Province/Territory: Nunavut

Canada's Arctic Wilderness Frontier

  • 1/5th of Canada is within Nunavut, the country’s biggest and newest territory
  • 84 percent Inuit population
  • 50 percent of the world’s polar bears

Nunavut is Canada’s Arctic Outback, a vast and pristine landscape of glaciers, icebergs and tundra.  Hike or ski in far northern Sirmilik National Park. Travel across the frozen ocean to the ice floe edge on an Arctic safari to spot beluga whales, narwhal and polar bears beneath the shimmering colours of Northern Lights. Hop a Northwest Passage cruise and learn about Inuit history and heritage while on the lookout for musk ox, walrus and bowhead whales.

Stay with a welcoming Inuit family in the traditional hamlet of Kimmirut; mush a team of sled dogs, try a few words of Inuktitut and go ice-fishing for delicious catches like Arctic char. Watch world-renowned carvers and printmakers create iconic Canadian art in Cape Dorset and Pangnirtung. Join a festival celebrating all things Northern in Iqaluit and be swept up by the rhythms of Inuit drum dancing and throat singing that last well into a lively night lit by the Midnight Sun.

Outdoor adventure

  • Hike or ski across wild Sirmilik National Park at the northern tip of Baffin Island, on the lookout for snowy owls, polar bears and narwhal on a Polar Sea Adventures.
  • Sail across the roof of the country and through the fabled, ice-littered Northwest Passage on a cruise with Adventure Canada .
  • If you’re angling for a catch-and-release experience in untouched wilderness, you’ll find it at Nueltin Fly-in Lodges on the Manitoba/Nunavut border. Trophy northern pike and monster lake trout rule the depths of these waters, while arctic grayling dance in the rushing rapids. 
  • Mush a team of dogs over vast sheets of ice as blue as the Caribbean, then drift to sleep beneath dancing Northern Lights.

Arts & Culture

Nature & Wildlife

  • Travel by snowmobile-drawn Inuit sleds to the edge of the floe ice on an Arctic safari to see narwhal, polar bears and beluga whales with Arctic Kingdom.
  • Set up camp on the Baffin Island tundra to visit the feeding grounds of some of Nunavut’s 500,000 caribou .
  • Visit Niginganiq National Wildlife Area at Isabella Bay on the east coast of Baffin Island, the world’s first sanctuary to protect massive Arctic bowhead whales that can reach 60 feet in length.

Events & Festivals

  • Savour Northern arts under the midnight sun at Iqaluit’s Alianait! , an annual spring festival featuring film, circus arts, story-telling, music – including throat singing - and theatre.
  • Celebrate Arctic wintertime with the week-long Toonik Tyme Festival every April and take part in traditional Inuit games and activities such as igloo building, dogsled races, snowmobile races, seal skinning contests, musical performances and lively feasts.

Weather

  • Temperatures vary widely by community. The average in Kugluktuk, the warmest hamlet in Nunavut, sometimes rises to 30°C in summer and ranges from -15°C to -40°C in winter.
  • The coldest community is also the northernmost, Grise Fiord, where summer temperatures can remain just above freezing to 5°C and winter temperatures frequently drop to -50°C.
  • Spring temperatures are more consistent throughout the territory, with average daytime highs between -20°C and -10°C. The cool days of spring in Nunavut are very often sunny.
  • In summer, Iqaluit enjoys temperatures as high as 20 °C during the long days and temperature remain above freezing throughout the region.
  • Discover local weather information. Research local weather pattern's at Environment Canada's Canadian Climate Normals Website.
Quick facts

Area: 1,932,255 sq km (746,048 sq mi)
Capital City: Iqaluit
Largest City: Iqaluit
Total Population: 33,330
Official Languages: Inuktitut, English and French (English predominant in Iqaluit)
Territorial Motto: Nunavut Sannginivut in Inuktitut. “Our land, our strength.”

When to go
  • Days are long in spring – May and June - when trips to the floe edge are popular via snowmobile or dog team across the still-frozen sea ice. This is a good time to go backcountry skiing.
  • Spring and fall are good times to visit if you’re prowling for Inuit art and carvings since many artists spend the summertime out “on the land” in camps.
  • Above the Arctic Circle, there is 24 hour light from May into August. From late March to late May, sunlight reflected off the snow and ice can cause severe sunburn, so even though it may feel cold, using sunscreen lotion is advisable.
  • July and August are the brief hiking, kayaking and cruising season when wildflowers – and bugs! – are out. Watch for narwhal, belugas, Bowhead whales, walruses and migratory birds, especially in July.
  • Mid-August through mid-September are pleasant fall months with the tundra turning autumn red and blueberries ripening. Great time for hiking since there are few bugs.
  • Snow is not uncommon during any month of the year so pack warm clothing accordingly.
  • Winter is cold, dark and harsh though Christmas time in the communities is a warm and welcoming time of year.
Getting Here

Nunavut is located in Canada’s Eastern Arctic and can only be accessed by plane or, in summer, on an Adventure Canada cruise departing from various communities. The main points of entry for flights from Southern Canada are:

Getting around

As there are no roads connecting Nunavut’s 25 communities, it’s necessary to fly. Airlines serving Nunavut include: