If you love trekking and getting away from everything, the 12-day Unplugged Wilderness Trek in East Greenland is absolutely perfect for you.  You will likely not see another human being (apart from those in your group) for almost 2 weeks, and there's no mobile phone coverage either! 

(Note: this is a very brief summary of my experiences.  Visit my blog for a more detailed description of my adventures on the Unplugged Wilderness Trek)

The Unplugged Wilderness Trek with Greenland Adventures by Icelandic Mountain Guides, was my favourite thing I did during my 5 weeks in Greenland in the summer of 2017.   Actually, it was my favourite thing I did in my whole year of full-time travel in 2017!

Trekking on Day 3 of the Unplugged Wilderness Trek in East Greenland - Knud Rasmussen Glacier in the background

Now, admittedly, I love long-distance trekking in remote places - something that I know most people find a little perplexing.  But if you are the same, or if you enjoy hiking and have been thinking about doing a longer-distance trek to see what it's like, I highly recommend this one!  

Unplugged Wilderness Trek - Day 1

The first day of the trek doesn't actually involve much trekking.  Rather, it is a day of travel and logistics:  an early flight from Reykjavik to Kulusuk in East Greenland, followed by a light lunch at the wonderful Kulusuk Hostel, followed by loading the speedboats with all the gear for 12 days, followed by a 2 hour trip up the Sermiligaaq Fjord to the first campsite in the Karale Fjord.

Arrival at the first campsite on the Unplugged Wilderness Trek. Karale Fjord.

There we unloaded the speedboats, and our guide showed us how to pitch our sleeping tents as well as the main dining tent.  Yes - you have to help out with the camp logistics on this trip - but that is all part of the fun! 

Once all that was done, we could relax and enjoy our surroundings.

View of the Karale Glacier from our first campsite on the Unplugged Wilderness Trek in East Greenland

And what surroundings they were!  From this first campsite, we had a view of 3 different glaciers along the Karale Fjord - impossible to fit in one photo!

Unplugged Wilderness Trek - Day 2

On Day 2 - we hiked ~6 hours (out-and-back) to a lookout point over the Karale Glacier.  This is actually Day 3 in the itinerary that Greenland Adventures provides, but our guide decided to swap the days around based on weather predictions and the fact that we would spend 3 nights camped here.  

The hike basically tracks along the fjord and involves walking over a lot of scree, but it is not particularly difficult.

Hiking towards the Karale Glacier on Unplugged Wilderness in East Greenland

It also gave many in our group their first taste of glacier hiking, as you have to cross an "unnamed" glacier on the way to the lookout.

Glacier Hiking on the Unplugged Wilderness Trek in East Greenland

And, of course, the views once you arrive are stunning.

Views from the lookout over the Karale Glacier. The mountains are also spectacular!

Unplugged Wilderness Trek - Day 3

Day 3's hike had us climbing 850m up some pretty steep slopes for incredible views of the Knud Rasmussen Glacier, and both the Karale and Sermiligaaq Fjords.

Views of glaciers, and the Karale and Sermilagaaq Fjords from our vantage point on Day 3.

This was actually one of my favourite days of the whole trek, and we had a little visitor waiting for us when we got back to camp - an Arctic Fox.

Arctic Fox awaiting us at our campsite after Day 3 of the Unplugged Wilderness Trek in East Greenland

Unplugged Wilderness Trek - Day 4

Day 4 started with us packing up camp and leaving everything on the edge of the fjord for the boat transfer to collect and take to our next campsite.  This is one of the fantastic things about this trek - it is boat-supported, so you only ever have to hike with a day-pack.

The route retraced our hike from Day 3 initially, but we did eventually find our way through the fog and over the mountain to the next valley.  There we followed the river down to what would have been a lovely beach, had we not all been freezing cold and wet.  Yes, we experienced a whole variety of weather in East Greenland!

You have to be prepared for all sorts of weather on the Unplugged Wilderness Trek in East Greenland

Unplugged Wilderness Trek - Day 5

The weather had improved slightly for our hike along the Sermiligaaq Fjord towards the abandoned American WWII air base known as Bluie East Two on Day 5. 

Hiking along the Sermiligaaq Fjord on the Unplugged Wilderness Trek in East Greenland

At the end of the war, the Americans destroyed the base and walked away from the mess.  They left everything to decay and rust, including the skeleton of the large hanger, dozens of vehicles, and an uncountable number of fuel barrels.

Remains of Bluie East Two airbase - Unplugged Wilderness Trek - East Greenland

It is a very surreal experience to come across this after days of pristine wilderness, and fortunately, the Danish and Greenland governments have now committed to cleaning up the site.  We had plenty of time to explore the remains, as our camp for the night was on the dock that used to serve the airfield. 

Our campsite on the dock that used to service Bluie East Two air base - Unplugged Wilderness Trek, East Greenland

Unplugged Wilderness Trek - Day 6

Half-way through the trek, Day 6 was our easiest day of hiking yet.  The main obstacle was a very large glacial river system that we needed to cross to reach the Tunup Kua valley and our next campsite.

The packing list for the Unplugged Wilderness Trek specifically mentions bringing sandals or an extra pair of shoes for river crossings.  We'd changed from our hiking boots to our "river shoes" a few times during the previous days, but this would be the longest crossing. 

