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Helicopter Scenic Flight to Sermitsiaq Summit – Nuuk Fjord

Taking a helicopter scenic flight over the Nuuk Fjord is one of the highlights of a visit to Greenland’s capital.  But did you know you can make your flightseeing experience even more awesome by landing near the summit of one of the highest mountains in the area?

I LOVE helicopter scenic flights! With air travel so common these days, there is something exotic about being in a helicopter.  So you can imagine that I jumped at the chance to take a flight over Nuuk and the Nuuk Fjord system when the opportunity arose.  The added bonus – we would actually land near the summit of one of the tall peaks near the capital!

Preparing for take-off

There were 5 of us on this adventure to the high wilderness around Nuuk. Our pilot, Jonas, met us at Nuuk airport and led us out to our waiting aircraft. There he pointed out all the safety features of the aircraft as well as the things not to step on or touch … good to know!

Preparing for take-off on the Nuuk Fjord summit flight to Sermitsiaq Mountain - Greenland
Preparing to take off. Very important to know what you can and cannot touch!

The 5 of us bundled into the small AS 350 Eurocopter without disturbing anything we shouldn’t. It was a bit of a tight squeeze in the back with 4 of us rugged up in heavy duty puffy jackets and ski pants, but we jigsawed ourselves until we were all clipped in and sat back to enjoy the ride.

Pilot and passenger in the front of the helicopter preparing for takeoff on the Nuuk Fjord Summit scenic flight - Greenland
Starting up

Scenic flight to the summit of Sermitsiaq

On the Helicopter Summit Flight the pilot has a choice of two mountains – Kingittorsuaq (one of the “deer antlers”), or Sermitsiaq – Nuuk’s iconic neighbour.  The destination for the day depends on weather conditions, but I have to admit I was really excited to learn that we would be heading for Sermitsiaq.

Sermitsiaq – straight ahead of us

It is a very short flight that had all of us sweeping our heads back and forth trying to take in the spectacular views in every direction.  One of the many great things about a helicopter flightseeing tour is that the windows tend to be larger than in a plane, allowing you to see much more – even if you are in the middle seat like I was.

Views from inside the helicopter as we flew towards Sermitsiaq mountain on our summit scenic flight near Nuuk, Greenland
Views out the different windows of the helicopter as we made our way towards the mountain

After passing by the western edge of the mountain, Jonas started searching for an appropriate place to set the helicopter down.  He decided upon a small, relatively flat area below the summit and used the helicopter itself to ensure our landing spot was secure.

Flying towards the western edge of Sermitsiaq mountain with the blue Nuuk Fjord far below - Greenland
The deep blue of the Nuuk Fjord curving around the base of Sermitsiaq

As we came in the first time, the rotors blew some of the snow out of the way.  He then “landed” using the helicopter skids to compact the snow, and then lifted off and backed up to see exactly what his chosen landing place looked like.  He repeated this three times before he was satisfied and we made the final landing. I have to admit the adrenaline was pumping while all this was going on!

Landing near the summit of Sermitsiaq

What an incredible place!

Helicopter landed near the summit of Sermitsiaq mountain near Nuuk, Greenland
Wilderness helicopter landing with the summit of Sermitsiaq in the background

We only had a short time on the mountain, so Jonas helped us make the most of it by leading the way to the best viewpoints.

Walking towards the edge of the mountain with the helicopter in the foreground - Sermitsiaq Flightseeing near Nuuk, Greenland
Exploring the upper slopes of Sermitsiaq

It was a little challenging making our way through the knee-deep snow

Deep bootprints in the snow on Sermitsiaq mountain on a scenic flight - summit landing near Nuuk, Greenland
We often sank to our knees in the deep snow

but the rewards far outweighed the effort, with panoramic views over the Nuuk Fjord

Panorama of the Nuuk Fjord leading down towards Nuuk on the helicopter summit flight, Greenland

Move image over cursor to see the full panorama

and grand views back towards the helicopter and summit of Sermitsiaq, which reminded us just how small we are in this world.

Red helicopter is dwarfed by the summit of Sermitsiaq mountain near Nuuk, Greenland
An amazing landing spot

It is amazing how quickly 25 minutes passes when you are in such a location, and all too soon it was time to head back to the helicopter for our return to Nuuk.

Returning to the helicopter with Sermitsiaq summit in the background on a flightseeing tour near Nuuk, Greenland
Time to head back

Flying over Nuuk

Rather than heading straight back to the airport, the scenic flight takes you on a full circle around the city so that you can see it from all angles.  It was so interesting to see how spread out Greenland’s capital is, and I loved how the houses added a dash of colour to the blue-grey and white landscape.

