- Small Group
- Land Based Adventures
- 26 Capacity
- 10 Days
- Price from
Summary : Dicover a world-class beluga whale observation site. Situated 500 miles north of the Arctic Circle, the lodge offers fully-guided opportunities for hiking, kayaking, zodiac cruising and exploring the Arctic tundra in all-terrain vehicles (ATVs). Observe muskox, polar bear and Arctic fox in their natural habitat while enjoying comfortable accommodations and superb food, all accessible by a short flight from Yellowknife, Northwest Territories to Somerset Island in Nunavut, Canada.
Activities : Birding, Hiking, Kayaking
$7,995 to $13,495
Enjoy an included night in Yellowknife and meeting your fellow travelers.
Meet early in the morning to board your 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, pass over the tree-line to the remote community of Cambridge Bay to refuel. Land on Somerset Island in the afternoon. A short walk across the tundra, and an even shorter raft ride across the Cunningham River, will bring you to the lodge. Following a tour of the facilities, settle into your room and later meet the staff for a briefing on the activities of the week ahead.
A typical first morning at the lodge may include receiving a hands-on introduction to driving an all-terrain vehicle (ATV), which are easy and fun to drive. Later, you may take a short hike to the Cunningham River Estuary to watch beluga whales frolic in the shallow water only a few yards offshore. In the afternoon, there may be an opportunity for a hike to Triple Waterfall, 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 center contains collections of local fossils, skeletal remains of Arctic fauna, and a collection of traditional Inuit clothing from Canada, Greenland and Siberia.
After breakfast, travel by ATV crossing the Cunningham River Delta. Drive along Muskox Ridge Trail, which provides a scenic overview of the entire area. It’s very likely that you’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 Inukshuk Lake, gear is supplied for those who would like to take the opportunity to “catch-and-release” fish for Arctic char. Returning on ATV, the journey takes an alternate route via the River Trail to view sculptured sand pillars and local coal deposits. In the evening after dinner, there will be an opportunity to listen to informal presentations.
Conditions permitting, 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 along the shoreline, take a short hike to explore a local canyon aptly named Kayak Falls. From there you’ll have stunning views of the Northwest Passage and the opportunity to see polar bears.
In the afternoon, return to the Cunningham River Estuary to watch the beluga whales. This site is unique 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, enjoy a talk on the beluga research being conducted in Cunningham Inlet.
Following breakfast, depart for a trip to Flat Rock Falls, crossing the Cunningham River Delta. Once there, you’ll have the option of hiking or travelling by Mercedes Unimog a (multi-purpose four-wheel drive truck). Visit the Somerset Island canyons, formed as a result of shifting fault lines. Their walls, mostly vertical, vary from 200 to 1,000 feet (up to 305 meters). Millions of fossils of prehistoric plants and animals litter the ground. You may also have the opportunity to observe nesting sites of local birds, including terns, plovers and snow geese.
Enjoy a picnic lunch on the flat rocks that surround this canyon. After lunch, travel to Gull Canyon to observe 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.
Set out on ATV to Cape Anne where you’ll visit five Thule sites all along the coast and look for polar bears. The Thule 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, gives incredible views of the lodge and its vast surroundings.
The first leg of today’s journey is by Mercedes Unimog truck. Board the Arctic Watch raft or 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 dating from eight thousand years ago. The voyage includes encounters with muskox, snow geese, jaegers, Arctic foxes, sandpipers and rough-legged hawks. Enjoy a picnic lunch on the beach beside the river, as the guides prepare the rafts and kayaks.
Returning to the lodge, you’ll have the choice of kayaking or traveling 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, enjoy a final dinner and evening at the lodge.
Bid a fond farewell to the lodge team and the High Arctic. You may have time to take advantage of one last activity before departing. In the late afternoon, the plane arrives for the return flight back to Yellowknife. Upon arrival in Yellowknife you will be transferred to your included hotel.
Make your way home at your leisure or spend some more time in Yellowknife.
Read this itinerary as a guide only; the exact program varies according to weather conditions - and the wildlife you encounter. Flexibility is the key to the success of this expedition.
Mandatory Travel Insurance:
All guests are required to have comprehensive travel insurance coverage. Due to the remoteness of the areas in this itinerary, travelers must have a minimum $50,000 of emergency medical coverage. Proof of coverage is required prior to embarkation. The shipping company will not be held responsible for delays due to force majeure. Any additional costs accrued will be the responsibility of the traveler. ExpeditionTrips strongly recommends that the travel insurance policy covers trip cancellation insurance, trip delay (interruption or after departure coverage), baggage and repatriation. ExpeditionTrips can assist you with this.
Beechey Island Excursion: $895 per person (Minimum 8 guests, Maximum 12)
Depart Arctic Watch on a De Haviland twin otter, and fly across the Northwest Passage on a 40 minute flight to Beechey Island. During the flight, scan for narwhal, bowhead whales, beluga whales, seals and polar bears. Once on Beechey Island, visit a naitonal historic site significant in Canadian Arctic exploration, visit a marked grave site from the ill-thrawted Franklin expedition as well as the storage depot. Enjoy a picnic lunch, and explore the island spotting stunning ice formations and untamed landscapes.
Accommodation; all meals and snacks at the lodge; all activities per the daily program, e.g. ATV, kayaking, fishing, etc; Expedition Leader and guides; lectures by noted naturalists and scientists; Zodiac transfers and cruising per the daily program; photographic journal on DVD; pair of waterproof expedition boots on loan; parka to keep; coffee, tea, water and juice available around the clock. (Soft drinks not available.); selection of alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages; pre-departure materials; miscellaneous service taxes throughout the program; luggage handling at the airport and at the lodge; group transfer from your hotel to the airport for your charter flight; group transfer from the charter airport to hotel; Emergency Evacuation Insurance for all passengers to a maximum benefit of $100,000 per person; one night pre and one night post hotel with breakfast in Yellowknife, Canada.
Any airfare (economy seats on the charter flights must be purchased in conjunction with the expedition: $1,690 per person); passport and visa expenses; government arrival and departure taxes; taxes not mentioned above; any beverages that are not in the complimentary selection; any meals before and after the lodge with the exception of breakfast at the included hotels; baggage, cancellation and medical travel insurance; excess baggage charges; laundry and other personal charges; telecommunications and WiFi charges; the customary gratuity at the end for staff; soft drinks are not available at Arctic Watch Lodge.