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One National Park, but many Hiking Trails: Ch 8 of Go Greenland

Published
September 30, 2021
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THERE is only one National Park in Greenland. That sparked my curiosity. It’s called the North-East Greenland National Park and is a really wild place!

While Greenland is 82 per cent icecap, this still leaves huge areas that aren’t covered in ice, even in the far north. Unfortunately, though, Northeast Greenland National Park is only a scientific reserve. The only tourism in this area takes place in and around the vast, branched fiord system of the Scoresbysund or Kangertittivaq, which overlaps the southeastern corner of the national park.

All the same, there are plenty of other places to go hiking in Greenland!

Hiking is my forte. I love hiking and being outdoors in general. I had thought to myself, what better a place to go for hikes than in Greenland!

I had done a fair amount of reading and research into hiking in Greenland. I was a bit disappointed to see that most of it needs to be done in their short and sweet summertime. Otherwise, you risk doing it in freezing winter weather, though some outdoors experts go hiking even then.

The best-known route is the Arctic Circle Trail, a 160 kilometre walk through the glacier and alpine environments inland, between Kangerlussuaq, which is at the head of a long fjord and also the location of the Kangerlussuaq airport, and Sisimiut, which is on the main coast and one of the towns that the Sarfaq Ittuk coastal vessel stops off at (see Chapter Twelve).

Reading about the Arctic Circle Trail had me mesmerized, and also kicking myself. If only I had been just a fraction more organised to delay my trip by a month, I could have walked more of the trails. Then again, I might not have been able to go dog sledding on the frozen Ilulissat Icefjord, which I talk about further on in Chapter Thirteen. It would make sense to try and time a visit for the overlap of sledding and hiking seasons, if any.

A lot of people in online blogs and forums had suggested just making your own way, provided that you report where you are going to the authorities. You could do that quite easily in Greenland with all the wide-open uninhabited spaces. I learnt that in Greenland there is no privately-owned land. So, you could just walk here, there and anywhere: a hiker’s dream!

Otherwise, there were a lot of trails around the glaciers that wove up the sides of small mountains and hills and across rocky, snow-smattered landscapes. If you are into hiking, like I am, you’d be drooling too.

You can book tours and everything too. I discovered there are even New Zealand hiking companies who operate guided walks across the Arctic. The Ilulissat Icefjord also had a number of trails around it, so I took note of that. It was definitely on my to-do list!

In Nuuk there were several hiking trails including up the mountains called Lille (little) Malene in Danish, or Quassussuaq, which is around 440 metres high, and Store (big) Malene in Danish, or Ukkusissat, which is around 775 metres high and generally requires a guide for safety. The lesser peak hosts Nuuk’s skifield, Sisorarfiit, in winter, and makes for a pleasant hike past a mountain lake in the summertime. The greater peak has a very good view over the town of Nuuk and its coastal fiord, especially in the long summer twilight hours, a special experience which you will hardly get anywhere else that is otherwise reasonably accessible. I had thought about doing one or the other, but the weather just wasn’t going to play ball, so I left the hiking until I got to Ilulissat.

It is also possible to hiking, via guided tours, on Disko Island north of Ilulissat, and up onto the Greenland Icecap.

Lastly, as I mentioned in Chapter Two, there are also hiking trails in the realm of East Greenland, also operated by tour companies. These include hikes up the Schweizerland Alps and in an area called Liverpool Land, adjacent to the Scoresbysund/Kangertittivaq.

Go Greenland is available on this website, a-maverick.com.


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