Changing from hiking boots to river shoes and back again - how we crossed rivers on the Unplugged Wilderness Trek in East Greenland

Our guide tried to minimize the amount of time we would spend wading through the freezing water, and did an awesome job of finding the shallowest, narrowest areas for us.   It was still quite painful though for those of us without neoprene booties!  They do help protect from the cold.

Crossing the major glacial river on Day 6 of Unplugged Wilderness Trek. There were 6 of these channels to cross

Fortunately, the sun had come out by the time we reached our new camp with a view of icebergs floating in the fjord.

Blue skies and icebergs in the fjord - the view from our Day 6 campsite on the Unplugged Wilderness Trek in East Greenland

Unplugged Wilderness Trek - Day 7

Beautiful blue skies and warm weather greeted us as we made the crossing overland from the Sermiligaaq fjord system to the Tasilaq fjord system.  This was another of my favourite days, hiking along the river in the Tunup Kua Valley with granite mountains towering above us.

Hiking along the Tunup Kua valley on the Unplugged Wilderness Trek in East Greenland

We had another glacier tongue crossing on the other side of the pass

More glacier hiking on the Unplugged Wilderness Trek in East Greenland

Before arriving at our campsite, with an amazing view of "The Triplets" at the end of the Tasilaq Fjord.

The

Unplugged Wilderness Trek - Day 8

Rather than hike straight up the edge of the fjord on Day 8, our guide led us back into the mountains for a more scenic route.   The mountains were spectacular, and we enjoyed hanging out at a small, high lake, before descending to our new campsite further along the Tasilaq Fjord.

Hiking into the mountains to a small lake on the Unplugged Wilderness Trek in East Greenland

Unplugged Wilderness Trek - Day 9

On Day 9, we left our tents and most of the camping gear on the edge of the fjord, and made our way to the Tasiilaq Mountain Hut armed with our sleeping bags and enough food for three days and two nights.  

The hike along the Tasilap Kua Valley is gorgeous and surprisingly green.

Hiking the Tasilip Kua Valley on the Unplugged Wilderness Trek in East Greenland

Then it is up the glacial moraine to an almost vertical climb to the Hut!  Fortunately there are ropes to help on this last section.

Climbing to the Tasiilaq Mountain Hut on the Unplugged Wilderness Trek in East Greenland

The reward is worth the effort though.  The Tasiilaq Mountain Hut is in the most spectacular location!

The Tasiilaq Mountain Hut - Unplugged Wilderness Trek East Greenland

Unplugged Wilderness Trek - Day 10

Unfortunately we awoke to heavy rain today which meant we couldn't climb to the summit behind the hut.  Partially because our guide thought it too dangerous, partially because (if we were honest) we didn't really want to go outside when it was so cosy inside! 

Lazy, rainy day in the Tasiilaq Mountain Hut on the Unplugged Wilderness Trek in East Greenland

So a lazy day spent reading, chatting, sleeping, playing UNO, eating, and drinking copious amounts of tea and coffee.  By this stage on the trek we were all great friends and didn't mind at all being couped up together in the hut relaxing.

Unplugged Wilderness Trek - Day 11

We actually managed to cram the hike we were mean to do on day 10 into our hiking for Day 11.  It meant getting up early, but it was absolutely worth it in every way!

The summit behind the Tasiilaq Mountain Hut has incredible views over the Tasilap Kua Valley and the high, snow-filled valley to the East.  The following images show my attempts at a super-wide panorama (top) showing both valleys, with other panoramas of the Tasilap Kua Valley (middle) and high valley (bottom) in more detail.

Panoramas from the summit behind the Tasiilaq Mountain Hut on the Unplugged Wilderness Trek in East Greenland

I could have stayed here forever!

But we were against a tight schedule, so it was back to the hut, back down the vertical cliff, back down the moraine, and back along the valley to our campsite.

Descending from the Tasiilaq Mountain Hut on the Unplugged Wilderness Trek in East Greenland

The speedboats had come to collect us and all our gear, so we loaded up and headed down the Tasilaq Fjord on the 2 hour journey back to Kulusuk.

Unplugged Wilderness Trek - Day 12

Day 12 was nice and relaxed again :)  An opportunity to wander around town exploring Kulusuk.

Views of Kulusuk - the start and end point of the Unplugged Wilderness Trek in East Greenland

And getting an extremely interesting guided tour of the Kulusuk Museum, which shows a variety of aspects relating to the Tunumiit Inuit way of life.

A guided visit to the Kulusuk Museum is part of the Unplugged Wilderness Trek in East Greenland

The last hike for the trip was out to the airport for the flight back to Reykjavik, where it was very sad to say goodbye to this amazing group of people I had the pleasure of trekking with. 

My trekking companions for the Unplugged Wilderness Trek in East Greenland

Recommendation

If you really want to get away from it all (even for Greenland), East Greenland will definitely deliver. 

In my mind, the best way to explore it is on foot on either the Unplugged Wilderness Trek, or another of the treks offered in the area.  However, if you aren't up for trekking for several days, there is a boat tour to Bluie East Two airfield if you wanted to see that before the governments clean it up.

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