Tag Archives: hiking and trekking

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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° 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 Hundesø 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.

Hundesø  exterior and interior
Hundesø 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 🙂

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!

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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 🙂  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? 😉 )  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 🙂 

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 😀

“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 🙂

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.

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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Hiking Greenland – Icefjords and Remote Villages – Tasiilaq

Day 9 of the Icefjords and Remote Villages trip with Greenland Adventures  was a free day to explore Tasiilaq and its surroundings.  Despite the less-than-stellar weather, Andrea offered to guide whoever was interested on a short hike out into the Flower Valley – it turned out that we were all interested 🙂

A wet start to our hike around Tasiilaq - East Greenland
Geared up for a wet hike through the Flower Valley near Tasiilaq

I had actually done this hike last year when I visited Tasiilaq but was happy to join with the group to do it again.

The start of the Flower Valley hike near Tasiilaq - East Greenland
The start of the Flower Valley hike near Tasiilaq

We hiked past the small waterfalls

Waterfalls in the Flower valley - near Tasiilaq - East Greenland
Waterfalls of the Flower Valley

and as far as the end of the second lake (still with ice floating in it this year)

Hiking along the lakes in the flower valley - near Tasiilaq - East Greenland
Hiking along the lakes in the Flower Valley. They were completely ice-free this time last year!

before returning to town and a lunch of reheated frozen pizzas!  Lots of brownie points, Andrea 😀  Lots of brownie points!

The weather cleared up dramatically after lunch as I met a local Instagrammer I had connected with for coffee, investigated souvenirs at both the artists workshop and the information center

Tupilaks in Tasiilaq - East Greenland
Tupilaks are one of the most common souvenirs in Greenland. The best are made in East Greenland.

and then spent several hours wandering around town exploring.

Views from around Tasiilaq - East Greenland
Views from around Tasiilaq. It is a beautiful part of East Greenland

All up, a very nice and relaxed day in East Greenland’s largest town.

Read more about the Icefjords and Remote Villages Tour

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

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

Hiking Information

Distance = 7.3 km

Time taken = 3 hours 10 minutes

Strava Linkhttps://www.strava.com/activities/1704299361

Map

Altitude Profile

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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Hiking Greenland – Icefjords and Remote Villages – Sermilik Way

It was another grey morning as we schlepped all our gear out of the hut and back down to the boat from Arctic Dream that was waiting to transfer us from Tiniteqilaaq to the start of the “Sermilik Way”.

Carting all our stuff back to the boat from the hut at Tiniteqilaaq - East Greenland
Carting all our stuff down to the boat from the hut at Tiniteqilaaq

While my sensible travel companions enjoyed the comfort inside Lars’ new boat

Inside the Arctic Dream passenger boat - East Greenland
Plenty of room in here!

I chose to sit out the back with all of our gear

Me sitting out the back of our boat transfer up the Sermilik Fjord - East Greenland
Yes, I’m crazy

so I could enjoy the cold 😊  No, actually, so I could take pictures of the very large icebergs we were passing on our way down the Sermilik Fjord.

Boating past huge icebergs in the Sermilik Fjord - East Greenland
Huge icebergs!

Our drop-off point was on the opposite side of Ammassalik Island to our final destination for the day – Tasiilaq.  Lars would continue with our gear and drop it at our accommodation in East Greenland’s largest town (2000 people), while we hiked all the way across the southern part of the Island.

The first challenge – getting off the boat!  We nosed into some rocks and Eric and Allan clamboured ashore to hold the rocking boat as firmly as possible while the rest of us negotiated the slippery seaweed and the steep but short climb to the start of the hike.

From boat transfer to land at the start of the Sermilik Way - Ammassalik Island - East Greenland
Allan and Eric stabilizing the boat (left) and scaling the very steep cliff (right) at the start of the Sermilik Way

We passed by a red hut that is occasionally used by school groups

Typical Greenlandic hut at the start of the Sermilik Way - East Greenland

and followed the river up towards the pass.

Hiking along a river at the start of the Sermilik Way - East Greenland

There were many beautiful waterfalls along the way

Hiking beside a beautiful waterfall at the start of the Sermilik Way - East Greenland
I love this photo!

spectacular views back down over the fjord

View back down over the fjord from the Sermilik Way - East Greenland
The view back down over the hut and fjord at the start of the Sermilik Way on Ammassalik Island

and, of course, snow 😊  Lots of snow!

Plenty of snow still on the Sermilik Way - East Greenland
Still plenty of snow at the start of July on the Sermilik Way. Unusual for this time of year

It was absolutely stunning!  One of my favourite day-hikes in East Greenland to date.  Made even more beautiful (I suspect) by the surprisingly large amount of snow still on the ground for this time of year.

It took us quite a while to make our way around a large, still-mostly-frozen lake

Hiking around a large semi-frozen lake along the Sermilik Way - Ammassalik Island - East Greenland
Hiking around a large semi-frozen lake

and climb the snow-covered 400m pass

Heading for the pass - Sermilik Way - East Greenland
We are still hiking beside a frozen lake and headed for the pass you can see ahead of us

for an amazing view down to the extremely long Lake 168.  Yes, really.  That is what the lake is called!

Views of Lake 168 from the top of the Sermilik Way pass - Ammassalik Island- East Greenland
Views of Lake 168 from the top of the Sermilik Way pass

We stopped here for “1st-lunch” and I decided to join Rhonda (a keen flora photographer) in taking photos of the lichen and plant life in the area.  Greenland has a surprisingly large number of wildflowers, and the variety of lichens is amazing.

Wildflowers and lichen at the top of the Sermilik Way pass - Ammassalik Island - East Greenland
Wildflowers and lichen

The other side of the pass turned out to be largely free of snow and very steep. 

Tasiilaq side of the pass on the Sermilik Way - East Greenland
The Tasiilaq side of the Sermilik Way pass

However, we all made it safely to the frozen shore of Lake 168 and went a bit berko taking photos of this incredible scene.

Lake 168 on the Sermilik Way - Ammassalik Island - East Greenland
Beautiful views and reflections in Lake 168

Andrea had warned us that “Lake 168 is the lake that seems to never end”, and while the unbelievably picturesque views kept us in awe for the first hour

Admiring the semi-frozen Lake 168 on the Sermilik Way - Ammassalik Island East Greenland
The semi-frozen Lake 168 was stunningly beautiful

we were all starting to wonder whether we’d ever reach the end of it during the second hour of hiking, as we negotiated sand, bogs, streams and, of course, snow.  “2nd-lunch” kept us walking, however, and we did eventually pass beyond it.

Hiking along Lake 168 - Ammassalik Island - East Greenland
Hiking along the never-ending Lake 168 took us through all sorts of terrain

The landscape became less frozen as we made our way closer to Tasiilaq, though there was still plenty of ice in the string of lakes (Lake 101, Lake 100 – no, seriously!)  that bordered the route we were following.

Hiking alongside lakes on the Sermilik Way - Ammassalik Island- East Greenland
More imaginatively-named lakes (Lake 100, Lake 101) along the Sermilik Way

Eventually we found ourselves at the end of a dirt road (a surprise in East Greenland) which we followed for the final few kilometres into town

Hiking into Tasiilaq - East Greenland
Hiking into Tasiilaq

and our very nice accommodation at one of the houses owned by Lars’ company Arctic Dream.  My first shower in 9 days … heaven!

Arctic Dream accommodation - Tasiilaq - East Greenland
Our luxury accommodation in Tasiilaq – one of the houses owned by Arctic Dream

Read more about the Icefjords and Remote Villages Tour

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

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

Hiking Information

Distance = 19.5 km

Time taken = 8 hours 30 minutes

Strava Linkhttps://www.strava.com/activities/1704299055

Map

Basic Map of hike to Tasiilaq along the Sermilik Way on Day 8 of Icefjords and Remote Villages Trek - from Strava

Altitude Profile

Basic Map of hike to Tasiilaq along the Sermilik Way on Day 8 of Icefjords and Remote Villages Trek - 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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Hiking Greenland – Icefjords and Remote Villages – Tiniteqilaaq

Despite being thwarted last night in watching the Sun set behind the Greenland Icesheet at 11:30pm, ever the optimist, I got myself out of bed at 2:00am to go take photos as the Sun rose again (nights are very short during Greenlandic summers!)

Sunrise over the Sermilik Fjord near Tiniteqilaaq - East Greenland
Sunrise at 2am over a very foggy Sermilik Fjord

Although the fog was still lingering, I decided to set up my camera for time-lapse photography and leave it running while I went back to bed.  The result: the following (slightly imperfect) video revealing how the hidden currents in the fjord move the icebergs in different directions (I’ve slowed it down so you can see the movement clearly).

Slowed to 1/4 speed

The schedule for today had us hiking in the hills behind the hut at Tiniteqilaaq – an excursion that Andrea assured us would reveal views as spectacular as the one from the front porch … if only we could drag ourselves away.

Looking out over the icebergs in the Sermilik Fjord near Tiniteqilaaq - East Greenland
You can never get tired of this view

It was a bit of a “choose your own adventure” as Andrea led us along the Sermilik Fjord

Hiking along the Sermilik Fjord near Tiniteqilaaq - East Greenland

around semi-frozen lakes

semi-frozen lakes on our day hike out of Tiniteqilaaq - East Greenland

and searched for the best way up the mountain, given the numerous snowfields.

views of our hiking route on the day hike out of Tiniteqilaaq - East Greenland
Views along our hiking route

We had incredible views over the Ikaasatsivaq Fjord

Panorama of the Ikaasatsivaq Fjord near Tiniteqilaaq - East Greenland

[move mouse over image to view whole panorama]

and the Sermilik Fjord, and of the intricate, almost organic patterns in the Greenlandic rocks (those who have read my other posts from Greenland will know how obsessed I am by the rocks here).

patterns in the rock look almost organic - East Greenland
The patterns in the rocks look almost organic – like trees

Given the amount of snow we were hiking through (waaaaay more than is normal at this time of year), we didn’t actually make it all the way to the point that Andrea was aiming for.  Rather, she called a halt on a ridge that had an incredible dual-view.  On one side – a frozen lake in front of the Innertivik and Ikaasatsivaq Fjords,

Panorama of view over Innertivik and Ikaasatsivaq Fjords near Tiniteqilaaq - East Greenland

[move mouse over image to view whole panorama]

and on the other – the Sermilik Fjord.

me taking in the view over the Sermilik Fjord near Tinit - East Greenland
Love this view!

We stopped here for over an hour having lunch and enjoying the perfect day with some of the world’s most spectacular views.

Our guide relaxing at our lunch spot on our hike from Tiniteqilaaq - East Greenland
Andrea enjoying the sunshine and the views

Eventually, Andrea encouraged us to our feet for the return journey back to the hut.  We initially took a slightly different route which led us past the most incredible snow-pool – an oval of bright blue water surrounded by pristine snow.  Despite hating cold water, the pool was so perfect that I had the overwhelming urge to go in!

Perfect snow pool on our day hike from Tiniteqilaaq - East Greenland
This looked so perfect!

The whole hike delivered on Andrea’s promise of spectacular views

Admiring the views on our day hike out of Tiniteqilaaq - East Greenland

and it was interesting to see what new icebergs had made their way to the front “doorstep” of our hut while we’d been gone.

Large icebergs in front of our hut at Tiniteqilaaq - East Greenland
New icebergs in front of our hut

I absolutely loved the shape of this large iceberg, so grabbed my camera and tripod for a little more time-lapse photography 😊

Slowed to 1/4 speed

The wonderful thing about time-lapse is how it reveals the extent to which things move, especially when that movement is barely perceptible in real time.  For example, I thought that the large iceberg had rotated while I sat there for the hour, but I wasn’t sure.  The time-lapse shows just how much it turned before setting off up the fjord, as well as which bergs were stuck fast, grounded on the bottom.

Read more about the Icefjords and Remote Villages Tour

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

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

Hiking Information

Distance = 8.2km

Time taken = 7 hours

Strava Link = https://www.strava.com/activities/1704297064

Map

Basic Map of hike near Tiniteqilaaq on Day 7 of Icefjords and Remote Villages Trek - from Strava

Altitude Profile

Altitude profile of hike near Tiniteqilaaq on Day 7 of Icefjords and Remote Villages Trek - 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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Hiking Greenland – Icefjords and Remote Villages – Kuummiut to Tiniteqilaaq

After yesterday’s exertions climbing Mt Kuummiut, today was essentially a “rest day” where we transferred from Kuummiut to Tiniteqilaaq (Tinit). 

Catching our transfer from Kuummiut to Tiniteqilaaq - East Greenland

There was a low blanket of heavy cloud obscuring the peaks as we traveled up the Ammassalik and Ikasartivaq Fjords, and although I would have loved to have seen the grandeur of the mountains, I also find the mystery of partially-hidden landscapes beautiful and compelling.

Obscured views of mountains in the Ammassalik and Ikasartivaq Fjords - East Greenland

Given that renovations on the accommodation at Camp Qatoo were not yet complete, we had alternate accommodation just outside of Tinit itself.  Apparently it was a bit of a walk up a hill to get there, so the plan was to store most of our gear in town and only carry up what was required for the next 2 nights. 

Approaching Tiniteqilaaq - East Greenland
The approach to Tiniteqilaaq

This turned out to be an excellent plan, as our new home was indeed more than a kilometre away and up a rocky hill with no path leading to it.

Hike to our hut in Tiniteqilaaq - East Greenland
It was quite a hike from Tiniteqilaaq to our hut (can you spot it?) over rocky ground

But oh my goodness – it was soooooooo worth the effort! The hut had a 270-degree panoramic view of incredible Sermilik Fjord, which held us spellbound as we ate our lunch on the front porch.

Panorama of Sermilik Fjord - East Greenland

[move mouse over image to see the full panorama]

I have seen a lot of icebergs during my travels here in Greenland as well as in Antarctica and Patagonia, but this ice-choked fjord with its thousands of small and large bergs moving slowly along on hidden currents really was something special.

The video has been slowed to 1/4 speed to clearly show the movement of the icebergs

It was almost impossible to drag ourselves away from this stunningly beautiful view but, if we wanted to eat, we had to get to the Pilersuisoq (supermarket) before it closed.   Logistics (and stomachs) prevailed in the end, and we all headed back into town charged with various tasks. 

As there was no running water at the hut (nor a good source of drinking water nearby), Allan and Eric manhandled the water-storage barrel down to one of Tinit’s water pumphouses to fill (we didn’t want to make this trip too many times!).  And while Andrea and several of the others headed to the supermarket, I went to raid our own supplies for food for the next 2 days.

I ended up arriving back at the hut before everyone else and had an hour on my own sitting in the sunshine listening to water trickle off the icebergs and the occasional sudden crack as one of them disintegrated a little more in the warmth.

When the others returned, I headed back into town to have a wander about

Various views of Tiniteqilaaq in East Greenland
Views of Tiniteqilaaq. Yes there are Greenlandic sled dogs here – it is East Greenland after all

before returning for more iceberg watching and views over Tiniteqilaaq while drinking endless cups of tea and eating far too many biscuits.

Sitting on porch of hut at Tinit enjoying the sun and afternoon tea - East Greenland
This was the spot! Enjoying afternoon tea in the sunshine at our hut above Tiniteqilaaq and the Sermilik Fjord

Eventually, the cool evening air forced us inside where Andrea had prepared a very tasty stroganoff for dinner.

Dinner at the beautiful hut near Tiniteqilaaq - East Greenland
The hut near Tiniteqilaaq was beautiful inside

This was followed by chocolate cake for dessert and an after-dinner show by Allan and Eric as they carried out their evening washing-up duties 😊

At around 10:30pm, a few of us headed out to watch the Sun set behind the Greenland Icesheet.

Sun approaching the Greenland Icesheet just before midnight - East Greenland
The Sun approaching the Greenland Icesheet just before midnight

Unfortunately, our romantic notion was scuppered when the fog rose to obscure practically everything, but it was still a really beautiful post-dinner outing in the silence of East Greenland.

silhouette with the sunset obscured by fog in the Sermilik Fjord - East Greenland
Me waiting for the Sun to set through the fog that suddenly appeared over the Sermilik Fjord

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.

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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Hiking Greenland – Icefjords and Remote Villages – Mt Kuummiut

Today was to be the most challenging day of hiking for the whole of the Icefjords and Remote Villages trip.  The 1050m ascent to the summit of Mt Kuummiut, which towers over the town.  Although it was a cloudy morning and the fog seemed to be coming and going over the top of the mountain, it wasn’t raining and we kept our fingers crossed!

Start of the hike to the cloud shrouded top of Mt Kuummiut - East Greenland
At the start of the hike, the summit of Mt Kuummiut (the peaky bits to the right) was appearing and disappearing in the low cloud

With this trek, you start climbing almost immediately upon leaving Kuummiut, the steady ascent offering wonderful views back down over the village and the fjord and up to our final destination.

Views of our climb up Mt Kuummiut - East Greenland
The hike up Mt Kuummiut offers amazing views down over the town (top) and ahead to the summit (bottom)

As with almost every hike in East Greenland, there is no trail to follow.  Andrea led us across mostly rocky ground and slushy snow drifts, choosing her route based on previous experience in leading this trip.

Views of our route as we ascended Mt Kuummiut - East Greenland
Various views of our route up Mt Kuummiut

There were plenty of rest stops on the way up, to catch our breath and admire the views

Rest stop overlooking the fjord on the way up Mt Kuummiut, East Greenland
A rest stop with an amazing view. Actually, all the rest stops in East Greenland have incredible views!

with many mostly-frozen lakes

Frozen lake on the way up Mt Kuummiut - East Greenland

and the ever-present but magnificent Greenlandic rock.  Yes, I’m a geology nut!

Rock face as we climb Mt Kuummiut in East Greenland
I should have been a geologist…

The normal route to the summit is to hike up a valley just before reaching the final steep uphill.  However, given the amount of snow we’d already walked through, and the fact that the valley was very firmly held in a snowy grip, Andrea decided to explore a different route up via a ridge line to our left.

Hiking an alternate route up Mt Kuummiut to avoid the worst of the snow - East Greenland
Yes, there was still snow, but nothing like what we would have encountered down in the valley

It was a total winner of an idea!  The ridge was quite wide and offered magnificent views that would not have been visible if we’d hiked up the valley.  And the going was infinitely easier (and drier) than making our way through deep slushy snow.

The final uphill push to the summit was a good workout under bright sunshine (finally), but with plenty of excuses to stop along the way and take photographs.  I could even see the Tasiilaq Fjord that we had walked along on Day 8 of Unplugged Wilderness last year.

The final ascent to the summit of Mt Kuummiut with the Tasiilaq fjord far below - East Greenland
The final ascent to the summit of Mt Kuummiut is quite steep, but with incredible views of the Tasiilaq fjord far below

And the view from the summit – a magnificent 360 degree panorama, where photos (even mine 😉 ) cannot do it justice!

Panorama of the view from the summit of Mt Kuummiut - East Greenland

[move mouse over image to see the full panorama]

East Greenland really is a spectacularly beautiful place!

We had lunch (and a nap) tucked into the rocks on the summit ridge

relaxing on the ridge at the summit of Mt Kuummiut - East Greenland
Relaxing on the knife-edge ridge at the summit of Mt Kuummiut

and took several quiet moments to marvel at the beauty before us and how incredibly fortunate we were to be here at this time.

One of the views from the summit of Mt Kuummiut - East Greenland
Me and my hiking boots enjoying one of the views from the summit of Mt Kuummiut

However, all perfect moments must come to an end and, about an hour later when the clouds started to close in, we began to retrace our steps down the mountain.

Views descending from the summit of Mt Kuummiut - East Greenland
Views as we descended from the summit of Mt Kuummiut. Note the weather getting worse (bottom image)

It was good timing in fact, as only an hour later the fog had started to obscure the top of the mountain once more.

Greenlandic rocks and the summit of Mt Kuummiut disappearing once again into fog - East Greenland
The summit of Mt Kuummiut disappearing once again into the fog after we summitted. LOVE Greenlandic rocks!

As you’ve probably guessed by now if you’ve read my other posts about this trip, it was time for tea, coffee, hot chocolate and bikkies when we reached the hut.  Followed by salad, lamb roast, mashed potato, and chocolate mousse for dinner.  Sooooo much food!

Lamb roast dinner in Kuummiut - East Greenland
Lamb roast dinner tonight

Read more about the Icefjords and Remote Villages Tour

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

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

Hiking Information

Distance = 11.4km

Time taken = 7 hours 50 minutes

Strava Linkhttps://www.strava.com/activities/1704297961

Map

Basic Map of hike to Mt Kuummiut on Day 5 of Icefjords and Remote Villages Trek - from Strava

Altitude Profile

Altitude profile of hike to Mt Kuummiut on Day 5 of Icefjords and Remote Villages Trek - from Strava
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Hiking Greenland – Icefjords and Remote Villages – Kuummiut hike

I knew the good weather couldn’t hold out forever, and Day 4 of the Icefjords and Remote Villages trip in East Greenland turned out to be a very overcast and wet affair.  Oh well.  The weatherman had warned us!

The plan for today was to hike up the Torsukattak Fjord to Illitsiartik in the Tunu fjord.  This end point would just overlap with where we were hiking on Day 7 of the Unplugged Wilderness Trek last year – something that really tickled my fancy 🙂

Given the bad weather, Andrea suggested that we “start out and see how far we get”.  We could always turn around and come back once we’d had enough.  So we donned all our wet weather gear and headed out up the muddy streets of Kuummiut.

Heading out into the rain from our hut in Kuummiut - East Greenland
Rainy hikes are always made colourful by bright rain gear. Our hut in Kuummiut is the blue one above us

I find that with the right gear, the thought of hiking in the rain is actually a lot worse than the reality, and after 10 minutes you get used to it.  Of course, if you don’t have the right gear, it can be a cold, wet and very miserable experience – see my Day 4 of the Unplugged Wilderness trek last year!  Fortunately, I had learned my lesson from that hike and upgraded my gear – so I was warm and blissfully dry despite the fact that we ended up hiking for over 5 hours today!

