Embark on a thrilling Kangerlussuaq camping expedition as we explore the vast wonders of Greenland's ice cap. We journey into the heart of Greenland's pristine wilderness, where the untouched beauty of Kangerlussuaq unfolds like a secret waiting to be revealed. Picture yourself cocooned in a sleeping bag, surrounded by the frozen vastness of Greenland's ice cap. The air is crisp, and an absolute hush reigns, broken only by the whispers of the wind and the mesmerizing crackle of ice beneath your feet. Envision the thrill of camping beneath the pastel glow of the midnight sun and the enchantment of Kangerlussuaq's spellbinding landscapes. Read on how I experienced this journey with Camp Ice Cap and delved into the magic that lies at the intersection of dreams and the stark reality of Arctic exploration.
Exploring Kangerlussuaq Camping: A Greenland Ice Cap Adventure
Dancing snowflakes descend in intricate patterns onto the tent canvas, like an enchanting spectacle on the vast ice sheet of Greenland. I wrap myself a little deeper in my sleeping bag. Only a small portion of my forehead, my eyes, nose, and mouth remain uncovered. With each exhale, a mysterious little cloud forms in the air. Inside the tent, it's icy cold; outside, a cutting frost prevails. Summer or not, on Greenland's vast ice cap, the cold always reigns.
A shiver runs down my spine at the thought of having to rise in an hour and venture into the Arctic outdoors, looking for the toilet. Without any shelter, I'll stand there, my bare behind exposed to the icy wind, with nothing but the breathtaking white landscape around me. But will that beauty be enough to forget the bitter cold and wet snow at that moment? I strongly doubt it.
But oh, let me not worry about it now. Plenty of time for that later. I close my eyes and let myself be carried away into the final dream of my first night at Camp Ice Cap, situated forty kilometers east of Kangerlussuaq. Camping on largest sheet of ice in the world, next to Antarctica. This is where my adventure on the world's largest island began, as the plane from Copenhagen landed on what was once a U.S. military airbase during and after World War II. The magic of Kangerlussuaq, Greenland, unfolds in dancing snowflakes, icy fjords, and the camping tales echoing through the vast expanse.
Greenland's longest road: enchanting landscapes en route to Camp Ice Cap
With bags in tow, I found myself dropped off at the edge of the ice cap in the afternoon, after a journey from Kangerlussuaq along Greenland's longest public road, believe it or not, approximately 40 (!) kilometers long. Along the way, I was immediately enchanted by the pristine beauty of nature. Rolling green landscapes stretched out, with herds of muskoxen in the distance. Two reindeer darted away between the rocks as they heard and saw us approaching. Every step we took brought us closer to that imposing white wall of the ice cap at Point 660. During the drive, I listened to the music of Sigur Rós, the Icelandic post-rock band. I couldn't imagine a more fitting soundtrack. Sometimes melancholic, then lightly euphoric. It heightened my sense of merging with nature even further.
Kangerlussuaq, with its longest road and enchanting landscapes, opens the gateway to an unforgettable adventure. Camp Ice Cap awaits a where the music of nature and the sounds of Sigur Rós converge, and every moment is infused with the magic of the Arctic.
In Kangerlussuaq, camping on the Ice Cap is preferably never done alone. During this journey, the group I traveled with consisted of 12 individuals. Before the bus left us utterly alone at Point 660, the edge of a mystical, uninhabited icy realm, our camping gear was unloaded and each of us was handed an extra backpack to carry. The heavier tent materials and food were loaded onto sleds. No sled dogs here on the ice cap, so we were obliged to haul everything ourselves. Ropes were tied around our waists to pull all the gear across the ice on the sleds. About two kilometers further, to the northeast, we would set up the base camp of Camp Ice Cap. It was quite a physical exercise to get there, but the advantage was that there was no chance of getting cold while moving all that equipment. A pleasant side effect: it stimulated the appetite. Soon, we would enjoy primitive cooking around the campfire. Did I feel my stomach gently rumble in anticipation?
With excitement and anticipation, I watched as we were equipped for our journey across the ice cap. Crampons, with their sharp points and reliable grip, were carefully attached to our shoes. They formed a covenant between me and the glistening ice before me, a promise of stability and surefootedness. My hands clutched the hiking poles, extensions of my strength and balance, ready to guide me through the expansive white plain. With every step, I felt the connection with nature strengthen as we prepared to tread our path, determined and in awe of the majestic ice cap that awaited us.
