Arctic Haven: Autumn Arctic - Caribou, Wolves & Northern Lights 6 Nights
Observe one of the largest caribou herds in North American as they roam the Arctic Barrens. The Qamanirjuaq caribou herd passes by Arctic Haven as they migrate between Baker Lake and the tree-line. A herd in the hundreds of thousands strong, they can be seen grazing in small groups against the spectacular fall colours on the tundra and at times may walk within metres of you. Behold the majestic Northern Lights, and the spectacular reds, greens, and golds of autumn on the tundra.
Three days of helicopter supported adventure allows you to access more terrain and make the most of what the Arctic Barren Lands has to offer. Weather permitting, a helicopter on site is used as a shuttle to extend our range and access remote points from where we launch the day’s excursion. Helicopter supported adventures include:
- Trekking & biking the winding caribou trails etched into the tundra.
- Fly fishing for Arctic grayling and lake trout in clear cold streams
- Photographing the caribou, wolves, wolverines and other wildlife that make their home in the Arctic Barren Lands.
As part of our adventure toolkit, we also set off from the lodge in boats, on foot or in all-terrain vehicles, where we visit archaeological sites dating to pre-contact, search for wildlife and explore the stunning scenery of the tundra. At day’s end, enjoy a feast prepared by our culinary team followed by a sauna on the lake.
ABOUT THE LOCATION
Arctic Haven Wilderness Lodge is situated on the shores of Ennadai Lake, Nunavut. Located in the Arctic Barren Lands, the lodge is along the migratory route of the Qamanirjuaq caribou herd. Arctic Haven is Nunavut’s only green-energy powered lodge and is designed to have as little impact on the fragile environment as possible. Accessible by private aircraft only - guests fly from Yellowknife NWT direct.
Wildlife/Nature Sightseeing; Hiking & Walking; Water Sports; Fishing; Cycling & ATVs
Travel to the Arctic used to mean a tent on the tundra, not anymore. Arctic Haven’s post and beam structure was designed to have as little impact on the environmentally fragile area as possible, yet provide guests with a high standard for accommodation and comfort in Nunavut. In addition to the common area and dining room, there are 12 private guest rooms with ensuite bathrooms.
Where the wild meets the refined, enjoy a distinctly Canadian epicurious experience with gourmet meals inspired by every province. Taste locally sourced Ennadai Lake trout sashimi, tundra blueberry compote, Baffin Bay turbot along with Okanagan Valley wines, Alberta organic beef and more. Daily, our talented chef prepares fresh breads, yogurts, ice creams and other treats to satisfy you at breakfast, lunch and dinner.
- 12 private rooms with ensuite bathrooms
- Common area
- Dining room
- Sauna by the lake
- 6 - 18’ Aluminum Crafts
- 2 - 21’ Aluminum Crafts
- 3 - 25’ Vessels
- Fat bikes
- Helicopter for Heli-safari/Heli-Hiking Add-On. Don’t miss out!
PREPARING FOR YOUR TRIP
At 60° North the Aurora Borealis can be seen on clear nights and veils of colour dance against the vast and empty backdrop. In the heart of unspoiled wilderness, we are exposed to the elements and weather can change quickly. Proper preparation and gear for an adventure in the Arctic is key to your enjoyment, comfort and safety. Normal daytime temperatures range from 5° to 18°C, and on warm days go as high as 22°C. Our packing list will ensure you are adequately prepared. If you have any questions or concerns, contact us.
Travel Recommendations & Notes
All travellers must purchase travel insurance - even Canadian guests. We recommend trip interruption, cancellation and health insurance that includes air ambulance. If an air ambulance is required to Yellowknife, Iqaluit or Ottawa, all non-Nunavut residents are responsible for the cost. Baggage allowance on the charter flight from Yellowknife to Arctic Haven is 20 kg per person, including carry-on. If you have additional gear that will exceed the weight limit please let us know in advance.
- Neoprene Boots - It’s the update to the traditional rubber boot with neoprene uppers and a neoprene/polyurethane foot. The best brand is Muck Boots - muckbootcompany.com. We recommend the Wetland model.
