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Greenland sea kayak expedition

Kayak adventure in the heart of Greenland

Experience breathtaking arctic nature on our sea kayak expedition in the heart of Greenland.

In stock
Travel Code
ADV-004
You can look forward to

11-day kayak journey that starts out in Ilulissat situated by the UNESCO World Heritage site of Ilulissat Icefjord. After arriving at Ilulissat, we will spend the first two nights in a hostel. We have time to do some sightseeing, get acclimatized to the stunning arctic surroundings - and get ready for our expedition. From Ilulissat we head off north through Ataa Sound between the mainland and the island of Allutoq. Our goal is to reach the calving glacier of Eqip Sermia, but our itinerary depends on the weather and ice situation. The summers in this part of the country generally offers sunny days and calm seas, but we will welcome overlay days due to weather conditions as opportunities to explore the backcountry on foot.
The area offers a wealth of touring possibilities, and paddling amongst massive icebergs, skerries, fjords and islands is a joy. July also offers good opportunities of close encounters with humpback whales that feed in these nutritious waters. Here in the land of midnight sun we have the benefit of very long days with plenty of light to enjoy the camping sceneries. Bring your fishing rod.The Disco Bay area is also rich in cultural heritage and we often camp around old settlements used through generations in search of good fishing and hunting. On our way out or back from the expedition we will also have a chance to experience the small hunting village of Oqaatsut that is still operating.
After returning to Ilullissat we have a full day to relax and enjoy the pleasures of civilization and celebrate with a Greenlandic buffet and a local brew. 

See pictures and video from our tour 2018 here

Detailed description

Day 1
Departure from Copenhagen Airport with Greenland Air to Kangerlussuaq. From there we proceed with a smaller aircraft approx. 1 hour to Ilulissat. We stay at the old wooden hostel, the only hostel in town. The rest of the day is free for enjoying the special vibe of this typical Greenlandic town.

Day 2
Sightseeing in and around Ilulissat. The town is in fact the third largest in Greenland and the town has lots of ambiance and culture. Nestled here at the banks of the UNESCO protected icefiord, the nature here is absolutely unique. We will pay a visit to the childhood home of the famous arctic explorer, Knud Rasmussen. Today it is a museum and a fine starting point for getting an overview of the Greenlandic history and culture. We drop by the harbor to watch the hunters returning with their catch of the day. And maybe buy freshly caught fish for our dinner at the hostel.  

Day 3
First paddling day. After breakfast we organize a short transportation of our gear down to the waterfront where our kayaks are waiting. We take our time packing the kayaks as we have a relatively short distance to paddle. We head north up along the coast as we pass the harbor front and the airport area. Our destination today is Oqaatsut, a small fishing and hunting village just north of Ilulissat. 250 years ago this used to be a Dutch whaling station. The Dutch name Rodebay (Red Bay) indicates that it was quite a slaughterhouse. The main income today comes from trading halibut and seal.

Day 4-10
Leaving Oqaatsut we spend the coming days exploring the Ataa-sound as we wind our way northwards. Here you will find myriads of little islands, skerries and fiords. This area offers plenty of opportunities to see whales. The most common ones are humpbacks and minke-whales. And occasionally a fin whale.
We want to reach Eqip Sermia, a geologically interesting area with a huge and very active glacier leading directly up to the Greenland Icecap. This used to be the starting point for numerous ice cap-expeditions led by the famous expeditioner, Paul-Emile Victor. If conditions are good, we might get a chance to hike up close to the ice cap rim. After spending a couple of days in this magnificent place we paddle west, bound for the abandoned settlement of Ataa beautifully situated natural harbor on the island of Allutoq. There is a nice creek running behind this once prosperous hunting and trading village - a resource of fresh trout through hundreds of years. A fresh dip to rinse off the saltwater from bodies and drysuits is recommendable.   

Day 11
Leaving Ataa we either follow the steep coastline of Allutoq or we make a direct crossing to the mainland. We head south as we search for yet another beautiful spot to camp. There are lots of fine spots with traces of old inuit culture as locals for generations searched for the same qualities in good camping areas as we do today.

Day 12
We continue our way southwards as we leave Alluttoq behind us. A good day’s paddle will take us back to Oqaatsut. Depending on our urge for the comforts of civilization, we either camp just behind the village or approx. 1 km away by a river with good opportunities for collecting mussels and for fishing cod.

Day 13
Last paddling day and we have plenty of time and a relatively short paddle ahead of us before going ashore back in Ilulissat where a beer and a shower awaits us. The evening should be celebrated with the legendary Greenlandic buffet at hotel Hvide Falk. 

Day 14
A full day of well-deserved relaxation at your leisure. For those with more appetite for adventure, there are plenty of optional activities. But really – none of the offered ones even begin to compare with the adventure you have just finished. For those with restless feet a hike to the ancient settlement of Sermermiut and to Holms Hill is recommended. You can also spend some time souvenir shopping in one of the many stores offering local crafts.

Day 15
Transfer to the small local airport and return flight to Copenhagen.