Nuuk, the capital city of Greenland, as seen from the air approaching from the west
The entire city of Nuuk

No matter the angle, there is no denying that Nuuk is located in a truly spectacular place.

Nuuk from all angles as we fly past on the summit scenic flight to Sermitsiaq Mountain, Greenland
Different angles of Nuuk city – with Store Malene and
Kingittorsuaq (top) and Sermitsiaq (bottom) in the background

Then, an hour after we took off, Jonas had us lined up along the runway for our approach into Nuuk airport.  He set the helicopter down onto its small wooden towing platform with barely a bump – such is the skill of Air Greenland pilots.

Coming in to land at Nuuk airport from a helicopter scenic flight, summit landing on Sermitsiaq mountain, Greenland
Approaching Nuuk airport

A helicopter scenic flight for the adventurous

This was by far the best scenic flight I’ve ever done anywhere in the world!  

The opportunity to do a wilderness landing high up on a mountainside is a unique experience, and the views from near the top of Sermitsiaq are truly stunning.  There are several flightseeing tours available from Nuuk and in other places in Greenland, but if you are looking for something more than just your typical scenic flight – I highly recommend the Helicopter Summit Flight from Nuuk.  

And just because I love it – here is a 270 degree panorama from the our wilderness landing on Sermitsiaq.

270 degree panorama from the our landing spot on the Nuuk Fjord helicopter summit flight - Greenland

Move image over cursor to see the full panorama

Million thanks to Air Greenland for this incredible flightseeing experience!

Discover more about Greenland

I have a large number of blog posts about Greenland, so feel free to read more about my experiences 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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First day in Nuuk

My travel schedule for 2019 is very much centred on Greenland. Those of you who have chatted to me in the past 18 months know how obsessed I am with the place, so I was very excited to be able to collaborate with Guide to Greenland for this trip.

I actually started blogging for them after my first trip here in 2017 and you should definitely check out that blog for more stories from Greenland from yours truly!

My apartment is up on a hill in the suburb of Qarsaalik – out near the University and the airport.

Looking up at my apartment from the bottom of the snowy hill - Nuuk - Greenland
Looking up at my apartment block from the bottom of the snowy hill

While this might sound like a million miles away from the city centre, given how small Nuuk is (it only has a population of 18,000 people), it means I have about a 3km walk to get to town.

On my first morning, I headed out from home at 7:30am … well before the Sun had risen. Rather than walk down the road (which initially heads in the wrong direction), I followed some locals straight down the steep snowy slope that passes behind the Recycling Centre and ends near a part of Nuuk Harbour.

View down the snowy hill near my apartment block - locals leading the way to the harbour - Nuuk - Greenland
Locals leading the way down to the road that runs along Nuuk Harbour in the pre-dawn light

Fortunately it wasn’t too slippery, and I managed to make it down without falling! Still testing out my snow legs!

I asked Maps.Me to show me the best way to walk into town, and set off following its trail of blue dashes.

Maps.Me screenshot showing the walking route from my apartment into Nuuk
This is apparently the best walking route from my apartment into Nuuk

This led me along a convoluted route between apartment buildings that were absolutely silent in a world muted by snow. I’d never really experienced something like this before, and I was surprised at how much a thick layer of snow changes the soundscape.

Dark images of walking between apartment buildings on my way to work in Nuuk - Greenland
It’s quite dark when I walk in to town at the minute and my trail leads me through blocks of apartment buildings

The centre of Nuuk is relatively flat, and when I visited here 2 years ago I didn’t really venture too far beyond that. However, walking in from the suburbs quickly had me reassessing my view of Nuuk – it is quite a hilly place and there are staircases everywhere!

My route into town led me up and down several staircases, with this 240-stair monster providing an incredible view over the harbour.

View of Nuuk Harbour from the top of one of the many staircases in the city

Move cursor over image to see full panorama

Looking carefully at the end of the straight road heading through the above panorama, you can see the next staircase I was heading towards leading up the snowy bank to a passing bus. This is the last staircase on my walk into town (which is just behind the hill), and there is another amazing view back down over the harbour from the top.

View of ships in Nuuk harbour
View of ships in Nuuk Harbour from the top of the staircase

The offices of Guide to Greenland are very close to the center of town and really lovely inside.

Exterior and interior of the offices at Guide to Greenland - Nuuk
The road leading to the offices of Guide to Greenland (the light blue building to the left) and the Nuuk Center (the tall grey building on the right) of the panorama. The middle and bottom images show the great setup of the offices

My station is the one over in the corner with a vinyl copy of Nanook’s latest album right beside me on the windowsill 👍👍 No, I didn’t put it there. It was there when I arrived 😂

Image of where I'm working from at the Guide to Greenland offices
Eeeeek! A Mac! And I swore I’d never use one again… I do very much like what is keeping me company on the windowsill though!

I had a great day getting my bearings and chatting with everyone, and am really looking forward to my time collaborating with this awesome bunch of people!

Then, about 4pm, it was time for the walk home. Yes, the days are quite short at the minute, and that 240-stair staircase gives you quite a workout when you are heading up it!

Looking up at the 240 stairs on the way home - Nuuk - Greenland
Oh boy! The start of the 240 stairs leading up. It was much easier coming down!

It was quite dark by the time I’d reached the bottom of the snowy slope below my apartment, but I’d forgotten (didn’t think to bring) my headlamp. So time for the phone to guide the way!

Image of phone with flashlight on and my apartment in the background - Nuuk - Greenland
Walking in snow in the dark is challenging. You can’t quite make out the lay of the land … hence flashlight!

It’s always nice to arrive home, as Greenlandic houses are very well heated. You strip off in a “mud room” just inside the door before venturing further into the house.

I love where I’m staying – here’s a nice little tour of the inside.

Living room and kitchen of the apartment
Living, kitchen, walk through the hallway “mudroom” into the bedroom. I also have a small bathroom with washing machine

Yes, it is small – and the kitchen is challenging for someone who loves to cook (even though I have almost everything I need).

But it is perfect for my stay here this time and I love it!

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From Sydney Australia to Nuuk Greenland

Ask any Australian and they’ll soon tell you …

It’s a bloody long way from Australia to pretty much anywhere!

This was once again brought home to me as I awoke 4 hours after taking off from Sydney to find myself still over the continent of Australia. *sigh*

I was flying to Copenhagen on my birthday to start my 2019 adventures. This year they are primarily focused around one country. You might be able to guess which one if you’ve been keeping up with the blog posts and my obsessions, otherwise the home-made board game and birthday gift “Sah’s 40-something Travel Quiz – 2019 Edition” might give you a clue.

2019 version of the Travel Quiz made by my brother and his wife - featuring Greenland
These home-made board games are some of my favourite gifts ever! The last one (for when I left Australia 3 years ago) had a map of Latin America on it … where I would spend most of my time during that year

Toni, Bill – you guys are awesome! I love my board games! Though I think my questions were a little on the hard side this time 🤔 I really loved playing the night before I left, and I have to admit the pizza was bloody good😉

Playing my home made board game with my brother sister in law and niece  while eating home made pizza
Playing the latest edition of my awesome board game! One of the many brilliant things about this game is that the questions are specifically written for each person. Which means a 4 year old has as much chance of winning as a trivia buff!

Copenhagen is one of the two stepping stone options you have to get to Greenland. Previously, I’d always flown from Reykjavik in Iceland, but I’d never been to Denmark and it was a good opportunity to visit the Visit Greenland offices (I’d worked with them on their upcoming “Ultimate Guide to the Arctic Circle Trail” page last year), and catch up with a friend I’d not seen in 18 years!

Images from our visit to the Visit Greenland offices include the amazing building, a polar bear, dog sled and other traditional Greenlandic items
The Visit Greenland offices are in an awesome building that also hosts representatives from Iceland and Faroe Islands. There is a very cool Greenland store and museum there as well.

Well, actually, it turns out we had caught up once in that time, but neither of us had remembered it until I mentioned that I’d been to Geneva once for about 8 hours. It suddenly dawned on me that the only reason I would have done that was to catch up with him! We had both forgotten! Ah … failing memories 😧

I didn’t have a lot of time in Copenhagen, and Enzo and I spent the vast majority of it chatting. But we did manage to make it to the Lego shop (very cool), to watch Russ’ last IMAX Movie “The Story of Earth” at the Tycho Brahe Planetarium, and teach me that Tivoli is much more than just a venue that my favourite band, Nanook, play most years.

image of me at the lego shop and tivoli gardens in copenhagen
Me at the Lego Shop (L) and walking past Tivoli (R). Who knew it was an amusement park and not just a music venue? BTW the snow is fake

48 hours after arriving, I was back at CPH (Copenhagen airport) and boarding Norsaq – Air Greenland’s only jet – for the 5 hour journey to Kangerlussuaq – Greenland’s primary international airport.

