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Hiking in Greenland

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There are great places for hiking in Greenland. Here we will try to sum up some of the hiking highlights you can find in Ilulissat, Nuuk and southern Greenland. Before we go to the hiking hotspots we want to give you some great tips for hiking in this great wilderness.

Never walk alone

Anyone who enjoys the mountains knows that we sometimes need some time alone in nature. Of course, that should be possible. But if you want to hike in Greenland, you should never walk alone. Let at least one person know(e.g. at your hotel or one of your group), before you leave as a group. Don’t change your plans on the way. That would make it hard to find you.

Hiking in the mountains is not any more dangerous than many other leisure activities. But in case of an accident it can get pretty serious if you are all by yourself. In only a few hours you can get so much off course, that it can take others days to find you if you for one reason or the other can’t move. As a group and with reasonable behavior, you will hardly ever get in trouble finding help in case of issues.

Go hiking in Greenland

If you get lost

If you – despite being careful – lost your group, then stay where you are. The others will soon start to miss you. Are you in a hole or a dent, then get onto a hill or knoll where it is easier to see you. Wear clothes in bright colors if you brought some.

 

Look after nature – it’s vulnerable

Walks in Greenland lead through undisturbed and lonesome landscapes. You can even drink from the water in the streams. On many routes you won’t discover other people as far as your eye can see. Let’s keep it that way. All visitors to and users of Greenland’s nature should do their part for looking after the vulnerable arctic environment: Take you litter home. Visit and experience ruins and graveyards, but leave them as you found them. Don’t walk on the ruins. Give potential archaeological findings to the museums.

The 9 mountain rules

  • Train thoroughly before walking a long trip
  • Let others know where you go, when you leave and what time you expect to be back
  • Respect the weather and weather forecast
  • Listen to experienced mountain hikers
  • Be prepared for bad weather and accidents – during shorter trips, too
  • Remember to take your map and compass – and get acquainted to using them
  • Never walk alone
  • Return in due course – it is no disgrace
  • Save your energy and find shelter while there is time

 

Hiking to and around Sermermiut near Ilulissat

Starting in Ilulissat, you can embark on various exciting hikes. The most famous one is relatively short, but incredibly beautiful. It leads you to the ancient Inuit settlement Sermermiut that is located at the north shore of Ilulissat Ice Fjord.

4.000 years ago, the first people settled in this area. Archeological excavations show that many different cultures have been present in this territory. Its deep cultural roots make this gem of nature a very exciting place to visit.

Read more about the hike to Sermermiut.

 

An extended cross-mountain hike to Sermermiut

Walk along the fjord on marked routes in the countryside. Continue from Nakkaavik rock, “the place where you fall”, along the fjord in the direction of the glacier. It is most common to start this trip by the quarry at the edge of the town and to walk up through the Qoorosuaq chasm. The top of the mountain offers a fantastic view over the town as well as Disco Bay including Disco Island and Alluttoq Island on the horizon.

On these heights, you have arrived at the world-known UNESCO site. Your destination is Seqinniarfik that provides you with the most beautiful view towards the banks by the opening of the Ice Fjord. The enormous icy giants run aground right here. It is Seqinniarfik where the town’s population pilgrimage to on January 13th. On that day, the sun shows on the sky for the first time after it has been gone for the winter. Walk from here to the shore of the fjord. Remember to always keep a distance to the Ice Fjord. Very large waves can suddenly appear. Now you walk along the shore of the fjord towards its mouth until you reach Nakkaavik rock and Sermermiut. Then follow the wood-made walkway that meanders through Sermermiut valley.

There are many walks south of the Ice Fjord. A book has been written about them. It is available in Danish by the title ”Vandringer syd for Ilulissat Isfjord”. Join several of them, starting at Ilimanaq Lodge. They are beautiful cabins close to the settlement of Ilimanaq, just 9 miles south of Ilulissat.

 

Walking to Oqaatsut

The beautiful settlement Oqaatsut is located north of Ilulissat. It was founded by Dutch whale hunters. They gave the settlement the name Rodebay because the bay changed its color to red when they butchered whales here. The Greenlandic name is less colorful. It means cormorant, a bird species you can watch in this area.

You can take the boat to Oqaatsut, but you can just as well walk the 13 miles. On this route, you pass Ilulissat airport and turn north. The path is well-marked. Most people walk it in half a day. On arrival, the local restaurant H8 awaits you with a good meal before you return. A lot of people prefer to walk to Oqaatsut and then take the boat back to Ilulissat. You can make this arrangement with World of Greenland, our subsidiary in Ilulissat.

 

Hikes close to Nuuk

The area around Nuuk offers an incredible wealth of hiking routes. Nuuk is located on a large headland close to the gateway to Nuuk Fjord. The actual town is the starting point for some amazing trips. Moreover, the enormous fjord system is the amazing scenery for many beautiful hiking routes.

Nuuk has many steep mountainsides. Therefore it is even more important to be sure about where you are going. Your best option of course is to walk with a guide or someone else who knows the area really well. However, there is one route almost everybody can walk. That’s the hike around the mountain “Lille Malene” (Little Malene) – or Quassussuaq as it’s called in Greenlandic.

Around Quassussuaq – Lille Malene

You can start your trip around Quassussuaq in two different places that can easily be reached by bus from the center. Take a ride to Nuuk airport or the bus to Nuuk’s newest district, Qinngorput. Which way to go is purely a matter of taste; we have chosen to get on the bus to Qinngorput. Get off the bus at the first larger crossing. While the bus continues downwards and on, you turn to the left and walk up to the mountains and the valley that is located between Store and Lille Malene. At first, you arrive at Circussøen or Circle Lake, which got its name from the shape of one of the mountainsides at its edges. At the end of the lake you get to a small waterfall. Walk up on the mountain just next to it. Now walk along Lille Malene’s foot. The mountain is on your left hand side. Here you pass a few small lakes. After a short walk through the valley between the mountains you begin to view Godthåbsfjorden (the main arm of Nuuk’s fjord system) ahead of you.

When approaching the fjord, you continue around the mountain. Walk right above an area which carries the beautiful name “Valley of paradise”. This amazing view soon gets replaced by the “Institution for the Judged” – a name not quite as elegant as the Valley of paradise. Don’t be nervous about the route: Your walking path is clearly marked. At the end, you reach the airport road, Lufthavnsvejen. You have two options here: Walk to the airport and go home by cab or bus – or continue straight ahead to Nuuk city.

 

On top of Ukkusissat – Store Malene

Ukkusissat is a beautiful and steep mountain. It rises 2.600 feet above Nuuk’s district Qinngorput. It’s not an easy hike and we recommend all walkers to join an experienced guide. Hardly a year passes without one or more investigations for hikers that got lost on their way.

On your trip up Ukkusissat – Store Malene – you start on the same route as on the walk around Lille Malene. When you arrive at Circle Lake, now turn to the right instead of continuing along the lake. The local tourist organization “Colourful Nuuk” marked the route with colored and numbered columns that can easily be seen – even when there’s snow. Turn to the left around the first back of the mountain and continue up on the relatively steep mountainside. Always follow the marked path! This route definitely is strenuous. But the reward for reaching the top of Ukkusissat is great: A stunning view.

Kommuneqarfik Sermersooq has created a great walking map with routes around Nuuk. You can find it on the internet.

Walking in Southern Greenland

Yes, we have mentioned it many times on this page, but we are true to our word: Southern Greenland IS the perfect place for hiking! There are endless possibilities. So tie up your shoe laces and get walking!

Many people prefer to walk in the south of Greenland because there are relatively easy hikes side by side with the option to climb on vertical mountainsides if that’s what attracts you. The latter is not necessarily walking, of course, but we just need to mention that the three magic mountains Nalumasortoq, Ulamertorsuaq and Ketil (Uiluit Qaqqaa) are among the most wanted peaks in the world for expert mountain climbers. These upright rocks are located by Tasermiut Fjord close to Nanortalik.

Now let’s get back to those easier hikes. The Greenlandic name for Southern Greenland is Kujalleq. At the same time, this is the name of one of the three UNESCO World Heritage sites in Greenland. In terms of UNESCO, Kujalleq covers five areas in the south of Greenland, including the cultural sights close to the settlements of Igaliku and Qassiarsuk.

 

Narsarsuaq, Qassiarsuk, Igaliku and Skovfjorden (Forest Fjord)

Most visitors to Southern Greenland arrive in Narsarsuaq. This is the first option for good hikes even though you might be in a rush to move on. One solid recommendation is a trip up the mountain “Signalhøjen” (Signal Height). This peak offers a great view over Narsarsuaq and the end of the Skovfjord (Forest Fjord), which Narsarsuaq is located in. You can even see all the way to the other side of the fjord to Qassiarsuk, where the Northmen Erik the Red and Tjodhildur settled with friends and family upon their arrival in the medieval ages. If you’ve got some time on your hands and want to walk further, then continue your path to Blomsterdalen (Flower Valley). From here, you can climb a relatively steep path up the mountain and reach the Ice Sheet.

More and more visitors walk between sheep farms that are spread across the south of Greenland. Several of them do now offer Bed & Breakfast. You can even organize a trip with our partners so that your luggage gets transported from place to place and you only have to carry a small backpack with you.

For example, you can walk from Narsarsuq to the end of the Skovfjord (Forest Fjord). At its end you will find a fantastic coniferous forest. Cross the stream and walk towards Qassiarsuk, whose name 1.000 years ago was Brattahild. Here you will find reconstructions of some of the buildings the Northmen created, including the very first church on the American continents.

Take the boat from Qassiarsuk (or Narsarsuaq) to Igaliku, which is located at the same place as the ancient Northman settlement Gardar. You get dropped off the boat at Itilleq. It is a 4 miles walk to Igaliku from here. Igaliku offers a hotel as well as cabins that can be a great starting point for even more beautiful trips in the mountains. The settlement is located right below the 5.700 feet tall Erik’s Mountain.

Another option is to walk from Qassiarsuk to the sheep farm Tasiusaq by Bredefjord (“Wide fjord”). Its beautiful green fields mirror in the blue water. And if you walk just a little further, you see some of south Greenland’s most impressive glaciers. Alternatively, continue along the fjord with sheep farms lined up. If you prefer longer trips, you can walk all the way to Narsaq, a town with one of the most beautiful locations in all Greenland.

 

Narsaq

If you stay in Narsaq for a few days, you should definitely walk out of town to experience the beautiful nature. An obvious route would be to Narsap Ilua. Visit the ruins of the Northmen and continue along the water to the Big Stone, which literally is a giant one. It rolled down the mountainside and ended up at the waterside, where it broke into three pieces. That is why you now can climb through the stone and get on top of it.

You might want to walk away from the water and through the valley. On this trip you reach the famous mountains Kvanefjeldet and Ilimaasaq. Meet some cows and sheep on your way. They belong to the sheep farm in the valley. If you feel like it, you can walk up to the top of the mountains and enjoy the incredibly beautiful view. This trip is somewhat more challenging than walking to the bay.

 

Qaqortoq, Hvalsey and Igaliku

Qaqortoq is the main town in Southern Greenland. It is beautifully placed in a pot-shaped bay. The houses seem to climb up on the mountainsides and wind along the stream that runs through the town. The stream comes from “Storesøen”, The Big Lake, which totally lives up to its name. If you are around in Qaqortoq for a few days, then why not walk around the lake. Be prepared for a longer hike of 7 ½ miles. Of course, you choose your own pace but most people walk this trip during a whole day and make sure to get some rest in between in this beautiful area.

If you prefer a longer hike, then walk from Qaqortoq to the ruin of the church at Hvalsey. This is the best-preserved ruin after the Northmen in Greenland. Leave the town and follow the bay and the fjord into the country. Just like Narsaq, Qarqotoq is situated on a peninsula. While you can walk from Narsarsuaq via Qassiarsuk to Narsaq, it is also possible to walk from Qaqortoq to the settlement Igaliku, passing the remains of Hvalsey’s church. This trip is not challenging as you don’t have to climb high mountains on this route. It takes 3 to 4 days, depending on your pace. Igaliku is a good starting point for even more hiking routes into nature. On this trip you can explore cultural sights within the UNESCO World Heritage site Kujalleq.

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That is why you’re in safe hands when letting Lisbeth or one of our other specialists custom-make your individual trip to Greenland. You are always welcome to contact us to learn more about the amazing island that is Greenland.

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