In many places in Greenland, you can experience the Greenland Ice Sheet, but nowhere is it as easily accessible as in Kangerlussuaq, where you can drive to the edge of the ice and then walk on the Ice Sheet.
Most of Greenland is covered by permanent ice and, for a large part of the year, the island is almost 100 % covered by snow and ice. It is not exactly rocket science to claim that the ice has a significant influence on life on the world’s largest island.
The Greenland Ice Sheet
The Greenland Ice Sheet is the largest ice cap in the northern hemisphere. It is approx. 1,726,400 square kilometers. There are also a couple of “smaller” ice caps, which are approx. 76,000 square kilometers, so the ice-free area in Greenland is only approximately 338,000 square kilometers. This makes the Ice Sheet one big ice cube. Should the Greenland Ice Sheet melt in its entirety, the water level in the world’s oceans would rise seven meters. “That’s a whole lotta ice,” as the Americans would say.
At its thickest, the Greenland Ice Sheet is more than three kilometers thick, and it is so heavy that about one-third of it lies beneath the water’s surface, pressed down by its weight. Should all of the ice melt, Greenland would be a ridge-shaped country.
The huge pressure of the ice means that, all around Greenland, there is a wealth of glaciers, where the ice is pressed out into the sea. This is where the famous icebergs are born as they break from the Ice Sheet.
Trips to the Ice Sheet are available from many towns
You can only see directly to the Greenland Ice Sheet from two towns in Greenland. These are Narsaq in the south, and in Qaanaaq in the north. Elsewhere, the Ice Sheet is not far away but not directly visible. This is towns such as Ilulissat, Tasiilaq, Narsarsuaq, and Uummannaq. And then there are places where you can see other glaciers close by, such as in Kulusuk. In these towns, you can go on a boat excursion to the Greenland Ice Sheet. You can read more about these tours in our sections about Ilulissat, Qaqortoq, Narsarsuaq, Ilimanaq, Kulusuk, and Tasiilaq.
Kangerlussuaq – two exciting excursions
Point 660 at the Ice Sheet
When you get to the ice at Kangerlussuaq, you can go for a walk on top of the ice. It is such an incredible feeling to stand there and know that, in all directions, except where you came from, you will only experience ice for hundreds of kilometers. Yes, even below you, there is ice. Here you can walk around and imagine how tough life must have been for the Inuit. How they had to survive without Canada Goose coats and central heating, for the thousands of years they have lived here in the Arctic.
From May to September, you can visit the Ice Sheet and, afterward, have a barbecue in a divinely beautiful area.
Are you healthy, in good shape, and a nature lover? Then go for a long hike or get on a mountain bike. Pack your backpack and bike bag with tents and meals and head for the Ice Sheet. However, not everyone is up to this, and for you, there is the possibility of taking the trip there in 4×4 custom-built bus.
In off-road terrain, you drive the exciting route to the spectacular Russell Glacier. With its up to 40 meters tall vertical ice walls, it is an impressive sight. Just standing by the edge and watching the colossal ice mass gleaming in white, blue, and green feels adventurous. This vertical, jagged ice wall with meltwater cracks is a pure balm to the soul. Perhaps you will even experience when pieces of ice fall off with a loud bang. It’s a sight you will never forget.