Arctic Wilderness Lodge
A call in to Nunavut’s Somerset Island is a truly eventful arctic experience. The accommodation is in a wild placement, however the lodges are tremendous quality and the food is exceptional.
The neighboring area has an extreme concentration of wild animals, most notably beluga whales, polar bear, muskox and birds.
The family activities such as walking, sea kayaking and raft trips are organized in a style to see the creatures and the landscape.
Admittance to the resort is by private charter airplane, a 900 mile (1500 km) flight from Yellowknife, NWT. For a once in a life time arctic region journey, this accommodation is unique in the world.
Arctic Lodge Tour Features:
Beluga Whale Watching.
Cunningham Inlet, Somerset Island, Nunavut is one of the ideal positions in the world to witness Beluga whales. From about mid July to early August, beluga whales return to the mouth of the Cunningham River to molt in the warmer river water and care their young. The excellent whale seeing positions are only a 15 minute trek from the resort. Beluga whale observing is something that can be done at any time.
Hiking Gull Canyon.
We are likely to hike from the resort or we, in many cases, can make full use of the ATVs or Unimog truck to attain to a starting point farther afield.
A relaxed stroll is the preferred way to see wild flowers, birds or come across fossils. It is usually the top rated option to approach wildlife. There are mountains to climb up and canyons to seek.
Muskox wandering the tundra, baby foxes playing at the fox mound, immeasurable birds that nest every year in the North-polar to rear their young, whales by the thousands, many varied seals, and an occasional polar bear.
The region close by and on Somerset Island there are several ancient and archaeological sites. Up and down the coastline are tent rings and remains of camps from Thule culture (AD 1000 – 1400) and paleo-Eskimos. These sites can be visited by foot, ATV, mountain, or kayak.
Inukshuk Lake is home to a good population of Arctic char. Arctic char is a member of the trout and salmon family. Char is an authentic game fish. The fish in Inukshuk Lake generally run 3 to 8 pounds. Creswell Bay, placed at the southern end of Somerset Island has first class char angling. Here the char is likely to end up getting over twenty pounds.
Birders are more than welcome. We make memorable trips for birding by foot, sea kayak and ATV. Northern Somerset Island is the summer residence to a wide selection of land and sea birds.
There are two recommendations for kayaking day trips. The first alternative is to start off at the Lodge, paddle the few hundred yards down the river into Cunningham Inlet. The floating sea ice is marvelous shapes and colourings. From our kayaks we can see whales, seals and sea birds.
The second option is paddling the lower canyon of the Cunningham River. The water is blue and so clear, you can see every rock on the bottom. We stop under the nest of a Rough-legged hawk. The parents keep guard, never going far from the nest, so we are likely to attain a good glimpse of them. The rock all along the river is full of fossil shells, sea anemones and trilobites. The canyon does a flawless 180 degree turn and heads toward the camp. The river is quick, but there are no rapids. The easy paddle could take about three hours.
We have two 17 foot inflatable rafts. We paddle (or drift) the lower canyon of the Cunningham River. This is an impressive geographical spot. Nature has cut a route for the river through solid rock. The water is blue and so clear, you are able in many cases to glimpse every rock on the bottom. Muskox browse on the very top of the cliffs. The rock up and down the river is full of fossil shells, sea anemones and trilobites. The current is swift, but there are no rapids. This not hard paddle will most likely take you about three hours.
Example Arctic Wilderness Lodge Visit Itinerary:
Mid morning, mount aboard a private aircraft for a four and a half hour flight from Yellowknife. You set down on our private gravel airstrip next to the resort. Everyone gets a visit of the facilities, puts their luggage in their vacation cabin, Then meets in the Great Room for a welcome and to get together with our staff. Dinner is served in our pleasant dining room.
Breakfast is served at 8:00 am. There is a hands-on introduction to driving All Terrain Motors (ATV). These smart autos are fairly simple and a lot of fun to drive. Afterward we stroll a short distance to the Cunningham river estuary for whale enjoying. Beluga whales lark in the shallow water only a few yards off the shore amidst the ice floes.
Buffet lunch usually includes: nutritious soups, such as French Canadian Pea, leek, potato, and cream of corn; freshly-baked sourdough and rye breads; specialty meats and cheeses; fresh vegetables; and homemade desserts.
In the afternoon we trek to Triple Waterfalls, a five story inundation of free-falling water. There we will be able to spot nesting peregrine falcons and other birds such as loons, snow buntings, sandpipers, and rough-legged hawks. We uncover the canyon and view wild arctic flowers. Scenarios with muskox are usual.
Evening meals typically can comprise a main course of baked Arctic char, grilled muskox, barbecued pork tenderloin, or other meat. Side dishes of oven-roasted vegetables, red and white wine, fresh bread and homemade desserts round out the meal.
Evening recreational activities can comprise spare time for local pursuit. The library has a extended selection of arctic and polar titles. Our Interpretive Centre contains collections of local fossils, skeletal remains of north-polar fauna, and collection of traditional Inuit skin clothing from Canada, Greenland and Siberia.
