazing country by:

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 – 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’s Arctic Circle Trail: the go-to guide is the most comprehensive web page on hiking the Arctic Circle Trail. It has 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

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!
Like what you have read? Please follow and like me:
Hiking-Greenland-Arctic-Circle-Trail-sitting-nowhere.jpg

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
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Hiking-Greenland-Arctic-Circle-Trail-view-tent-day6.jpg

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:
Hiking-Greenland-Arctic-Circle-Trail-climb-innajuattoq-I.jpg

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: