Travel into Canada’s High Arctic and experience its remote wonders during a lodge stay

Located 800 km inside the Arctic Circle, right on the Northwest Passage, the Arctic Circle Wilderness Lodge qualifies as the world’s northernmost safari resort. This pristine tract of wilderness – replete with riverways, canyons and waterfalls – are incredibly scenic in themselves, but it’s the flora and fauna here that are the real highlight. Beluga whales romp about in the waters, polar bears and musk ox plod about the land and gulls, falcons and snow geese scour the skies. In between outings and lectures dedicated to the wildlife, there are opportunities to careen around in an all-terrain vehicle, kayak among icebergs, hike through canyons and whitewater raft down the swiftly flowing Cunningham River. If it’s a mix of animals and activity you’re after, look no further.

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Save a space on your 2019 trip with only a R1250 deposit until 31 August 2018.

Terms & Conditions

Start
Yellowknife, Canada
Finish
Yellowknife, Canada
Destination
Canada
Style
Comfort
Theme
Polar, Wildlife
Code
BQMP
Physical rating
Ages
Min 8
Group size
Min 1, Max 26

Why you'll love this trip

  • Hike out to the Triple Waterfalls and watch water cascade down five stories

  • Spot beluga whales splashing about in the Cunningham River Delta

  • Get closer to this amazing environment while paddling a kayak around floating icebergs in Cunningham Inlet

  • Uncover the Arctic’s huge range of wildlife – see gulls and peregrine falcons soaring around Gull Canyon

  • Wander through the gigantic skeletal structures of bowhead whales in the Badlands

  • Even transport on Somerset Island is an adventure – whiz about in the snow in an all-terrain vehicle

Is this trip right for you?

  • As you’d expect, temperatures in the Arctic are very cold. A warm parka will be provided along with waterproof boots and unlimited hot drinks, but you should also bring base layers and lots of warm clothing. Please see the trip notes for further important information about what to bring.

  • Weather depending, you will be making regular excursions in a Zodiac boat to explore the local area and look for wildlife. It can get very cold and wet on the Zodiac, so make sure you are dressed appropriately and that you keep your camera safe and dry. Sturdy sea legs are needed as you make wet and dry landings from the boat, and on steep terrain, snow and other uneven surfaces. Some ships have a lot of stairs, so please hold on to the handrails if seas are rough.

  • The weather plays a pivotal part in this adventure and although there’s an itinerary in place, there are no guarantees that you’ll be able to do everything that is planned for. A level of flexibility and openness to embracing the unexpected are important in expedition travel, especially to such a remote area.

  • This trip takes places during the time of year that Spitsbergen enjoys 24-hour daylight. Just one of the benefits of this is that incredible wildlife can be seen at any time of the day – be prepared to be woken at any time so as to not miss out on exciting animal sightings.

  • Polar bears are one of the most incredible and appealing animals on the planet, but they are also powerful predators with little fear of humans. Therefore it’s necessary to be aware of the guidelines surrounding any contact with Polar bears. Follow your leader’s instructions and do not stray from your group – your leader carries equipment to protect you.

Itinerary

Enjoy an included night in Yellowknife and meeting your fellow travelers.
Accommodation
  • Hotel (1 night)
Meals Included
There are no meals included on this day.
We’ll meet early in the morning to board our private chartered plane to fly the 1,000 miles (1,500 km) to the Arctic Watch lodge. During the four and a half hour flight, we’ll pass over the treeline to the barrens, refueling in the community of Cambridge Bay, and landing in the afternoon on a private airstrip on Somerset Island. A short walk across the tundra, and an even shorter raft ride across the Cunningham River, will bring us to the lodge. Following a tour of the facilities, you’ll settle into your cabins and meet the Quark staff for a briefing on the activities of the days ahead.

POSSIBLE SITES VISITED WHILE AT ARCTIC WATCH

CUNNINGHAM INLET
Every summer, this sheltered inlet is home to about 2000 beluga whales who pass through the Cunningham River estuary on Somerset Island, Nunavut. Arctic Watch Wilderness Lodge is located within walking distance of this cluster of whale activity, and we will be able to view them enjoying the warmth of the river water and socializing.

TRIPLE WATERFALLS
A hike from the lodge brings you to a five-story torrent of free-falling water. Here you can see nesting peregrine falcons and other birds such as loons, snow buntings, sandpipers and rough-legged hawks.

MUSKOX RIDGE TRAIL
The trail provides a scenic overview of the entire Cunningham River delta. Here you will see an arctic fox den and are very likely to encounter musk ox herds.

INUKSHUK LAKE
Located two hours from the lodge by ATV, at Inukshuk Lake you can fish for arctic char as part of the lodge’s catch and release program.