Breakfast, served at 8:00 am, typically includes fresh coffee, home-baked pastries, muffins, cinnamon rolls, fresh fruit, yoghurt, muesli, French toast or pancakes with Quebec maple syrup, eggs, double-smoked bacon, sausages and various other snacks. We travel by ATV, crossing the Cunningham River delta, Then Along the Muskox Ridge trail. This affords a beautiful inspection of the full locality. To date, every excursion has been greeted by muskox. We pass an spectacular Arctic Zone fox den, frequently watching fox cubs at play.
A picnic lunch at our own Canadian Arctic Holidays (CAH) shelter at Inukshuk Lake is followed by the prospect to fish for Arctic char. Angling gear is provided. Returning on ATVs we take a different route via the River Trail, discovering hoodoos (sculptured sand pillars), and local coal deposits.
The evening will begin with fresh Arctic char sushi made from the day’s catch. Another fabulous dinner follows. That evening, Richard Weber, internationally recognized polar explorer, offers a relaxed lecture on his North Pole experiences. His historic 1995 unassisted journey to the North Pole and back, a feat that has never been repeated, can also be highlighted.
Another satisfying breakfast is served at 8:00 am. Today’s interest is on sea kayaking in Cunningham Inlet. All gear and basic knowledge are provided. We paddle amidst icebergs, ring seals and bearded seals, watching for beluga whales. Wide-spread sightings of sea birds, including north-polar terns and eider ducks, in many cases can be counted upon.
This afternoon we are back at the Cunningham River estuary to check out the beluga whales. This place is unique in the world as a result of the density of the whale number and their distance to the guests. Frequently we are within a couple of yards of the animals. We is likely to plainly hear their communication calls. To savor the underwater calls, we go with a hydrophone.
Following breakfast we depart, crossing the Cunningham River delta, with the elemental objective of Flatrock Falls. Guests have the choice of hiking, or traveling by Mercedes Unimog truck, mountain bike, or ATV. Somerset Island canyons are usually un-named. They were formed as the result of a shifting fault lines and their walls, mostly vertical, vary from 200 to 1000 feet. Millions of fossils of prehistoric plants and animals litter the ground. Today’s trip equally offers potential to observe nesting sites of local birds such as terns, plovers, and snow geese. A picnic lunch is served directly on the flat rocks that surround this canyon.
After lunch, All people walk to Gull Canyon, named by us for the gorgeous biological contrasts between barren canyon and lush gull rookery. This spot was just lately visited by the Canadian Wildlife Service, not only to glimpse the gull rookery but also the presence of peregrine falcons. Their evaluations were that this spot is an unparalleled and specialized micro-ecosystem.
This evening, guests have the prospect to check out, or for the more adventurous type, engage in, demonstrations of traditional Inuit games and throat singing. Throat singing is one of a kind to the indigenous people of the polar regions of the world and is different from any other vocal music in western culture.
Today’s outing is by ATV to Cape Anne. We progress to five Thule sites up and down the coastline. The ride includes beautiful vistas, icebergs, ancient Inuit campsites and prehistoric giant whale bones. The Thule culture was a bowhead whale hunting culture, ancestors of today’s modern Inuit. The Cape Anne Thule place is the largest in the area and includes the remains of 15 stone and bone houses. Return trip is overland via the Red Valley and guests will certainly expect to be awed by the size of the landscape.
At the end of a long day, we enjoy another appealing dinner. This evening guests can slow down with a lecture by Richard Weber. His show includes impressive photos and engaging stories of North-polar expeditions to Baffin, Ellesmere and other Superb Arctic islands.
Begin this final day with one of Josee’s wonderful breakfasts. The first leg of today’s venture is covered by Mercedes Unimog truck. Our quest is to reach our raft and kayak put-in on the Cunningham River, 20 km. Routinely, we stroll the final six km through badlands, passing the skeletal remains of two bowhead whales dated at four to five thousand years old. Not uncommonly we meet up with muskox, snow geese, jaegers, north-polar foxes, sand pipers, and rough-legged hawks.
Our picnic lunch is eaten on the beach alongside the river, meanwhile the workforce ready the rafts and kayaks. On the return, guests have the choice of paddling their own kayaks, or traveling by raft. The river is quick flowing crystal clear water with no difficult sections or rapids. The views are unique and consists of steep canyon walls and at one point, a 180 degree turn. Guests could very well certainly expect to be on the water for two to three hours.
Today is your last day in the high Arctic zone. By now you are well-acquainted with our neighborhood of Somereset Island. There can also be an activity that you missed during the week or an activity that you particularly enjoyed and want to reproduce, such as a final travel to the whales, or view the muskox herd for a final time. Today we do the activity that you want.
In the late afternoon the plane will most likely arrive to take you back to Yellowknife. You are free to spend time there or head south to Edmonton, Alberta.
Note: Daily experiences are subject to desires and abilities of guests and the weather. All family activities are led by a guide.
Tour availability: July – August.
Group size: 1 – 22 people