Boots, rain pants and wet vegetation in East Greenland
I was much better equipped for dealing with bad weather in East Greenland this year

Under better conditions, it is clear that the hike would be absolutely spectacular!  But on this occasion, the tops of the mountains were obscured by low cloud and we had to content ourselves with admiring their bases, the soggy ground, numerous streams and wet wildflowers that appeared along our route.

Hiking up the Torsukattak Fjord in the rain - near Kuummiut, East Greenland
Even with the terrible weather, it is clear this is a beautiful hike

About half way along, we stopped for a bit of singing (as you do).  Both Eric and Allan shared my love of singing and we had been talking about the Australian classic “The Band Played Waltzing Matilda” (I like John Williamson’s version, even though it was originally written and sung by Eric Bogle).  In the end, they asked me to sing it – which I happily did, despite it being one of the saddest songs in the world.  

Then Allan sang a composition of his own set to the same melody – about being an older person but still wanting to tramp around the world and not be put into a nursing home.  It was absolutely brilliant!  Very clever indeed.  And I think all of us could relate to the sentiment – being out in the middle of nowhere in East Greenland.

Now I am an old man and I carry a pack
And I live the free life of a rover
From the Annapolis Basin to the mountains out back
And I hike the trails all over

And I rant and I rave and I have too much fun 
I’m outside all day and I drink too much rum
In the wind and the rain and the snow and the sun
And they’re not going to take me to the rest home

Chorus:
So I’ll hike the trails all over
Round the lakes and the hills and the trees
And just like the deer, the coyotes and bear
I’ll live wild and ragged and free

So I’m ragged and free and I live by the sea
And I can’t wait for the day to begin
My feet hit the floor and I’m soon out the door
‘Cause I don’t want to miss anything

I love to explore and I know there’s much more
I want to be out there till I’m 94
And I don’t care that I’m old tired and sore
They’re not going to take me to the rest home

Repeat chorus

I’m abrasive, irascible and obnoxious too
And I’m a jerk sometimes but I can’t help it
Contumacious, pugnacious and obstreperous too
And maybe I’ll change but I doubt it

But when I’m out there my heart starts to sing 
I start to relax I forget everything 
And after awhile I feel like a king 
And they’re not going to take me to the rest home 

Repeat Chorus

Note: “Hike the trails all over ” can be substituted by “Ride my mountain bike all over”

Words: Allan Rodger

In the end, Andrea decided not to walk all the way to Illitsiartik.  At a large river where we would have had to change out of our hiking boots in order to cross, she instead decided to head up towards the mountain on our left to see what fed this river in front of us.  A large waterfall it turns out!

Hiking towards an unnamed waterfall near Kuummiut, East Greenland

It was an impressive cascade

Unnamed waterfall near Kuummiut, East Greenland

and a great place to enjoy a quick, damp lunch 🙂  It would be stunning in nice weather!

lunch at the unnamed waterfall near Kuummiut, East Greenland
How miserable do we look?

The weather didn’t really improve for our hike back to Kuummiut, but to be honest, it could have been a lot worse.  It was just drizzling and wet.  At least there was no wind to go with it!

Still, it was a relief to be back in the house in the dry and the warmth, sitting around the dining table chatting and drinking tea and hot chocolate. 

And singing!  It seems that Allan and Eric are very keen singers as well as being very keen Backgammon players.  They have a particular interest in Arctic expeditions, and sang us a couple of songs about Franklin – one of several explorers who attempted to find the Northwest passage through the Arctic.  I loved “The Northwest Passage” sung here by Stan Rogers.

Then Andrea chimed in, attempting to teach us an Icelandic round.  When we struggled with getting our tongues around the words to that, she started singing “The Waters of Babylon”. This was most famously recorded by Don McLean, and is one of my all-time favourite rounds!  I happily joined in 🙂

I love singing!

Dinner tonight was a thick mushroom soup, followed by spaghetti bolognaise and Koldskål – a strange Danish cold dessert of buttermilk and lemon into which you crush plain biscuits.  The Danes actually have a lot of these bizarre desserts!

Mushroom soup and spaghetti bolognaise as a dinner option from Icelandic Mountain Guides
Mushroom soup (top) and spag bol (bottom) for our second dinner in Kuummiut

Here’s hoping for better weather tomorrow for our climb to the summit of Mt Kuummiut!

