GREENLAND SNOWSHOE TREK
Limited Group Size: 8
SUPPORTED BY DOGSLED
Get ready for an epic adventure, snowshoeing in Greenland's winter Arctic. Supported by local Inuit hunters and their trusty dogsled teams, we embark on a journey deep into the wild, venturing through one of the most remote coastlines on earth.
This is a pure, untamed adventure, forged by the millennia and honed by the generations. A snowshoe trek into the heart of East Greenland, a land of frozen fjords and snow-capped peaks. A sanctuary of nature, untouched and unspoiled. As you journey deeper, you'll find yourself transported to another world, a realm of glaciers and ice, of mountain and sky. And as the day fades into night, you'll be treated to the grandest light show of them all - the aurora borealis, dancing across the sky in a symphony of color and light.
A VAST AND WILD SANCTUARY
East Greenland is a vast and wild sanctuary mostly isolated from the outside world by extensive sea ice. It is here where the Tunuumi community continue a millennia-old tradition of Inuit dog sledding, an ancient way of life that has carried this community across the arctic. We’ll combine the expertise and sea-ice knowledge of the hunters, built up over countless generations, together with the winter skills we utilize as guides on one of the most remote coastlines on earth.
It is with these dogsleds that we supply our trek daily.
When the sea freezes over and the vast land is buried deep in snow we set out on this wild adventure. You learn and experience an amazing way of life on a multi-day journey along ancient routes, deep into the frozen fjordlands, between glaciers, icebergs, and spectacular fjords, while moving in time with the deep rhythms of the season, land and ice.
LAND AND SEA OF ICE
Our journey takes us through a pristine arctic haven of frozen fjords, icebergs, glaciers, mountains and night-time skies illuminated by the Aurora Borealis. On our journey you are fully immersed in our experience of a wild and dynamic arctic environment.
From the tiny, isolated village of Kulusuk, we explore a vast region of fjords and mountains completely dominated by snow and ice. The scale is humbling – you could travel for months without reaching another village. We spend many hours snowshoeing out on the ice, sometimes heading inland to cross islands by low passes that cut between alpine summits. The land is heavily glaciated – in places reaching the saltwater of the fjords in massive calving faces. Icebergs, frozen until their break-up in spring, tower over our path. We are always watchful for the animals that are at home here - arctic fox, snow buntings, ptarmigan, cormorants, ravens, ringed seals, with rare sightings of polar bears, narwhal and gyrfalcon. At night, the sky is often illuminated by flowing threads of the Aurora Borealis stretching east to west.
ABOUT THE TREK
Throughout the journey we’ll be accompanied by an Inuit hunter and his dogsled team, which we use to move the bulk of our gear. Each morning we load up our gear on the dogsled, prep the dogs and embark on the next leg of our journey. With light pulks (plastic sleds) in tow, we'll traverse the rugged terrain, carrying only our essentials and safety equipment. And as the day draws to a close, we'll gather with our hunter at our camp, situated in the midst of the rich hunting and fishing grounds of the fjords. Will we be blessed with fresh fish or a hearty seal to feed our four-legged companions? Only time will tell. But one thing is for certain - as the sun sets and darkness descends upon our camp, we'll be on the lookout for the mesmerizing Aurora Borealis, illuminating the sky with their magical brilliance.
We spend most days traveling on snowshoe through a vast landscape of sea ice, icebergs and alpine peaks rising straight out of the fjord. Travel in arctic winter conditions requires a unique skill-set, and we’ll cover the basics early on in the trip, allowing us to move safely and efficiently, building up our knowledge throughout the trek. We’ll choose our route to best suit the conditions, an essential facet of any expedition in a wild and remote region. On a couple of days, we’ll plan to meet some of the hunters from Kulusuk, who’ll travel out with their dog teams to assist us with a part of the journey, a unique insight into a way of life that’s allowed the Inuit to survive, and thrive, over hundreds of years.
Join us for an unforgettable adventure on one Tusker's most challenging treks through Greenland. Our hike involves snowshoeing over rough snow and ice with no tracks or trails. We travel through remote areas with some altitude gains and losses in areas of exposure, a lot of times below freezing temperatures. For safety, our team must move steadily and proficiently, requiring members to maintain a consistent but normal pace, possess sure-footedness, and keep up with a fit group. To embark on this adventure, excellent physical condition and past hiking or snowshoeing experience are essential. This will be a remarkable adventure.