First time on Norsaq
Flying towards adventure 
Nanook in my ears.

5 hours to Greenland
The land that captured my heart
And inspires me.

3 months I have there
Living rather than touring
I can hardly wait.

The above is a haiku I wrote during the flight over. I had a window seat and a wonderful view of blue skies and clouds 😀

Views out my window as I fly over Denmark, Norway and Iceland on the way to Greenland
Flying over Denmark, Norway and Iceland.

Which had turned to grey skies and snowy landscapes as we came in to land at Kangerlussuaq. This looked VERY different to when I was here last August to hike the Arctic Circle Trail!

Images of approaching Kangerlussuaq out of the window of the plane
The edge of the Greenland Icesheet (L) and turning into our approach to Kangerlussuaq (R). This latter runs up the (frozen) fjord and the airstrip is on the left-hand-side past where it narrows (you can just see it)

It was -16 degrees C when we landed and the walk from the plane to the terminal was my first taste of walking in icy/slippery conditions. Fortunately I didn’t face plant!

Passengers from Norsaq heading into the Kangerlussaq airport terminal - west Greenland
This is the biggest airport in Greenland. No, there are no aerobridges.

One of the many interesting things about Kangerlussuaq airport is that although it is the primary international airport for Greenland (due to having the best weather and the longest runway), nobody actually stays there. When Norsaq lands, there is a fleet of at least 4 Dash-8 planes waiting to transfer passengers to where they actually want to go in Greenland – in this case Ilulissat, Sisimiut, Narsarsuaq and Nuuk, my final destination for this trip.

Looking out the window of Kangerlussuaq airport. Note the several Dash-8 planes waiting (one had already taken off). Yes, the announcement is in Greenlandic, but there was an English version that followed.

Less than 2 hours later, Norsaq took off again in the direction of Copenhagen, I’d taken a picture of Kangerlussuaq’s famous sign, and I had boarded my own Dash 8 to head to Nuuk.

Kangerlussuaq Airports famous sign with distances to destinations - West Greenland
I’m pretty sure that most signs like this in the world don’t have the distance to the North Pole so close

Despite having mostly lost my voice, I spent the entire flight chatting with the person beside me. This was my second trip to Nuuk, and when it came into view 40 minutes later, I was reminded about how stunning the surrounding landscape is!

View of Nuuk as the plane flys over ready to circle back and land - Greenland
Nuuk from the air. It is surrounded by a fjord and stunning mountains

I am actually collaborating with Guide to Greenland on this trip, so Mads and Lasse met me at the airport and transported me to the small apartment that I would use while in Nuuk. It is plenty big enough for one person, has a great view, and is nice and warm. Perfect for me 😀

Panorama from the balcony of my small apartment in Nuuk - West Greenland

Move cursor over the image to see the full panorama

I’m soooooooo excited about my time here!

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 🙁

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 🙂

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 🙂

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:

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!
Hiking-Greenland-Nasaasaaq-Mountain-summit-fjord.jpg

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 🙁 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 😉

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!
Greenland-Hotel-Sisimiut-Souvenir-Workshop-ideas-board.jpg

Greenland – Sisimiut souvenir workshop

Working my way through the folder of activities at the Hotel Sisimiut, I came across a single A4 page offering the opportunity to “create your own memories” by making your own Greenlandic souvenir. 

Awesome idea! 

Image of the A4 flyer advertising the workshop - Hotel Sisimiut - West Greenland
I’m in!

I was super excited, because I love to make things for myself (e.g. jewelry in Nicaragua and El Salvador, a bookmark in Guatemala) but it can be quite challenging to find small workshops like this.    

The information sheet said to contact the wait-staff in the Nasaasaaq Restaurant and Brasserie, which is how I found myself following the restaurant manager through to the Conference Centre wing of the hotel a few days later.  There, he unlocked the cupboard of goodies

Image of the full cupboard of materials you can choose to work with in the Hotel Sisimiut create your own memories workshop - West Greenland
Cupboard of goodies

and explained that each of the materials was labeled with a price.  I simply had to note down how many of what materials I used on the form and then pay at the restaurant after I was finished. 

And with that, he left me to my imagination and creativity 😊

Images of some of the materials available to use in the Hotel Sisimiut Greenlandic Souvenir workshop - West Greenland
The labels are all in Danish but that doesn’t really matter. They also include the prices.

I’m not very good starting with a blank slate, so I studied the samples on the ideas board for inspiration.

Inspiration board for the Hotel Sisimiut create your own memories workshop - West Greenland
Inspiration

I knew I wanted to make a piece of jewelry.  I knew that I wanted to use reindeer antler and seal skin (the most Greenlandic of the items available).  What I didn’t know was how to tie knots or any other spacing/fastening techniques to allow me to create my masterpiece.  Hmmm… 

Images of the materials I chose to work with in the Sisimiut Hotel Greenlandic Souvenir workshop - West Greenland
The materials I decided to go with – reindeer antler, seal skin and beads

I put on Ataasiusutut Misigissuseq (the latest album from my favourite band, Nanook, who are also from Greenland) for further inspiration, and after deliberating and pondering and studying one of the pieces from the ideas board to see how knots had been used – I had my plan.  It also helped that I found a glue gun!

Image of the workspace with my materials on the table at the Hotel Sisimiut - West Greenland
The workspace is really beautiful! You can see the keyring I used to teach myself about knots over near the jars

It took another hour to actually create my Greenlandic souvenir, during which time several of the kitchen staff popped by to have a chat and check out what I was doing.  And in the end, I was ridiculously happy with the result 😊

Image of the necklace I created in the Hotel Sisimiut Greenlandic Souvenir workshop - West Greenland
My masterpiece

So much so, in fact, that I went around the hotel showing it off to all the staff I’d gotten to know so well over the previous week.  I also showed it to several guests I’d been chatting with who asked “where did you make that?”   It pays to read the folder of activities at the hotel thoroughly!

Recommendation

If you like to make things, this cool workshop offered by the Hotel Sisimiut is an awesome way to spend a few hours.  The materials available are an interesting mix that challenges your creativity, and the workspace is really beautiful.

Cost:  You pay for the materials you use so it all depends on what you create 😊  No individual item is very expensive and you can use as much or as little as you wish.  To give you an idea, my masterpiece cost a grand total of 13DKK or USD$2.

Time: As long as you want.  For me, they just unlocked the cupboard and left me with it. 

Greenland-Sisimiut-rock-mineral-fossils.jpg

Greenland – Sisimiut rock and mineral collection at KTI

I talk a lot about the beauty of Greenlandic rocks in my blog posts.  I also keep bemoaning the fact that I didn’t end up studying geology at university (it was either that or astronomy – I chose astronomy) and that I’m not wandering around Greenland with a geologist by my side.  So it should come as no surprise that I had to go check out the rock and mineral collection while in Sisimiut!

Housed in the foyer of the local technical college, KTI (Kalaallit Nunaanni Teknikkimik Ilinniarfik – Greenlandic is an amazing language), this is the largest collection of minerals in Greenland. 

Rock and mineral collection is location in the foyer of the technical college - Sisimiut - West Greenland
Yes, it really is located in the foyer – you just wander in! There were a bunch of students sitting at the other tables while I was visiting

It was established by Bjarne Ljungdahl (a former employee of the college) to display samples he’d collected from all over Greenland during his geological work from 1972-1981

One of the display cabinets featuring rocks and minerals in Sisimiut, West Greenland

and has expanded significantly since its inception.  The 21 display cases now include minerals from all over the world, and there are also 12 low pillars showcasing large rock samples. 

Image of the many display cases at the rock and mineral collection in Sisimiut, West Greenland
You can see the large rock samples on the blue pillars between the display cases

There is one display case specifically dedicated to fossils

Display case of fossils at the rock and mineral collection in Sisimiut, West Greenland

and another to meteorite fragments.  Please tell me Australia didn’t name a meteorite after a chocolate maker!!

Meteorite from Australia on display at the rock and mineral collection in Sisimiut, West Greenland
Cadbury chocolate is the most popular brand in Australia

There is also a special display case set into the wall that shows the fluorescence of several minerals.

Fluorescent minerals at the rock and mineral collection in Sisimiut, West Greenland
Minerals fluorescing under UV light

Given my lack of success in finding Tugtupit while clambouring all over Kvanefjeld in South Greenland last year, I was particularly fascinated by the large sample of this rare mineral on display here.  And equally amazed at the sheer number and diversity of minerals that can be found in Greenland.  No wonder the mining companies are trying to get in!

Greenlandic minerals, including Tugtupit, on display in Sisimiut, West Greenland
So this is what Tugtupit looks like!

The collection is very, very well done with everything labelled (in Danish) and carefully arranged in well-lit display cabinets.  If you are rock/mineral enthusiast, I have no doubt you could spend a couple of hours here.  And even if you only have a passing interest, you’ll still find a short visit worthwhile.

