Explore Greenland’s famous Arctic Circle trail by fatbike as part of the first all-female team to attempt this winter challenge.
Travelling out to Greenland via Copenhagen, the team will be introduced to fatbikes in the beautiful surroundings of the Russell Glacier before setting out to complete the Arctic Circle trail across Greenland’s frozen fjords, snowy hills and rolling plains. 200km later, the snow-mobile supported team will cycle into Sisimiut, and the history books, as the first female team to complete this route by fatbikes.
Ride the Arctic Circle by fatbike.
From glacier to coast – cycle 200km.
Witness the gigantic Russell Glacier.
Experience the wildlife and community of Kangerlussuaq.
Cross frozen lakes and fjords.
Bed down in cosy cabins and camps overnight.
Keep your eyes peeled for a view of the Northern lights!
Finish your journey in Sisimiut.
Take a boat ride to explore eerie fields of towering floating ice.
Travel insurance that provides cover for emergency repatriation in case of a medical emergency is compulsory for all expeditions. You should be aware that many standard insurance policies may not cover you adequately for all aspects of a remote expedition and so we strongly recommend that you purchase a suitably designed insurance policy. Secret Compass cannot comment on the suitability of your cover so if you are in any doubt please contact your policy provider and ask them to confirm that you are covered to our minimum standard (below).
Emergency medical repatriation (to home country) including any associated expenses abroad of at least $500,000.
Activities: ensure that any expedition activities are included – see your detailed itinerary.
Geographical region: check the geographical region you are going to and transiting through is insured.
Foreign Ministry advice: check your insurance is not sensitive to any travel warnings issued by your respective foreign ministry. In the UK, many insurers will not insure you when the Foreign Office warns against travel to this area. Foreign Office advice will not necessarily mean we cancel an expedition or do not travel to a particular area. Please check @FCOtravel and Travel Aware.
Dates: make sure the period of cover begins at the departure and ends at the return to your home country, many flights take a day or two and time zones vary. Insurance companies may prejudice your claims due to this.
Pre-existing medical conditions: disclose these to your insurance company and to Secret Compass.
Prior to travel, Secret Compass will require the name of your insurance policy provider, their 24-hour emergency contact number and your policy number. For full information on travel insurance and links to suggested companies, please visit our Expedition Travel Insurance page for suppliers who have covered expedition team members in the past.
You need to organise your own international flights to and from Copenhagen, onwards travel to/from Greenland will be arranged by Secret Compass.
It is advised that you book a flexible flight ticket that can be changed or refunded if the expedition dates are changed or if it is cancelled for any reason. See our online Terms and Conditions.
You need to be at the team hotel in Copenhagen by 1800 on 4 March 2020 and the expedition officially ends after breakfast on 14 March 2020.
Visas are your responsibility, please check the specific requirements for your nationality for all countries on your route.
You should have a passport valid for the duration of the expedition and your travel dates. Greenland does not require any validity beyond this but Secret Compass recommend a minimum of six months before expiry. Please send a clear, colour copy of your passport to Secret Compass ahead of the expedition and carry photocopies with you on the expedition in a safe place.
Day 1: Mar 4 – Copenhagen
Arrive into Copenhagen and make your own way to the team hotel in time for the expedition briefing and kit checks at 1800. This will be followed by a welcome dinner before a night in a comfortable hotel.
Day 2: Mar 5 – Kangerlussuaq
Heading back to the airport, the team will take a short flight at 1100 to Kangerlussuaq in Greenland. An onwards transfer by bus will see the team reach the mighty Russell Glacier and the start of the Arctic Circle trail. A short bike ride today will allow an introduction to the riding style of the customised fatbikes on the 26km route back to Kangerlussuaq.
Day 3: Mar 6 – Kanoo Camp
This is the longest day on the cycle route taking in 60km to reach Kanoo Camp, after a relatively level start for 13km Greenland’s hills start to make an appearance to add to the challenge, before flattening out again for the 10km roll into the night’s accommodation.
