June 2015 - Arctic Kingdom Polar Expeditions

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BLOG: Archive for June, 2015

What does land-based mean when describing an Arctic adventure?

June 25th, 2015 | By | Filed in Uncategorized

You have narrowed your choice of vacation destinations to the Canadian Arctic. En route to that decision you visited a lot of websites, asked questions on Facebook and watched travel programs. You did your homework!

Land-based or Ship-based?

The next decision you must make is the style of vacation: ship-based – a cruise; or land-based – staying on the land, usually in one place, for an extended period of time. They have things in common:

  • Once you have boarded a ship, or arrived at base camp, conveniently, you unpack once.
  • Professional chefs prepare gourmet meals from local ingredients that make your mouth water.
  • There are a team of people charged with ensuring your safety, comfort and fun!

The difference

Land-based TripsDuring a land-based trip to the Arctic, you will get to meet the locals, really meet the locals. Arctic Kingdom’s land-based adventures employ skilled-guides from local communities. We explore their neighbourhoods. (Some neighbourhood, eh?) A land-based expedition allows you to become intimately familiar with one locale. You never feel as if you are passing through.

Another significant difference is the way wildlife react to the sound of ship engines in the North. Centuries of hunting has instilled a wariness in narwhal and other marine mammals. Silence is a tool for viewing wildlife during a land-based Arctic adventure. We may make a noise getting to a wildlife viewing spot known to our local team members. Once we are there, however, we can sit silently and wait. There isn’t a “next port of call” that limits our stay.

Expedition Leader Report from the Field: June 13 to 19, 2015

June 23rd, 2015 | By | Filed in Uncategorized

Narwhal, Paul NicklenExpedition Leader Jane Whitney shares another report from the field.”

The spirit of adventure describes being open to what the week out on the floe edge will offer, as every trip is different. When you travel with an open mind, you are able to receive all the unexpected experiences that are worth their weight in gold.

On our last Great Migrations Safari of the season

We found adventure when our local guides were able to float our qamutiks (sleds) across the open lead we had just paddled to reach the floe edge. We watched the newly arrived delicate Red Phalaropes. En-route, we watched how a Polar Bear sniffs out a Ring Seal through the pack ice, and waits patiently at the breathing hole for it to surface. Well, almost patiently – it sat down, like a puppy dog, then flat out laid down and fell asleep.

We were also witness to the miracle of a spring solstice tide which took away 7 km of pack ice in a single night, giving us a new floe edge with wide open water. We parked ourselves right next to where we spotted some narwhal resting on the surface. We watched as the water exploded with Narwhal everywhere, hundreds of them coming up from their deep dives, some with 9 to 10 foot tusks, lifting them to clear other Narwhal from one side to the other, only meters from the edge. The spectacle lasted nearly a couple of hours. There was no need to remind anyone to be quiet. We were all speechless.

This trip was a good reminder of what life was like for the Inuit who, for centuries, depended on wildlife to survive. A late spring, with too much ice, or even just a small change in an animal’s migration could spell disaster. To have the wildlife arrive brings renewed life. It is incredulous how the Inuit can laugh where we would panic. Life is so much better when you laugh.

Return to Arctic Bay

On the return to Arctic Bay, we stop into Tangmaarvik where Dexter’s, one of our guides, great grandmother lived half of a century ago. It is south facing here, warm, with a beautiful view of Strathcona Sound and Admiralty Inlet. The first of the spring flowers have shown their purple and yellow colours, while the newly arrived Horned Lark sings. Lemmings scurry in the grasses.

We count nearly a dozen Thule style winter house sites, alongside the more modern sod and wood frame house sites. We contemplate how peaceful life must have been for the families who lived here, before being re-located to Arctic Bay in the sixties. Dexter’s great grandmother is the oldest elder in Arctic Bay, recently celebrating her 95th birthday. She chooses to still live in a small shed, the size of the sod house she left in Tangmaarvik. She can reach everything from her bed. We watch her chew the leather for the mitts she makes, and enjoy the heat from her qulliq (a traditional oil lamp). Her pot over her qulliq heats her Snow Goose soup. The wick making the long flame across the qulliq is made from dandelion seed. We need to duck to enter through her small door, where the pot of char rests which her grandkids brought.