- Light Winter Jacket/Raincoat - In the cooler evenings, a warm jacket is a must.
- Comfortable Hiking Pants - Pack a couple pairs of quick dry pants made from tightly woven, wind-resistant material. No cotton or silk content.
- Long Underwear - A couple sets of long underwear made from synthetic or wool - no cotton or silk content.
- Day Pack - You’ll need a day pack to carry cameras and extra clothing on your excursions. We recommend Osprey Backpacks. Waterproof/resistant storage compartments are a must for water sports.
- Personal Items - Toiletries, cameras, sunglasses, extra glasses/contacts or any other items you might require.
- Fishing - We have gear, but if you prefer your own - bring it.
- Raincoat and Rain Pants - These items are primarily for protection against the wind while on the ATVs, and the jackets are a necessity when hiking on cool days. Ensure your jacket is waterproof and seam-sealed.
- Lodge Shoes - Light, comfortable shoes to wear in the lodge are useful.
- Fleece Jacket - A fleece jacket or micro-down is another necessity as an extra layer under your raincoat, for warmer days, or just to wear around the lodge.
- Hat - A wool toque or fleece hat. Any cap really that is made from a material that dries easily.
- Gloves and Mitts - Wind-resistant gloves for cold days or the ATV excursions. Mitts if you get cold easily.
- Socks - Several pairs of good wool or wool-synthetic socks are a must. No cotton or silk content. Arctic Watch has Smartwool socks available for purchase if needed.
- Swim suit - Evening sauna sessions on the edge of Ennadai Lake are available nightly - an especially unique moment under the aurora borealis.
- Sunscreen - The sun in the Arctic is extremely strong.
- Binoculars - Fantastic for spotting wildlife. We recommend Swarovski Optiks.
- Arctic Haven has gear available for use on specific excursions: ATV helmets, fishing gear, paddling dry jackets and pants, life jackets, and more.
In the wild and unpredictable Arctic, weather patterns and wildlife can disrupt even the best-laid plans. All of our itineraries are ‘suggested’– we strive to ensure your visit to Arctic Haven is a trip of a lifetime and showcases the variety of activities and sights Arctic Haven has to offer. Each day’s activities take into consideration the dynamic environment we operate within and may not always reflect the suggested itinerary outlined below.
When booking airline tickets to arrive in Yellowknife, NWT, we have scheduled a 2:00 pm departure for Arctic Haven so guests can arrive the same day if they choose. However, weather can be unpredictable, so it’s best to give a buffer if you are travelling a long way. There are many options for accommodations, restaurants and attractions in Yellowknife.
Depart Yellowknife at 2pm from the Air Tindi hangar where you will board a private charter for the two-hour flight to Arctic Haven. Upon arrival guests will meet the team and be given a short introduction to what can be expected during your stay at Arctic Haven. After settling into your rooms, dinner will be served family style. In the evening there will be time to walk the tundra, unwind in the wood fired sauna and/or take in the northern lights.
Breakfast is served daily at 8:30 am. A water safety briefing will be given prior to going out on Ennadai Lake. Head to the northern reaches of the lake, above the tree-line where the numerous islands are used by migratory wildlife - search for the Qamanirjuaq caribou, wolves, and wolverines. The photo opportunities are unparalleled so be sure to bring your camera. Enjoy a picnic lunch on the beach. Spend the afternoon cruising around the islands and going on short hikes to get a closer look at these majestic animals. Visit archaeological sites where the Ahiarmiut in the area have camped for hundreds of years. Return to the lodge for a gourmet meal, and an informal lecture by Richard Weber on his North Pole expeditions - highlighting his historic (and unrepeated) 1995 unassisted journey. There will be the opportunity to unwind in the wood fired sauna and take in the Northern Lights.