Recommendation

I might be biased, but I really enjoyed this collection.  To find it – enter the main door of KTI (yes, it will feel weird walking into a school but go with it) and veer around to your right.  You can’t miss it.  

Keep in mind that because it is part of a school, it is only open during school hours 🙂  And you’ll have students looking at you wondering why you are so interested in rocks!

Time: 5 mins to 5 hours depending on your interest

Cost:  Free

Discover more about Greenland

I have a large number of blog posts about Greenland, so feel free to read more about my experiences and 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!
Greenland-Hotel-Sisimiut-Arctic-Sauna-interior.jpg

Greenland – Sisimiut Arctic Sauna

Trawling the internet for things to do during my stay in Sisimiut this year, I came across the Arctic Sauna at the Hotel Sisimiut.   

Front of the Hotel Sisimiut at dusk - West Greenland
The Hotel Sisimiut is THE place to stay in Sisimiut. I had a fantastic time here with the awesome staff.

Although I’m fairly new to sauna experiences, this sounded like the perfect relaxation reward after having spent 8 days hiking the Arctic Circle Trail, and I was super-keen to give it a go.

Aqqalooraq (a very interesting young man who works on reception at the hotel) greeted me with a white fluffy towel, bathrobe, a pail of water and two pitchers of iced drinking water, and led me out the back of the hotel to where the sauna is located.

Hot tubs and sauna on the back deck of the Hotel Sisimiut in West Greenland
Can you spot the sauna?

Can you spot it in the image above?

It is actually fully self-contained within the shipping container – an idea I absolutely love!

Entryway to the Arctic Sauna at the Hotel Sisimiut in West Greenland
Entrance to the Arctic Sauna

The interior is completely lined with wood and absolutely beautiful.  There is an ante-room for relaxing, hydrating and taking a mini-break from the heat

Wood-lined ante-room of the Arctic Sauna at the Hotel Sisimiut - West Greenland

and the hot room itself, which fits 5 people.  I hadn’t booked a private session so theoretically anyone could have come and joined me, but on this occasion I had the entire sauna to myself.

Wood-lined hot room of the Arctic Sauna at the Hotel Sisimiut - West Greenland

Unlike many other saunas, there is no plunge pool to quickly cool off in.  And this being Summer, there was no snow to go roll around in outside.  So I just took my breaks out on the back deck of the hotel.  Trust me – it doesn’t take long for the chill of a late-August evening in Greenland to cool you down!

Places to relax and cool off on the back deck of the Hotel Sisimiut, West Greenland

Recommendation

As anticipated, the Arctic Sauna at the Hotel Sisimiut was a wonderful way to relax after an extended trek.  Next time I’m in Sisimiut, I’m also looking forward to a hot-tub experience as well (see top image) – now currently being installed.

Time:  50 mins

Cost: 150DKK (~USD$23) 

Discover more about Greenland

I have a large number of blog posts about Greenland, so feel free to read more about my experiences and 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!
Traditional-Greenlandic-Buffet-explaining-spread.jpg

Traditional Greenlandic Buffet – Hotel Sisimiut

Two of my greatest joys in life are hiking and trekking, and eating excellent or interesting food.

Unfortunately, I didn’t have much of an opportunity to try traditional Greenlandic food during my 5 week visit in 2017. The best I managed was a Musk Ox Sled Dog and some whale at the amazing CaféTuaq in the Katuaq Cultural Center in Nuuk.

6 Greenlandic Tapas put together by the Katuaq Cultural Centre in Nuuk, Greenland. Shellfish salad, marinated salmon, mussels, musk-ox hotdog, prawns, and fried whale meat
Greenlandic Tapas at CaféTuaq. From top left: Shellfish salad, marinated salmon, mussels, musk-ox hot-dog, prawns, and fried whale meat

So I was very excited to see that the Hotel Sisimiut holds a surprisingly cheap Traditional Greenlandic Buffet every Saturday night! Given that I’d just finished hiking the Arctic Circle Trail (160km from Kangerlussuaq to Sisimiut), I felt completely justified in indulging to the maximum extension of my stomach. Yes, I signed up immediately 😀

Flyer for the Traditional Greenlandic Buffet at the Hotel Sisimiut - West Greenland
This definitely caught my interest!

The wonderful head chef, Noel, allowed me to come watch the final stages of food prep in the kitchen and ask loads of questions about how the kitchen runs. It is a fascinating enterprise!

  • English is the main language spoken in the kitchen. Given that all the staff are learning or have learned English – they use their working time to also practice and perfect their skills in their third language (both Greenlandic and Danish are official languages in Greenland).
  • The kitchen is extremely busy in the morning as they prepare lunches for over 400 school children at 5 different schools.
  • They can never 100% predict what will be part of the Traditional Greenlandic Buffet, as they source their meat directly from the hunters. It all depends on what has been caught/killed in the past day or two.
Food prep in the kitchen of the Hotel Sisimiut in advance of the Traditional Greenlandic Buffet - West Greenland
Noel and his wonderful and enthusiastic staff making the final preparations for the buffet

It was a wonderful experience to learn about the behind-the-scenes at the Hotel Sisimiut kitchen and I couldn’t wait to sample the outcome!

Tyson and I were first in the dining room when the food was all laid out for the buffet. The wait-staff went through and explained what everything was, at which point Tyson decided it wasn’t for him and headed off to find something less seafood-y to eat.

Wait staff at the Nasaasaaq Restaurant and Brasserie explaining to Tyson all the different elements of the Typical Greelandic Buffet - Sisimiut, West Greenland
Tyson getting the rundown on what was what

Which was fair enough. The traditional diet in Greenland draws heavily from the ocean, so if your taste-buds agree with Tyson’s and you aren’t a fan of fish and seafood, you are limited to about a third of the offerings in the Greenlandic buffet.

I, on the other hand, decided to tackle this enormous smorgasbord in 2 waves. First up – seafood!

Seafood at the Traditional Greenlandic Buffet

Despite my best efforts to get “just a little bit of everything”, my plate still looked very full as I took it back to my table in the Nasaasaaq Restaurant and Brasserie.

My plate with the different seafoods on offer at the Greenlandic Buffet at the Hotel Sisimiut, West Greenland
A taste of each of the different seafoods at the buffet

Before me I had smoked salmon, smoked halibut, Greenlandic prawns, dried cod, dried sardines, baked cod, whale blubber and mattak – a Greenlandic delicacy of whale skin and fat.

I’m a big fan of panertut (dried fish), having been introduced to it last year on the Unplugged Wilderness Trek in East Greenland, and both the prawns and the cod baked in a curry-style sauce were delicious. But it was the whale blubber and mattak that I was most curious to try.

Read more about seafood in Greenland at A Taste of Greenland.

Mattak

Although most of us balk at even the thought of eating whale, it is an important staple in the Greenlandic diet. Partially this is because a single whale can feed a lot of people for quite a long time, an important consideration when meat is sourced through hunting. But also because it is a very rich source of Vitamin C – something that is critical in an environment where fresh food is scarce.

Mattak comes from a narwhal or white whale and is the skin and fat of the animal with a thin layer of cartilage separating them. It is most commonly served cut into small cubes and eaten raw – exactly how it was presented at the Traditional Greenlandic Buffet.

Small glass with diced mattak - Traditional Greenlandic Buffet - Hotel Sisimiut - West Greenland
Mattak. The skin is the dark part and the fat the white part. The cartilage forms the boundary between the two.

It didn’t have a strong flavour but the texture took a little getting used to. While the skin and fat were quite soft, the cartilage was very hard and rubbery, an unusual sensation for me and I felt I had to be a bit careful of how hard I chewed for fear of catching the cartilage at the wrong angle. Nevertheless, I ended up eating two whole glasses of mattak, and happily accepted more when I visited a local Greenlander in their home later in the week.

Whale Blubber

While the epidermis of the whale is a key source of Vitamin C, the blubber is equally important in the Inuit diet. Not only for its calorie content in the freezing Arctic climate, but also because of the large amount of Vitamin D and Omega-3 fatty acids it contains.

Whale blubber with soy sauce and aromat

“The way we usually eat this is with some soy sauce and aromat”, explained the young waitress in perfect English as she pointed out the bottle of Kikkoman’s and a bright yellow powder.

While I appreciated the advice, I decided to eat the first piece of raw blubber “as is” to get the pure experience. It didn’t have much flavour, and I found the texture to be very soft and watery, but creamy at the same time.

I didn’t think it was so bad, so popped a second piece of raw blubber in my mouth…

… and immediately went looking for a serviette to spit it back out.

The problem was nothing to do with the food. It was the fact that between the first piece and the second piece, I had started to really think about what I was eating, and my mind had had an adverse reaction to the idea of eating blubber. After all, I’m one of those people who usually buys the leanest cuts of meat or trims all the fat off once it is cooked!

That left the third piece of blubber on my plate, and I decided it was time to try the soy sauce and aromat suggestion. The locals know what they are doing. With the addition of these two elements, I had no problem getting my last piece of blubber down, though I have to admit it is not something I would choose to eat unless I needed the vitamins!