Walking the dirt road here in Arctic Bay, looking up at the red Cambrian rock, it’s hard to think about leaving for down south. The spirit of the North can make it’s way into your soul, begging you to return time and time again.

Jane Whitney
Great Migrations of the NW Passage

Thule People: Ancestors of the Inuit

June 23rd, 2015 | By | Filed in INUIT

From the first century to 1600, the Thule people inhabited Baffin Island and the Canadian Arctic. They are recognized as the ancestors of the current indigenous population – the Inuit.

They adapted to the environment by hunting marine mammals in open water. The dragged floats attached to harpoon lines. The Thule introduced dogs to pull sleds. They also introduced large boats (umiaks) covered in animal skin for hunting whales.

Thule siteDuring the winter months, according to archaeological studies, he Thule lived in houses with stone foundations slightly buried in the ground. They used the ribs of bowhead whales to support the skin that covered the roofs.

Over time, evidence indicates that the ancestors of the Inuit began to use land-based resources, broadening the kind of food they consumed.

From where did the Thule come?

Researchers at the University of Waterloo Archeaology Department suggest they migrated across the Canadian Arctic from Alaska.Their ancestors may have been the Choris, Norton and Ipiutak peoples, also known as the Norton tradition.

If the word Global warming, around 1,000 years ago, may have made the migration possible. Bowhead whales, the largest inhabiting the Arctic Ocean were fundamental to the survival of the people of the Norton tradition. The whales migrated eastward, so did the people who depended on them for survival.

Thule seems familiar, it is a small Greendlandic community. It was there that the culture was first classified.

Report from the Field – Narwhal and Polar Bear Safari 2015

June 22nd, 2015 | By | Filed in Uncategorized

The 2015 Narwhal and Polar Bear Safaris have wrapped for another season. We spent 37 days on the ice with a great group of people from around the world. Some of whom had some really nice things to say about their trip.

Mark F said “Everything was fantastic.” Ronald K wrote, “The trip was more than I expected. Thank you!” Bonnie H sent us a message that may resonate with you, “Initial fears faded the more we did impossible things successfully.”

Andrew, Ren and BrianWe also received some compliments about our Expedition Team members. {No surprise to us, but always welcome!} Andrew, Ren and Brian of our expedition team are pictured. Bonnie H had this to say, “Billie and the other edlers were amazing. Watching the efficiency and strength of the drivers and crew was impressive.” Our Expedition Leader, Andy, earned this praise, “Andy was an incredibly knowledgeable and approachable guide.”

How was the food, you ask?
“Delicious meals attractively presented, plus plenty of snacks,” was one comment we appreciated receiving. Brian P had one word to say, “Delicious!” Berniece P thought the food was very good, but was really pleased that her allergy was noted.

We’ll let Joann K have the last word, “All in all a wonderful experience.”

Book your 2016 Narwhal and Polar Bear Safari, now. There are 4 departures. Learn more >

Father’s Day is June 21, 2015 – Don’t forget

June 20th, 2015 | By | Filed in IN THE NEWS

Polar Bear_RANDY_BURDICKDuring the month of May, we celebrated Mother’s Day and posted a blog about beluga whales and narwhals. We focused on how the mothers take care of their young and support them until they are no longer dependent. For Father’s Day, we decided to take the opposite approach and highlight which animal is undoubtedly the worst father in the Arctic. Let’s just say that this dad will not be winning any ‘Father of the Year’ awards anytime soon.

Father polar bears managed to make National Geographic’s list of ‘Worst Animal Fathers’ which isn’t a surprise given their unsympathetic nature towards their young. Mother animals are known to be more protective and caring, providing nourishment and encouragement as their cubs grow up. In the case of polar bears, the father’s only role is to mate with the mother. They do not help dig the den and have nothing to do with raising the cubs which is why they are quite accurately considered the deadbeat dads of the Arctic.

On occasion, father polar bears have actually been known to kill and eat their offspring when hunger strikes and there is no other food. Mothers have to work even harder to provide for their cubs and protect them from their hungry fathers. When food is hard to come by, adult males have no sympathy for hungry cubs and are not always willing to share in the meals that are available. If a cub gets a little too close, that may be the trigger with not-so-promising end results for the baby polar bear.

