Arctic Circle Trail Diary - Day 1 (Reykjavik)

Exploring Reykjavik

On Saturday, August 17th, 2019, my good friend Adrian and I set off on our Arctic Circle Trail hike trip. During our expedition, I kept a written diary, which I have used to create this series of blog posts since returning home.

The Arctic Circle Trail (ACT) hike is a backpacking trail located in Greenland. It is a long-distance trail that starts in Kangerlussuaq, a small town on the western edge of Greenland’s ice-cap, and ends in Sisimiut, a town located on the west coast. The trail is approximately 180 km long and typically takes around 10-14 days to complete. The trail passes through remote wilderness areas and offers hikers the chance to experience the Arctic tundra, glaciers, and mountains. It also provides hikers with an opportunity to see arctic wildlife such as musk oxen, reindeer, and arctic foxes.

A typical scene while on the Arctic Circle Trail in Greenland.

The trail is considered to be challenging, with rugged pathless terrain and unpredictable weather conditions. Hikers must be well-prepared for the hike and have experience in backpacking and wilderness camping. The trail is only open during the summer months, and hikers are required to be self-sufficient, carrying all necessary equipment and supplies with them on the trail.

The Arctic Circle Trail is considered to be one of the most remote and challenging hikes in the world, but it is also one of the most rewarding experiences for nature enthusiasts and adventure seekers. It provides an opportunity to explore the arctic wilderness and to experience the natural beauty of Greenland.

After weeks of planning and preparation, we woke up early at 2am, and drove ourselves to London Heathrow airport. We were well-equipped with enough food and gear to last us for the next couple of weeks as we embarked on our journey to Greenland.

We took a 7:10am flight to Reykjavik, Iceland, and upon arrival at Keflavik International Airport, we boarded the “Orange” transfer coach to the city. The coach cost approximately £20 each, but we later realized that a local municipal bus service would have been cheaper, but slower due to multiple stops along the way.

We then had a short walk in the city to reach our hotel where we would stay for one night. We encountered a booking problem with the room, but as it apparently wasn’t our fault, it resulted in a free upgrade to a larger room.

Looking across the Reykjavik seafront, with the Harpa Concert Hall in the background.

We tried the local restaurants and food, which were all very good, but quite expensive. For example, a beer would cost around £7. The menu for the day was unexpectedly Mexican-themed, with tacos for lunch and a chimichanga burrito at BrewDog for dinner. The Pride parade was going on in Reykjavik that weekend, making it very busy in the city.

Sun Voyager Sculpture with a view of Reykjavik's landmark mountain, Mt. Esja.

Looking across the sea from the docks, I could see the mountain of Esja (SOTA reference TF/SV-005) and made a mental note I should return to Iceland one day for Summits on the Air adventures. I also tried making CQ calls on the 2-metre calling channel (145.5MHz - Iceland is part of the IARU Region 1, so the channel bandplan is the same as at home in the United Kingdom) while around the city to try and log some Icelandic amateur radio station contacts, but I was unsuccessful. Travelling light, I only had my Yaesu VX6 with me, which isn’t particularly powerful.

After visiting some bars in the town centre, we got an early night, ready for the onward flight to Greenland’s arctic circle the next day.

Click here to jump to the next entry in my Arctic Circle Trail hike diary.