If you only do one thing while visiting Kangerlussuaq, then you should absolutely make it a trip to Russell Glacier.
The route to Russell Glacier is much the same as that which leads to the ice cap. I thought that driving the same route for two days in a row would be boring, but as it turns out, no two days in Greenland are alike. Where the previous day I saw a tonne of reindeer, on this day I only saw five of them! Still no musk oxen or arctic fox sightings though!
On the way to the glacier we made stops at Tomato Lake and Long Lake. We had stopped at Long Lake the previous day, but its vastness was much more obvious with the extra sunlight.
The stop at Tomato Lake was much more incredible than I had imagined. The lake – named after its shape and not its colour) was completely frozen over and surrounded by snow-capped hills. As the sun rose higher in the sky it spilled over the tops of these hills, creating a faintly orange glow that illuminated the entire lake; and it felt just like magic.
After just a little bit more driving we finally reached the entrance point to Russell Glacier. From where the truck was parked it was a 15-minute walk to the glacier itself, and due to some seriously thick snow, it wasn’t exactly a leisurely stroll. However, once you get that first glimpse of the glacier, any little tumbles and slips in the snow become overwhelmingly worthwhile.
The sun was shining low in the sky, the glacier could be heard cracking and moving every few minutes and the colour of the ice was stunningly blue. It is the kind of sight that takes your breath away for a moment, and if you had any worries or troubles, you better believe it would make you forget them.
Russell glacier is not the most active (or productive) glacier in Greenland, but it still moves and shifts a whopping 25cm every single day of the year – even in the winter!
Despite it being more difficult to hike along the slippery terrain with my tripod in hand, I ended up being so glad that I made the extra effort. I think this next picture is one of my favourite ‘self-timer selfies’ of all time!
I really like this next shot too; having a person in the frame really does add some scale to the shot.
Once I was done taking landscape shots, it was time to do some serious scrambling to get up close and personal with Mr Russell. There is a section of the glacier that is already fairly broken, and as a result, you can stand next to this part of the glacier with relative safety.
Massive boulders of blue ice that had broken free from the glacier litter the area, and they are a serious sight to behold. I hung around exploring these icy rocks until I was unable to feel my ears, and then I decided it was time to head back to the bus and begin defrosting.
By the time we arrived back to Kangerlussuaq town I was a shivery mess. I had gotten covered in snow during my glacial exploration, and as I warmed up, all the icy water had melted and seeped through my clothes. It took a good few hours huddled next to a heater before I felt warm again!
Later that night, the skies were looking fairly clear, so I decided that heading out on another Northern Lights hunt was not a terrible idea.
We did end up seeing the Aurora, but she shone very faintly and only hung around for a short time. Despite it not being an overwhelmingly beautiful show of the Aurora, it was still lovely to see her in any capacity. I hadn’t witnessed the Northern Lights since my last trip to Greenland – and 16 months between viewings is far too long!
After the lovely Aurora had faded, we headed back to the Kangerlussuaq museum to warm up with a Greenlandic coffee – and do some out of hours exploring around the museum.
Greenlandic coffee is bloody alcoholic, and despite that usually being enough for me to get on board, it was a little bit too sweet for me. Such a coffee is made up of Kahlua, whiskey, coffee and whipped cream – and I don’t know if it was the Kahlua or the whipped cream, but something in there was just a little bit too sweet for my tastebuds. However, despite this, it did help warm me up – so it can’t be all bad really.
Exploring through the tiny museum was interesting too. Much of the place felt very kitsch, but the plane rockets were a nice touch. These old school rockets were retrieved from planes that landed in Greenland during WWII and were recycled by the local Greenlanders to be used as ashtrays of all things! Probably not the safest recycling job in the world, but hey, whatever works!
I went to sleep that night happy, exhausted and excited. For the next day I would leave Kangerlussuaq, and fly to the coastal town of Sisimiut for some dog sledging action.
Stay tuned, you won’t want to miss this!
Getting to Kangerlussuaq: Air Greenland flies directly from Copenhagen to Kangerlussuaq all year round, a one way flight will set you back approximately $500
Getting out of the Airport: Most accommodation is within walking distance, however the cheapest accommodation (Old Camp) is a fair hike – contact them to arrange a pick up if this is where you plan on staying
Polar Lodge: A no frills option that is kinda a blend of a hostel and hotel. It may be a little rundown, but it is kept well warmed and the beds are comfy. A single room will set you back $190/night
Camera: Images captured with an Olympus OM-D E-M1 in conjunction with M.Zuiko 12-40mm f2/8 lens and M.Zuiko 7-14mm f2/8 lens
Russell Glacier Tour: Run by World of Greenland Arctic Circle, click here to learn more
Remember: While the thought of travelling to such a cold destination may seem intimidating, a visit to Greenland is well worth any minor discomfort that comes from being a little chilly!