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Arctic Circle Trail solo hike – all you need to know

By January 28, 2019 July 21st, 2020 No Comments

The sheer definition of a remote trail.

I’ll be hiking the Arctic Circle Trail from August 15th till August 28th 2020. As internet connection is limited and expensive in Greenland, I’ll most probably won’t be updating on my experience until returning back to Belgium end of August. Follow me on Instagram or subscribe to my newsletter to not miss anything.

Introduction to the Arctic Circle Trail

Greenland’s Arctic Circle Trail is often listed as one of the best long-distance hikes in the world. The trail stretches up to 200 kilometers (124 miles) from the edge of the ice cap to the fishing town of Sisimiut on the West coast. While 85% of Greenland is covered in ice, there’s a narrow strip along the coastline that’s actually green! And red. And purple. And yellow.

As I’m getting closer to my Arctic Circle Trail solo hike in August 2020, I started to collect different posts and information in preparation. I will be attempting a thru-hike of the Arctic Circle Trail, starting from Sisimiut and finishing in Kangerlussuaq. After that, I will spend some time exploring Ilulissat and Kangerlussuaq. I had to cancel my first attempt in June 2020 because of a viral infection (and went on to hike the Kumano Kodo in Japan) and had to change my 2020 on a weekly basis because of Corona, so I’ll highlight both the preparations for my first and second attempt. So here’s all there is to know about my Arctic Circle Trail solo hike.

Polle cut out
Russell Glacier should be something like this
Eqi glacier
Arctic Circle Trail in Greenland
Lake House on the Arctic Circle Trail. Photo by Phoebe Smith
Arctic Circle Trail Ikkattooq weather
Arctic Circle Trail cairns. Photo by Expert Vagabond
Arctic Circle Trail Ikkattooq weather
Arctic Circle Trail. Photo by The Unusual Traveler.
Ilulissat Icefjord - Photo by globingaround.com
Russell Glacier should be something like this
Hopefully waking up like this at the terrace at IIimanaq lodge

Why you'll love the Arctic Circle Trail

I guess pretty much like Antarctica, Greenland has had a timeless attraction to many adventurers over the years. It’s amazing nature, animals and it’s remoteness. It might very well be that you won’t see any other human for days and that the only living creatures you’ll meet are arctic foxes, birds and arctic hares. Many who have hiked the trail say that the trail grows on you and that by the end of the trail, you’ve bonded with nature in unprecedented ways and feel connected with the trail forever. I can imagine that – I am very much looking forward to be on my own for 8 straight days in the wilderness.

Preparation and planning for an Arctic Circle Trail solo hike

As the Arctic Circle Trail is mostly a truly solo hike with no opportunities to re-supply during your trek, it requires quite some planning when it comes to food, weather (!), clothing, your shelter … euh, and what to do when you encounter a polar bear. Also, the decision on which direction to hike the trail (more in the next paragraph) is an important one.

Activities before and after the Arctic Circle Trail in Greenland

I made the deliberate decision to start from Sisimiut. I wanted to avoid -for whatever reason- to be delayed and to miss my flight from Sisimiut to Kangerlussuaq. That is why I decided to start from Sisimiut and walk to Kangerlussuaq.

With a few spare days, I considered several options (there is just soooo much to do in Greenland) but eventually settled on Ilullissat – to visit the Eqi glacier, do some kayaking, and to stay the night at stunning Ilimanaq lodge.

Sources I've used while preparing for the Arctic Circle Trail

I think I’ve hardly encountered such a vibrant and welcoming trail community as the Arctic Circle Trail community. Much is gathered around the active ACT Facebook community, where both local tourism authorities and trail legends like Huw Thomas and Iris Steigemann are happy to share their experience.  

My Arctic Circle Trail solo hike

I’ll add after my hike 🙂

If you have any tips? Let me know!

Learnings from my Arctic Circle Trail solo hike

I’ll add after my hike 🙂

If you have any tips? Let me know!

More on the Arctic Circle Trail

All my posts on my Greenland visit and Arctic Circle Trail solo hike:

And more general preparation for the trail …

All posts on the Arctic Circle Trail

Feel free to browse through all the posts or use the button to see the category view.

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