When you think of an Arctic adventure, most people would think of exploring by small ship – and that’s a great option. But if you’re after something a little more unique, that stays on land, then a safari on ice may be just for you!
Led by local Inuit guides, you’ll discover an array of wildlife, from whales and walrus to seals and the elusive polar bear. You’ll also have the opportunity to visit traditional communities and immerse yourself in their ancient culture. All in a group size limited to between 8-16 participants.
We sat down with the experts at Natural Focus to find out all about this exciting itinerary.
1. What time of the year do Arctic Kingdom expeditions depart? Are there set departures?
Tours to Baffin Island north of the Arctic Circle operate from April to August 2020. Tours to see the polar bears near Churchill operate in October and November. All tours have set departure dates, however it is possible to arrange private journeys as well.
2. Can you explain the types of accommodation people can expect from their safari-style camps?
There are two types of safari camp and they are used for different journeys. On the Narwhal & Polar Bear Safari accommodation is a safari style camp on the ice floe edge, with large guest tents specially designed for cold weather. Each tent is 2 metres high and measures 14 m2. It contains two twin beds with mattresses, duvets, doonas and full size pillows. There is a small pop-up tent with a camp toilet for personal use. There is a central washroom shared with other guests. The camp has a central dining/lounge area to dine and relax with other guests.
On the Polar Bear & Glaciers of Baffin Island tour accommodation is in a Premium Safari Camp which offers a certain elegance and extra comfort to the camping experience. The yurt style camp tents are 4.8 m in diameter with 3 m cathedral ceilings, double walls with insulation, windows and a lockable door. Inside are two twin beds or one king size bed, with mattress, duvets, pillow and warm doona, and a heater. The shared washroom has hot water sinks and showers. The camp has a large dining/lounge area with 24 hour snack and drinks buffet.
3. What modes of transport are used during the trip?
The remote wilderness areas are accessed by charter aircraft. Once there you might travel by qamutik (traditional sled) or snowmobile and also on foot. On the sea you might explore by kayak or boat, looking out for whales or polar bears among the ice bergs.
4. What sort of land-based expeditions are available while on the program?
Expeditions are with Inuit guides through stunning Arctic landscapes in search of marine wildlife like seals, whales, narwhal and walrus, or land animals like polar bears and arctic fox, depending on the tour.
5. What activities will travellers have the option to participate in throughout the trip?
Daily expeditions on foot, by boat, sled or kayak with Inuit guides. With the long and milder summer days there is plenty of time for photography and enjoying the spectacular landscapes. On some trips guest can even go snorkelling in dry suits.
6. What are the advantages of a land-based arctic trip compared to a small ship cruise?
The numbers of guests are even smaller (from 8 to 16 people) than on a small ship so it is a very intimate experience. There are also more opportunities to be close up and personal with the landscapes and the wildlife. Living on the ice is a special experience.
7. What sort of cultural interaction can people expect?
Some trips include special cultural presentations by local Inuit communities such as those at Pond Inlet on the Narwhal & Polar Bear Safari. This includes traditional throat singing, dancing and feats of strength. However all Arctic Kingdom trip are crafted with insight from Inuit guides, and you may get the chance to visit ancient Thule sites where you will see the traditional tent rings and learn about the culture and history of the ancestors of the Inuit. Or you might travel by snowmobile and qamutik to traditional Inuit hunting grounds.
8. Is there any other information you’d like to add about the trip?
Arctic Kingdom operate small, land-based groups to ensure they have a minimal travel footprint. Following Inuit teachings they travel in small groups permitting guests to view wildlife authentically and non-intrusively. At all times they adhere to the Wildlife Policy of Nunavut, including keeping safe distances from wildlife.
IF you’d like to know more about a land-based Arctic adventure, contact our friendly team of consultants today!
Feature image by RJ SAUER.