Arctic Watch Discovery Experience - 9 Nights
800 kilometers north of the Arctic Circle. Home to polar bears, muskoxen, Arctic foxes and a world-class beluga whale nursery, Arctic Watch is an unparalleled destination for the adventurous. From wildlife photography to fat biking the frozen Arctic ocean or sea kayaking alongside beluga whales, we offer fully guided excursions in Canada’s far north. Our wilderness lodge is situated on the the historic Northwest Passage and is the most northerly fly-in lodge in the world. Gourmet meals and comfortable accommodation at 74° north makes Arctic Watch a unique adventure for those seeking an experience of a lifetime.
ABOUT THE LOCATION
Arctic Watch Wilderness Lodge is located on Somerset Island, Nunavut. Situated on the banks of the Cunningham River, where one of the largest beluga congregations in the world occurs, Arctic Watch is an off-the-grid basecamp built to withstand Arctic weather. Normal daytime temperatures range from 6° to 14°C, and warm days can go as high as 21°C.
Wildlife/Nature Sightseeing; Fishing; Hiking & Walking; Water Sports; Cycling & ATVs
To discover more about what to expect, we recommend reading our blogs.
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.
All culinary experiences are provided and prepared on-site from the finest ingredients in the Arctic. Our talented chefs bake breads, make yogurts, ice creams and other delights to satisfy you at breakfast, lunch and dinner. If 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, Okanagan Valley wines and more.
- 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
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 Watch is a trip of a lifetime. Each day’s activities take into consideration the dynamic environment we operate within, your interests, and may not always reflect the suggested itinerary outlined below.
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.
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.
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 3-hour flight to Arctic Watch. Guests will land in the Arctic later that afternoon. After an introduction to the lodge and the surrounding landscape by the Arctic Watch team, guests will have time settle into their cabins. Before dinner is served, a short hike up to the local mountain is offered; breathtaking views of the Northwest Passage and ice formations on the Arctic ocean.
ATVs are our most practical form of transportation to cover long distances on the tundra. Attend a hands-on introduction to all-terrain vehicles followed by a short drive to the Cunningham Estuary to watch beluga whales. Archaeological sites and artifacts dating to viking contact can be seen along Somerset’s coastline. Enjoy a delicious lunch buffet back at the lodge before departing for a short afternoon hike to the Triple Waterfalls. This short 5km roundtrip hike gives you an introduction to the plants and animals that live in the area. Encounters with muskox are common.
Travel by ATV across the Cunningham River delta, to Muskox Ridge. This scenic trail provides spectacular views of the area and is a great vantage point from which to see muskoxen and arctic foxes. From the high ridge, hike down into one of the many depressions where muskoxen often spend the summer months foraging. After a picnic lunch at Inukshuk Lake, fishing gear will supplied to catch-and-release arctic char. Head back to the lodge along the River Trail keeping an eye out for birds such as snowy owls, jaegers, rough-legged hawks and more. 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 the gin-clear water of Cunningham Inlet while enjoying views of Gifford Point in the distance. Watch for beluga whales passing by your boat as they travel between the open water of the Northwest Passage and the mouth of the Cunningham River. Hop out on the other side of the inlet at Kayak Falls with stunning views of the Northwest Passage, and (with luck!) spot polar bear. After dinner, an informal lecture by Nansen Weber on wildlife photography will be offered.
Travel by Mercedes Unimog to the east side of Cunningham Inlet where a number of unnamed canyons offer great hiking opportunities. The afternoon will be spent at the estuary to watch the beluga whales as they as they rub themselves and 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.
Enjoy the views of the Northwest Passage from passenger seat of the four-seater all terrain vehicles. Driving along the west shore of the inlet, stop at historic 1,000 year-old Thule sites situated along the coast and learn more about the rich history of the area. Turning west at Polar Bear Point, look for wildlife as we drive along the Northwest Passage. A short hike to Nansen’s ridge offers incredible views across the passage and showcases the characteristic Arctic landscape.
Climb into the all-terrain Mercedes Unimog truck and head to the raft put-in on the Cunningham River. Hike the last stretch through the Badlands, a unique landscape with ancient 8,000-year-old bowhead whale skeletons exposed on the tundra. The area is inhabited by muskox, snow geese and arctic foxes. Savour a picnic lunch by the river as the team prepares the rafts, kayaks and/or standup paddle-boards for the two to three hour return to Arctic Watch. Leisurely paddle as the river narrows into a towering canyon, eventually opening up again into the braided flats in front of the lodge. Upon the return, it’s the final dinner of the adventure. In the evening take the polar plunge!
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 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 quoted rates are GST applicable at 5%. Prices are in Canadian currency.