Hiking in South Greenland
We feel that South Greenland is the absolute best area of Greenland to go hiking. This is where you will find the greatest variety of landscapes anywhere on the island. In a single day, you can hike through lush valleys, follow rushing streams, walk along ridges overlooking fjords filled with icebergs and climb windswept mountains. You can take easy one-day or multiple-day trips among green, gently rolling hills, where you follow paths and gravel roads. Yet only a few kilometres away the vast pristine wilderness beckons the more experienced hiker. Here you will find no trails, no bridges and no signs of other human beings.
You often get an extra dimension to your hiking tour in South Greenland, as the trail may lead you past small, isolated sheep farms, where you can visit or stay overnight with a Greenlandic family and catch a glimpse of their everyday life. And, finally, one last important reason to choose South Greenland is that you can almost entirely avoid the at times very annoying mosquitoes if you stick to mountain areas with grazing sheep!
Below you will find useful information about hiking in Greenland. Please contact us with any further questions and read more about hiking tour packages for individuals at: Easy hiking 8 days and Backpacking & hiking 13 days.
We have compiled for you a collection of some of the very best classic hiking routes in South Greenland. These tours are grouped according to the areas shown on the satellite photo above. Click on the links below for descriptions, details and photos.
> Narsarsuaq area
> Qassiarsuk area
> Igaliku area
> Eqalortutsit Glacier
> Qassiarsuk – Narsaq
> Qaqortoq – Igaliku
Maps & routes
The Greenland Tourist Board has published a series of hiking maps with a scale of 1:100,000. Five of these cover parts of South Greenland. There are three hiking maps for the areas of Narsarsuaq, Narsaq and Qaqortoq, one map for Tasermiut fjord near Nanortalik and one map for the area around Ivittuut – Grønnedal. The maps are for sale at the Blue Ice Café in Narsarsuaq, or you can buy them online at ScanMaps. All maps have descriptions and general information on the back.
If you only stay in the area around Narsarsuaq and the settlements of Qassiarsuk and Igaliku, you may want to purchase a more detailed hiking map with a scale of 1:50,000 (Arctic Sun). This is also available at the Blue Ice Café.
You should not expect the same level of well-marked hiking trails in Greenland as you would find in many national or regional parks in Scandinavia and Europe. Greenland is remarkably untouched in that respect! In South Greenland, however, there are several gravel roads that connect the different sheep farms, and some of the most used sheep trails are clearly marked with cairns and painted red dots. Here, even as a beginner, you can take wonderful day trips through a rich and varied landscape. If you venture outside these areas, you should bring along a map and compass or GPS. Note that there is a significant declination between the geographical and magnetic north in Greenland. The exact declination is noted on the maps.
If you take a longer hiking trip in a remote area, you can leave a route description at the Blue Ice Café, and be sure to report back when you return!
See above for descriptions of various recommended hiking routes in the area.
When to go & weather conditions
The best time to go hiking in South Greenland is from mid-June to mid-September. It can get very warm, especially during the month of July, and it is not unusual to walk in shorts and T-shirts. However, as in all mountainous areas, the weather can change very rapidly and it may be hot during the day and quite chilly at night. From the middle of August, the temperature can dip below freezing at night.
The following weather conditions may affect your trip to South Greenland:
A foehn is a dry, warm and strong wind that blows down from the ice cap (usually from the east and south-east in South Greenland). A warning sign of an impending foehn is when lens-shaped clouds gather over the ice cap. During the foehn, the temperature often rises several degrees, often quite rapidly. A foehn storm can last for several days and be so intense and violent that it is best to take down your tent and seek more stable shelter.
Fjord winds are very common on warm and sunny summer days, when warm air rises in the backcountry, creating a thermal column that draws air from the open sea and along the fjords, hence the name. These winds usually begin at noon and continue until late afternoon. The winds are brisk, cool breezes that can create choppy water and make life difficult for kayakers.
Fog also occurs together with warm and stable weather during summer. It typically forms in the morning and dissipates during the day. If you are hiking in an area of trackless wilderness, the fog can make it almost impossible to orientate and find your way.