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Trekking in Greenland - Arctic Circle Trail

AuthorPaddy Dillon
PublisherCicerone Press
ISBNISBN-13: 978 1 85284 624 4
Also available in eBook and Kindle formats
Price£14.95
A fleet of free canoes is provided on the large lake of Amitsorsuaq.

A fleet of free canoes is provided on the large lake of Amitsorsuaq.

Descending towards Ole’s Lakseelv between two low ranges of mountains.

Descending towards Ole’s Lakseelv between two low ranges of mountains.

A nameless river in a nameless valley flanked by nameless mountains.

A nameless river in a nameless valley flanked by nameless mountains.

It was on a hot day on the Canary island of El Hierro that I first heard about Greenland’s Arctic Circle Trail from a German tour guide. I spent the rest of the day thinking cool thoughts and knew that I would walk the trail during its next brief summer window. I was pleasantly surprised, while looking for maps, to discover that the best available for the trail had been drawn by Harvey Maps.

The Arctic Circle Trail is indeed north of the Arctic Circle, running between the main international airport, Kangerlussuaq, to one of the largest towns in the country, Sisimiut. In between the two is empty and exceptionally beautiful rolling tundra. Nearby mountains are impressive, but don’t need to be climbed, as this is essentially a low-level route, and many of the valleys are filled with amazing lakes. A fleet of canoes is provided on the longest lake, for those who prefer to paddle rather than walk. The wildlife on the trail, dominated by reindeer, is often very approachable.

For such a remote trail, the Arctic Circle Trail draws people from all parts of Europe and North America, and all of them are completely self-sufficient backpackers. Almost everyone carries a tent and sleeping bag, along with all the food they need, but there are also basic huts along the trail, as well as edible mushrooms and berries. Early summer can be a problem as streams must be forded while they are swollen with melt-water. Soon afterwards, millions of mosquitoes plague the route. The best time to explore is between mid-August and mid-September.

As soon as I landed at Kangerlussuaq I dashed off to climb the Sugar Loaf. Next day I covered the whole distance to the Ice Cap. I wanted to extend the Arctic Circle Trail so that I walked all the way from the edge of the Ice Cap to the sea beyond Sisimiut. Kangerlussuaq features some of the most stable and clear weather in Greenland, while it tends to be more mixed towards the coast at Sisimiut, and that was my experience walking the route. While exploring around Sisimiut I took the opportunity to climb the rocky peak of Kællingehætten.

Most people would fly from Sisimiut back to Kangerlussuaq, or join a cruise heading northwards to the ice fjord of Ilulissat. I enjoyed walking the Arctic Circle Trail so much that I simply had to walk all the way back and enjoy it all a second time!

Walk Contents

  Ascent of Sugar Loaf
  Ice Cap to Kangerlussuaq
Day 1 Kangerlussuaq to Hundesø
Day 2 Hundesø to Katiffik
Day 3 Katiffik to Canoe Centre
Day 4 Canoe Centre to Ikkattook
Day 5 Ikkattooq to Eqalugaarniarfik
Day 6 Eqalugaarniarfik to Innajuattok
Day 7 Innajuattok to Nerumaq
Day 8 Nerumaq to Kangerluarsuk Tulleq
Day 9 Kangerluarsuk Tulleq to Sisimiut
  Ascent of Kællingehætten