Most people think of Greenland as a landmass of unrelenting snow and ice. While these are present in abundance, they’re not all Greenland offers its visitors. Along its coast lies an enchanted band of land that boasts a rainbow of colors.
Greenland: An unexplored frontier
Much of Greenland is unspoiled because it is not densely populated by any means. Comparatively, Greenland is the size of Mexico. However, the total population is 50,000, whereas Mexico’s is 122 million. The largest of Greenland’s international airports is in Kangerlussuaq, a town with 500 residents.
Kangerlussuaq used to be a US airbase. Consequently, there are many warning signs to remind tourists not to stray from the trail due to unexploded ordinance. The remains of a plane that crashed in the 1960s are still visible.
The Arctic Circle Trail
This magical trail is bound to be on any long-distance hiker’s bucket list. 124mi. (200km) long, the trail starts at the edge of the snow and ice cap. It ends on the west coast, in a fishing town called Sisimiut. On average, the trail takes between one and two weeks to hike. Your fitness and the chosen route will determine the length of time you spend on the trail.
Hikers generally sleep in tents, although there are some basic wooden huts along the way, which are used for inclement weather. The trail can get quite lonely. Unless you’re hiking with someone, you might not see another living soul for days on end. About 300 hikers walk this trail annually, during the summer months of June, July, and August.
The Arctic Trail takes you back to the basics
There are no rest stops along the Arctic Trail, and no villages with friendly locals to help you if you’ve run out of supplies. In fact, there’s not a single human settlement between the beginning and end of the trail. Cellphone reception is spotty to non-existent once you leave the towns at either end of the hike.
You’ll need to make sure you have supplies for every eventuality, including enough food, clothes, and first aid items. The trail puts your survival skills to the ultimate test. Expect to be hiking for at least six hours a day.
Wildlife abounds and spectacular views take your breath away
There are plenty of species to spot on the hike. They include Arctic hares, musk oxen, and reindeer. If you’re lucky, you’ll see the elusive Arctic fox as well.
The frosty landscape of the glaciers gives way to the dunes and the Arctic Desert or Sandflugdalen. The weather can be very changeable. Within 30 minutes of crystal-clear blue skies, you could be in the middle of a snowstorm.
These storms can last a few hours or go on for days. They are rare during the summer months, which is why they are the best time to hike the trail.