Read more about the Icefjords and Remote Villages Tour

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

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

Hiking Information

Distance = 12.6km

Time taken = 5 hours 37 minutes

Strava Linkhttps://www.strava.com/activities/1704299546

Map

Basic Map of hike to Illitsiartik on Day 4 of Icefjords and Remote Villages Trek - from Strava

Altitude Profile

Altitude profile of hike to Illitsiartik on Day 4 of Icefjords and Remote Villages Trek - from Strava
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Hiking Greenland – Icefjords and Remote Villages – Kulusuk to Kuummiut

More bright sunshine and another relaxed start to Day 3 of the Icefjords and Remote Villages tour in East Greenland.  Breakfast at 8am (thankfully, following my late night), have bags packed by 10am, and be waiting down at the harbour by 10:30am for our 10:45am boat transfer to Kuummiut, were our instructions. 

Plenty of time to have one last wander around this very small town of less than 300 people

Panorama of Kuluskuk Harbour - East Greenland

[move mouse over image to see the full panorama]

And one last cinnamon roll from the Pilersuisoq 🙂  Oh my, these things are sooooo tasty and addictive!  I’ve have had (at least) one every day since arriving in Kulusuk almost a week ago!

Cinnamon danish from the Pilersuisoq supermarket - Kulusuk - East Greenland
The Pilersuisoq supermarkets in East Greenland have the most incredible danishes … in this case – a cinnamon roll. Highly addictive!

Down at the harbour, Allan and Eric (outdoor adventurer friends for more than 40 years) pulled out their Backgammon board and embarked on what was to become a very common sight every time we had a spare moment during the trip. 

Alan and Eric and backgammon - Kulusuk harbour - East Greenland
Typical Allan and Eric

At 10:45 on the dot, Lars from Arctic Dream appeared with his new, large passenger boat.  He’d only taken delivery of it 3 days ago, and I must stay that it is a big step up in comfort level compared to the boats that transferred us for the Unplugged Wilderness Trek last year!

New passenger transfer boat from Arctic Dream - Kulusuk Harbour - East Greenland
The new passenger transfer boat from Arctic Dream. Much fancier than last year

Luxury!

What hadn’t changed was the necessity to help load our gear into the boats to make the journey.  Fortunately, given that we would be staying in villages and not camping in the middle of nowhere, this was a much quicker and easier undertaking than last year.

Loading the boat with our gear - Kulusuk Harbour - East Greenland
Loading up with food and our gear

Gear loaded, we boarded our transfer and I nabbed a seat out the back in the sunshine. Lars gave us a full briefing of safety on board (another very different experience from last year – if disaster struck in 2017, we were on our own!) and off we set. 

Views of boat transfer up the Ammassalik Fjord - East Greenland

The views as we headed up the Ammassalik Fjord under bright blue skies were beautiful, though I was missing the spectacle of boating past the icebergs that are usually more prevalent at this time of year.   Although the long, cold winter had left plenty of snow still thawing on land, several Piteraqs (fierce storms) in recent weeks had blown most of the ice out of the fjords.  It was such a different vista compared to 12 months ago!

The ice-free Ammassalik fjord - East Greenland
There was almost no ice at all in the Ammassalik Fjord this year

After about an hour of smooth sailing, the village of Kuummiut came into view ahead of us.  Brightly coloured buildings clustered at the base of some impressive looking mountains!

Kuummiut - East Greenland
Amazing weather for our first afternoon in Kuummiut

Once Jens had tied the boat to the dock, we each scaled the vertical ladder, shouldered our own luggage, grabbed one of the boxes containing our basic food supplies, and headed up the hill to our home for the next 3 nights.

Climbing to the dock in Kuummiut harbour - East Greenland
Not the easiest access to a dock

Unfortunately, we met with a slight snag at the front door.  The key was meant to have been left in a particular location, but neither Andrea nor the local guy who was helping us could find it.  So we ended up breaking in!

