Province/Territory: Nunavut

A Frozen Wildlife Safari

  • 500 kilometres above the Arctic Circle
  • 2000 beluga whales frolicking in the shallows
  • 360 degree views of dramatic Northwest Passage landscape

Your travel compass pointed north, and here you are: at the top of the world—500 miles above the Arctic Circle on Somerset Island in the territory of Nunavut. The adventure is everything you imagined, and more. Kayak through ice-chunky waters teeming with ghostly white belugas; watch as the whales blow steamy plumes. Glimpse stampeding muskox while exploring the untouched tundra. Laugh as feather-light summer snowflakes dust your face on river-raft ride; your heart races when a distant white spot turns into a polar bear or snowy owl. Guided by a renowned polar explorer, you’ll visit an Arctic fox den to watch the furry cubs play, and investigate mysterious Thule ruins crafted from giant whale bones. At day’s end your small group returns to Canada’s northernmost adventure lodge, a remote, tented complex filled with the heady aroma of roast muskox with all the trimmings, paired with fine wine. Then, with the midnight sun lighting your way, retire to the rustic luxury of your "cabin," a high-tech permanent tent amid an outback silence so profound it will lull you into the deepest sleep.

Why you should visit
  • Watching beluga whales frolic in the shallows so close you can hear their calls. Listen even more clearly with a hydrophone (underwater microphone) in the company of resident scientist(s).
  • Arctic Watch is home to the largest annual migration of beluga whales on earth.
  • Rare outback comfort in a 5-star tent lodge, 500 miles north of the Arctic Circle.
  • Hiking with views of musk ox herds; kayaking among icebergs. Polar bear and Arctic fox sightings.
  • Daily Arctic safaris by ATV or Mercedes Unimog truck to waterfalls and ancient archeological sites.
  • Evening talks by internationally recognized polar explorer and owner of Arctic Watch, Richard Webber, and an on-site Arctic library and interpretive centre.
  • Taking part, if you like, in the annual Northwest Passage Marathon, North America’s most northerly marathon and ultra marathon.
  • Dinners the likes of baked Arctic char and grilled muskox finish with homemade desserts.

Weather

  • Be prepared for a wide range of tundra weather conditions.
  • Summer weather varies from intense, 24 hour warm sun to foggy, windy, cool days with possible rain showers, sleet, even snow.
  • The average daily maximum during summer months is 7°C, but temperatures can range as high as 20°C or down to -3°C are not uncommon. Normal is 8°C to 12°C.
  • Precipitation is light - less than 150mm per year (6 inches) - mostly falling as rain or snow during spring and summer.
  • Discover local weather information. Research local weather patterns at Environment Canada's Canadian Climate Website.
Visitor information
When to go
  • The summer season in the High Arctic is short. Arctic Watch is open from the start of July to mid-August.
Need to know
  • You don’t have to be an experienced explorer to go on this Arctic adventure: beginners are welcome whether it's for hiking or kayaking.
  • Bring rubber boots and a rain jacket and a layer of synthetic (not cotton) underwear which is the best first layer next to your skin.
  • Sunscreen is handy during the 24 hour daylight: insect repellent is not necessary as there are no biting bugs at Arctic Watch.
  • Be aware that Arctic travel is weather dependent. Delays do happen.
Getting Here
  • Visitors generally arrive in Yellowknife the day before their scheduled departure to Arctic Watch on one of several airlines that service Yellowknife Airport (YVF) from Southern Canada.
  • The following day, aboard a private plane, fly 4.5 hours (1,500 km) with a refueling stop in Cambridge Bay to a private airstrip near Arctic Watch.