edit

Introduction

Kangerlussuaq is a settlement on the west coast of Greenland near the end of a fjord of the same name. Its Danish name is Søndre Strømfjord, and until the early 1990's was home to a U.S. military base known as Bluie West Eight. The settlement and the airfield share a symbiotic relationship, with most residents being employed by it in one way or another.

Kangerlussuaq began as an important stopover point for aircraft between North America and Europe during World War II. During the Cold War the airfield served as a U.S. early warning facility before being decommissioned in 1992.

Today, the airfield is one of the largest in Greenland and still serves as the main staging area for scientific personnel manning Greenland's many research facilities and base camps. An area to the east of town was the launch site for several sounding rockets used in upper atmospheric studies in the 1970s and 1980s. A radar facility used for ionospheric studies is operated by the U.S. National Science Foundation and the Danish Meteorological Institute to the west of town at Kellyville.

The town itself is roughly be divided into two halves, the original settlement itself and the former military area on the opposite side of the airfield. With the closure of the military base many of the former barracks are slowly being converted for civilian use.

Top

edit

Sights and Activities

The Greenland ice sheet begins at the upper end of the valley to the east of town and is a spectacular sight to behold. The ice sheet can be reached at the end of the gravel road which leads out of town from near the east end of the runway. The nearest point of ice is Russel's Glacier, about 20 kilometres from town, but the road is fairly flat so that the entire hike can be completed in a good Kangerlussuaq summer day, though it is generally more fun to take 2-3 days and spend some time near the ice, and perhaps continue further up the road to some of the lakes edging the ice, with small icebergs floating in them. Be prepared for colder temperatures near the ice, as it can significantly decrease the temperature of the surrounding air, and set up a constant daytime "ice breeze" of cold air blowing from the glacier. The image at the top of the article shows that glacier.

Kangerlussuaq is located under a spot known for strong auroral activity. Visitors during the winter months should be able to see spectacular displays of the Aurora Borealis (Northern Lights) at night. Kangerlussuaq's stable weather conditions give a 99% chance of visual between November and March.

Kellyville (officially known as the Sondrestrom Incoherent Scatter Radar Facility). A radar facility operated by the U.S. National Science Foundation and Danish Meteorological Institute located about 15 km outside of town, named after the U.S. scientist who first proposed the site. Investigations of various atmospheric phenomena, including the Aurora Borealis, take place at the site and at instruments and antennas scattered throughout the nearby landscape. The facility is permanently manned by a small site crew as well as visiting researchers, and can be easily identified by the large radar dish. Tours are by appointment only.
Hike through the tundra around town, and observe the local wildlife including caribou, musk ox, and arctic hares. The Arctic Circle Trail is by far the most popular of all of the hikes in Greenland, and is frequented by 700-1000 hikers annually, most of them walking towards Sisimiut. The trail is 167km long and takes typically 7-11 days to complete. Most hikers complete it in time period it from end of june until mid-september.
Horseback riding on the rugged Icelandic ponies kept at the stable in town can be arranged at the Tourist office in the airport building.
Cycle to the Russel glacier (25km one way) or to the ice cap at "point 660" (35km one way on gravel road). Bike rental costs 200DKK at Kanger market, on the other side of the airport.
Take a snowmobile trip across the Icecap.
Take a boat tour of the fjord.
Play golf - Søndre Strømfjord has a golf course to the east of the airport. You won't find a single straw of grass, but you will get the chance to play on what must be one of the northernmost golf courses in the world (Ulukhaktok and Tromsø are further north). reportedly the green fee is a mere 50-100 DKK, and clubs can be rented at a similar price.
Fish for cod through holes drilled in the fjord ice during winter months.
Go dog sledding with the huskies on the fjord during winter months.

Top

edit

Events and Festivals

  • The National Day of Greenland is held on the 21st of June each year - the lightest day of the year - as a celebration of Greenland's traditions and cultural heritage. People often dress in national costumes to mark the occasion.
  • Return of the Sun - January’s return of the sun after several weeks or months of constant darkness is a major cause for celebration in Greenland. Although the exact day varies throughout the country, each local community celebrates the occasion with plenty of coffee, sweets, music, and special family togetherness.
  • Polar Circle Marathon - The self-described “coolest marathon on Earth” takes place north of the Arctic Circle towards the end of October and takes approximately 25 percent longer to complete than most marathons due to its challenging icy and hilly terrain. Although most of the run is on a snow covered gravel road, runners must also traverse the actual ice cap near Kangerlussuaq, a thousand year old ice wall. Racers can also take part in a shorter mini-marathon wearing regular running shoes despite chilly temperatures.

Top

edit

Getting There

Over land

As with most settlements in Greenland, ground transportation is very limited. Hiking maps of the area from Sisimiut to Kangerlussuaq are available from Scanmaps and small huts are placed strategically along the route. Some experience in hiking is necessary, as traffic is sparse, and trails disappear.

In the winter, the same route can be used for transport on dog sleds. Contact the tourist office to arrange a trip.

By Plane

Kangerlussuaq Airport (SFJ IATA). Air Greenland operates scheduled flights between Greenland and abroad. Air Greenland flies to destinations in Greenland and Copenhagen from Kangerlussuaq Airport, utilising Boeing 757 and Airbus A330-planes. Air Greenland is the only company flying between Kangerlussuaq and domestic destinations. Scientific and technical personnel flying into Greenland for research purposes will typically fly into Kangerlussuaq via New York Air National Guard C-130s from Stratton ANG Base in Schenectady, New York, USA.

