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Sea kayak with beluga whales during your stay at Arctic Watch Wilderness Lodge

Arctic Watch Wilderness Lodge

Example 10 Day Tour
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Spend a week exploring the Canadian Arctic at this unique wilderness lodge and world-class beluga whale observation site on Somerset Island in Nunavut, Canada. Situated 500 miles (805 km) north of the Arctic Circle, the lodge offers guests fully guided opportunities for diverse adventure activities, and extraordinary polar photography thanks to 24 hours of daylight. Observe the elusive musk ox, polar bear and more wildlife in their natural habitat and enjoy comfortable accommodations and superb food, all accessible via a scenic flight from Yellowknife, Northwest Territories. 

Day-by-Day Summary

Day 1 : Arrive in Yellowknife, Northwest Territories
Day 2 : Fly to Arctic Lodge
Day 3 : Arctic Watch Lodge - Somerset Island, Nunavut
Day 4 : Cunningham River Delta
Day 5 : Kayak Cunningham Inlet
Day 6 : Somerset Island Canyons
Day 7 : Cape Anne
Day 8 : Raft Cunningham River
Day 9 : Depart for Yellowknife
Day 10 : Yellowknife, Northwest Territories

Highlights

  • Encounter rarely seen arctic wildlife: polar bears, muskoxen, and more
  • Visit the Cunningham River estuary, seasonal home to 100s of beluga whales
  • Enjoy ATVs, a Mercedes Unimog, kayaking, rafting, fishing, and hiking
  • Visit Cape Anne Thule sites with ancient stone and bone houses
  • Delight in unique photography opportunities

Places Visited

Activities

Trip Type

  • Independent

Activity Level

Relaxed

Trip Snapshots

Sea kayak with beluga whales during your stay at Arctic Watch Wilderness Lodge Hike the pristine scenery at Arctic Watch Rafting at Arctic Watch View herds of muskox during your stay at Arctic Watch A beluga whale breaks the surface by Arctic Watch Take a ATV ride across the Arctic tundra at Arctic Watch Wilderness Lodge Enjoy pristine fishing locations Beluga migration at Arctic Watch

Day 1 Arrive in Yellowknife, Northwest Territories

  • 1 Dinner
Enjoy an included night in Yellowknife and meet your fellow travelers at a welcome expedition briefing, followed by boot and signature parka distribution.

Day 2 Fly to Arctic Lodge

  • Hotel
  • 1 Breakfast, 1 Lunch, 1 Dinner
Board a private chartered plane to fly the 1,000 miles (1,500 km) to the Arctic Watch Wilderness Lodge. During the four-and-a-half-hour flight, pass over the treeline as you cross the Arctic Circle. Following a refueling stop in the community of Cambridge Bay, circle above Cunningham Inlet. Enjoy aerial views of the lodge below, before landing on the private airstrip on Somerset Island. A short walk across the tundra—and an even shorter raft ride across the Cunningham River—brings you to the lodge. After a tour of the facilities, you are escorted to your cabin. Upon settling in, meet your hosts for a safety briefing and overview of the exciting activities and options ahead.

Day 3 Arctic Watch Lodge - Somerset Island, Nunavut

  • Hotel
  • 1 Breakfast, 1 Lunch, 1 Dinner
After a hot breakfast, a typical first morning at the lodge may include receiving a hands-on introduction to driving all-terrain vehicles (ATVs), which are easy and fun to operate. Later, you may take a short hike to the Cunningham River estuary to spot beluga whales frolicking in the shallow water only a few yards offshore.

After lunch, there may be an opportunity for a hike to Triple Waterfalls, a five-story torrent of free-falling water. There, you can see nesting peregrine falcons and other birds such as loons, snowbuntings, sandpipers, and rough-legged hawks. Exploring this canyon introduces you to the delicate beauty of wild arctic flowers. Encounters with muskoxen are common. During your gourmet dinner, pair your meal with a fine Canadian bottle of wine from the Northwest Passage Wine and Spirit List. After 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, the skeletal remains of arctic fauna, and a collection of traditional Inuit clothing from Canada, Greenland and Siberia.

Day 4 Cunningham River Delta

  • Hotel
  • 1 Breakfast, 1 Lunch, 1 Dinner
After a full breakfast, travel by ATV, crossing the Cunningham River delta and driving along the Muskox Ridge Trail, which provides a scenic overview of the entire area. It’s very likely that you see muskoxen and pass by an impressive arctic fox den, where you may have the opportunity to watch fox cubs at play.

Following an outdoor lunch at Inukshuk Lake, gear is provided for those who would like the opportunity to try catch-and-release fishing for arctic char. Returning on ATVs, the tour takes an alternate route via the River Trail, so you can view hoodoos (sculptured sand pillars) and local coal deposits. In the evening after dinner, enjoy an informal lecture.

