November 18th, 2010 | By Jason Hillier | Filed in ACTIVITIES, AK NEWS, AK PRODUCTS & SERVICES, Team Interviews, Webinar
Our last webinar, a virtual floe-edge expedition
was so successful, we're continuing the series with more opportunities
to learn more about our adventures direct from the source - our team leaders.
Sure, we'll be recording these and posting them online, but do consider signing up
and tuning in live for a fun, collaborative experience. You'll see incredible images, hear first hand stories, and come away with a complete understanding of what any of our land-based animal or dive adventures are all about.
From expedition leader, Thomas Lennartz
Many people that consider heading to the Arctic believe that the Arctic (and Antarctica) is only accessible via cruise ship or maybe a Tundra bus, but not true! Flying up to an Arctic community, and heading out on the land with AK leaders and Inuit guides is the only way to see the authentic Arctic, how the Inuit live here, and also bring you to the land where the animals such as narwhal and polar bears roam. I promise you, an Arctic Kingdom trip will leave you with lasting memories...and I would like to show you personally what you can expect on one of our adventures and aside from visiting everyone of you in person, the best way to do this is to show you 'virtually' complete with images, sound and where you can ask questions in real time.
Here's the schedule
- Click on the title to register today -
Nov 24 - 1:00-2:00PM EST
Polar Bears and Northern Lights of the Torngat Mountains
One of the remotest sub-Arctic regions, least visited, wild frontiers left. An AK Exclusive Trip.
LEARN - about how you can view polar bears via helicopter, on the ground, all based from our newest Arctic Igloo Domes - the ultimate in remote Arctic luxury accommodations.
Dec 2 - 1:00-2:00PM EST
Tired of finding Nemo or another starfish? Enter another world! A true adventure on all frontiers - dive with whales, amongst cathedral spires of ice, on the ocean sea floor and more.
LEARN - about the types of dives, equipment required and what to expect on an Arctic dive trip.
Dec 8 - 1:00-2:00PM EST
Bowhead Whales, Walrus, and Polar Bears of Foxe Basin
The bowhead highway...one highway you won't mind being stuck on!
LEARN - about what why the floe edge of Foxe Basin is so special to see bowhead whales. Why are there so many walrus here?
Jan 12 - 1:00-2:00PM EST
Bowhead Whales, Polar Bears and Glaciers of Baffin Island
Summer in the Arctic doesn't get any better than in the stunning fiords of Baffin Island near Qikiqtarjuaq. Find out why!
LEARN - about land-based Arctic travel to the Arctic Circle in the summer.
SEE - gorgeous photos of the Penny Ice Cap glacier and polar bears taken on previous expeditions and hear stories from AK Expedition Leaders
Reminder! We're still running our special
for this month, book a trip by Nov 25 and you'll receive a free Canada Goose Expedition Parka.
October 27th, 2010 | By Jason Hillier | Filed in AK NEWS, Current Trips, Team Interviews, TRIPS, Uncategorized
Be sure to register
for the November 2 Floe Edge webinar with expedition leader and all around brilliant fellow, Thomas Lennartz
. Thomas will be taking questions on our upcoming trips
and describing exactly what you can expect to see and experience as you travel with Arctic Kingdom.
Female polar bear and five month old cub at iceberg Navy Board Lancaster Sound, Baffin Island.
July 5th, 2010 | By Jason Hillier | Filed in Filmmakers, Films, Projects, Team Interviews
I don't know about you, but my favorite part of the recent Disneynature film Oceans
was the walrus mother hugging her pup close as she teaches him to navigate the ice cold water off Cobourg Island.
Maybe I'm biased. After all, this was just some of the fabulous footage captured by Disneynature crews working with Arctic Kingdom. And, despite un-self conscious the ease with which the walrus cradles her young, the shoot was not without its challenges. In a recent article posted at the Canada Tourism Centre's Media center, AK founder Graham Dickson explains:
“Walruses are not only potentially dangerous, but the mothers tend to be protective of their young. So finding one, in clear water, that keeps doing her thing naturally, was pretty incredible.”
Graham goes on to explain that finding animals in the wild is just one of the challenges of filming Arctic wildlife.
“The challenge is to find meaningful connections” between the animals, he says. Some animals are frankly too self-conscious; they’re so aware of the dive crews that they aren’t … themselves. Sometimes, strangely enough, the most intimidating animals make the most fittingly Zen subjects. Like, for example, a big alpha-male polar bear, caught at a moment when he’s well fed and king of all he surveys. Bears in such conditions “are almost blasé,” Dickson says. “They don’t care that you’re around. They don’t fear you. You’re not part of their food chain.”
Arctic Kingdom's secret lies in the relationships we've formed over years of working and returning to the Arctic. Meaningful connections built between our expedition leaders and the local guides we work with help us to find and form connections with the wild creatures that make the Arctic their home.