A DIFFERENT WAY OF LIFE
- DAY 1 - Fly Iceland to Greenland
- Accommodation - Lodge
- Meals - Dinner
Fly Iceland – Kulusuk. We’ll meet you at the airstrip for the 35 minute walk to our lodge in the heart of the village. Baggage will be taken by snowmobile. We will have a trek orientation, prep our gear and food, and run through safety briefings before packing our bags ready to head out the following day.
We will be undertaking an adventurous trek on snowshoes, working with local Inuit hunters and their traditional Tunuumi dog sled teams to assist us for some of the route. Their deep perception of ice and weather conditions, honed over many generations, will set our course as we travel north across the frozen sea. Reliance on each other is fundamental to life here and the bond between musher and pack, developed over many years, is powerful. Prepare for cold clear days, but also hard winds and snow. We will spend the first and last night at our lodge in Kulusuk, with 6 nights camping in the arctic wilderness in tents along the way.
INTO THE FROZEN FJORDLANDS
- DAYS 2-6 - Snowshoeing
- Accommodation - Camping
- Meals - All Meals
Setting out on snowshoes from Kulusuk, we’ll aim to make a 2-day traverse of Kulusuk island. It’s an opportunity to work on the basics of the skills that we’ll develop throughout the expedition. The island affords expansive views over the pack-ice of the Denmark Strait to the east, whilst to the west and north we’ll look back into the huge alpine ranges which run up the coast. We’ll aim to spend one of these evenings camped near some old Inuit winter houses. The terrain here is characterised by low hills and will give us a good introduction to route-finding as we search out the most efficient way through the landscape, learning how to manage our pulks (plastic sleds) on uneven ground.
After two days on the island, the hunters will travel out from Kulusuk with their dog teams to meet us. Having loading the sleds we’ll travel by dog sled across the fast-ice of Tuno, to reach Apusiaajik island. Despite their modest heights (700-800m) the peaks here are alpine in nature, covered by an extensive glacier system which by Greenlandic standards is tiny, but would dwarf most of the glaciers in Europe and North America. Much will depend on conditions of the sea-ice, and we’ll need to work closely with the hunters to decide on a final route plan, but we’ll aim to make camp somewhere on the southern flank of the island – all but one of the hunters will leave us here to continue on our journey on foot. Conditions being well, over the next days we’ll make a circumnavigation of the island. We’ll travel extensively on sea ice, using routes handed down from generation to generation of hunters in the area, and we’ll learn how to about the signs to look out for which gives us clues about the condition of the ice over which we’re traveling. Toward the end of the journey we take to the land again, crossing several low passes – a route traditionally used by the hunters to traverse the island when sea ice conditions don’t allow safe travel on the easier routes through the fjords.
RETURN TO KULUSUK
- DAY 7 - Snowshoeing/Dogsledding
- Accommodation - Lodge
- Meals - All Meals
On our final full day, the hunters will meet us with their dog teams for the journey back across the ice to Kulusuk. After five days out, we return to the Lodge for hot showers and and a home-cooked farewell dinner. After only a week on this immersive experience in this ancient culture and the other-worldly arctic environment, the warmth of this tiny community takes on a special significance. Time allowing, we always try to visit our local museum, an impressive family collection that offers further insight into the Tunuumi people.
"Life is either a daring adventure, or nothing." - Helen Keller
- DAY 8 - Fly Greenland to Iceland
- Meals - Breakfast
After breakfast, we pack up our gear and return to the snow strip and the plane that flies us out over the Denmark Strait back to Reykjavik, Iceland for your onward journey.
KULUSUK - NANOQ LODGE
The lodge is a traditional wooden cabin built by our Greenland partners over the years and is nestled in the tiny Innuit village of Kulusuk, home to 200 people.
A comfortable and practical base to explore East Greenland, the lodge provides cabin bedrooms, running water, hot showers, and flushing toilets, a rare thing in this cold climate. There’s a drying area for your gear, a sitting room heated by a stove and a big table we all gather around each evening. Cut off by sea ice six months of the year, the stores and freezers are well supplied to provide a plentiful and varied menu. Whenever possible, we eat locally caught fish including salmon, arctic char, cod, and halibut.
We have worked hard to make this trip accessible to anyone looking for adventure and a deep insight into the pristine wilderness and culture of this arctic coastline. If you have previous experience of cold-weather conditions and camping, it will help, but is not essential. Travelling with experts, you’ll have a lot of opportunities to learn and refine the many skills essential to travelling in this environment. A good level of fitness will allow you to get the most out of the trip, whether it’s helping pack the loads, maneuver the sleds or set up camp.
If you have any questions as to whether this trip is suitable for you, just give us a call: +1.775.833.9700 • 1.800.231.1919
Depending on depth of snow, we’ll walk in snowshoes, or choose just to walk in boots if the surface is hard. You’ll need to be comfortable hiking for approximately 15km while pulling a lightly loaded pulk (plastic sled) containing everything we need for the day, plus some basic safety equipment. While being an experienced hiker is essential, you don’t need winter hiking or camping experience – we’ll look to build skills and experience during the trip. These are physically arduous trips in a cold environment and we ask everyone to get involved in all aspects of the trip, from digging snow walls to loading sleds and putting up tents.
Rather than sticking to a fixed itinerary we’ll decide what to do each day depending on weather, conditions and how the group as a whole is feeling. That could mean we’re on our feet hiking for 8 hrs under the arctic sun, or we’re traveling in difficult conditions during which covering 2km could be a major achievement! An extreme condition - a Greenlandic storm, known as a Naqaajaq (low pressure systems moving up the coast) could mean our day is focused solely around maintaining a safe and comfortable camp – every expedition is different. Variation in fitness and walking speed is inevitable in any group, but it’s important that everyone meets the minimum requirements outlined above.
In the winter months many of the fjords to the north of Kulusuk freeze over, allowing extensive travel by dogsled. It’s this sea ice which has allowed the Inuit to hunt during the winter months for countless generations. It’s also what allows us to link together our journey. We’ll spend much of our time, both on snowshoes and on dogsleds, traveling across the ‘fast-ice’ which covers the fjords – the ice which is held ‘fast’, not moving, by the islands. An ever-changing medium, we’ll carefully assess ice conditions as we go to choose the best route. What starts out as a hard, icy surface in January is normally, by March-April, covered in several feet of snow which often absorbs moisture from the sea below, and we could experience conditions underfoot which are everything from ice to neve (hard snow) to soft, slushy snow – it’s essential that boots are fully waterproof. The sea ice, by nature, is flat. On land, we’ll stick to low-angled terrain for the most part, taking in frozen lakes, low passes and snowy shoreline – here the snow can be deep where it drifts behind obstacles. We’ll change footwear to suit, sometimes using snowshoes where the snow is soft, perhaps just walking in our boots on firmer surfaces. With deep and/or soft snow it’s hard going and progress becomes much slower – we’ll adjust our plans to suit conditions.
EQUIPMENT & CONDITIONS
We will be traveling in arctic conditions. These can range from cold, still days of sun to blizzards. Equipment choice makes all the difference to being comfortable here. We provide warm snowsuits, down jackets, mitts, thick sleeping bags and mats. You will receive a detailed gear list of additional equipment to help you prepare.
We’ll plan to take with us as comfortable a setup as is possible, using a large base-camp tent for us all to sleep in, and a stove to provide heat, and we’ll look to develop the skills introduced over the first days of the trip to become efficient in arctic travel. The route involves crossing large areas of fast-ice (ice which is held ‘fast’ by the land), as well as several low passes, all the while dominated by the peaks of the island above us. Each night we set up camp, with thick sleeping bags keeping us warm in a robust base-camp tent for us to sleep in. There is a small stove to melt snow for drinking, cooking and to provide heat.
GETTING TO GREENLAND
While the lodge in East Greenland is extremely remote, Kulusuk is served by a regular scheduled turbo prop-plane flight of around 1 hr 40 mins from Reykjavik, Iceland. We can arrange your air tickets. Many folks overnight in Reykjavik en route, exploring the geothermal pools and vibrant scene of this small northern capital.
- Services of a professional UIMLA International Mountain Guide
- Lodging as per daily itinerary
- Dedicated dogsledding crew & support
- Airport transfers in Greenland
- All meals during the trek
- Polar bear deterrents
- Tent accommodation
- Snowshoes, poles, pulk
- Sleeping bag
- Sleeping pad and mat
- Mitts & Insulated Down Jacket
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Limited Group Size: 5