Day 4: Mar 7 – Equalgeamiarfik
A shorter day after the efforts of yesterday with only 33km of cycling planned. Part of today’s route heads over frozen sea ice for 17km – a really unique experience.
Day 5: Mar 8 – Tesia
The first 250m of today will be climbing up and out of Equalgeamiarfik before tackling 22km of relative flat across the plateau.
Day 6: Mar 9 – Lake Camp
A longer stretch today covering 34km but mainly downhill which will provide some small respite to your legs!
Day 7: Mar 10 – Sisimiut
Complete the final 23km cycle into Sisimiut today tackling more hills and challenging ascents along the way before reaching the town. Explore the area and settle into your comfortable hotel.
Day 8-9: Mar 11-12 – Sisimiut
These days will allow contingency time for any delays during the expedition, as well as providing the opportunity to further explore the region. Activities planned for these days include ice floe boat cruises, ice safaris and fauna tracking excursions.
Day 10: Mar 13 – Copenhagen
After a morning flight back to Kangerlussuaq over the expedition route completed by the team, the group will take an onwards flight to Copenhagen. Settling into a comfortable hotel here, the team will complete an expedition debrief ahead of a final celebratory meal to round off the trip.
Day 11: Mar 14 – Expedition ends
The expedition officially ends after breakfast today with all teammates free to depart or to extend their stay in Copenhagen.
Note on this expedition itinerary
Please remember that this itinerary acts as a framework plan. It provides guidance as to our intentions but will not be followed religiously. This is an adventure and by definition the outcome is uncertain. The leadership team may flex and change the plan depending on numerous frictions encountered en route. An adaptable, team-centred approach is required.
All our expeditions are achievable by people with an active and healthy lifestyle. However, this is an arduous expedition that will test you and at times you may be sore, tired, hungry and possibly wet! You must be prepared physically and mentally for the expedition and for living in basic conditions for the duration.
This expedition is supported by snowmobiles to assist with transporting personal equipment and for emergency support, otherwise the team will be travelling under their own steam on specially adapted fatbikes. The terrain will be challenging at times, compounded by the freezing conditions and potentially poor visibility. It can be hard to train to these specific conditions so it’s important that the team are generally physically fit and mentally prepared for the challenges.
You will be required to be fit enough for the following.
Daily activity: varies but up to approx. eight hours per day.
Cycle: up to 60km a day.
Carry: up to 5kg daysacks.
Terrain: frozen sea ice, arctic plains and undulating hill ranges
Climate: exposed conditions with march temperatures averaging -10ºC, dropping to -30ºC at night. Greenland is famous for its strong winds.
Team members would benefit from winter trekking experience and multi-day cycling experience. The weather conditions and specialist fatbikes can make training for this specific expedition difficult so a varied routine to build general endurance is recommended.
Vaccinations. Please seek advice from your health professional on recommended vaccinations. The NHS Fit For Travel site and Travel Health Pro are both useful.
Dental. It is strongly recommended that you have a dental check up prior to departure. Dental problems far from help are very unpleasant.
The currency in Greenland is the Danish Krone. Take cash with you and exchange money in Copenhagen as there are few ATMs and these are often locked in the evening. This expedition is all-inclusive so you won’t need much money, just for any alcoholic drinks, souvenirs or costs of a personal nature.
Secret Compass always suggest carrying an emergency fund of $100-$200 in cash.
The following is Secret Compass’s recommended kit list for the HER Planet Earth expedition to Greenland. Greenland can test equipment very thoroughly, so it’s important that your equipment is in good condition when you arrive. If you’re purchasing new equipment, please ensure you test your layers and systems before arrival.
Fat bikes are available to hire in Greenland (additional 500 Euro hire fee) – you will need to inform Secret Compass of your height in advance of the expedition. Mattresses/sleeping mats will be provided in-country. The flight between Copenhagen and Kangerlussuaq has a checked luggage limit of 20kg.
Secret Compass has arranged team members discounts with Cotswold Outdoor, Nordic Life, Outdoor Hire and Expedition Kit Hire, details of these will be sent through on booking.
