With easy access to the Greenland Ice Sheet (located only 25km/16mi away), as well as to the fjord and to local amenities, Kangerlussuaq is also home to the largest and most centrally located airport in Greenland, connecting adventurous travelers via both domestic and international flights. For these reasons, as well as for its wondrous fauna, geological origins and geography, Kangerlussuaq is an ideal location for explorers and travelers passionate for active adventures.
Did you know?
The Kangerlussuaq area is also home to Greenland's most diverse terrestrial fauna, including muskoxen, caribou and gyrfalcons.
Kangerlussuaq’s present-day climate is largely impacted by its well-sheltered location between Greenland’s Ice Sheet, the fjord and mountains. This contributes to its stable conditions, minimal cloud cover and roughly 300 clear nights per year.
Temperatures can range from up to 30°C (86°F) in the summer, to an extreme -40°C (-40°F) in winter, making it the coldest inhabited area in Greenland. This is due in part to the continental climate and the close proximity to the Ice Sheet.
A unique area among Earth’s ecosystem, the Arctic is a wonderful place to explore, as it teaches us about the survival of the cultures residing there, as well as the species which through time have evolved to endure the challenging conditions of their environment. 4,000 years ago the Saqquaq culture that had settled in the area found it great for hunting and generous in the summer. Afterwards, it became home to the Inuits, whose culture spread all through the Arctic.
Present-day Kangerlussuaq was first established in 1941 as the American-operated military base, Bluie West Eight, which was later renamed Sondrestrom Air Base. In partnership with Denmark, the base was established to support efforts during World War II and the airport played an important role as part of the North Atlantic air ferry route that operated between America and Europe. During the Korean War and Cold War, it served as a supply station for the Distant Early Warning Line bases, DYE 1, 2, 3 and 4. At its peak, 1,400 personnel were stationed at the base.
After some time, the military base in Kangerlussuaq became inactive. In 1992, it was sold to the Greenlandic Home Rule for the symbolic amount of $1 US Dollar. This former military base is now the site of Kangerlussuaq’s international airport.
Due to its military history and present-day role as an important air travel hub, Kangerlussuaq has been fairly isolated from Greenland’s rich cultural traditions, in comparison to other regions. When visiting Kangerlussuaq, you will not just learn about the cultures that resided in the area, but be marveled by the impressive landscapes of a land so rich in nature, crystalline water and spellbinding sights.