By Boat

Arctic Umiaq Line launched a weekly coastal ferry connection between Nuuk, Kangerlussuaq and Uummannaq in Spring 2006.
The Norwegian line Hurtigruten uses Kangerlussuaq as the start and endpoints for their Disko Bay cruises.

Top

edit

Getting Around

As with most settlements in Greenland, ground transportation is very limited. Hiking maps of the area from Sisimiut to Kangerlussuaq are available from Scanmaps and small huts are placed strategically along the route. Some experience in hiking is necessary, as traffic is sparse, and trails disappear.

In the winter, the same route can be used for transport on dog sleds. Contact the tourist office to arrange a trip.

Top

edit

Eat

The cafeteria at the Kangerlussuaq Airport is probably the largest of the few eateries in town. The cafeteria typically serves standard offerings such as sandwiches, burgers, curries, and other European fare. The 'AniButik Og Cafe' at the Polar Bear Inn located near the Science Housing Facilities on the South side of the town has great food. They serve authentic Thai food, curries, burgers, and their famous hot dogs. There is a take-away pizzeria opposite the airport terminal, next to the Post Office.

The 'upscale' restaurant adjacent to the main airport cafeteria (located through the far doors at the end of the cafeteria) is quite pricey, but, offers Very delectible native Greenlandic meals with Reindeer, Musk Ox etc along with a nice glass of wine which is hard to come by.

Restaurant Roklubben is 5 km outside of town on the shores of Lake Ferguson. The menu is rotated with each season, serving local ingredients and traditional dishes year-round. A shuttle bus service to the restaurant is free of charge. Reservations by phone +299 841648 or e-mail info@aac.gl.

Top

edit

Sleep

The Kangerlussuaq Hotel is located in a wing of the Kangerlussuaq Airport terminal.
The Kangerlussuaq Camping is located very near the airport, about 200 yards from the runway, behind Polar Lodge (look for the small blue building). Open 30.06-19.09. 60 DKK / pers. Very basic facilities - water, toilet, and an outdoor shower. +299223399
The Kangerlussuaq Youth Hostel is located on the other side of the landing strip.
Old Camp is located 2 km from the airport and is open year round.
Polar Lodge is located 100 m from the airport and isopen year round.

Top

edit

Safety

Kangerlussuaq is a very small settlement and as such has virtually no crime. Care should be taken when hiking through certain areas during hunting season (try not to look like a caribou or musk ox).

By Greenlandic standards, Kangerlussuaq is blessed with a warmer climate during the summer. The greatest local danger is probably posed by weather in winter. The average high in January (the best time for seeing the Aurora Borealis) is -12 C (8 F), and during cold snaps, extended periods around -28 C (-20 F) are not uncommon. Arctic parkas and boots are a must to spend more than a few minutes outside under these conditions.

The other local year-round danger is local musk oxen which frequent the area around Lake Fergusen and Black Ridge to the south of town. Keep a distance of several tens of meters from any animal, as they often charge without warning and are much faster than their shaggy, ambling appearance belies. If you see a group of musk oxen forming into the typical circle or line defensive formations, with their heads and horns facing you and any young behind the main rank, it means you have been identified as a mortal threat, and you should get away from the area as calmly and quickly as possible. Musk oxen are particularly nervous if you are located uphill from them, so never approach or pass by from above.

A few other dangers are presented by the geography. The river coming from the ice cap, which passes by town and empties into the head of the fjord, has deposited huge silt flats which can be very unstable and present large areas of quicksand indistinguishable from harder sand. For this reason, do not venture out into the river bed, and do not drink the silty water coming from the glacier as the extremely fine silt can wreak havoc on your intestines, and clogs even the best of filters (water in ponds and streams elsewhere is perfectly safe). Finally, if you go to the edge of the inland ice in summer, beware that it is an active glacier and huge calving events can happen at any time, dropping tons of ice accompanied by bursts of pent-up, near-freezing melt water. Keep a safe distance from the edge.

It should also be noted that there is no hospital in Kangerlussuaq. While lighter injuries can be treated at the local clinic, serious medical emergencies may require evacuation by air to Sisimiut or Nuuk.

Mosquitoes and black flies are a serious problem during the summer months. Bug repellent is a must.

Top

edit

Keep Connected

Internet

Thanks to undersea fiber optic cable links to Europe and broadband satellite, Greenland is well connected with 93% of the population having internet access. Your hotel or hosts (if staying in a guesthouse or private home) will likely have wifi or an internet connected PC, and all settlements have an internet cafe or some location with public wifi. Ask around if you need help finding it.

Phone

See also: International Telephone Calls

The international telephone code for Greenland is 299.

Tele Greenland is the only telephone and internet provider. Mobile phones have coverage in all larger villages, including 3G internet access. The mobile phone system in Greenland is GSM 900/1800, and with the exception of one or two settlements the system covers all the inhabited areas of Greenland. Note that roaming charges are international (as Greenland is outside the EU), and much higher than someone from EU would pay inside EU.

Post

Post Greenland is the company responsible for postal service in Greenland. It has reliable services, but as you might imagine, it takes a while for your letter or postcard to arrive. Post offices can be found in all major communities in Greenland. Business hours are typically Monday-Friday 9:00am-3:00pm. Mail from Greenland takes about four to five days to reach Europe.

Top

Kangerlussuaq Travel Helpers

We don't currently have any Travel Helpers for Kangerlussuaq

This is version 3. Last edited at 13:30 on Oct 30, 19 by Utrecht. 4 articles link to this page.

Creative Commons License
Except where otherwise noted, content of this article is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 License