Greenland 2017 (2/3): Kangerlussuaq – Maniitsoq

Places Western Greenland; Kangerlussuaq, Robertson River, Eternity Fjord, Kujatdlet Fjord, Iluliagdlup Tasia, Maniitsoq
Time & length July/August 2017, 3,5 weeks
Partners Sofia Matousek, Willem Vandoorne
This trek was divided into two sections. The first was a 12-day hike with a larger group from Kangerlussuaq to the ice field and then southwest to the Eternity Fjord. The second part I did with Sofia alone, together we continued over the mountains all the way to the coast and packrafted to the island of Maniitsoq.
In my last report I already explained how I knew Willem and how the whole Greenland idea came together. When we discussed our plans in early 2017, we decided to do one hike together – a 12-day trek in the area around Kangerlussuaq and down to Eternity Fjord. Sofia and Willem’s friends were also part of that group, together we were 11 people.

When the whole group arrived on July 22, we started out with a 4-day trek to the ice sheet just east of Kangerlussuaq, a warm-up, so to say.

We then took a commercial boat to the mouth of the Robertson River, just one hour away from the Kangerlussuaq harbor. From there we trekked all the way to Eternity Fjord.

The weather was perfect; in fact, we ran into the warmest days ever recorded in the area.

We arrived at the fjord on August 2. The sailing yacht with Willem’s partners onboard was already waiting for us and we had an extended breakfast. While everybody else enjoyed the end of the trek, Sofia and I got ready for the second part of this journey: our hike to Maniitsoq.

The captain brought us on land at the Kujadtled Fjord. From there, Sofia and I continued alone.

Here is the route we took to Maniitsoq: Kujadtled Fjord – Maniitsoq Route

We first climbed the plateau and then kept walking through the grassy and rocky landscape. The mosquitos were quite bad, everything else went as planned.

Iluliagdlup Tasia was one of the highlights of our trip. The lake is closed in by glaciers, the water level rises until it breaks through one of the glaciers every seven years – a spectacular site, although paddling over the lake wasn’t easy: icebergs everywhere.

From there we continued west. The weather was still good and we only needed our packrafts one more time for this section. If you wanted to do this without packrafts, you would have to cross a very crevassy section of the glacier west of Iluliagdlup Tasia.

It started raining when we arrived at Sondre Isortoq Fjord. In a downpour and terrible visibility, we descended from the plateau and made it to the sea, from there we kept paddling as soon as the weather cleared a bit. But the wind picked up and blew into our faces, so hard that paddling made no sense anymore. We decided to walk over the hills and arrived at a small fishermen’s hut close to the seashore and stayed inside over night.

The next day was a critical one: We needed to paddle 16.5 km to the island of Maniitsoq, partly over the open sea. We had to go west, which is usually the direction the wind comes from. There were little islands along the way, but most of the time we were without any protection, in case we would face any strong winds or currents.

We started at 6 am in the morning when the sea was still calm. In the early afternoon, the wind picked up a bit, but we fought hard and managed to arrive at the island after eight hours. The guys at the harbor were amused and confused to see us coming in with these little rubber boats.

We needed to stay in town for two nights. Since the one hotel was fully booked and the other hotel charged 2,200 DKK (€300), we asked around for other options. Soon we met a friendly Danish man who invited us to stay at his son’s home for a fair price.

Sofia and I parted ways on August 14. She flew back home and I continued to Nuuk, Greenland’s capital, to start my last and longest trek for this season in Greenland.