Read more about whale as a food in Greenland at A Taste of Greenland.

Suaasat – Seal Soup

It couldn’t be a Traditional Greenlandic Buffet without serving the national dish of Greenland – Suaasat. This is a thick soup typically made with seal meat, potatoes, onion, rice, salt and pepper, and perhaps a bay leaf.

Greenland's traditional dish - suasaat made with seal meat. Traditional Greenlandic Buffet - Hotel Sisimiut - West Greenland
Greenland’s national dish – suaasat

As one would expect from a dish designed to provide sustenance in frigid Arctic temperatures, it is a rich and hearty soup. It has a very slightly fishy taste, which I assume comes from the dark seal meat, but it was very tasty!

Read more about seal as a food in Greenland at A Taste of Greenland.

Meat at the Traditional Greenlandic Buffet

Although the Greenlandic diet relies heavily on what can be caught in the ocean, the world’s largest island also has a handful of decent sized land animals – all of which were on the second plate I helped myself to at the buffet.

My plate with the different meats from land animals at theTraditional Greenlandic Buffet at the Hotel Sisimiut - West Greenland
The different land meats from Greenland: reindeer (left), musk-ox (top), and lamb (right) with potato gratin and vegetables

Lamb (Sava)

One of these was very familiar! Lamb is the meat my family ate all the time while I was growing up, and is still a favourite when I go home. Greenlandic lamb is just as delicious as Australian lamb (some experts would claim it is the best in the world!) and frozen lamb chop meals are my staple if I have access to an oven while travelling in Greenland.

Package containing a frozen lamb meal in Greenland
My go-to meal when trying to eat “cheaply” in Greenland – frozen lamb chops and veggies. This is actually enough for 3 meals for me!

The lamb are primarily raised in the south of Greenland and I saw plenty of them as I hiked the area between Narsaq and Narsarsuaq last year. And although the lamb of my plate was wonderfully cooked, I was far more interested to taste the other two meats.

Read more about lamb as a food in Greenland at A Taste of Greenland.

Musk-Ox (Umimmak )

Although I’d tried a musk-ox hot-dog last year, I was keen to try a less manipulated version of the meat.

Musk Ox Hotdog with chips and salad at the Katuaq Cultural Centre in Nuuk, Greenland
Musk-ox hot-dog at CaféTuaq in Nuuk

It turned out that musk-ox was actually my favourite of the 3 meats! The taste was enhanced by careful selection of herbs and was nowhere near as strong as what I’d experienced with the hot-dog. It was perfectly cooked, juicy, and yes – I may have gone back for seconds … and thirds!

Read more about musk-ox as a food in Greenland at A Taste of Greenland.

Reindeer (Tuttu)

The third meat on the plate was reindeer, the favourite of Noel, the head chef. He was telling me while I was in the kitchen that reindeer meat is very lean, so the fat must be left on while cooking to ensure it is as tender as possible.

Reindeer - Arctic Circle Trail - West Greenland
I hope it wasn’t this reindeer we saw along the Arctic Circle Trail that ended up on my plate!

Certainly, it was not as tender as the other two meats, and although it was very mild at first taste, a stronger gamy flavour developed as an after-taste.

Read more about reindeer as a food in Greenland at A Taste of Greenland.

Recommendation

If you are interested in trying new foods and/or are looking for an unlimited amount of food for a great price in Sisimiut, you must try to time your visit to coincide with the Hotel Sisimiut’s Traditional Greenlandic Buffet.

All the food was immaculately prepared and presented, and they had to almost roll me out of the restaurant I had eaten so much! I suggest not eating lunch 🙂

Cost: 275DKK (~USD$42) for all you can eat

Time: as long as you want to keep eating. I took about 2 hours before I couldn’t fit anything else in.

Something cool: check out the Greenlandic Food Infographic from Visit 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 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!
Hiking-Greenland-Arctic-Circle-Trail-toilet-view-day8.jpg

Trekking Greenland – Arctic Circle Trail – Summary

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

How difficult is the Arctic Circle Trail?

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

When should I hike the Arctic Circle Trail?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Is it possible to do this trek guided/supported?

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

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

Where can I go for more detailed information?

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

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

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

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

Should I budget time at either end to explore?

YES! Absolutely! 100%!

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

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

I had an absolutely brilliant time in Greenland’s second largest town (population 5,500), and even had the classic Sisimiut experience of being stranded for an extra day due to bad weather grounding the flights 😀 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.