"[The Inuit] have the strongest connection of anyone to the wildlife," Dickson says. Roughly half of Arctic Kingdom’s field personnel team comes from the local native communities. "We work not only with youth but with very old elders who don’t speak English. We’re a ‘southern’ company that has spent enough time in the North to actually know some Northern ways. We bring the sophisticated logistics, but we still plug into the local community network and everything the Inuit hold near and dear."
By relying on the traditional knowledge of Inuit guides, Arctic Kingdom is providing jobs for far northern communities that draws upon traditional knowledge and values, helping build and strengthen the Arctic economy for a changing future. Simultaneously, we're helping other "southerners" connect with the world of the North (including some extremely photogenic walruses). Not a bad way to make a living!
Disney's secret weapon: Canadian Arctic footage in new doc 'Oceans.' | Media centre | Canadian Tourism Commission
May 14th, 2010 | By Jason Hillier | Filed in Recent Trips, Team Interviews
Last month, Thomas was expedition leader exploratory expedition up to Grise Ford, where Arctic Kingdom hopes to offer expeditions in the very near future.
The Northern News Service Online has a story up
about Oolateeteh Iqaluk, the Resolute resident who served as lead guide on the expedition.
Iqaluk was the last guide to lead a group from Resolute to Grise ford, six years ago, making him the best person to lead our expedition.
"The most challenging part of the trip was the weather," said Iqaluk, who said the first three days of the trip were very windy with whiteouts.
For three days, the group was weathered in and covered little ground. Iqaluk said the weather did not clear until they reached the end of Ellesmere Island. The whiteouts made the animal tracks hard to see on the snow and Iqaluk said it was hard to tell where the animals were and they were lucky to see some polar bears and muskox. On April 20, they arrived in Grise Fiord after travelling 720 kilometres.
Following a few days rest, the group, along with Iqaluk's 22-year-old nephew Harry Iqaluk and several of the company's clients, left Grise Fiord for Resolute on April 24. For the five days Lennartz said they had beautiful weather. The group was fortunate enough to see many polar bears and muskox daily.
By using local knowledge from their guides and hunters in Grise Fiord, the group made it back to Resolute on April 28 after traveling 600 kilometres
For more on the expedition, including some great photos, check out Thomas's account of the trip
via Tour company explores eco-tourism trips
April 23rd, 2010 | By Jason Hillier | Filed in Team Interviews
As part of the promotional tour for Disneynature's Oceans, Arctic Kingdom founder Graham Dickson has been doing interviews in all sorts of places. Yesterday found him on Canada AM, discussing Arctic Kingdom's role in the feature film.
April 22nd, 2010 | By Jason Hillier | Filed in AK NEWS, Team Interviews
Arctic Kingdom founder Graham Dickson is in the midst of a media frenzy surrounding the North American release of Disneynature's Oceans. Today, an interview with Graham
appeared on the front cover of Arts & Life section of the National Post.
One of the things that's great about this interview is that it really gives a sense of the scale of the work that Arctic Kingdom did on the Arctic portion of Oceans, and the wide range of considerations a small word like logistics covers. As Graham notes in the interview, it involves more than getting people and equipment from point A to point B:
"We had a post-production black-out tent, a kitchen and dining area in another tent with water supply, medical facilities and an emergency physician on site," Dickson says. "Just to survive and run a camp in a remote location, let alone film there, requires a huge amount of equipment - it was approaching a military scale."
While the tents themselves were heated, on raised beds and large enough for people to stand up in, the exterior conditions weren't as cushy.
"Everything that we shot was obtained the hard way," he says. "We'd be setting up rails on the ice while looking out for polar bears, while also sending out a crew on a boat. The logistics to move that number of people, supply them, feed them, have enough fuel, choose the right locations, making it all safe -- it's gargantuan.
"Furthermore," he adds, "figuring out the right locations and right times to go is challenging. Climate change doesn't help, nor do shifting migration patterns and ice floes, so it can be very unpredictable."
From keeping people fed (not an easy task so many kilometers from the nearest corner store) to finding animals and helping crews get the right shot, bringing a film crew to the Arctic is no easy task. All of which makes Oceans
an even more momentous event -- a lot of people worked very hard to make this footage look effortless!
Read more: National Post: Meet Graham Dickson: essential Arctic tour guide
April 22nd, 2010 | By Jason Hillier | Filed in AK NEWS, Team Interviews
Early risers in Canada have a chance to see our founder and Chief Expedition Officer, Graham Dickson, interviewed live on CTV's Canada AM this morning. Look for him at around 8:40 AM EST.
And in case you missed it, Graham's interview with CBC's Ian Hanomansing is now online. You can watch it on the CBC's website
And of course, Disneynature's Oceans
opens today in North America! As Ian Hanomansing points out in his interview with Graham, all the footage from the Arctic in the film is from Canada, and we're proud to have played an instrumental role in obtaining that footage. I, for one, can't wait to see the finished product!