Baggage and sleeping
RUCKSACK OR SOFT SIDED DUFFEL: 80ltr, all your personal gear needs to fit easily into this pack which will be transported between accommodation by snowmobile.
DAYSACK: 30ltr, to carry your warm jacket, spare gloves and hat, thermos bottle, camera etc.
DRYBAGS: it’s vital that all of your clothing and soft goods can be kept dry. Roll top bags are ideal, made by a number of manufacturers in a range of sizes. You will need these for your daysack and to protect your main luggage.
SLEEPING BAG: rated to at least comfort -5ºC. Down is lighter and more compact than synthetic options but also invest in a waterproof stuff sack. If you know you sleep cold, consider a liner.
SLEEPING BAG LINER: for use inside your sleeping bags or in the huts.
TRAVEL PILLOW: a small pillow for use in huts.
BASE LAYER: 2x top and bottom long thermals, merino wool is recommended.
MID LAYER: 1x fleece or equivalent top and bottom eg. a thicker merino or powerstretch layer. These need to fit when layered over your normal base layers.
BIKE SHORTS OR TROUSERS: 2x to wear under your base layers.
WARM WINTER TROUSERS: Avoid down if possible due to moisture levels/sweat.
SOFTSHELL JACKET: A thin windproof layer for wind protection over base layers.
LIGHTWEIGHT INSULATED JACKET: 1x lightweight down or synthetic jacket.
THICK DOWN JACKET: 1x expedition jacket (hood and slightly longer at the back). Avoid superlight ‘around town’ down jackets. Protect it with a dry sack.
WATERPROOF JACKET AND TROUSERS: 1x full set of waterproofs. Gore-tex or equivalent. Must have a hood.
WARM WINTER BOOTS: Insulated Salomon/Sorel type boots with good grip. Consider insulated insoles.
WARM SOCKS: 3x warm socks. Make sure they are comfortable with your boots.
TRAINERS/LIGHT HIKING BOOTS : for sightseeing and travel days. These should still have good grip and allow warm socks.
LINER HAT: which fits under your bike helmet.
WARM HAT: for evenings.
BALACLAVA: or face mask.
BUFF: or similar neck gaiter.
LINER GLOVES: for taking photos, adjusting kit etc.
WARM GLOVES: which fit over your liner gloves.
INSULATED MITTENS/POGIES: insulated and warm.
UNDERWEAR: test your underwear/bike short systems for cycling days ahead of the expedition.
WARM CLOTHES: for sightseeing and travel days.
BICYCLE HELMET: consult a specialist shop for fitting advice.
BICYCLE SADDLE: (optional) for use with a hired bicycle if you have any specific requirements or prefer to use your own. Please check fittings with Secret Compass.
FAT BIKE: bikes are available to hire in Greenland or you can fly your own in (excess baggage/transfer costs at your own expense). Please be aware there is a 500 Euro hire fee in addition to the expedition cost.
THERMOS: minimum of 1ltr.
INSULATED WATER BOTTLE: minimum of 1ltr.
HEAD TORCH AND SPARE BATTERIES: Petzl Tikka heard torch or equivalent.
SUNGLASSES: with UV-filter lenses. You may find adjustable or photochromic lenses useful. Look for glacier style wraparound options.
SKI GOGGLES: with UV-filter lenses.
GAFFA TAPE: for emergency repairs to your kit, you can take some off the roll and wrap it around something else in your kit.
FOIL SURVIVAL BLANKET: a small, lightweight emergency blanket.
HAND WARMERS: chemical hand and foot warmer packs.
SPARE GLASSES: in case of loss/damage. These are essential even if you usually wear contact lenses.
Health and hygiene
WASH BAG: compact bag with toothbrush, toothpaste, bio-degradeable soap.
TRAVEL TOWEL/SARONG: (optional).
ANTIBACTERIAL HAND GEL: enough for the entire trip.
SUNCREAM AND LIPSALVE: Factor 30+.
VASELINE: Keep this handy to help prevent chafing and blisters.
EAR PLUGS AND EYE MASK: for use in the shared huts.
WATERPROOF BAG OR TUPPERWARE BOX FOR PERSONAL FIRST AID KIT: to keep kit dry and safe. A team medical kit with a comprehensive primary care provision will be carried. You should also carry your own small first aid kit but consult your expedition leader before using your personal medical supplies
PAINKILLERS: Ibuprofen and Paracetamol.
COMPEED BLISTER PADS: please note that Compeed produce several similar looking blister packs for corns, etc. Please ensure you purchase the standard/original item.
REHYDRATION SACHETS OR TABLETS: be aware of the volume each sachet or tablet makes, Dioralyte or similar do not go a long way so consider isotonic tablets as a preventative alongside.
PIRITON TABLETS: For allergies.
EURAX CREAM: For bites.
ANY MEDICATION YOU NORMALLY USE: find out the generic/chemical name for your medication in case you need to source more in-country. Please also check that your medication is legal in your destination. You MUST make Secret Compass aware of any medical conditions before you travel.
Layering for this expedition
It can be difficult to test layers for the type of conditions and activities planned on this expedition. While you may have your own approaches which you love and work well for you, we have included the below as an example of a layering system which has been successfully utilised in Greenland’s winter conditions before.
Bike shorts (or bike leggings if you prefer)
Long sleeve baselayer top
Long baselayer leggings
Secret Compass organises expeditions, not sightseeing tours. Our expeditions are team-centred, flexible and dynamic. Teams are managed on the ground by Secret Compass staff: industry-leading professionals and guides of the highest calibre. They put the structure in place for your team to have an incredible experience while achieving your expedition’s aims. Our people are as passionate as you are about achieving the extraordinary in the world’s wildest places. Secret Compass teams often go to places that others don’t. This makes our expeditions truly different, taking you beneath the skin and beyond the headlines of the world’s most remote reaches. Inspired by history’s great explorers and challenges, you’ll be set ambitious goals and will overcome similar hardships to those experienced on the audacious journeys of the past.
Remember this is not an organised tour. It is an adventure. More often than not expeditions don’t run smoothly! The nature of the areas we operate in mean that we will encounter a number of challenges that we expect everyone to meet and relish. Friction and hurdles are all part and parcel of an arduous expedition and also to our success as a team. These make the journey more interesting and are often the best and most amusing parts when looking back. Each expedition is thoroughly reviewed on its return and team members will have the opportunity to provide feedback which helps to inform planning for future expeditions.
Local partners and bureaucracy
Our teammates can only achieve the extraordinary with the help of people in the communities we travel through. NGO and aid workers, guides, fixers and interpreters all work extremely hard and are generous in their hospitality to us and our teams: visitors in their land. They are crucial to our success. Please remember and respect that their perspectives and concepts of time, environmental responsibility and customer service might differ to yours. Occasionally there is no established protocol for outside visitors which means we encounter local power struggles or disagreements. Our leaders have years of experience in delicate negotiations like these and conversational chess – especially through an interpreter – and these interchanges are often memorable parts of any expedition.
Infrastructure and natural events
The areas we travel to often especially remote. Transport infrastructure can be ageing, inadequate or non-existent. Flooded roads, collapsed bridges, fallen trees and vehicle break-downs are all par for the course. Our teams thrive on overcoming challenges like these – be prepared to get stuck in and push occasionally! Natural phenomena like desert sand storms, early monsoons, landslides across key routes, winter coming early, gale force winds and driving snow can all make for a more interesting time on the expedition.
In some areas our teams explore, we rely on local food sources. This can often be outstanding (but can also be very average) and we always make the best out of the resources available. In other cases, we will supply filling and high-calorie dehydrated expedition foods (ration packs)
Part of a team
Secret Compass fosters a team mentality across all its expeditions and projects. Like all teams you will have a leader who will give direction to your progress. Crucial to your team’s success – especially when the going gets tough – is the attitude of the teammates working together to achieve the aim. You really are part of a team, not a cosseted guest on a tour. We ask teammates to muck in and help out any aspect of the expedition, from fetching water and helping to prepare and cook food, to carrying some group kit and equipment if required. The working language of all teams is English.