FLATROCK FALLS
Here you can view the Somerset Island canyons, formed as the result of shifting fault lines. Their most vertical walls vary in height from 200 to 1,000 feet. Keep your eyes open for fossils of prehistoric plants and animals.

GULL CANYON
Named by Arctic Watch owners Richard Weber and Josée Auclair, Gull Canyon shows the striking biological contrasts between barren canyon and lush gull rookery.

CAPE ANNE
A trip to Cape Anne includes seeing scenic vistas, icebergs, ancient Thule campsites and giant prehistoric whale bones. The Thule were a culture of bowhead whale hunters, and ancestors of today’s modern Inuit. The Cape Anne Thule site is the largest in the area and includes the remains of 15 stone and bone houses.

YELLOWKNIFE
Beautiful Yellowknife is a thriving community on the north shore of Great Slave Lake, featuring endless summer days and incredible arctic scenery. Originally a gold-mining town, Yellowknife has now reinvented itself as Canada’s “Diamond Capital”, and is an interesting gateway to the expansive world of the north. Numerous opportunities abound for an active and unique vacation, including seeing Northern Lights, dogsledding, or hiking on the Canadian Shield.

INCLUDED ACTIVITIES AT ARCTIC WATCH

HIKING
Hiking is a great way to appreciate the immense windswept landscapes of the Arctic. The tundra comes alive during the brief arctic summer, with bursts of color from the shrubs and plants that eke out a living in this polar environment. You’ll find each hike is different - exploring shorelines or landscapes, always on the lookout for wildlife. Hiking participation is optional and your Expedition Team will advise you of what levels of activity you can expect prior to each excursion.

RIVER RAFTING
The Cunningham River is swift-flowing, crystal-clear water with no difficult sections or rapids. Typically lasting a full day and including an optional hike to the starting point and lunch along the shore, guests will travel by raft on this river excursion. Guests are given a hands-on introduction to rafting prior to departing, and no previous experience is required.

ATV
A great way to better explore the varied terrain of Somerset Island is by all-terrain vehicle (ATV). Guests can opt to ride as passenger, or receive a hands-on introduction to driving ATVs, which are easy and fun to operate. Helmets and a safety briefing are provided.

KAYAKING
Led by experienced kayak guides, guests will paddle among icebergs, on the watch for ring and bearded seals and beluga whales. Sightings of sea birds, including arctic terns and eider ducks, can be expected. Although no experience is required, even avid kayakers will enjoy this half-day adventure. All equipment and basic instructions are provided.

FISHING
Guests have the opportunity to try “catch-and-release” fishing for arctic char at Inukshuk Lake. Fishing equipment and gear is supplied, and spinning equipment is also available. Fly fishing is also welcome and guests are free to bring their preferred gear. Nunavut fishing licences are available for purchase at the lodge for a small fee.

OPTIONAL EXCURSION (Additional cost applies. Space is limited)

BEECHEY ISLAND
Departing Arctic Watch on a De Haviland twin otter, you’ll fly across the Northwest Passage, on a 40-minute flight to Beechey Island. During the flight we’ll look out for narwhal, bowhead whales, beluga whales, seals and polar bears. Once on Beechey Island, we’ll pay our respects at the graves, visit the storage depot, have a picnic lunch, and explore the island. Stunning ice formations, untamed landscapes, and one of the Arctic’s most historical places are all part of this incredible day trip.
Accommodation
  • Lodge (1 night)
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
  • Lunch
  • Dinner
A typical first morning at the lodge may include receiving a hands-on introduction to driving all-terrain vehicles (ATVs), which are easy and fun to drive. Later, we may take a short hike to the Cunningham River estuary to watch beluga whales frolic in the shallow water only a few yards offshore, followed by a wonderful buffet lunch.

Enjoy a hike to Triple Waterfalls, a five-story torrent of free- falling water. There you can see nesting peregrine falcons and other birds such as loons, snow buntings, sandpipers and rough-legged hawks. Exploring the canyon introduces you to the delicate beauty of wild Arctic flowers. Encounters with muskox are common.

After a hearty dinner, there’s free time to explore in and around the lodge. The library has a broad selection of Arctic and polar titles. The interpretive centre contains collections of local fossils, skeletal remains of Arctic fauna, and a collection of traditional Inuit clothing from Canada, Greenland and Siberia
Accommodation
  • Lodge (1 night)
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
  • Lunch
  • Dinner
Today we travel by ATV, crossing the Cunningham River delta, and driving along the Muskox Ridge Trail, which provides a scenic overview of the entire area. It’s very likely that we’ll see muskox and pass by an impressive Arctic fox den where you may have the opportunity to watch fox cubs at play. Following a picnic lunch at our shelter at Inukshuk Lake, we’ll supply gear for those who would like to take the opportunity to “catch-and-release” fish for Arctic char.