No Happy Father’s Day wishes for polar bear dads

It’s a safe assumption that polar bear dads won’t be getting any Father’s Day cards this year. Even if you don’t always get along with your dad, at least he never tried to eat you! Happy Father’s Day to all the great dads out there!

Author: Mandy Ams

National Aboriginal Day – June 21

June 19th, 2015 | By | Filed in ACTIVITIES, Current Events

National Aboriginal Day Inuit Child

National Aboriginal Day brings together Canadians from all walks of life to participate in events taking place from coast to coast to coast. As the original inhabitants of this glorious land, travel and tourism continues to play an important, self-determined economic driver for Canada’s North.

We thank all the Inuit and First Nation communities, Elders, Guides and Staff for their kind welcome, knowledge, passion and collaboration.

For more information on National Aboriginal Day and events happening in your province, visit  National Aboriginal Day.

National Aboriginal Day in Nunavut

On June 21 travellers to Nunavut can attend celebrations of National Aboriginal Day throughout the region. Click here to find an event.

Author: Mandy Ams


Expedition Leader Field Report: Great Migrations

June 15th, 2015 | By | Filed in AK NEWS, AK PRODUCTS & SERVICES

Expedition Leader Jane Whitney has sent us a report and photos from the floe edge

On our second trip to the Floe Edge, we had to pull our qamutik sleds over the dark open water leads between the big ice pans. Dozens of Northern Fulmars were feeding at the surface, while flocks of Black Guillemots twirled and landed. Ring seal slipped into the water and bobbed with curious eyes.

Great migrations of narwhal and icebergs

At the floe edge, we had stopped near two massive icebergs grounded in their travel from the Greenland icecap which made for a dramatic backdrop for the dozen Narwhal our guides had spotted. They were gone as quickly as they arrived, and so we waited. A large, 800 pound Bearded seal passed through, followed by even larger 3500 pound Atlantic Walrus.

Chef Gavin It was lunch time, and our chef was frying up open faced Beef Burgers with onion and gravy with a warm wild mixed mushroom soup. Someone in the group pointed out excitedly the Polar Bear Sow coming our way with two of this year’s stark white cubs in tow. We tripped in excitement, the setting was so perfect. The mother bear would not stay for long however, and left quickly with her cubs in tow. What a show for lunch!

We would see bear after bear approach from the east, most making their way south to the seal they could smell nearly 5 km away. One of the bears was making it’s way through the rough shore ice toward us. We silently clicked away with our cameras. It took it’s time, coming ever so slowly. At one point it stood up to get a better view of us, and it had to be nearly 9 feet tall. Down it went and made it’s way to the water, entering ever so slowly, lying on it’s belly, head first, rear paws faced skyward the last to enter. The ice it swam to was thin enough it took a few attempts to get on, and once up, the bear shook three times, water droplets flying. The bear slide into the water on the other side of the ice and slowly swam across the vision of our binoculars and long lenses. We watch a seal approach the bear, and both passed each other as if they hadn’t a care in the world. Later we would paddled our kayaks to a pan of ice where we climbed out to see the bear move across another, bigger, jagged pan of ice. Coming back, we marveled at the different shades of blue of the sculpted ice in the Arctic waters. By the end of the day we had counted 8 bears.

Al fresco steak dinnerWe had a lot of fun this week together, enjoying our new friendships. Gavin helped us celebrate the week by barbequing grilled vegetables with seared Arctic air dried strip loin steak over buttermilk whipped mash potato au jus at the ice edge. The whales were a little late for the after dinner show, but the Beluga did show up…maybe 15 to 20 blowing so much water out of their blowholes before diving under the pack ice where we stood to feed.

What was amazing was we could hear their blows under the ice in the air pockets they found there.

