Canadian Arctic Watch 10 days
Spend time exploring the Canadian Arctic at this unique wilderness lodge and world-class beluga whale observation site on Somerset Island in Nunavut, Canada. Situated 500 miles (805 km) north of the Arctic Circle, the lodge offers guests fully guided opportunities for diverse adventure activities, and extraordinary polar photography thanks to 24 hours of daylight. Observe the elusive musk ox, polar bear and more wildlife in their natural habitat, and enjoy comfortable accommodations and superb food, all accessible via a scenic flight from Yellowknife, Northwest Territories.
Arctic Watch Wilderness Lodge is a family-run basecamp, hosted by Arctic enthusiasts Josée Auclair and her husband, Richard Weber, along with their two sons, Tessum and Nansen. They are distinguished across the Canadian High Arctic as polar experts, particularly in Nunavut, and specialise in North Pole and Arctic tourism.
Note 1: A 5% Canadian tax applies to all components of this itinerary.
Note 2: 2022 Departure dates available are: July 1st and July 8th 2022.
- Encounter rarely seen Arctic wildlife in natural habitats, including polar bears, musk oxen, Arctic foxes and snowy owls
- See hundreds of beluga whales
- Travel in specially designed ATVs
- Take part in optional kayaking and rafting
- Visit historical sites
- Full board accommodation at Arctic Watch
- Expedition parka
- Loan of polar quality boots
- Pre and post hotel accommodation in Yellowknife including breakfast
- Group transfers to and from charter flight
- Charter flight from Yellowknife to Arctic Watch and return
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Arrive independently to Yellowknife, the capital of Canada’s Northwest Territories, and make your way to the Explorer hotel for your included overnight stay. This evening there will be a briefing and distribution of parkas and boots.
Today, board your private chartered plane to fly the 1,000 miles (1,500 km) to Arctic Watch Wilderness Lodge. During the 3-hour flight, you’ll pass over the treeline as you cross the Arctic Circle. Upon arrival in the afternoon, the team will show you around the lodge and its unique surroundings and there will be time to settle into your cabin before your first dinner in the Arctic. A short pre-dinner hike up to the local mountain will also be offered, and those who choose to partake will be rewarded with breathtaking views of the Northwest Passage and the ice formations of the Arctic ocean.
Arctic Watch & Somerset Island
After a hot breakfast this morning, you will take an ATV drive to the Cunningham Estuary to look for ring and bearded seals, as well as nearly 2,000 beluga whales. Moving along Somerset’s coastline, you will be able to see some of the fascinating archaeological sites and artifacts dating to Viking contact which can be found here.
After a delicious buffet lunch back at the lodge, you can join an enjoyable 5km roundtrip hike to the Triple Waterfalls where you will get an introduction to the plants and animals that live in the area, as well as the chance to encounter some of the area’s herds of muskox.
This morning you will join a scenic ATV drive, with spectacular views and the probability of some musk ox and Arctic fox sightings along the way, across the Cunningham River delta to Muskox Ridge. From here you will hike down into one of the many depressions where muskoxen often spend the summer months foraging, and stop for a picnic lunch at Inukshuk Lake. During and after lunch you might wish to partake in some catch-and-release fishing for Arctic char, and fishing gear will be provided should you choose to do so.
In the afternoon we will head back to the lodge along the River Trail keeping an eye out for birds such as jaegers, snowy owls and rough-legged hawks, before enjoying an informal after-dinner lecture by Richard Weber on his North Pole expeditions, including his never-to-be-repeated unassisted journey in 1995.
Should you prefer to travel by human-powered means today, you could instead make use of one of the lodges electric bikes to explore the tundra on a guided tour.
Today’s adventures will allow you to head to the seas as you take a kayaking trip through the gin-clear waters of Cunningham Inlet, while enjoying views of Gifford Point in the distance. Beluga whales are likely to join you as you paddle, as they travel between the open water of the Northwest Passage and the mouth of the Cunningham River. Sightings of seabirds, including Arctic terns and eider ducks, can also be expected. On the far side of the inlet, you can hop out for a walk around a local canyon aptly named Kayak Falls, which will reward in incredible views of the Northwest Passage and possibly even some sightings of Polar bears. In the evening you can enjoy an after-dinner informal lecture by Nansen Weber on wildlife photography.
Today you can travel by Mercedes Unimog (a multi-purpose all-wheel drive medium truck) to the east side of Cunningham Inlet where a number of unnamed canyons offer great hiking opportunities. In the afternoon you will have the chance to spend some time at the estuary to watch the beluga whales play in the freshwater as it spills into the Arctic Ocean. Packing into the turquoise waters of the sheltered bay, they can be seen splashing and gurgling as they rub themselves on the river stones. This particular spot is renowned because of the density of the whale population and their proximity to the shore.
Northwest Passage Drive
Today will see you take another ATV drive, this time along the west shore of the inlet to see the historic 1,000 year-old Thule sites dotted along the coast. As you travel, you will learn all about the rich history of the area, whilst being on the lookout for wildlife all around. Eventually you will reach Polar Bear Point before turning west to enjoy a memorable drive along the Northwest Passage. A short hike to Nansen’s ridge will reward in fantastic views across the distinctly Arctic landscapes of the Passage.
Kayaking & Standup Paddleboarding
Today you will climb back into the Mercedes Unimog trucks for a drive to the Cunningham River, where you will jump out for a hike through the Badlands, a unique landscape with ancient 8,000-year-old bowhead whale skeletons exposed on the tundra. At the end of the hike you can enjoy a picnic lunch surrounded by fantastic scenery and wildlife, including possible sightings of Artcic fox, musk ox and snow geese. You can then choose to return to the lodge either via kayak or standup paddleboard, or a mixture of both. The journey will take approximately 2 to 3 hours and will be a thoroughly enjoyable way to spend the afternoon as you paddle through towering canyons and braided flats to arrive right back at the front of the lodge. In the evening you will be invited to partake in a Polar Plunge to commemorate the end of your thrilling Arctic adventure!
Arctic Watch - Yellowknife
This morning there will be time for one more adventure of your choice, whether that’s trying a new activity or having another go at something you have tried earlier in the week, before boarding your private charter flight back to Yellowknife. Upon arrival back in Yellowknife, you will transfer to the Explorer hotel for your included overnight stay.
The following morning signals the end of your Arctic Watch itinerary and it will be time to take your onward or homeward flights.
A view from Above
Arctic Watch Wilderness Lodge
This unique wilderness lodge and world-class beluga whale observation site is located on Somerset Island in Nunavut, Canada, 500 miles (805 km) north of the Arctic Circle.
The lodge offers guests fully guided opportunities for diverse adventure activities, and extraordinary polar photography thanks to 24 hours of daylight. Observe the elusive musk ox, polar bear and more wildlife in their natural habitat and enjoy comfortable accommodations and superb food
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