In the evening after dinner, we’ll have an informal lecture.
Accommodation
  • Lodge (1 night)
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
  • Lunch
  • Dinner
Today we may attempt to kayak in Cunningham Inlet. All equipment and basic instructions are provided. Paddle among icebergs, looking out for ring and bearded seals as well as beluga whales. Sightings of sea birds, including Arctic terns and eider ducks, can be expected. After a lunch served along the shoreline, we’ll take a short hike to explore a local canyon aptly named “Kayak Falls.” From there we’ll have stunning views of the Northwest Passage and the opportunity to see polar bears.

In the afternoon, we’ll return to the Cunningham River estuary to watch the beluga whales. This site is unique the world over because of the density of the whale population and their proximity to our lodge. Standing on the river banks, you’ll be able to see the beluga whales frolic in the shallow water and be close enough to hear their calls. Guides will use our hydrophones so that you can also hear their underwater calls.

In the evening, following a delicious dinner, we’ll have a lecture on the beluga research being conducted in Cunningham Inlet
Accommodation
  • Lodge (1 night)
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
  • Lunch
  • Dinner
Today we’ll depart for a trip to Flatrock Falls, crossing the Cunningham River delta. There, you’ll have the option of hiking or travelling by Mercedes Unimog a (multi-purpose four-wheel drive truck). We’ll visit the Somerset Island canyons, formed as the result of shifting fault lines.

You may also have the opportunity to observe nesting sites of local birds, including terns, plovers and snow geese. A picnic lunch is served directly on the flat rocks that surround this canyon. After lunch, we’ll travel to Gull Canyon, where you can see the striking biological contrasts between barren canyon and a lush gull rookery. The Canadian Wildlife Service recently visited and claimed this spot to be a unique and special eco-system for the gull rookery and the presence of peregrine falcons.

In the evening, Arctic Watch’s scientist- in-residence will give an informal lecture.
Accommodation
  • Lodge (1 night)
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
  • Lunch
  • Dinner
Today we’ll set out on ATVs to Cape Anne where we’ll visit five Thule sites all along the coast and look for polar bears. The Thule culture were bowhead whale hunters, ancestors of today’s modern Inuit. The ride includes scenic vistas, icebergs, ancient Inuit campsites and giant prehistoric whale bones.

The Cape Anne Thule site is the largest in the area and includes the remains of 15 stone and bone houses. Polar bears can often be seen on the shoreline, as they wander the coast, waiting for the ice to return. The return trip overland via the Red Valley, will give us incredible views of the place we’ve called home this week.
Accommodation
  • Lodge (1 night)
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
  • Lunch
  • Dinner
The first leg of today’s journey will be by Mercedes Unimog truck. We’ll get to the Arctic Watch raft and kayak launch on the Cunningham River, 20 km from the lodge. Typically, the final six kilometers require a hike through the Badlands, passing the skeletal remains of two bowhead whales dated from eight thousand years ago. The voyage includes encounters with muskox, snow geese, jaegers, Arctic foxes, sandpipers and rough-legged hawks.

We’ll savor a picnic lunch on the beach beside the river, as the staff and guides prepare the rafts and kayaks.

Returning to the lodge, you’ll have the choice of kayaking or travelling by raft. The river has swift-flowing, crystal-clear water with no difficult sections or rapids. The views are amazing and include steep canyon walls and, at one point, a 180-degree turn.

Tonight, we’ll enjoy our final dinner and evening at the Arctic Watch lodge.
Accommodation
  • Lodge (1 night)
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
  • Lunch
  • Dinner
Today, you’ll bid a fond farewell to the lodge team and the High Arctic. You may have time to take advantage of one last activity before we depart. In the late afternoon, the plane will arrive for the return flight back to Yellowknife. Upon arrival in Yellowknife you will be transferred to your included hotel.
Accommodation
  • Hotel (1 night)
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
  • Lunch
Homeward bound. You are free to leave at any time today, or stay on and enjoy more time in Yellowknife.
Meals Included
  • Breakfast

Meals

9 breakfasts, 8 lunches, 7 dinners

Transport

Hotel (2 nights), Lodge (7 nights)

Accommodation

Private Transport, Plane, Hotel Shuttle

Dates & availability

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Important notes

BOOKING CONDITIONS
Arctic and Antarctic bookings have an increased deposit requirement of 20% of the full cost (before any discount).  The balance is due 120 days before departure. 

If a booking is cancelled 120 days or more before departure - the cancellation fee is the full loss of the deposit paid.

If a booking is cancelled between 119 days and departure - the cancellation fee is 100% of the total price of the voyage.

Other fees may apply for air tickets and other arrangements booked in conjunction with a Polar voyage.

Your voyage is operated by our sister company, Quark Expeditions. All accommodation and transfer arrangements as listed in the itinerary are also operated by Quark Expeditions or their local representatives.

Essential trip information

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