Happy Earth Day!
July 9th, 2009 | By Jason Hillier | Filed in Arctic Animals, Diving, Recent Trips, Team Interviews
As I recently have just returned from the floe edge, I am going through the literally thousands of photos..and I already want to go back again It's amazing how the Arctic calls one to come back. I mean look at this photo ..it's the one I like to call 'the twin iceberg photo'. It is one of hundreds of icebergs we see on expeditions, but the meltwater, and the the sheer size of them was impressive and ...well.. beautiful.
The Twin Icebergs
For those that have never been to the arctic, most, probably I would say rarely even think about it. Yes, it's up there on the news - it is melting, the polar bear is endangered, and the news can go on...but few probably have thought about 'seeing' the arctic in person.
When I meet people for the first time and they find out that I work for Arctic Kingdom and head up to the Arctic to lead expeditions and animal photography trips the reactions range from: "Wow that's cool!" to..." oh.. really.. Why do you go?Isn't it ...freezing cold? What's there to see?" The latter reaction is typically quickly changed once they see the Arctic Kingdom gallery
of images - there obviously is much to see and over the next few months, I'll be posting some of my favourite pictures like this one...
Base Camp Fly By
taken on Arctic Kingdom expeditions over the last 10 years (wow..has it been that long already!) and the story that surrounded those pictures
TheArctic is one of those places that you either love it, or you haven't been there. I am still asked why I go year after year - I mean, once you've been there once haven't you seen it enough? I reflected on this recently as to why I love the Arctic - the ice, the snow, the animals and the many Inuit friends. For me, the primary draw that fuels the passion, that drives me to return and also to show those around me what the Arctic is really all about...is most definitely the animals - especially the whales .
I am going to post an article below I wrote for a dive magazine back in 2002 after my first expedition to the Admiralty Inlet floe edge out of Arctic Bay. I wrote this after my first time ever having swam with beluga and narwhal... and after re-reading it just now.. memories come flooding back..and the Arctic calls again. Without further adoo.. here is that article titled "Dancing with Beluga
Belugas "Dancing" with the photographer
The Beluga whale and I stare deep into each others eye’s – the Beluga upside down, facing the surface of the Arctic Ocean craning her neck to examine me with a seemingly permanent smile, and me, floating face down, with only a few feet of crystal clear icy water separating us. I float in the water, breathing gently through my snorkel, totally mesmerized by the dark pools of brown that make up the Beluga’s eyes – a stark contrast to her milky white body. I am oblivious to everything except the surreal world below me. Any direction I face, I see pods of white Beluga and charcoal speckled narwhal whales swimming toward me from the black depths below – all with necks angled towards me in unison. All I can hear, aside from my breathing, are their canary-like songs enveloping me from all sides - a virtual orchestra of clicks, whistles and flute-like notes. All I can feel is the icy arctic water pressing tightly against my drysuit. My lips are numb from the cold, but I don’t care, this is a beautiful and magical world unlike any I’ve ever experienced before and I never want this to end.
Beluga pod coming to fill the dance card
As I turn away from my Beluga to look at the other 30 face-up Belugas surrounding her, she turns and follows. With a kick of my right fin, I turn left and she follows my lead. I kick right, and she mirrors my move. I think to myself, "I’m dancing with a Beluga!" and from the depths of my soul, I let out an uninhibited laugh through my snorkel…a laugh of pure joy and exhilaration of having connected one to one with one of nature’s most wonderful animals. I had never laughed so freely and spontaneously before until that moment.
From the surface looking down at the belugas...who are also looking up
I want to share the moment with the other expedition members and reluctantly break my gaze with my Beluga, and lift my head to the surface. I squint in the sudden brightness of the arctic daylight and scan the blue mirror-like surface of the water for the others. A chuckle of laughter 20 feet away comes from Graham Dickson the expedition leader – snorkeling face down in the water and lazily kicking his fins. A little further over, Nell Battye from England makes cooing and chirping noises through her snorkel to answer back to the Belugas "talking" to her. I turn to the floe edge and see Paul Jackson an Australian adventurer sitting by the ice edge in a camping chair, head back, eyes closed, legs outstretched, and arms folded, basking in the warm spring arctic sun listening to the symphony of whales through his hydrophone.
I decide there’s no need to share my experience – we each have our own - and put my head back under and enter the world of the Beluga whale once again.
May 19th, 2009 | By Jason Hillier | Filed in ACTIVITIES, AK NEWS, Diving, FEATURED, Films, Media, Recent Trips, Team Interviews, TRIPS
One of the draws of diving under the ice is the visibility -- the colder water is, the clearer it gets, making winter one of the best times to view underwater sites such as the St. Lawrence River's shipwrecks and lost villages
Read the rest of this entry »