Gateway to East Greenland, Kulusuk is a traditional Greenlandic settlement with hunting and fishing in its heart and tourism in its embrace.
Kulusuk has one Pilersuisoq supermarket that stocks a little of everything. You should aim to bring all your outdoor equipment with you.
Souvenir shoppers will have a field day while in Kulusuk and should check out the options at the Kulusuk Museum, Hotel Kulusuk, and the extensive range in the airport (beyond security).
Step out of the airport and into a simpler and more traditional way of life. Kulusuk is the epitome of an East Greenlandic settlement but has also acknowledged its role as the gateway to East Greenland to offer a level of unobtrusive comfort for visitors. Greenlandic sled dogs wait impatiently for the winter between its bright, colourful houses. Icebergs float gracefully past as the sound of an ancient Inuit drum dance echoes off the nearby mountains. Locals welcome you as part of the community. And adventure calls – summoning hikers, ice cavers, sailors, and dog sledders to its stunning surroundings.
Kulusuk is the gateway to East Greenland and flights to Kulusuk can be reached directly from Iceland. If you are coming from Copenhagen, you must first fly to Nuuk and then catch another flight to Kulusuk, which backtracks across the entire country.
There are no domestic or international ferries that service Kulusuk, only small transfer boats that operate between Tasiilaq (located on a separate island) and the other settlements in the area. If you wish to arrive in Kulusuk by sea, you must join one of the cruise ships that call into port there or sail your own vessel.
The best times to visit are: June – October (sailing, hiking), and February- May (dog sledding, snowmobiling, Northern Lights).
Due to its small size, Kulusuk has no public transportation. Transfers from the airport/harbour are provided for guests at the Kulusuk Hotel, but otherwise, you must walk. Guests staying in town must hike for 20-30 minutes along the road to arrive at their accommodation, though it may be possible to arrange luggage transportation.
For excursions in the area, the most common way to get around is with a boat or on foot (summer), and with a dog sled, snowmobile, skis, or snowshoes (winter).
Kulusuk has one comfortable hotel that is located closer to the airport than it is to town and features views over icebergs in the fjord. Other options include a wonderfully cozy hostel (sleeping bags required for mattresses on the floor, dry toilet) that is used mostly by adventure groups, or you may be able to arrange basic accommodation with a family. It is also possible to camp within the town limits. It is not recommended to camp outside of town unless accompanied by a person with a gun, as polar bears have been sighted near populated areas in most years.
With only a 2-hour flight separating Kulusuk from Reykjavik, it is possible to visit the settlement and get a taste of Greenland on a day trip from Iceland. This excursion focuses on the town itself and includes the rare opportunity to see a demonstration of the ancient Inuit art of drum dancing.
For those who choose to stay longer, the summer months offer endless hiking opportunities, with Kulusuk the primary departure point. Options range from day hikes, to exploring ice caves on the nearby Apusiaajik Island inside its glacier, to supported and unsupported long-distance treks that last for more than a week. Alternatively, head out on a boat tour to discover nearby glaciers and wonderfully shaped icebergs. You may even spot some whales or seals!
Winter is the season for dog sledding – a traditional mode of transportation still heavily used by hunters and fishermen in Kulusuk. Take a short, introductory excursion across the frozen fjord to the Apusiaajik Glacier, or gain a deeper insight into the bond between musher and dog on a full-day excursion to beautiful locations around Kulusuk. Then, once darkness falls, don’t forget to look up. With very little light pollution, Kulusuk offers fantastic views of nature’s winter light show – the Northern Lights.
Kulusuk is one of the most picturesque settlements in Greenland and it is easy to spend hours just wandering around town with your camera in hand trying to escape the playful sled dog puppies.
As you walk around, make sure you visit the Kulusuk church, notice the bibles in the West Greenlandic language, the sealskin adornments for the altar, and the stained-glass windows that feature the same colours as Greenlandic houses. These were donated to the church by a German artist.
You should also arrange to have a guided tour of Kulusuk’s small but impressive museum. Owned by local woman, Justine Boassen, most of the items within the museum once belonged to her parents and tell the history of the Tunumiit Iivid (East Greenlandic Inuit). This is very different from the Kalaallit Inuit history that is typically highlighted in museums on the West coast of Greenland.
The most popular self-guided day hike from Kulusuk is along the road past the airport to Dye 4. Established during the Cold War as part of the Distant Early Warning Line, not much remains of the original radar station, but the view over icebergs in the Atlantic Ocean is stunning. The hike is easy and it is impossible to get lost, but just make sure you ask if any Polar Bears have been recently seen before you head out!
If you wish to eat out in Kulusuk, the only real option is the restaurant at the Hotel. Guests that stay elsewhere typically have their meals provided in a package deal by a local tour operator, or they cook for themselves. The only other option is to grab some fast food at the airport during the times when flights arrive.