If you’ve ever dreamed of the Arctic, it probably looked something like Canada’s Nunavut territory. A huge expanse of wild tundra, snow-coated craggy mountains, and enormous glaciers. Covering almost a million square miles with fewer than 40,000 inhabitants, Nunavut stretches from the lake-speckled mainland of the Northern Territories to Greenland’s northern coast, the tip of Newfoundland to the Arctic Ocean.
The region’s sprawling archipelago gifts a feeling usually reserved for pioneering adventurers: an awesome sense of peaceful solitude within remote, unexplored lands. And during the summer months, the region’s unique wildlife truly comes alive, enjoying bountiful feeding opportunities and basking in the relative warmth of the 24-hour sunlight. All making for conditions that allow epic personal encounters with fascinating creatures within a surreal and wonderful landscape.
Travel 500 miles north of the Arctic Circle to a cosy wilderness lodge on uninhabited Somerset Island—an ideally positioned basecamp for exploring the surrounding peninsula. To the north lies Cunningham Inlet, where each year thousands of beluga whales gather in the shallow, temperate waters. This is the only place in the world where you can get up-close and see such an incredible spectacle of these white whales and their calves as they play and socialize in the icy waters. From the water’s edge the curious and intelligent mammals can be heard chirping and chattering as they rub themselves on the bedrocks to help with their annual moult, often popping their heads above the surface to get a good look at their novel visitors.
Arriving by private ATR-72, meet your hosts and founders of the Arctic lodge – the family of the world’s most travelled North Pole adventurers and one of the world’s highest authorities on polar exploration. Kick off the action with a helicopter flight along the north coast of Somerset Island and over the Northwest Passage, watching for polar bears as they roam the pack ice on the hunt for seals. Along the way, stop at ‘Mars Mountain’ and take in the surreal red glow of the sandstone landscape and breath-taking views of the sweeping sea ice.
After a delicious breakfast, suit up in dry-suits for a day of sea-kayaking. Paddle through Creswell Bay – a narwhal congregation site in southern Somerset Island. During August, narwhal—the whale species often dubbed ‘unicorns of the sea’ for their enormous fairy-tale-like protruding tusk—gather here to feed on Arctic char, along with belugas, polar bears and more.
Venture inland by ATV to the rolling hills and the seasonal home of resident muskoxen herd. From your scenic vantage point, watch as the huge males of this highly specialised Arctic species fight for dominance and mating rights. These spectacular displays are marked by males charging one another at distances of up to fifty yards and colliding squarely between the horns.
After enjoying a gourmet picnic lunch on the tundra, head back to the lodge along the River Trail looking out for Arctic fox pups napping in the sunshine or playing in the grass.
Discover artefacts and ancient whale bone winter houses, built by the native Thule people almost 1000 years ago and preserved in the dry Arctic climate. Heli to the sheer cliffs of a neighbouring island, where the towering limestone precipice rises over 250 metres above sea level, housing nearly 400,000 nesting birds. Packraft crystal clear waters through remote and unexplored regions of the Upper Cunningham River, where seasonal melt has created spectacular canyons over 300 metres deep that slice the land and carve their way to the ocean.
Fly by private charter to the stunning fjord region of Baffin Island and settle into your next comfortable basecamp. Spend time with the island’s small community that has some of the most vibrant Inuit culture in the Canadian Arctic.
Heli-hike Baffin’s towering granite walls (the tallest on Earth, topping nearly 5000 feet), then rope up and walk along the ice caps of the twin peaks region with your expert mountain guide, taking in the spectacular views of Baffin Bay from the fiord-tops. Explore Isabella Bay, one of the best places to see bowhead whales, and snorkel through the chilly waters alongside the magnificent animals, which can reach up to 18 metres long and live for 200 years!
After long days of thrilling exploration, retreat to your fully equipped lodge for restorative, hot showers and deep tissue massages, then swap wild stories over gourmet dinners, exquisitely paired with wines from the Okanagan Valley and followed by French Canadian cheeses. Every detail of your Arctic adventure is coordinated with seamless logistics, expert assistance and unrivalled quality of experience, and of course magically sprinkled with extraordinary surprises…
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