Greenland is most famously known for its ice cap, its glaciers, and its icebergs. Destination Arctic Circle has plenty of all three! In particular, it provides easiest access to the Greenland Ice Sheet and a plethora of glaciers near Kangerlussuaq and Maniitsoq.
Russell Glacier is located 25km from Kangerlussuaq and is one of the most impressive glaciers in Greenland both from land and from a scenic flight. It is also one of its most unusual. While glaciers that reach the ocean often have glacial walls (glacial faces), this is not as common for those that terminate on land.
Russell Glacier is one of the rare examples of a land-terminating glacier that ends in a ~60m high wall. It is easily visited on a day-trip from Kangerlussuaq and you can hike to within 100m from its face. Compare this with more typical glacier excursions where boat access is limited by ice in front of the glacier and where you may be a kilometre or more from its face.
The area in front of Russell Glacier is grassed and there are a couple of picnic tables available for guests. But this is the extent of the infrastructure. It is the perfect place for a picnic during the summer months as you wait and see if you are lucky enough to witness a calving event, and many hikers (including those on the Arctic Circle Trail) choose to camp here as part of their adventure.
Safety: Please be careful when visiting the Russell Glacier and do not go down onto the rocks at its base. Calving events are common and may cause tsunamis or throw out chunks of ice that could hit you.
During winter, you can find dramatic ice formations on the fringes of the Russell and Reindeer Glaciers near Kangerlussuaq. These amazing sculptures are formed when the glaciers push against the nearby frozen lakes and river and, like tectonic plates, break the ice and push it up into jagged creations.
Safety: Winter tours to the Ice Sheet and Russell Glacier often stop at these sites. We do not recommend you visit without a local guide.
Eternity Fjord glaciers
The Eternity Fjord is one of the most beautiful in all of Greenland. Starting from Maniitsoq and passing by the colourful settlement of Kangaamiut, a boat trip along its 90km length sees you sailing beneath 2000m tall mountains that drop straight into the fjord. These peaks are the tallest on the west coast of Greenland and a hotspot for heliskiing and ski touring enthusiasts.
There are an uncountable number of hanging glaciers that peek out from between these jagged summits, and a surprising number of marine-terminating glaciers with tall glacial walls (faces). Your boat captain will get you as close as safely possible before switching off the motor so you can soak in the silence – one that is only broken by sea birds, the crack of ice, or a carving event.
Glacier Tour Operators
The following companies offer tours to glaciers in the region: