Kuannit on Disko Island contains numerous spectacular waterfalls plunging over cliffs into the bay set against the backdrop of rare basalt column formations and giant blue icebergs floating in Disko Bay.  Difficulties encountered on the hike include getting to Qeqertarsuaq from the mainland by ferry, dealing with often cold and wet weather and slippery conditions, and using caution while walking along cliffs.  A basic map of the hiking route provided by the Qeqertarsuaq Museum can be found by clicking on the button above.  GPS coordinates are not provided because this is a well-established trail that is widely known and used.
After completing the Arctic Circle Trail, we flew to Ilulissat and then caught a ferry to Disko Island.  We wanted to travel to Disko Island because it is very different from the mainland, being much younger geologically.  Disko Island has a volcanic landscape with black sand beaches (referred to as basalt sand), hot springs which result in a nutrient-rich soil, unique vegetation (including Angelica gigas), streams and waterfalls in abundance, and basalt column formations covering a widespread area.  During the ferry ride over, the boat captain had to navigate through extensive massive icebergs which were floating in the bay.  It was a bit unsettling in view of the fast speed of the boat.  Along the way, we got to see Humpback whales fully breaching the surface of the water and crashing back down.  It was an incredible sight.  Upon arriving at the main settlement of Qeqertarsuaq, one of the most impressive sights in Greenland becomes visible (on clear days) -- the basalt mountains rising up and towering above the town and surrounding area.  The mountain cliffs are very distinct, reddish in color, and have a flat-top surface.  It's well worth it to find a nice spot in town where you can look out and spend time enjoying the view of the mountains.  Also, whale watching from shore is a common activity, with both Bowhead whales and Humpback whales being frequent visitors to the area.  But the main reason we came to Disko Island was to do hiking.  The two main hikes which originate in Qeqertarsuaq are: (1) hiking up into the mountains to visit Lyngmark Glacier and (2) hiking along the coast to visit Kuannit.  Because we had poor weather conditions during our time on Disko Island, we did not do the first hike.  But we did do the second hike, and we found it to be truly spectacular.  Kuannit interested me because of the rare geology which is on display.  The entire area is covered by columnar-jointed volcanic rocks (or columnar basalt), which has a very unique appearance.  Having previously visited Devils Postpile National Monument in California and the Giant's Causeway in Northern Ireland, which both feature world-famous displays of columnar basalt, I thought it would be interesting to see displays of these formations in Greenland.  Columnar basalt is formed during the cooling process of lava.  As lava cools down, it begins to crack, and these cracks can grow in length to form columns that are polygonal (often hexagon) in shape.  The columns can be straight or they can bend and twist.  Straight regular patterns of columns are known as colonnade, while irregular fractured columns are known as entablature.  Note the contrast between the two in sample photo #3 below.  At the top, you can clearly see straight colonnade patterns.  At the bottom, you can see entablature formations that are irregular in appearance.  To reach Kuannit, we left our lodging place at Hotel Disko on a rainy afternoon and walked along the main road in town to the northeast.  After passing by a well-kept soccer field, we reached the Red River Bridge a short time later.  Upon crossing the bridge, there are two options.  The first is to turn left and follow the red stones along the river to check out a solid rock gorge and circular basin of waterfalls.  The second is to continue straight and follow the yellow stones along the coast to see Elephant Rock and Kuannit.  We ended up doing both options, starting with the waterfall and gorge and ending with Kuannit.  The entire route from our lodging to the waterfall basin and then to Kuannit and back was about 7 miles round-trip.  That mileage included spending extra time exploring all around Kuannit.  Kuannit was quite an amazing place.  Upon arrival, I spent well over an hour checking out the various waterfalls plunging into the bay, exploring the widespread basalt column formations, standing inside the large natural window in a giant rock wall, and photographing the giant icebergs and abundant seabirds.  As mentioned earlier, caution is in order in this area.  The cliffs are prone to erosion so it is a good idea to keep a safe distance from the edge.  And when it is wet and muddy (as it was during our hike), it is good to be extra careful while walking around on the narrow trails.  After fully seeing the area, we returned to our lodging and caught a ferry back to the mainland the next day.  Our hike took place on July 25, 2018.
Many more photographs taken during our visit are available for viewing for this destination.  To see all of them, choose one of the two options presented below.  The two options are Slideshow viewing and Trip Report viewing.  The Slideshow option allows for viewing larger images with an autoplay option and a full screen option (available on most browsers).  This option works very well for large computer screens and tablets.  The Trip Report option allows for viewing smaller pictures in a standard scroll-down format and enlarging of any panoramic photos taken during our visit.  Click on the option of your choice to view all of our photos from this destination.  The Slideshow format opens in a new browser window and the Trip Report format uses the same browser window for viewing.
Kuannit, Disko Island photographs
Kuannit, Disko Island slideshow
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