Adventure in Kangerlussuaq: camping amidst the icy desert
After an exhausting journey, we've finally discovered our ideal camping spot. A wave of relief sweeps through the group as we drop our backpacks and admire the majestic ice cap. In the distance, I hear the constant clattering of ice rivers and the occasional roar of breaking ice chunks. This white desert constantly morphs its scenery, and every day is unique here. After a short break, we're tasked with setting up our tents on a stable piece of ice, far from ice rivers and crevices. With toil and sweat, we position the tents guided by the direction of the wind. Half an hour later, I gaze at my perfectly pitched tent, getting ready for the wintry ice night. Let the adventure begin.
Under the midnight sun: hiking across the Greenlandic Ice Cap
Now that our sleeping quarters are carefully arranged, we receive an exciting announcement: we will embark on a robust evening stroll on the ice cap, while the midnight sun pours its rays upon us. As fatigue slowly settles into our bodies, I suggest having something to eat before continuing. Reassuringly, Mika, our guide, assures us that we can indulge in sweet candies and savory crackers along the way, a delightful source of energy.
As the sun seems to kiss the horizon, it cloaks the white world in an enchanting glow of rosy purple. With optimism and caution, we step into the magical winter landscape of the Greenlandic ice cap. There unfolds before our eyes an endless carpet of intricately shaped snow, adorned with streams of the most enchanting blue we have ever beheld. Water flows gracefully between naturally sculpted ice formations, a masterpiece crafted by Mother Nature herself.
The opportunity to spend the night on the Greenlandic ice cap is typically reserved for adventurers and scientists, but this camping experience is open to anyone who can set up their own tent. You sleep in a comfortably warm sleeping bag designed for Arctic conditions, on camping mattresses in your own cocoon.
Arctic tales by the fire: a day's end on the Greenlandic Ice Cap
Nearly 10 p.m., back at our starting point at Camp Ice Cap. Swiftly, we remove our crampons and hiking gear. Inside the communal tent, my glasses fog up as I settle into a foldable chair at the cozy heart of the tent camp. We share stories of the day and chuckle at our clumsy attempts with the crampons. A guide has already lit the fire, allowing us to bask in its warmth immediately. In the middle of the tent, water boils in an iron kettle, slowly sinking into the melting ice. I opt for spicy beef with noodles from our freeze-dried camping food. It tastes delightful after an exhausting hike. A warm feeling envelops us as we sit around the fire, polar explorers for a day.
As a deep yawn emerges, Rasmus, an imposing Danish fellow traveler, teaches us some Greenlandic words and shares insights into the relationship between Denmark and Greenland. Slowly, I drift away, heading towards dreamland. I wish my fellow travelers good night and exit the group tent. Midnight, but even in August, it's light enough to see my red tent fifty meters away. I undress, crawl into my sleeping bag on the hard frozen ground. I shiver for a moment, but soon, I feel the pleasant warmth. My eyes close, a deep, tranquil sleep embraces me.
Echoes of the ice: navigating danger and wonder on the vast Ice Cap
Upon awakening, I notice that the snow has ceased its fall. However, the cold persists and is now accompanied by an icy wind, intensifying the challenge. I shiver and tremble in the cold while perched on the natural toilet, concealed behind a small mound just out of sight from the tent camp. Never before have I found myself so candidly in nature, surrounded by the vast wilderness of ice. After a cup of steaming coffee and a couple of chocolate spread sandwiches, I feel my energy level rise back at 100%. I am ready for a second long trek, kilometers into the ice cap.
With every step, the frozen snow under my feet crackles and crunches, a silent ode to winter. Like a thoughtful snow serpent, we follow each other through winding ice hills, a delicate harmony between humans and nature. At every peak, resembling an endless painting, I behold the boundless landscape of white and gray. A mix of awe and humility fills my heart as I am enchanted by the monotonous beauty and vastness of this frozen domain. But amidst this icy silence, I feel free, carried by the breathtaking spectacle of snow-covered peaks and azure ice lakes. Here, in the world's largest ice desert, my soul awakens. Every hill I climb nourishes my curiosity, a desire to unveil the unknown. And each time I reach the summit, I am rewarded with a panoramic view that captivates my senses and warms my heart.
