Greenland and Arctic Circle Trail day planning 2019 – attempt 1

The prettiest iceberg ever
The prettiest iceberg ever

In June 2019 I had planned a Arctic Circle Trail thru-hike. Unfortunately, I had to abandon my plans because of a viral infection. I went to hike the Nakahechi and Kohechi pilgrimage routes on the Kumano Kodo in Japan instead and am planning a new attempt to hike the ACT in 2020.

Some key choices I made for my Greenland and Arctic Circle Trail visit

While planning I made some choices:

  • Rather than flying to Kangerlussuaq, start hiking there and then catching a flight back from Sisimiut, I decided to travel to Sisimiut first and then start hiking to Kangerlussuaq as the end point. It will reduce my number of travel days and the chance there are problems with getting back in time (as I won’t be dependent on the weather in Sisimiut being perfect at the end of the trail).
  • I had been in doubt whether to spend some time in Nuuk or Ilullisat to see the fjords and glaciers there. I could have taken a multi-city flight from Copenhagen to Sisimiut via Kangerlussuaq and Nuuk (with a 24h stopover in Nuuk), but that was more than 350 euros more expensive than my current flights. So, I settled on Ilullisat as the best option to spend some extra time. Here, as well, I have allowed for 24 buffer time between leaving Ilullisat and leaving from Kangerlussuaq. In case of bad weather, I have some wiggle room to catch my flight back to Copenhagen.
  • I decided to fly from Copenhagen (the most feasible option, coming from Europe) and spend some time there before/after the Greenland trip to mentally prepare for the hike.
  • Finally, also because of the cost of hotels and accommodation in Greenland, I decided to stay in my tent, even in Kangerlussuaq and Ilullisat.

Rough Day Planning

So, here’s the rough day planning:

Day 1 (June 17th) – stay in Copenhagen

Nyhavn in Copenhagen, Denmark at night; Shutterstock
Nyhavn in Copenhagen, Denmark at night; Shutterstock
  • 10h35-13h55 Travel from Brussels to Copenhagen (stopover in Amsterdam). Apart from being a KLM fan (note: KLM has been a client for years), my Flying Blue Platinum status allows me for an economy comfort upgrade and plenty of check-in bags.
  • Visit Copenhagen town
  • Visit team of Visit Greenland in Copenhagen
  • Last double, triple, quadruple check of my gear before heading off to Greenland. Gear I won’t need (as well as some casual clothing to visit Copenhagen), I can leave in the hotel as I will be checking in at the same hotel after my Greenland trip.
  • Sleep at the Crown Plaza Copenhagen Towers (part of IHG).

Day 2 (June 18th) – sleep on the trail

  • Morning
    • Breakfast at hotel
    • 11h00-13h10 Travel from Copenhagen to Sisimiut (Greenland) via Kangerlussuaq (Greenland).
  • Afternoon:
    • Spend time in Sisimiut:
      • Either take the taxi or hike 5 kilometers from the airport to the city.
      • Get my last groceries (only some fresh fruits, the rest I have packed already) and a gas canister in Sisimiut (probably at Sisimiut Outdoor).
      • 🥘 Get my last decent, warm meal at Seamen’s Home before heading out on the trail.
      • Inform local authorities of my hiking plans.
      • I’ll probably climb Nasaasaaq hill near Sisimiut (small detour from the trail, before joining the trail at the Skilift) before heading out for the trail. I’ll skip Teleøen which has some really great ruins and the seal and whale safari (Thanks Jesper Schroder for the tips) as I will be doing that in Ilullisat.
    • 🥾Hiking Day 1 (20km to Kangerluarsauk Tulleq – key objective would be at the amazing Lake House by the end of hiking day 2, a total of 50km)
  • Evening

Day 3 (June 19th) – sleep on the trail

Lake House on the Arctic Circle Trail. Photo by Phoebe Smith
Lake House on the Arctic Circle Trail. Photo by Phoebe Smith
  • 🥾Hiking Day 2 (45km past Nerumaq and Innajuattoq, halfway (8km) to Eqalugaarniarfik)

Day 4 (June 20th) – sleep on the trail

  • 🥾Hiking Day 3 (51km past Eqalugaarniarfik, Ikkattooq and Canoe Centre to Katiffik)

Day 5 (June 21st) – sleep on the trail

  • 🥾Hiking Day 4 (50 km towards Ice Cap)

Day 6 (June 22nd) – sleep on the trail, near the Russell glacier

  • 🥾Hiking Day 5 (final stretch 25 km? + towards Russell Glacier).
  • 🧼Washing day – make sure I have some clean gear for my Ilimanaq stay. 
  • Thanks to Jesper Schroder: “It is free to around Russell, just don’t put your tent up too close to Russell, it is a glacier and therefore there is ice that falls down. As long as you don’t keep your hut on the rocks but on the grass then you should be fine”

Day 7 (June 23rd) – sleep in Ilimanaq (Ilimanaq lodge)

Russell Glacier should be something like this
Russell Glacier should be something like this
  • Morning:
    • 🥾Walk from the glacier (25/37km) back to Kangerlussuaq. This is pretty much one of my few fixed variables, as I will need to catch my flight to Ilullisat.
  • Afternoon:
    • 12h05-12h50 Fly from Kangerlussuaq to Ilullisat, hopefully not with too much flight delays.
    • 15h00-16h30 Transfer from Ilullisat to Ilimanaq.
    • 🧼Washing day and/or make sure all my gear is dry.
  • Evening:
    • Dinner in Restaurant Egede.
  • Night:
    • Sleep in Ilimanaq (Ilimanaq lodge).

Day 8 (June 24th) – sleep in Ilullisat

Hopefully waking up like this at the terrace at IIimanaq lodge
Terrace at IIimanaq lodge
  • Morning:
    • Breakfast al Ilimanaq lodge.
    • 10h00-11h30 Transfer from Ilimanaq to Ilullisat.
  • Afternoon:
    • 🥘 Lunch in Ilullisat
    • 15h00 Day trip to Eqi glacier (bring warm clothes, scarf/buff, gloves, sunglasses, snacks & refreshments)
  • Evening
    • 🥘 Eat in Ilullisat
    • 20h00 Evening kayak with PGI Greenland.
    • Find a place to camp

Day 9 (June 25th) – stay in Kangerlussuaq

  • Morning:
    • 🥘Breakfast in Ilullisat
    • Visit the Sermermiut valley UNESCO World Heritage Site.
    • 11h50-12h40 Fly from Ilullisat to Kangerlussuaq.
  • Afternoon:
    • 🥘 Lunch in Kangerlussuaq
    • Spend time in Kangerlussuaq.
  • Evening
    • 🥘Eat in Kangerlussuaq

Day 10 (June 26th) – stay in Copenhagen

  • Morning:
    • Spend time in Kangerlussuaq.
  • Afternoon:
    • 11h40-20h00 Travel from Kangerlussuaq to Copenhagen.
  • Night:
    • Sleep at the Crown Plaza Copenhagen Towers (part of IHG).

Day 11 (June 27th) – stay in Copenhagen

  • Spend time in Copenhagen.
  • Sleep at the Crown Plaza Copenhagen Towers (part of IHG).

Day 12 (June 28th) – back home

  • 06h00-09h50 Travel from Copenhagen to Brussels via Amsterdam.

Got some tips, ideas? Let me know.

Sources I used

Some sources I used while finalising my day planning:

Photo by Globingaround

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