Start the day with a helicopter flight to the top of the Blind Hill esker. Go from the soft, wet blueberry flats to an ancient, dry caribou trail to an open tundra ridge overlooking the lakes and land below. Stop for lunch in a sheltered forest gully. Continue on over rolling terrain to reach an ancient stone Inuit hunting blind. The vibrant changing colours of the landscape are nothing short of breathtaking. A variety of berries - lingon, crow and blueberries cover the ground and guests are welcome to harvest blueberries which our culinary team will incorporate into one of the meals. At the end of the hike, we will return back to the lodge via boat and enjoy the scenery along the lakeshore. After another delicious dinner, there will be a presentation on the Ahiarmiut or “people of the deer” - the Inuit who lived on the shores of Ennadai until the 1950’s.
Board one of the boats and head to the North Arm to explore the far reaches of Ennadai Lake where caribou are most frequently seen on land or swimming between islands. Enjoy a picnic lunch on the sandy beaches of Paradise Island. Arctic Haven has a remote camp in this area - so staying for the night is an option (must be pre-booked in advance). Take a short hike up to Big Bear - the highest point on the lake, where the bedrock is exposed. It’s a fantastic vista. Back at the lodge, Nansen Weber will give an informal lecture on his experiences photographing the Barren Lands. Enjoy a sauna or the Northern Lights before tucking in for the night.
For those interested in experiencing the thrill of landing a grayling on the end of their line, Epic Creek offers amazing fishing and is only accessible by helicopter. Grayling are not only stunning fish, with an impressive dorsal fin, but are also tenacious fighters and highly sought after by anglers. Small but mighty, these energetic fish are known to put up a hard fight. With a pickup and drop-off by helicopter, fishermen can enjoy a full day casting into the steady and even current of the small arctic stream. After a freshly caught fish fry lunch and a full day outdoors, an informal evening presentation on the Mythology and Folklore of the Northern Lights will be given - it is inspired by stories from around the world about the Aurora Borealis.
An active day of fat biking along the expansive western esker is a great option for a clear sunny day. A quick helicopter ride will drop you off on top of a long reaching esker from where you will start your bike ride. Eskers are formed by glacial deposition which, after the retreat of the last ice age, left long winding trails of sand. Sitting above the marshy tundra, eskers offer a great vantage point of the surrounding scenery and wildlife. Well drained due to their elevation and sandy composition, eskers are not only perfect for hiking and biking but also a popular location for animals to den. Returning to the lodge by boat, guests will enjoy the final evening’s gourmet meal. For those wishing to sea kayak - we also offer the option to kayak amongst the caribou islands on Ennadai Lake. A small series of islands used by caribou to migrate south, the sea kayak excursion is often an excellent place to observe wildlife! Afterwards, your host Josée Auclair will give an informal workshop on local edible tundra sourced items.
On your final day we will take a short boat ride up the Kazan River. Here, the tundra turns to forest and birch, black spruce and tamarack trees dominate the landscape. Moose have been spotted in this marshy forested area, along with tundra swans. A hiking option is available for those who would like to stretch their legs before the afternoon flight home while others might opt to enjoy the peaceful stroll along the Kazan river or fish for grayling.
Heli-Safari/Heli Hiking - Added Flight Time
View the 300,000+ strong Qamanirjuaq caribou’s migration and the Barren Lands from above - it’s a 1.5 hour once in a lifetime experience. Get into the helicopter and take in the vibrant and transforming Spring or Fall landscapes. The colours of Fall are magnificent bursts of rich reds, purples and oranges in the sandy eskers and marshy tundra. Different spots will offer opportunities to land and hike for a closer experience with the animals (caribou, grizzly bears, wolves and muskox) and environment. This is also a fantastic way to reach the most remote fishing spots such has the North Kazan River which offers world-class fly fishing opportunities.
PRICE: $1,200 person/per day (note: this is additional to the already included heli-assisted adventures)
Any cancellations before 180 days prior to the departure date will receive a full refund less a $500 administration fee, per person. Any cancellations after that are not eligible for a refund.
ADD-ON POLICY: If an Add-On trip is cancelled due to weather or insufficient numbers, everyone who signed up will receive a full refund.
As per Canadian Law, all rates are GST applicable at 5%. Prices are in Canadian currency.