Hiking Greenland – Sillisit to Qassiarsuk

Another beautiful day in South Greenland 😊  So much so – it was very, very hard for me to leave my perch on the front deck of the Sillisit Hostel for the hike over to Qassiarsuk!

View of the fjord, Sillisit Hostel and green grass in South Greenland

View from Sillisit Farm. The Sillisut Hostel is the small, white building

The most common way to hike between the two places is via the dirt road that basically follows the fjord (solid line in the below left image).   However, given my awesome orienteering efforts with the Waterfall Hike near Igaliku the other day, I thought I’d take an alternate route that would probably reveal more varied scenery – yet another “unmarked route”.

Contour and other map showing my proposed hike from Sillisit to Qassiarsuk via Nunataaq in South Greenland

Left is the contour map I was endeavouring to follow to guide my path.

This route would take me from Sillisit across to Nunataaq (you can see the dashed line on the map on the left, or the orange line on the map on the right), and then along a dirt road (solid line on left map, bottom red line on right map) to Qassiarsuk.

I have to admit, it took me a little while to get my bearings this time based on the contours, and I relied a fair bit on a trail marked in Maps.Me (have I mentioned how useful that App is?) as I bush-bashed through knee, then thigh, then waist deep vegetation.  Definitely no hiking trails here, and rarely even a sheep track heading in the right direction!  

Arctic vegetation was a feature of the hike from Sillisit to Qassiarsuk via Nunataaq in South Greenland

The vegetation was ankle or calf deep in most places, but there were occasions where I was bush-bashing through thigh-deep bushes as well!

It was beautiful scenery though, full of small lakes (which made a direct route impossible) and a very occasional sheep.  This is sheep country. Where are all the sheep??!!

Views of mountain lakes and arctic vegetation hiking from Sillisit to Qassiarsuk in South Greenland

Views of mountain lakes and arctic vegetation while hiking from Sillisit to Qassiarsuk via Nunataaq in South Greenland

And then, suddenly, after about 4km (though who really knows given I took a bit of a meandering route) – a red dot to mark the hiking route!  I was so surprised, I marked it on Maps.Me!

Close-up of a red dot marking the trail from Sillisit to Qassiarsuk via Nunataaq in South Greenland

And then another one!

View of arctic vegetation and a very difficult to see red dot marking the trail from Sillisit to Qassiarsuk via Nunataaq in South Greenland

Can you spot the red dot that indicates where the hiking trail goes?

Strangely, there was still no obvious trail and, after getting all excited, that turned out to be the extent of the red dots for another kilometre at least.   I suspect I lost the “trail” (as it were) by “keeping high”, however, I did have an awesome lunch spot with a view over a large lake and out to another iceberg-filled fjord.

The long, deep blue lake where I had my lunch while hiking from Sillisit to Qassiarsuk via Nunataaq in South Greenland

I finally decided to descend the mountain that I was “keeping high” on, and managed to pick up a string of red dots and an obvious hiking trail much further down.   There were about 6 dots in a row and each one clearly visible from the previous one! 

A trail on the Sillisit to Qassiarsuk via Nunataaq hiking route in South Greenland

I did eventually find a path … for a while

But I celebrated too soon, and ended up bush-bashing the last of the way across to Nunataaq.  At least I could see the farm towards which I was heading though!  

Markers on Maps.Me showing the locations of the red dots I found while hiking from Sillisut to Qassiarsuk via Nunataaq in South Greenland

Because they were so rare, I started marking the locations of the red dots I found on Maps.Me You can see there was an enormous gap between Sillisit (yellow marker) and the first two dots. Then another gap before I came upon a whole bunch of them AND an obvious trail. Then nothing again until I reached Nunataaq (orange marker). The other red markers mark the road to Qassiarsuk (purple marker)

Along the way, I took a detour out to what looked like it might be an amazing viewpoint over the iceberg-filled Southern Sermilik Fjord.  It was 🙂

Small icebergs fill the fjord near Tasiusaq. View while hiking from Sillisit to Qassiarsuk via Nunataaq in South Greenland

Gorgeous views of the ice-filled Southern Sermilik Fjord near Tasiusaq

And a little further towards Nunataaq, I spied something that made me stop dead in my tracks in awe!  Can you see it in the image below?

Nunataaq farm with the Southern Sermalik Fjord and the Greenland Ice Sheet in the background, South Greenland

Approaching Nunataaq Farm – can you see the enormous wall of ice!

Can you see the enormous wall of ice??!!   I’ll give you a hint – it’s over on the back-left of the image.

That had to be a massive glacier coming down off the Greenland Ice Cap!  I was incredibly excited about the prospect of seeing it up close, but it was getting late and I still had 2 more days to explore the area, on both of which I would pass through Tasiusaq (the small community on the fjord).  So I headed up the gravel road to Qassiarsuq instead.

A red road leading up to the pass that separates Nunataaq from Qassiarsuk in South Greenland

Road from Nunataaq to Qassiarsuk

Stunning views back towards the ice-filled fjord and glacier from the top of the pass, and yet more lakes in the direction I was hiking.  And some sheep!

Views of different lakes and sheep while hiking from Sillisit to Qassiarsuk via Nunataaq in South Greenland

Yes – still sheep country!

I finally arrived at my farm stay (Illunnguujuk Farm) on the way into Qassiarsuq.  Its another very comfortable shared accommodation with a lovely view, and am looking forward to seeing that glacier up close, hopefully on tomorrow’s hike!

A red dirt road leads down green hills to the fjord and Qassiarsuk, South Greenland

Approaching Qassiarsuk. The white building you can just see at right is the farm where I stayed (about 1km out of the village)

Distance: ~20km via the route I took

Time: ~7 hours

Notes:  do not attempt the “unmarked route” if you are not confident with navigating and would prefer to walk on some sort of a trail.

Discover more about Greenland

If this post has piqued your curiosity about Greenland, learn more about this amazing country at Visit Greenland, and check out the wide range of tours of all kinds (not just hiking and trekking) at Guide to Greenland.

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