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Belugas frolicking in Cunningham Inlet

Beluga Whale Photography

Example 10 Day Tour
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Embark on a journey to capture one of the world's most unique beluga gatherings: two thousand whales gather in the shallow waters of Cunningham Inlet near Arctic Watch every season to nurse, molt, socialize, and dine. The trip focuses on spending time at the Cunningham River's mouth, where moms and children gather in the shallow waters. Spend time learning about the belugas' moments and behaviors so that you can truly immerse yourself in their world. Photograph the whales as they go in and out of the inlet and along the Northwest Passage, capturing all parts of their voyage as they frolic in Cunningham and transit the ice of the Northwest Passage.
A beluga playing in the Cunningham RiverFilming beluga whalesphotographing belugas in Cunningham InletView the beluga whales from your tent at Arctic Watch Wilderness LodgeBeluga banana at Arctic WatchATV on the tundra near Cunningham Inlet at Arctic WatchATVing on the tundraBeluga tail in the Cunningham River at Arctic WatchBelugas in Cunningham River & Guests near Arctic WatchBeluga whales & guestsA beluga rubbing in the sandBelugas frolicking in Cunningham Inlet
  • Encounter one of the last beluga whale nurseries on earth
  • Learn the belugas' moments and behaviors
  • Enjoy breathtaking views of the Northwest Passage and ice formations on the Arctic ocean
  • Encounter rarely seen arctic wildlife: beluga, polar bears, muskoxen, and more
  • Experience ATV ride to the Cunningham Estuary to watch beluga whales.
Places Visited
Activity Level: Relaxed
Involves minimal physical effort and is typically associated with leisurely activities. Activities are low-intensity or last less than a few hours each day.

Full Itinerary

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Day 1: Arrive in Yellowknife, Northwest Territories

  • 1 Dinner
Fly to Yellowknife, the capital of Canada’s Northwest Territories and spend the night at the Explorer Hotel.

Day 2: Fly to Arctic Lodge

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 to 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. Spend time with your guide that evening, as you prepare your camera gear for the adventure. 

Day 3: Cunningham River

ATVs are the most practical mode of mobility on the tundra for covering lengthy distances. Attend an all-terrain vehicle demonstration followed by a short drive to the Cunningham Estuary to see beluga whales. During the months of July and August, two to three thousand whales visit the gin-clear waters of Cunningham Inlet. The beluga whales come to Cunningham Inlet to moult in the warm waters of the Cunningham River while nursing and socializing. This is an important rest point for these beluga whales throughout their annual voyage. Spend the day at the Cunningham River's mouth, watching and photographing mothers and their young playing in the shallow freshwater.

Day 4-8: Cunningham Inlet | Beluga Whale Photography

Daily excursions led by our team at Arctic Watch focus on observing, photographing and encountering the belugas in Cunningham Inlet. Guests are provided the best opportunities to photograph unique moments as we observe the social behaviors between mothers and their young, adults, juveniles and family social structures within the herd. Guests are welcome to bring handheld and drone based photographic equipment (under the guidance of our team to ensure we don't disturb any whales). 

Day 9: Depart for Yellowknife

  • 1 Breakfast, 1 Lunch, 1 Dinner
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.

Day 10: Yellowknife | Return Home

  • 1 Breakfast
Depart Yellowknife for the return flight home..

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’. Daily excursions are planned based on guest desires, abilities and interests as well as daily wildlife and weather conditions.


Arctic Watch Wilderness Lodge

View the beluga whales from your tent at Arctic Watch Wilderness Lodge
Guest Room
Lodge Room

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  • 9 Breakfasts, 8 Lunches, 9 Dinners
  • 9 Nights Accommodations
  • Accommodations as listed
  • Ground transportation as listed
  • Activities as listed
  • Meals as listed
  • Access to a 24-7 Emergency line while traveling
  • Gratuities
  • Travel Insurance
  • Personal Expenses
  • Flight costs (please request a quote)
  • Additional excursions during free time
  • Fuel and transportation surcharges (when applicable)


When to Go

Good to ideal period to travel, and many people choose to visit at this time.
Typically not offered during this period because of weather conditions.


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Our guide and driver were very good with their knowledge and were very helpful with our questions. It was a very pleasant visit that would have been impossible to do on our own. Hotels and restaurants were fantastic. The special places we got to go to, like the kitchens, were great. Enjoyed the entire trip!
Meyer Smolen

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