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Take a Hike: Greenland’s Scenic Beauty & Challenging Terrain

3 min read

Each year on November 17, hikers the world over celebrate Take a Hike Day. Established by the American Hiking Society, the day serves as a friendly reminder to families to take the time to occasionally get away from it all and explore the amazing natural beauty around us.

Guided hikes on Greenland shore landings ensure passenger safety while giving you an opportunity to completely immerse yourself in this rugged and wild environment. Photo credit: Chris King

One of the best destinations for hiking trips is Greenland, which, despite its substantial ice cover, is fresh and invigorating. On hiking day trips, you'll have the opportunity to trek along trails bordered by bold rock formations and purple arctic flowers, or sit on hillsides to admire iceberg-filled waters. Keep your camera handy – there are great opportunities to spot wildlife as you explore the shorelines, valleys and quaint communities around Greenland.

Hiking Day Trips in East Greenland

When hiking the enormous basalt walls in one of the most isolated areas in Greenland, you'll be astonished by their vastness. Explore the breathtaking fjords in Scoresbysund (known as Kangertittivaq in Greenlandic), the largest fjord system in the world. The stunning views created by the fjords, flower meadows and enormous mountains that fall into the sea make hiking day trips in Greenland an incomparable experience.

Passengers look over a pristine bay from their perch on the colorful tundra on a small ship expedition in East Greenland. Photo Credit: Steven G. Denver
East Greenland - Photo Credit: Steven G. Denver

Hikers adore King Oscar Fjord, where you can lose yourself in the abundant arctic flora and fauna of the colorful tundra as you trek to the top of Ella Island.

Hiking Gear for Arctic Day Trips

Greenland offers hiking for all interests and intensity levels. When you visit in summer, the moderate temperatures make for comfortable outings, with little specialized hiking gear required. Since mean September temperatures in Greenland range from 34°F to 41°F (1°C to 5°C) depending on the region, it's a great time of year to tackle challenging hikes. To help you get traction and stay comfortable and dry on hikes, you'll receive waterproof muck boots – featuring neoprene/polyurethane feet and breathable neoprene uppers – to use throughout the duration of your cruise.

To further keep your feet dry, wear merino wool socks and plan on changing them at lunchtime if you're hiking the entire day. The natural antibacterial properties of merino make it a sensible choice for longer expeditions, where you'll want to get the most wear out of your garments.

Keep Exploring: Download Your Greenland Destination Guide

For warmth and comfort, you'll also have your insulated, waterproof 3-in-1 Quark Expeditions® parka, which has plenty of pockets for stowing extra camera batteries, memory cards, lip balm and your sunglasses. And if you have a favorite walking stick or hiking pole, make sure it will fit in your luggage; if not, there are some great lightweight, retractable versions on the market.

Everything else you'll need to stay warm and dry on your expedition is available in the Polar Gear Package in the Polar Boutique, including merino wool base layers (top and bottom), fleece midlayers, a fleece neck warmer, waterproof Helly Hansen pants, a toque, hand and foot warmers, and SPF 50 sunscreen.

Hiking Trips in West Greenland

Hiking  is a fantastic way to experience Greenland's Windswept landscapes, archaeological sites and massive fjords. This photo: Ilulissat

On your voyage to the High Arctic, no two hikes will be the same. Windswept landscapes, archaeological sites and massive fjords can be explored while hiking in West Greenland, where you'll find UNESCO World Heritage site Ilulissat and the Sermeq Kujalleq glacier. One of the fastest and most active glaciers in the world, Sermeq Kujalleq is a passenger favorite – you'll have plenty of time to take it all in, as one of our longer hikes is held here.

Hiking Greenland's Southern Regions

South of Sisimiut and Kangerlussuaq, explore the area around the archaeological site at Qoornoq, which contains ruins of ancient Inuit and Norse buildings. Previously inhabited by the pre-Inuit, Paleo-Eskimo people of the Saqqaq culture, Qoornoq is now uninhabited and offers fantastic views of the Qoornup Assua marine channel that separates the island from the nearby Tasiusaq inlet.

Visit the Nanortalik Hot Springs and Herjolfsnes in South Greenland on your small ship expedition. Photo credit: Chris King
Yes, Greenland has hot springs! Photo credit: Chris King

As you round Greenland's southernmost tip, you'll visit the Nanortalik Hot Springs and Herjolfsnes, where you can visit an excavated Viking-era farm, and then enjoy a hike through one of the first Greenlandic regions settled by Europeans.

Of course, the alternative – a soothing soak in a natural hot spring – might prove too tempting to ignore.

Get to Greenland FAST for Epic Hiking Trips

The quickest, easiest and most exciting way to get to Greenland and right into the hiking action is a fly-cruise expedition. By skipping the ocean crossing of the Denmark Strait and taking a convenient flight between Reykjavik, Iceland, and Constable Point in Greenland, you can shave off one night and one day each way, giving you that much more time to explore Greenland.

Ready to start planning your own Greenland adventure? Download your free Greenland Destination Guide to dig into the exciting things you'll see, do and experience on your expedition.

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