To fly to Greenland, you have to go either via Denmark or Iceland. The author went via Copenhagen, using budget flights to the Danish capital (two hours flight time; all the usual suspects go there), then flew with Air Greenland (www.airgreenland.com), which has daily flights to Kangerlussuaq (4.5 hours). Once at Sisimiut (after the hike), take a flight back to Kangerlussuaq (30 mins). Prices for all flights from around £950 return.
There are no roads out of Sisimiut or Kangerlussuaq, so there is no point in hiring a car. Both are very walkable, with supermarkets and museums within reach.
For the ice cap in Kangerlussuaq, it is recommended you take a tour as it’s on unpaved road and special vehicles are required. Albatros Arctic Circle/world of Greenland (aac.gl) offer these throughout the day from DKK625 (£75). Later, taxis can take you to the start of the walk, at the end of the paved road in Kellyville – costs around DKK200-400 (£25-50).
Walking the trail
The Arctic Circle Trail (ACT) takes eight-to-ten days to hike. It’s beautiful but wild and remote, so committing. There are red semi-circle waymarkers on cairns (piles of stones) that help direct you but you must take a map – a guidebook is also recommended (see ‘Further reading’) – as confusion is possible in some places, particularly during bad weather.
Be sure to tell someone responsible when you expect to arrive in Sisimiut, so they can raise the alarm if you don’t show up – you may want to consider hiring a satellite phone as a back-up or an emergency locator device. It is also recommended that you write in the visitor books in the huts, so there is a dated record of your whereabouts.
Be prepared that if the weather turns, you may want to wait it out in one of the huts, so always take more food than you need and factor a couple of extra rest days into your schedule. You can walk the path in reverse, though it’s less popular and hard to follow if using the guidebook.
A handful of walking guides are available to hire in Kangerlussuaq, although not always free to walk the entire route. At present there’s no UK tour operator offering the Arctic Circle Trail, but in 2019 KE Adventure (keadventure.com) will be offering it as a small-group guided trek with a local Greenland Inuit guide and the author of this article, Wanderlust editor-at-large Phoebe Smith. Contact them to register your interest.
Be warned that flights in and out of Sisimiut can be cancelled and delayed if the weather is bad. Flights to and from Kangerlussuaq are more reliable.
In Kangerlussuaq, Hotel Kangerlussuaq (hotelkangerlussuaq.gl), which lies upstairs at the airport, is an easy choice. Doubles from DKK1,645PN (£195); singles are available. Camping is also an inexpensive option.
All huts on the trail are free to use, but you need to be self-sufficient and take a tent, in case there’s no room. Some have toilets; others don’t, so you’ll have to dig a hole and follow the ‘Leave No Trace’ rules.
In Sisimiut ( pictured above), the harbourside Hotel Somandshjemmene/ The Seamen’s Home (soemandshjem.gl) has a cafeteria on site for evening meals and breakfasts. Doubles from DKK1,055PN (£125). There’s a hostel in town for those on a budget.
Food & drink
Limited – and pricey – supplies can be picked up in Kangerlussuaq, so bring camping meals and snacks. For camping stove fuel, don’t assume you’ll be able to find what you want. White spirit was readily available, but most gas canisters were the ‘pierce’ models rather than the ‘screw tops’ – though the ice cream parlour (randomly) offered the latter. All food is flown in, so expect frozen meals reheated, hot dogs and some fish. Vegetarians will struggle, though.