You need a robust, spirited and can-do attitude to cope with demanding days and rough camping in rugged and wild places. You’ll cover good daily distances (carrying your daysacks), eating expedition foods or relying on local food sources. These elements combine to create the unique character of each expedition. On expedition, challenges, frictions and changes to plans are inevitable. Teammates should meet and relish these as an integral part of any arduous expedition and its ultimate success. Such things make the journey more interesting and are often most memorable parts when looking back.
There really is no typical expedition member, though everyone needs to be fit, healthy and ready to take on the expedition’s aim by the time of departure. Participants range from 21 to 65+ in age and come from all over the world. Backgrounds include contract workers and engineers, IT specialists and students, teachers and literature lovers, journalists and keen photographers and so many more. What bonds our pioneering teams is their shared spirit of adventure and their sense of humour and positive outlook. A good teammate looks on the bright side when the 4×4 breaks down, the rain comes early and when a meal is distinctly pedestrian. Our teammates help each other, look out for each, encourage each other and help each other when needed. Our teams have done us proud in working together to achieve their common goal: the aim of the expedition. If this sounds like you, you’ve come to the right expedition company.
Secret Compass is an expedition company not a tour company. Expeditions contain inherent risk. This is part of the appeal for teammates. We do not make expeditions safe as, by definition, that is impossible. We construct and implement a three-staged risk management approach to reduce risk to what we perceive as a tolerable level.
We conduct a thorough risk assessment of potential hazards and threats that may be encountered on the expedition and provide recommendations to reduce the likelihood of harm occurring/ severity if it does occur.
As part of our expedition plan, we detail actions to be taken to implement and resource the recommendations of the risk assessment. This includes a detailed medical and communications plan.
The expedition leader is responsible for dynamic risk management on the expedition itself.
Key risks encountered on this specific expedition include glacier and sea ice travel, cold injuries and accidents (slips, trips or falls) or medical emergencies whilst trekking and cycling in a remote environment. If you would like to see the full Risk Assessment for this expedition, please email firstname.lastname@example.org
Incident management and medical
As part of the safety plan, Secret Compass has a full incident and emergency plan for medical and other emergencies. This will be discussed in full at the arrival brief, so everyone is aware what action will be taken. In summary, incidences are usually managed on the ground by the expedition leader in the first instance with remote support from Secret Compass’s 24 hour Operations Room before evacuation to the nearest appropriate medical centre.
It is your responsibility to understand the risks associated with adventure travel in remote areas. You also must understand that medical evacuation will take an extended period of time (potentially up to two days) and will require wilderness extraction techniques and long carries by stretcher/snowmobile. In-country search and rescue and emergency services are very basic or non-existent and the expedition will rely on internal resources for medical evacuation. By joining this expedition, you accept the risks associated with the venture. If you require any more information on specific risk management for this expedition, or would like to speak to us about our medical planning prior to the trip, please get in touch.
Read team Testimonials or watch this short video featuring expedition teammates (filmed on location in Ethiopia) for an insight into life on expedition.
This expedition will cover a variety of terrain from frozen sea ice to rolling inland hills and flat plains. The fatbikes have been specially adapted to the terrain and there are various tricks and skills which the team will be briefed on for example slightly deflating tyres for long uphill sections.
Winter in Greenland can be highly variable but generally you should expect exposed conditions with March temperatures averaging -10ºC, dropping to -30ºC at night. Greenland is famous for its strong winds which can further reduce the temperature as well as lowering visibility.
The expedition starts in Copenhagen where you will be met by your expedition leader at a local hotel – transfers to here from the airport are team members responsibilities. From Copenhagen, Secret Compass will arrange an onwards flight to Kangerlussuaq in Greenland. The start of the Arctic Circle Trail at the Russell Glacier will be reached by bus before the team starts cycling for the remainder of the expedition. Once in Sisimiut a variety of transport will be used – boats and buses to explore the local area and a domestic flight back to Kangerlussuaq and the onwards flight to Copenhagen.
In Copenhagen comfortable hotels have been booked on a twin-share basis. Once in Kangerlussuaq the accommodation is more basic with shared bathrooms between guesthouse rooms. During the expedition, accommodation will be in a variety of huts and heated tents on a dorm-style basis – permanent huts along the Arctic Circle Trail cannot be pre-booked so we will make arrangements for alternatives at each stop. It is possible that some huts will be shared with other travellers. The huts have toilet facilities but no showers. Accommodation in Sisimiut is in a comfortable guesthouse (twin-share) before the return to Copenhagen.
In towns, the team will eat well in a combination of local restaurants/hotels. On the trail, there will be fresh produce for continental-style breakfasts whilst lunches will be mainly snacks on the go – the long stage of 60km will have a full packed lunch to keep the team fuelled. Dinners will be hearty and filling, to provide a respite from the day’s exertions these are brought into the trail from local restaurants. Dietary requirements can usually be catered for but should be discussed with Secret Compass in advance. It is recommended that you bring a favourite snack or cereal bar for each expedition day as a morale boost.
Secret Compass staff will be carrying at least two methods of communication, usually a Satellite Phone and a DeLorme two-way communication device. These will be used for regular updates to head office and for emergencies.
Unfortunately, routine communication between team members and family/friends is not possible – please reassure them that no news is good news! If there is an emergency and someone needs to contact a team member, they can contact Secret Compass’s Operations Room on +44207 096 8428 who will endeavour to pass a message on within 24hours.
Your mobile roaming will work in towns although you are unlikely to get signal whilst on the expedition.
Here are some frequently asked questions that are specific to this expedition. Read our general FAQ too for questions such as ‘how do I join an expedition’ and more. Can’t find your answer? Contact SCHQ.
I’m a vegetarian. Can I join?
Teammates with dietary requirements are welcome to apply for this expedition and should state their specific requirements when applying. Secret Compass will then advise on the best approach for your personal circumstances.
I’ve never used a fatbike before. Can I come?
Yes, as long as you fulfil the fitness requirements, have an adventurous spirit and are willing to work as a team. Training for this expedition should focus on cycling endurance (to cover up to 60km a day). There will be a shakedown afternoon as the team cycle from the Russell Glacier to Kangerlussuaq to allow you to get a feel for your fatbike.
Do I need my own fatbike?
Not necessarily. If you already own one and would prefer to use your own bike, you’re welcome to bring it out to Greenland. Please be aware that transportation costs e.g. excess baggage on the flight from Copenhagen, are your responsibility and this will usually cost in the region of 400euro. We would recommend you research the biosecurity restrictions in place in both Greenland and your home country and prepare your bike accordingly. If you would prefer to rent a fatbike, Secret Compass can arrange this (please provide us with your height) – please note there is a bike hire fee of 500euros in addition to the expedition cost.
Will it be cold?
March is winter conditions in Greenland and can experience some of its coldest temperatures. The team will need to be prepared to face -10ºC down to -35ºC. That being said, the cold can be managed through activity levels and good layering systems – as a broad outline you should dress for this expedition as you would for skiing. More detail can be found in the Kit List tab.
Can I arrive a day late?
As the plan outlines, there is a chain of transport to get teammates to Greenland and the start of the expedition so start and end dates are not flexible. If you wish to extend your stay in Copenhagen your are welcome to make your own arrangements.
Will there be telephone signal?
There will only be telephone signal in towns – please check your roaming charges as calls from this region of the world can be very expensive.
Can I charge electricals?
Once the expedition phase begins, there will be limited access to power. We plan to have access to a generator each night however this can be unreliable to we would recommend bringing battery packs for urgent charging needs. These can often drain quickly in the cold so be aware of this when packing.
Do you provide further advice?
You might find our Get Ready section useful, with further advice about fitness, flights, travel insurance, visas and our approach to risk management.