Guided ACT hikes
There are a handful of providers now offering guided hikes of the Arctic Circle Trail, including one locally in Kangerlussuaq. Remember, even in a guided group you will still be carrying all your own equipment and food as there is no access for support vehicles.
If you choose to join a guided group, you will be with them for a significant amount of time in remote wilderness. We therefore strongly encourage you to “interview” your guide to make sure they have the requisite expertise to lead an Arctic hiking trip. In particular, you should find out answers to the following questions:
1) What qualifications do your guides have?
For your own safety and enjoyment, we recommend that you ask to see their qualifications and insurance to operate. They should have current qualifications of:
- Arctic Wilderness Guide and/or UIMLA Certified International Mountain Leader or equivalent
- Wilderness First Aid training or equivalent
Hiking in the Arctic has different challenges compared with hiking in warmer parts of the world and your guides should know how to manage these unique circumstances. They should also be able to stabilize and treat injuries that are not true emergencies.
2) What is the size of the group?
Groups should be no larger than 10 clients + 2 guides as a maximum. There should be 1 guide per 5 clients. This is both for your safety and to preserve the experience of silence and solitude for all hikers.
3) Will your guide(s) carry two-way communication devices such as an InReach or satellite phone?
Another critical element for your safety. There is no phone reception beyond the outskirts of Kangerlussuaq and Sisimiut and all guides must have a way to contact emergency services (and to maintain communication with them) in the event of an emergency. Read our page on Search and Rescue in Greenland for further information about what is involved in a rescue scenario.
4) What is their approach to Leave No Trace?
Anyone thinking of doing the Arctic Circle Trail must comply with the ACT Leave No Trace principles. In particular, we require that all hikers (including those in groups)
- Carry all their own trash out with them. This includes trash, used toilet paper, all gas cannisters, and all leftover food. We are in the process of removing the blue bins and barrels from the trail – these should not be used by hikers
- Walk in the trail tread if at all possible to avoid trail creep and the destruction of more vegetation
- Limit noise. This includes wearing headphones if you wish to listen to music, and being respectful of other’s desire for quiet – especially around gathering places like the huts
- Do not disturb cairns or rocks. They may be of historical importance, and it is not always easy to distinguish an Inuit site from a pile of rocks. It is forbidden to build any cairns, sculptures, ego-towers, fire-pits or any other ‘rock art’ of your own.
- Do not light fires and be careful with cigarettes. Fires are notoriously difficult to put out in Arctic tundra
5) Is a donation for trail maintenance built into the cost of your trip?
There is no dedicated budget allocated to the maintenance of the Arctic Circle Trail so we rely on donations from hikers. We ask all guided groups to contribute to the maintenance of the trail with a donation of at least 500DKK per person (including guides) to help us address many of the issues that have arisen from the rapid increase in hiker traffic over recent years.
6) How does the tour give back to the local communities?
Every tourism experience should benefit the communities that host it. How does the tour support this? It might be through purchasing all food locally, allocating a few days on either end of the hike to engage in the other tourism opportunities in Kangerlussuaq and Sisimiut, or through some other means. But there should be something.