Despite its isolated nature, there is little to harm you on the Arctic Circle Trail if you have the correct experience, are well prepared with appropriate gear, and take care. All users undertaking the Arctic Circle Trail do so at their own risk so please be honest with yourself about your abilities before deciding on the adventure.
The key safety things to be mindful of are:
This is likely the greatest concern on the trail. It is extremely changeable and you must be prepared for a broad spectrum of conditions ranging from snow (yes, even in summer), to hot sun, to strong winds.
Make sure you pack layers of clothing and stop to add or remove layers whenever necessary. Also ensure that your tent will withstand windy conditions and that your sleep system is warm enough to cope with overnight temperatures below zero.
There are several rivers you must cross on the Arctic Circle Trail. These may be problematic if you are hiking in early summer (or if it is a wet year), as they can be quite deep and have a strong current. If this is the case, be particularly careful and cross with a buddy if you can.
The deepest crossing is the Itinneq River between the Ikkattooq and Equalugaarniarfik huts. There is a bridge to assist you (GPS: 66.9880817, -52.3358973), but it is located a few km closer to the fjord than where the trail crosses. If you have any doubt as to whether you should cross the river at the trail, hike downstream to find this bridge.
The other rivers are usually easily forded and it may be possible to rock-hop across (easier with hiking poles). However, do be careful if choosing this option. We don’t want sprained ankles! For safety, it is better to change into a set of river shoes and simply walk across. Whatever you choose, make sure you open your hip and chest belts so you can ditch your pack quickly if required.
Polar Bear sightings along the Arctic Circle Trail are extremely rare and this part of Greenland is considered polar bear free. For this reason, you should not hike with a rifle and you do not need to bring bear spray. Please note: if you go hiking in North, East and parts of South Greenland, you will need to prepare for polar bears.
The animals you are likely to encounter along the trail generally try to avoid close contact with humans whenever possible. While not usually dangerous, we still strongly advise you to maintain a distance of at least 100m from any animal in the rare chance that it becomes spooked and charges you, or it carries the rabies virus (foxes).
While it is not necessary to hang your food (and in fact, there is nowhere to hang it) please clean up after meals, do not leave food lying around for the animals to find, and definitely do not try to feed or pet them.
In case of emergency
If you are in Kangerlussuaq or Sisimiut, please contact the police on: +299 701 448
On the trail, we strongly recommend that you hike with a Personal Locator Beacon (PLB) or equivalent. These emergency devices are the only way to call for help while hiking as there is no cell phone reception and it may take other hikers several days to reach Kangerlussuaq or Sisimiut.
Bring your own if you have one, or you can hire one from us.
Please make sure you understand how and when to use it before you start your trek.