The Great Migrations of Lancaster Sound
Jane Whitney

Expedition Leader Report: Great Migrations of the Northwest Passage

June 6th, 2015 | By | Filed in ACTIVITIES, AK PRODUCTS & SERVICES

May 29 – June 4, 2015

After threading our way through the beautifully sculpted blue and white pressure ice, we were one of the first to reach the floe edge this season. We could see the mountains upholstered in white of the uninhabited Devon Island across the dark waters of Lancaster Sound. Proposed as a World Heritage site, Lancaster Sound is located along the Northwest Passage in the eastern Arctic Ocean. At Latitude 74°. several millions of seabirds depend on the nutrient rich waters here, as does the endangered Bowhead whale, tens of thousands of Beluga and thousands of Narwhal. The ice we stood on has us looking over walls of stacked ice chunks, as if a bulldozer piled them up 30 feet high. In silence, we could hear the current move the ice pans past our perch. Two walrus swim by, their wrinkled brown face adorned with vibrissae and tusks. Silent flocks of King and Common Eider wing by. The high calls of Black Guillemots break the silence. We wait patiently, hoping to see some whale. We wait until it’s time to go. As we go to start the snowmobile we hear the blows…..and run to look. And there they came…first the Beluga, then the Narwhal. They were everywhere. The smell of fish oil filled the air. The spray from their blowholes back lit in the evening light. We stood there for hours watching the spectacle. There were likely 300 + whales a stone’s throw away.

Great Migrations, 2015

Author: Jane Whitney

World Environment Day – June 5, 2015

June 4th, 2015 | By | Filed in IN THE NEWS

Raw research from the waters off Torngat Mountains National Park

Raw research from the waters off Torngat Mountains National Park

“To provide leadership and encourage partnership in caring for the environment by inspiring, informing, and enabling nations and peoples to improve their quality of life without compromising that of future generations.”

–Mission of the United Nations Environment Programme

Friday June 5, 2015 is World Environment Day! World Environment Day (WED) is celebrated annually to raise global awareness on the importance of protecting our planet. Organized by the United Nations Environment Programme, World Environment Day is the United Nations’ channel for encouraging worldwide awareness and action for the environment.

Founded on June 5, 1972, the first World Environment Day was celebrated the following year in 1973 and since then, has been celebrated each year in a new city with a different theme. Since its inception, the UNEP is aware of the importance of saving our planet and work to inform the public on climate change, disasters and conflict, ecosystem management, chemicals and waste and environmental governance.

In 2012, Sustainable Development Goals were introduced. SDGs represent universally applicable goals that balance three elements of sustainable development: the environmental, the social and the economic. Working cohesively to achieve the maximum effect, these elements are integrated in the belief that they represent the foundation of suitable development.

World Environment Day – how you can help

As we celebrate World Environment Day, think about the changes you can make in your lifestyle that will have a positive effect on the world around you. Use the hashtag #WED2015 to join in the conversation and let the social media world know what steps you’re taking to help make a difference and achieve positive change.

For more information on World Environment Day and the United Nations Environment Programme’s plan for their 2015 celebration, visit the UN Environment Program.

Author: Mandy Ams

The Canadian Arctic by Private Jet

June 3rd, 2015 | By | Filed in ACTIVITIES, AK NEWS

JaegerCalling all global jet setters! Have you ever thought about what it might be like to take your private aircraft to the Canadian Arctic? If you’re looking for an exclusive trip, designed specifically to your preferences and guaranteed to be the only one of its kind, look no further. Arctic Kingdom can organize every aspect of your custom expedition, assuring that it will be unique.

Save Time

Having access to a private aircraft will save you a great deal of time. You have the added bonus of customizing your arrival and departure flights and tailoring them to your specific agenda. If you have a limited amount of vacation time, we’ll work our magic because it’s actually possible to get a taste of the Arctic in as little as four days! Taking advantage of your personal aircraft ensures that you will get the most out of your vacation. You will have more time to indulge in what the Arctic has to offer.


Getting the best flights can sometimes be a big headache! The simplicity of flying on your own personal aircraft has a large appeal for busy individuals who demand convenience.

Go where few have gone before by Private Jet

The Arctic has kilometers upon kilometers that are still unexplored, even today, when Google Maps seems to have covered the Earth. The benefit of using Arctic Kingdom to design private jet adventure is that you can go where no one has gone before. Email us and we’ll organize every aspect to make your dream Arctic vacation a reality.

Author: Mandy Ams

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