Kangerlussuaq is all about the Greenland Ice Sheet, UNESCO World Heritage, fjord sailing, dog sledding, hiking, and then more Greenland Ice Sheet! In this area, you find plenty of gems that all travelers to Greenland should enjoy!
WHAT TO DO: GREENLAND ICE SHEET, UNESCO WORLD HERITAGE, DOG SLEDDING, AND HIKING
At the head of a 180-kilometer-long fjord, you find Kangerlussuaq, well protected in lovely surroundings. It is one of the most popular places in Greenland to visit because you can drive to the Greenland Ice Sheet. Kangerlussuaq is a busy settlement and a traffic hub, but Kangerlussuaq is much more than just an airport. It’s also a cultural gem, and the hinterland is on UNESCO’s World Heritage list.
The Greenland Ice Sheet
The Greenland Ice Sheet lies 25 kilometers from Kangerlussuaq and while here, you should not miss a visit. It’s too far a walk for most people so, usually, people choose to go to the ice in one of the large 4X4 vehicles designed for this trip.
On the way to the ice, you will find a very varied nature, sometimes with green grass on one side of the car and small, swirling sand tornadoes in the Arctic desert on the other side of the car. Now don’t be intimidated by the word tornado, for the whirlwinds are rarely more than a few feet high and incredibly beautiful in photos.
There are two very popular trips to the Greenland Ice Sheet. On one trip, you can have a barbecue near the icy wall at the Russell Glacier. You can also choose to ride further and get to walk on the ice itself. It is so incredible to stand there, knowing that in three directions, there are miles upon miles of ice. Even below you, there is just ice. Here at the edge of the ice sheet, the ice is not all that thick, but in the middle of the Greenland Ice Sheet, the ice is more than three (two miles) kilometers deep.
For the most adventurous, we also offer accommodation in tents on the ice sheet. It is an incredible trip because you get to spend about 24 hours on the ice sheet.
Few people know this, but not all places in Greenland have northern lights. If you go all the way up north, for example, there are no northern lights. Elsewhere, it is visible at night, and fortunately, Kangerlussuaq is one of those places. The Northern Lights are very bright in Kangerlussuaq in spring, winter, and autumn, so keep an eye on the sky at night at those times of the year.
In Kangerlussuaq, you do not have to go terribly far to find that there is no artificial lighting from inhabited areas. It really makes a difference when it comes to northern lights and starry skies. People from all over the world are coming here to experience the Northern Lights. You should try that, too. Read more here. / coming soon
In Kangerlussuaq, there is rich wildlife. The best-known animal species of the are the musk oxen, reindeer, and polar foxes. The musk oxen in the area were moved here from Northeast Greenland in the 60s. 27 musk oxen were sailed to Iceland and then West Greenland, and it has been a staggering success.
The milder climate and the larger grazing areas in West Greenland have meant that instead of having one calf every two years, typically, the musk oxen now have two a year. The stock is somewhere between 10,000 and 25,000 animals, which is a fantastic development. You do not always have the luck to see the musk oxen, as the area is enormous. If you are lucky enough to see them, remember to keep your distance. They are very heavy and can run faster than you’d think.
Kangerlussuaq is located north of the Arctic Circle, which means that sled dogs are allowed. Where you find sled dogs, you also find dog sleds, so if you are here in the winter, you should try to a dog sled ride. There is something quite special about a dog sled ride, and the experienced driver makes sure that you get out and home safely. You can go on short trips of one hour or try longer trips. For example, it is quite popular to go dog sledding from Kangerlussuaq to Sisimiut, a trip of approximately 160 kilometers.
There are many good excursions available in Kangerlussuaq, e.g., a hike to the mountain Tacan, located south of the settlement. Here you get a breathtaking view of the area all the way to the Greenland Ice Sheet. From here, you can continue to The Great Salt Lake and the Garnet Rock.
On Lake Ferguson, you find the restaurant Roklubben where, on certain days, the most delicious Greenlandic buffet is served, giving you the chance to taste many of the country’s specialties. You can also take a (long) walk along the road to the harbor and get a view over the fjord.
The remnants of the American base
Like Kulusuk in East Greenland and Narsarsuaq in South Greenland, Kangerlussuaq is an airport built by Americans during either World War II or the Cold War. You see that in the militaristic architecture. However, paint, new roofs, and decorative features have softened the militaristic expression.
Many of the former military buildings lie perpendicular to the roads. Their names still indicate the former presence of Americans, even though the American words “Street” or “Road” are replaced by the Greenlandic “Aqqutaa.” This also means that in this unique village you will find a swimming pool, a golf course, and a cinema. You should also visit the museum and experience the local history; the history of flying in Greenland is also well described.