Prerequisites

As participant on the expedition you should:

  • Be a BCU 3 star/EPP3 Sea Kayaker or equivalent. It is not necessary to present certification, but you should be able to explain your experience level.
  • Have experience from other trips with outdoor camping.
  • Be able to paddle up to 30+ km a day in calm sea conditions, if necessary.   
  • Be ready to participate in daily planning, camp organizing and cooking.
  • Be ready to cope with unforeseen situations and deviations from written itinerary and trip-plan.
Accommodation

The first and the last two nights we stay at the local hostel. It is not luxury, but a cozy place with a special international buzz with people getting ready to explore the heart of Greenland.

During our expedition we will sleep in spacious tunnel-tents (one per participant).  

Weather

The summer weather in the Disco Bay area is generally quite sunny, with gentle winds and calm seas. The day temperature is usually around 10-12⁰ Celsius with night temperatures at 4-5⁰. Though it often plummets to below zero close to the ice-cap at night time. The relative dry air makes the low temperatures feel a lot more comfortable than in Europe.
Bad weather seldom lasts for long and in case of a low pressure front our plan allows time for rest days with alternative activities, like hiking or fishing.

Expedition style trip

Our journey is in every way an expedition. Even though we have an itinerary and an overall plan, the detailed day- to day- planning is susceptible to factors like weather, sea-state and ice-situation. Only very few kayaking groups come this way and there are no organized camping spots. But every new camp we set up on our way offers beautiful arctic scenery and freshwater supplies.
We organize the group into smaller camp-teams of 3-4 persons. A typical expedition day will start with a solid breakfast of mostly oat-porridge with accessories (nuts, almonds, honey, raisins etc.). After the camp is packed we paddle a couple of hours before we make a short break to stretch legs. Our lunch break offers plenty of time to fill the reserves before we paddle on. At our destination for the day we help each other setting up camp and prepare the food. The afternoons and evenings are at leisure to enjoy the surroundings and relax.   

The trip is guided by Morten Nilsson, a Danish guide, sea kayak instructor and BCU 5* sea leader. Morten is also a former Greenland resident and he has led several kayak and outdoor trips in Greenland as well as other destinations like Norway, Canada and Mexico.
Our aim is to make the safest possible expedition journey and as a part of this the guide will be in daily contact with the coast guard and rescue service, who will plot our day-to-day location. We are also in contact with the weather service from the main airport in Kangerlussuaq for accurate weather reports in case of a sudden change in weather.   

Book here

1 person. Kayaking in Northwest Greenland. Accommodation in hostels in two-bed rooms and in 2-person tents.

WeekArrival date Return dateDurationPrice per person 
2806-07-201920-07-201914 NightsEUR 3,858,-BOOK
WeekArrival date Duration
( Nights)
Price per person 
2806-07-201914EUR 3,858,-BOOK
Practical information

The price includes:

  • Returnflight Copenhagen-Kangerlussuaq-Ilulissat
  • Accommodation on hostel in Ilulissat 4 nights
  • 11 days guided sea kayak expedition north of Ilulissat
  • All guiding and sightseeing in Ilulissat
  • Solid PE-Sea kayak, paddle*, spraydeck and PFD
  • All provisions on the expedition
  • Tents and cooking equipment

*We recommend that you bring your own favorite paddle


The price does not include:

  • Transportation to and from Copenhagen
  • Personal clothing and paddling layers (A drysuit can be rented)
  • Sleeping bag, sleeping pad and other personal camping equipment
  • Local trips in Ilulissat before or after the expedition (And you will not very likely be needing this)
  • Meals or drinks while in Ilulissat
  • Greenlandic buffet on restaurant on our last day (Very recommendable)   

 

SAFETY
Communication equipment like satellite-phone, VHF-radio and other means of communication is always a part of our basic expedition equipment. We have a daily communication appointment with the Greenlandic Coastguard so our latest whereabouts is always recorded. An emergency plan is quickly activated, should a situation occur.

EQUIPMENT
We use solid Dagger PE-kayaks that will carry enough gear for our purpose while still being quite maneuverable. We also carry neoprene spraydecks and Kokatat Msfit PFD’s.
Clothing is of vital importance on a journey like this. As inner layer we recommend one or two layers of woolen or synthetic underwear, a thin fleece jersey and thick woolen socks. As outer layer, a drysuit, neoprene boots, paddle mittens or pogies and a warm hat or beanie. It is possible to rent a high quality drysuit, but we would advise you to bring your own. A thorough packing list will be provided prior to the trip.

FOODS AND PROVISIONS
Our expedition group will be divided in to 3-person provision teams with provisions for the full trip, cooking stoves, kitchen utensils and waterbags. The teams will each be responsible for their own cooking on a daily basis.
Breakfasts usually consists of porridge with add-ons like almonds, honey, cinnamon, butter etc. It can also be bread with butter, cheese or jam. Our lunch is usually tortilla breads with butter, ham, sausage, cheese, canned mackerel, mayo etc. There will also be a selection of noodles and soups.
Our supper is mainly simple but tasty dishes that are easy to cook with noodles, pasta or rice. For the longer days there will be a selection of instant freeze dried trekking meals.
We also bring lots of tee, instant coffee, powdered milk, cocoa and a selection of snacks, bars, chocolates, biscuits etc.       

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