On the expansive ice cap, where our footsteps resonate like a melody, the silence warns of a hidden danger. Deep crevices, concealed like hungry monsters in the ice, spread their gaping jaws. Their unpredictability makes this journey a daring venture, a delicate dance on the edge of existence. A mournful echo whispers the name of Dixie Dansercoer, the Belgian polar explorer who lost his life here. His fate remains with us as a reminder of the transience of human existence. With thoughtful steps and the guidance of experienced guides, we tread this frozen terrain, knowing that caution is our shield. As we explore this enchanting ice world, the memory of danger keeps us vigilant.
After hours of walking, we return to our 'basecamp.' The day is well advanced. Hungry? Indeed. The sandwiches with sausage and cheese taste delightful. The fresh water from one of the ice rivers is almost invigorating like a glass of exquisite white wine. We savor and discuss this marvelous piece of nature, brimming with awe.
Farewell to a frozen beauty: journey back from the Ice Cap to Kangerlussuaq
And then time begins to race. Breaking down the camp evokes a mix of emotions within me. On one hand, I already realize that I will deeply miss this enchanting piece of the world. On the other hand, a quiet temptation pulls me towards a warm meal and a refreshing shower at the end of the day. I set in motion, and after packing my own tent, I assist in dismantling the communal tent. Teamwork. A beautiful spectacle of how we, twelve strong adventurers, have learned to work together and trust each other in such a short time. The extreme conditions on the Greenland ice cap force us to forge strong bonds faster than expected. Here, you need each other to survive.
All the equipment is neatly redistributed among the campers before we embark on the return journey to the end of the ice cap, back to Point 660. We trudge towards the dividing line where the gray-white ice expanse surrenders to the green-brown hills, characteristic of the natural beauty of the world's largest island.
And so, my return journey from the ice cap to Kangerlussuaq begins, a final farewell to this unique piece of Greenland. With every kilometer the van brings us closer to Kangerlussuaq, I further distance myself from this enchanting landscape. But before completely detaching from the ice cap, we make an unforgettable stop at the impressive Russell Glacier. There, amidst its majestic presence, nature once again reveals its grandeur.
The glacier rises like a mighty tower of glistening ice, embraced by the sun's rays, making it shimmer. I take a moment to relish the stunning view, the serene silence, and the majestic sight of nature in all its glory. It feels like a final farewell to this breathtaking part of Greenland, a memory that will forever linger in my heart. With a sense of gratitude and wonder, I continue my journey, knowing that I have had an unforgettable experience in this pristine landscape.
Embracing the arctic silence: a journey on Greenland's icy realm
In Kangerlussuaq, camping on Greenland's expansive ice cap transcends the ordinary adventure. It's an unforgettable journey that revealed my true self. Embracing the icy cold, surrounded by the enchanting monotony of the white landscape, it's an immersive experience where self-reliance takes center stage. Stripped back to the essentials, devoid of modern technological gadgets from the 21st century. The top priority becomes staying warm enough to brave the night on the eternal ice. Each step demands caution to avoid slipping, staying ever-vigilant to the capricious weather changes. Maintaining a clear sense of your location is crucial during the trek, preventing the risk of getting hopelessly lost in the ever-shifting and infinite ice landscape.
An indelible experience accompanied by doubts and even some fear about how I would fare in this extreme place. The Arctic wilderness where the forces of nature challenged me. And yes, I can certainly be proud when the time to bid farewell to the ice cap approached. So much beauty, the immense scale, and the power of nature. Humbly realizing that I was only a temporary visitor in this boundless Greenlandic ice realm. A temporary, insignificant dot in a land of overwhelming white.
I came here with anticipation, with a backpack full of expectations. I pitched my tent on the ice, roamed in all directions over snow and ice, along crystal-clear ice lakes, and breathed in the icy Arctic air to the fullest. Not without a hint of melancholy. Camping in provides a unique opportunity to connect with the pristine beauty of Greenland's ice cap. I now realize that one day I will set up my tent here again. Conquering that icy wilderness once more. Consider it agreed.
The cost of the camping trip is 3,175 DKK per person. This includes guidance by experienced guides, accommodation in tents suitable for Arctic conditions, meals, and the necessary equipment such as sleeping bags, mattresses, crampons, and hiking poles. Flights to Greenland are not included in this price.
FLIGHTS ARE NOT INCLUDED IN THIS TRIP BUT CAN BE PURCHASED VIA AIR GREENLAND
This expedition is not suitable for people with limited mobility. Participants are expected to set up their own tents, assist in bringing materials to the base camp, and contribute to meal preparations. There are two excursions on the ice cap, each lasting about 3 hours, covering hilly terrain.