Breaking into our hut in Kuummiut - East Greenland
Breaking into our hut. The key was meant to be left just inside the small hole you can see at bottom left

It was a very small house for 9 people, with just enough room to sit around the table, and space for only 8 on a double platform in the dorm room.   For this reason, we had actually booked to have 5 people sleep here and 4 people at the “Service House” just down the road, but apparently the visiting priest (“palasi” in Greenlandic.  Yes, I have an obscure vocabulary!) had made off with the key and nobody could find him.  Hmmmm…

interiors of the hut in Kuummiut - East Greenland
The dining and sleeping areas of the hut in Kuummiut are VERY cosy for 9 people

Since I had all my camping gear with me, I happily volunteered to be the 9th person and sleep on a mat in the kitchen – distancing myself somewhat from the snoring that always accompanies a group this large 😛

My bedroom in the hut at Kuummiut - East Greenland
I was more than happy to sleep on the floor in the kitchen in our small hut at Kuummiut

Our standard lunch of bread, cheese and processed meats out of the way, we decided to take advantage of the continuing good weather and go for a short hike up the Kuummiut fjord.

With the bare rock of the mountains on one side and the blue waters of the fjord on the other – it was a wonderful way to spend the afternoon – and take the first of several group photos 🙂

Hiking along the Kuummiut fjord - East Greenland
Hiking along the Kuummiut fjord (top), and the first of many group photos (bottom)

When we reached the peninsula Andrea was aiming for, we burrowed down amidst the rocks to hide from the breeze and spent the next hour contemplating the view and watching for whales.  Of which there were several!  Though all quite far away 🙁  We could see their blows and perhaps a small part of their back, but they were placidly going about their business and not putting on too much of a show for us.

Relaxing and whale watching at the Kuummiut fjord - East Greenland
Relaxing (top) and whale watching (bottom)

We abandoned our whale watching as a weather front came over and the temperature suddenly plummeted.

Weather front coming over Kuummiut Fjord - East Greenland
Bummer

Despite this, we took our time and stopped to inspect the ruins of Inuit shelters 

Inuit ruins near Kuummiut - East Greenland
Andrea explaining a little about the Inuit ruins we found near Kuummiut

and refill our water bottles as we hiked back to town.  This is one of the many beautiful things about hiking in Greenland – the fact that you can drink the water directly out of any stream.

Filling water bottles from a stream - near Kuummiut - East Greenland
One of the (many) awesome things about Greenland is that you can refill your water bottle anywhere. 

We stopped by the Kuummiut church on the way back to our hut to discover that although it had a more traditional style of stained glass window than in Kulusuk, it also boasted a model boat in the front-left of the chapel.  This time an Umiaq – or Greenlandic women’s boat.

Kuummiut church - East Greenland
Outside and inside the church in Kuummiut. Model boats seem to be a theme in East Greenlandic churches

Then we settled back in our cozy lodging for tea, coffee, afternoon snacks, and fun conversation around the dining table. 

In many houses in East Greenland there is no running water, and this one was no exception.  So while Andrea and I started to prepare the evening meal, some of the others went to fill the large barrel from the closest water pump house.  These are  small, blue huts located in several places around town where you place your barrel under the outflow pipe, stand back (to avoid being splashed) and press the button to start the (usually quite forceful) water flow.  You then carry the typically heavy and very awkward barrel back to your residence.  For this reason, it’s better to make it a 2-person job 🙂

Eric being initiated into the task of gathering water

Dinner was delicious: honey rye bread and brie for starter, salmon, veggies and rice for main, and a weird Danish “strawberry jam” type thing for dessert.

Dinner our first night in the Kuummiut hut - East Greenland
Amazing what Andrea prepared in such a small space

Allan and Eric were the self-designated after-dinner washer-upperers for the trip

Allan and Eric - our washer-upperers - Kuummiut - East Greenland
Allan and Eric doing their after dinner thing

and once they’d finished, we stood watching the whales in the fjord from the kitchen window.

Whale watching from the kitchen window of our hut in Kuummiut - East Greenland
Whale watching from the kitchen window of our hut in Kuummiut

It doesn’t get much better than this!

Read more about the Icefjords and Remote Villages Tour

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

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

Hiking Information

Distance = 5km

Time taken = 3 hours 49 minutes

Strava Linkhttps://www.strava.com/activities/1704299276

Map

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

Altitude Profile

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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Hiking Greenland – Icefjords and Remote Villages – DYE-4

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Trekking companions hiking on Kulusuk Island - East Greenland

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

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

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

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

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

Hiking through bog and snow on Kulusuk Island - East Greenland

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

Hiking towards the west coast of Kulusuk Island - East Greenland

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

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

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

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

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

[move cursor over image to see full panorama]

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Panorama from Kulusuk at midnight - Kulusuk Island - East Greenland

[move cursor over image to see full panorama]

Read more about the Icefjords and Remote Villages Tour

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

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

Hiking Information

Distance = 15.9km

Time taken = 7 hours 17 minutes

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

Map

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

Altitude Profile

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