Day 5 Kayak Cunningham Inlet

  • Hotel
  • 1 Breakfast, 1 Lunch, 1 Dinner
Today, 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 lunch, take a short hike to explore a local canyon aptly named “Kayak Falls.” From there, 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 your lodge. Standing on the river banks, see the beluga whales frolic in the shallow water and be close enough to hear their calls. Guides use hydrophones so that you can also hear their underwater calls. In the evening, attend a lecture on the beluga research being conducted in Cunningham Inlet. 

Day 6 Somerset Island Canyons

  • Hotel
  • 1 Breakfast, 1 Lunch, 1 Dinner
Today, depart for a trip to Flatrock Falls, crossing the Cunningham River delta. There, you have the option of hiking or travelling by Mercedes Unimog a (multi-purpose four-wheel drive truck). Visit the Somerset Island canyons, formed as the result of shifting fault lines. Observe nesting sites of local birds, including terns, plovers, and snow geese. Their steep walls vary from 200 to 1,000 feet (61 to 305 meters). Millions of fossils of prehistoric plants and animals are scattered around the ground. You may also have the opportunity to observe nesting sites of local birds, including terns, plovers and snow geese. An alfresco lunch is served directly on the flat rocks that surround this canyon.

After lunch, travel to Gull Canyon, where you can see the striking color contrasts between the barren canyon and a lush gull rookery. This spot was recently declared a unique ecosystem by the Canadian Wildlife Service due to the area’s gull rookery and the presence of peregrine falcons. In the evening, a Scientist in Residence gives an informal lecture.

Day 7 Cape Anne

  • Hotel
  • 1 Breakfast, 1 Lunch, 1 Dinner
Set out on ATVs to Cape Anne where you can visit five Thule sites all along the coast and look for polar bears. The Thule culture 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 you incredible views.

Day 8 Raft Cunningham River

  • Hotel
  • 1 Breakfast, 1 Lunch, 1 Dinner
Today’s full-day rafting adventure begins after breakfast with a Mercedes Unimog truck ride to the Arctic Watch raft launch on the Cunningham River, 12.5 miles (20 km) from the lodge. Opt to hike the final four miles (6 km) through the Badlands, passing the skeletal remains of two bowhead whales that date back 8,000 years. On the way to the launch, you may encounter muskoxen, snow geese, jaegers, Arctic fox, sandpipers, and rough-legged hawks.

Savor a picnic lunch on the beach, beside the river, as the staff and guides prepare the rafts. Return to the lodge by raft on the swift-flowing, crystal-clear water of the gentle rapids. The views are amazing and include steep canyon walls that at one point make a 180-degree turn. Tonight enjoy a farewell dinner and evening at Arctic Watch Wilderness Lodge.

Day 9 Depart for Yellowknife

  • 1 Breakfast, 1 Lunch, 1 Dinner
Today, bid a fond farewell to the lodge team and the High Arctic. You may have time to take advantage of one last activity before you depart. In the late afternoon, the plane arrives for the return flight back to Yellowknife. Upon arrival in Yellowknife you are transferred to your included hotel.

Day 10 Yellowknife, Northwest Territories

  • 1 Breakfast
This morning, make your way home at your leisure or spend some more time in the Yellowknife area.

Arctic Watch Wilderness Lodge

Deals

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Per person starting at
$9,495

Notes

Select a Date
Please add 5% GST for Canadians and 2.5% for non-Canadians, from Yellowknife, NT, Canada. Any two consecutive weeks for $11,990 per person plus 5% GST

The mandatory two-night transfer package from Yellowknife includes: Hotel shuttle transfers on arrival and departure between airport and hotel in Yellowknife *Pre-expedition hotel night in Yellowknife and breakfast *Group transfer to and from charter flight to Arctic Watch lodge *Charter flight from Yellowknife to Arctic Watch lodge (return) *Group transfers to and from hotel to Charter flight *Post-expedition hotel night in Yellowknife and breakfast.

Waterproof expedition boots are available on loan. An expedition parka is included in fare.

Included

  • 9 Breakfasts, 8 Lunches, 9 Dinners
  • 9 Nights Accommodations
    • 2 Nights Hotel
    • 7 Nights Lodge
  • 8 Days Private Guide Service
  • Gear Rental
  • Arctic Watch Activities

Excluded

  • Internal Flights
    • $1,690 (2017) mandatory transfer package
    • $1,795 (2018) mandatory transfer package
    • Flight cost is subject to change
  • International Flights

Recommended Budgeting

  • $895 Optional Excursions
    • Beechy Island Excursion
Payment & Cancellation Policies
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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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