Arctic Watch Discovery Experience - 9 Nights
Witness unique Arctic wildlife from polar bears, muskoxen, arctic fox and a wide array of birds; watch beluga whales frolic a few metres from shore; go rafting, paddle boarding or kayaking on the Cunningham River; hike through the Badlands; bike on the tundra; visit 1,000 year-old archaeological sites; check out spectacular waterfalls and canyons; ATV the Muskox Ridge trail; and fish for arctic char.
The first week of the season offers a very rare opportunity - take fat bikes out on the Arctic sea ice to explore the floe edge before the pack ice fissures and floats out to the open water of the Northwest Passage. To discover more about what to expect, we recommend reading our blogs. All of this and more is possible under the midnight sun at Arctic Watch Wilderness Lodge.
ABOUT THE LOCATION
Located 800 km north of the Arctic Circle on the shores of the Northwest Passage in Cunningham Inlet, Somerset Island, Nunavut, is the most northerly fly-in lodge on earth - Arctic Watch Wilderness Lodge. Situated at 74° North and being a marine environment means the weather can change quickly - as much as 10°C in an hour. Normal daytime temperatures range from 8° to 14°C, and warm days can go as high as 21°C.
Wildlife/Nature Sightseeing; Fishing; Hiking & Walking; Water Sports; Cycling & ATVs
Travel to the high Arctic used to mean a tent on the tundra. The construction of Arctic Watch in 1992 radically changed this - and now both our locations set a high standard for guest accommodation and comfort in Nunavut. In addition to the main complex, there are 16 private guest cabins, each equipped with a marine toilet and sink. Due to the extremely sensitive natural environment showers are located in the main complex.
When you’re not out exploring the land or on the water, it’s all about great Canadian cuisine. Experience gourmet fare inspired by every province from locally sourced arctic char and Baffin Bay turbot to Alberta Organic Beef, French Canadian cheeses, Okanagan Valley wines, Ontario fruit and more. Our talented chef bakes breads, yogurts, ice creams and other delights daily to satisfy you at breakfast, lunch and dinner.
- Arctic Watch - 16 private cabins
- Small group focus - Average of 1:1.5 Staff/Guest Ratio
- Common area with Lounge, Espresso Bar & Archeological Centre
- Kayaks - sea & river
- Paddle boards & River rafts
- Fat bikes
PREPARING FOR YOUR TRIP
Proper preparation and gear for an adventure in the Arctic is key to your enjoyment, comfort and safety. Please read through and make a checklist of the gear required. 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 Watch 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 - A comfortable update to the traditional rubber boot with neoprene uppers and a neoprene/polyurethane foot. The best brand is Muck Boots - muckbootcompany.com. Forgot boots? When you arrive in Yellowknife, our friends at Quark Expeditions will loan you a pair (for 2018/19 only).
- Hiking/Walking Boots - Sturdy, waterproof/water-resistant leather lightweight boots are nice to have, but if happy with the Muck boots, these are not needed.
- Light Winter Jacket/Raincoat - In the cooler evenings, a warm jacket is a must. Please note that we will gift each guest with a purpose built parka (for 2018/19 only) - it has a waterproof outer with a removable Permaloft insulated liner.
- 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/water 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.
- Rain Pants - This item is primarily for protection against the wind while on the ATVs. Ensure your pants are waterproof and seam-sealed.
- Lodge Shoes - Light, comfortable shoes to wear in the lodge are useful. We will supply guests with lodge shoes.
- Fleece Jacket - A fleece jacket 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 - Wind-resistant gloves/mittens for cold days or the ATV excursions.
- 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.
- Sunscreen - The summer sun in the Arctic is extremely strong - not to mention it shines almost 24 hours a day. So pack sunscreen.
- Binoculars - Great for spotting wildlife. We recommend Swarovski Optiks.
- Arctic Watch 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 the weather patterns and wildlife can disrupt even the best-laid plans. Therefore all of our itineraries are marked as ‘suggested’ - most excursions will be happen, just not necessarily on the days noted below.
All adventures to Arctic Watch include accommodations in Yellowknife the nights before and after at the Explorer Hotel. Guests arrive into Yellowknife the day before the private charter departs for Arctic Watch.
Fly to Yellowknife, the capital of Canada’s Northwest Territories and spend the night at the Explorer Hotel.
After breakfast, depart Yellowknife on a private charter for the 4.5 hour flight to Arctic Watch. After a refueling stop in Cambridge Bay, guests will arrive in the afternoon. Once a tour of the facilities is complete, and guests have settled into their cabins, there will be a meet & greet in the Great Room with the Arctic Watch team. Dinner will be served, then the guides will give a safety briefing and a basic introduction to sea kayaking in polar waters.
Daily at 8:30 am breakfast will be served. Attend a hands-on introduction to ATVs, then head off for a short hike to the Cunningham River estuary to watch beluga whales in the shallows a few yards offshore. Afterwards a delicious lunch buffet will be available. The afternoon includes a hike to the five-story Triple Waterfalls, where nesting peregrine falcons, loons, snow buntings sandpipers and rough-legged hawks are found. In the canyon experience the tiny beauty of Arctic flowers, and encounters with Muskox are common. The evening wraps up with a hearty dinner.
Travel by ATV across the Cunningham River delta, along the Muskox Ridge Trail which provides a spectacular vista of the entire area. Expect to see muskox, arctic foxes and their pups. After a picnic lunch at Inukshuk Lake, fishing gear will supplied to catch-and-release arctic char. Head back to the lodge via the River Trail to view the hoodoos and local coal deposits. After dinner, an informal lecture by Richard Weber on his North Pole expeditions - highlighting his historic (and unrepeated) 1995 unassisted journey -will be offered.
Sea kayak and paddle board in the Cunningham Inlet amongst the pack ice, ring seals, bearded seals, and belugas. Lunch will be served on the shoreline, then a short hike to explore a small canyon - Kayak Falls - with stunning views of the Northwest Passage, and potentially spot polar bear. The afternoon will be spent at the estuary to watch the belugas, this particular spot is renowned because of the density of the whale population and their proximity to the shore - only a few metres. After dinner, an informal lecture by Nansen Weber on wildlife photography will be offered.
Get ready for a trip to Flatrock Falls where guests can opt to hike or travel by Mercedes Unimog truck to the unnamed canyons of Somerset Island. The vertical walls (60 - 305 metres) were formed as a result of shifting fault lines, and millions of fossils litter the ground. During the excursion there will be the opportunity to observe the nesting sites of terns, plovers and snow geese. After lunch, travel to Gull Canyon where you’ll note the striking biological contrasts between a barren canyon and a lush gull rookery. In the evening, a presentation on the history of the Northwest Passage will be offered.
ATV to Cape Anne to visit several Thule sites and search for polar bear along the shoreline. It’s a scenic ride that includes icebergs, ancient Inuit campsites and prehistoric whale bones. Return to the lodge overland via the Red Valley where you can’t help but be inspired by the magnitude of the landscape. After dinner, a presentation by Nansen Weber on his photographic work in Cunningham Inlet, Somerset Island and his experiences with fox pups, polar bear and other wildlife will be offered.
Climb into the Mercedes Unimog truck to head to the raft and kayak launch on the Cunningham River 20 km from the lodge. The last 6 km before the launch requires a hike through the Badlands, passing skeletal remains of two 8,000 year-old bowhead whales, encounters with muskox, snow geese, arctic fox and more. For those looking to explore the tundra on a mountain bike, join our guides on a small group as we cover the same journey through human power. Guests will savour a picnic lunch by the river as the team readies the rafts, kayaks and/or SUPs for the two to three hour return to Arctic Watch. The river is swift, but has no difficult sections or rapids. Upon the return, it’s the final dinner of the adventure. In the evening take the polar plunge challenge - it’s a fun event for all.
By now, guests are familiar with the area, and can opt to do an activity that they missed during the week or would like to repeat. There’s lots of time before the flight departs in the late afternoon. Upon arriving in Yellowknife you will spend the night at the Explorer Hotel before your return flight home.
Depart Yellowknife for the return flight home.
Fly the Northwest Passage/Beechey Island
Take to the sky and see the beautiful landscapes from above as you fly the Northwest Passage. Observe narwhal, bowhead and beluga whales, seals and polar bear. If time and weather permit, you’ll land and explore historic Beechey Island and the Franklin graves. In 1845, the Franklin Expedition’s search for the Northwest Passage went horribly wrong. After wintering on Beechey Island, both the HMS Erebus and HMS Terror were lost. 129 men perished but what actually happened still remains a mystery. A minimum of 7 guests is required. PRICE: $1,300 person/per day
Charter Flight: Sea-Run Arctic Char Fishing in Creswell Bay
Love fishing? Creswell Bay is one of the top locations to fish for arctic char, their bi-annual migration offers a world-class fishing opportunity just a 40 minute flight from Arctic Watch. The Arctic char range in size from 6-20 lbs. A minimum of 2 guests is required, maximum of 10. PRICES FROM: $1,200 - $3,900 person/per day
Any cancellations before 180 days prior to the departure date will receive a full refund. 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 quoted rates are GST applicable at 5%. Prices are in Canadian currency.