Trekking the Arctic Circle Trail in Greenland is an adventure like no other. This 160-kilometer trail takes you through some of the most breathtaking and remote landscapes on Earth. From towering mountains and glaciers to pristine lakes and Arctic tundra, this trail offers a once-in-a-lifetime experience for those seeking to explore the wild beauty of the Arctic. To make the most of your journey, here are some essential tips and recommendations.
Planning Your Trip
1. Research and Preparation
Before embarking on your Arctic Circle Trail adventure, extensive research is essential. Understand the trail’s geography, climate, and logistical details. Take time to learn about local customs and environmental regulations, as Greenland’s wilderness is pristine and sensitive to human impact.
2. Permits and Regulations
Ensure you obtain the necessary permits and adhere to the trail regulations. This helps preserve the fragile Arctic environment and ensures your safety. Check the latest information on permits and regulations from the Greenlandic authorities before your trip.
3. Timing and Weather
Choose your trekking season wisely. The Arctic Circle Trail is typically best tackled in the summer months, from June to September, when the weather is milder, and the trail is more accessible. Even during these months, expect unpredictable weather and be prepared for sudden changes.
4. Layered Clothing
Dress in layers to adapt to shifting temperatures. Start with a moisture-wicking base layer, add an insulating mid-layer, and finish with a waterproof and windproof outer shell. Merino wool and synthetic materials work well.
5. Sturdy Footwear
Invest in high-quality, waterproof hiking boots with good ankle support. You’ll encounter various terrains, including rocky paths and stream crossings, so comfort and durability are crucial.
6. Sleeping Gear
Pack a warm and lightweight sleeping bag suitable for Arctic conditions, as well as a four-season tent that can withstand strong winds. The nights in Greenland can be chilly even in the summer.
7. Navigation Tools
Carry a GPS device, maps, and a compass. Cell phone coverage is limited on the trail, so having reliable navigation tools is essential for staying on track.
Choose a comfortable, adjustable backpack with enough space for your gear and provisions. Make sure it’s equipped with a rain cover to keep your belongings dry.
Food and Water
9. Food Supplies
Plan your meals carefully and pack lightweight, calorie-dense food. Dehydrated meals and energy bars are convenient options. You can also find resupply points along the trail in some huts.
10. Water Purification
Water sources along the Arctic Circle Trail are generally safe to drink, but it’s wise to carry a water filtration or purification system as a precaution. Melting glacier ice is also an option.
Health and Safety
11. Physical Preparation
The Arctic Circle Trail is a demanding trek, so ensure you’re in good physical shape. Train with long hikes and heavy backpacks to build stamina and strength.
12. First Aid Kit
Carry a comprehensive first aid kit, including items for treating blisters, cuts, and insect bites. Remote areas mean help may be far away, so self-sufficiency is vital.
13. Wildlife Awareness
Be prepared to encounter Arctic wildlife such as muskoxen and reindeer. Maintain a safe distance and never approach or feed them. Also, learn to recognize and avoid polar bear territory.
Leave No Trace
14. Respect the Environment
Follow Leave No Trace principles to minimize your impact on the pristine Arctic environment. This includes packing out all waste and avoiding off-trail travel.
15. Campfire Rules
Open fires are not permitted along the Arctic Circle Trail due to the fragile ecosystem. Carry a camping stove for cooking, and use designated fire rings in huts if available.
16. Interaction with Locals
Respect the local Inuit culture and people you may encounter along the trail. Ask for permission before camping on private land, and engage in a friendly and respectful manner.
While English is widely spoken, learning a few basic Greenlandic phrases can go a long way in fostering goodwill with the local population.
Arrange transportation to and from the trailhead in advance. Boats and flights to Kangerlussuaq, the western terminus of the trail, may require booking well ahead of time.
Inform someone about your itinerary and expected return date. Satellite phones or emergency beacons are also advisable for emergency situations.
20. Resupply Points
Plan your resupplies carefully, as there are a few huts and cabins along the trail where you can purchase food and basic supplies. These can save you from carrying a heavy load.
Trekking the Arctic Circle Trail in Greenland is an extraordinary adventure that requires careful planning and preparation. With the right gear, knowledge, and respect for the environment and local culture, you can embark on a journey through some of the most awe-inspiring landscapes on Earth and create memories that will last a lifetime. Remember to stay safe, leave no trace, and cherish every moment in this pristine Arctic wilderness.