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The 6 wonders of the Arctic

November 28th, 2016 | By | Filed in Trips

6 wonders of the Arctic_Arctic Kingdom

The Canadian Arctic is one of the most spectacular places on the earth. Visited by few, it is also one of the last vast and untouched regions on the planet. With raw beauty at every turn, the Arctic is a place of endless wonder.

The Arctic captivates travellers as soon as their boots touch the northern ground. In addition the incredible people, here are the six natural wonders of the Arctic that we think make it so special (click to jump to each wonder):


1. Unique wildlife

2. Northern Lights

3. Icebergs

4. Midnight sun

5. Glaciers

6. Floe edge

 

 6 wonders of the arctic

 

1.  Unique Wildlife

6 wonders of the arctic_unique wildlife_arctic fox_polar bear

The Arctic offers opportunities to see and photograph some of the world’s most unique wildlife. The Canadian Arctic is home to more than 60% of the world’s population of polar bears – the north’s most iconic animal.  Unicorn of the sea, the elusive narwhal can also be spotted from the floe edge at the northern reaches of Baffin Island. Other incredible wildlife that inhabit the Arctic include walrus, beluga, bowhead whales, Arctic fox, migratory birds and musk ox.

Offering exclusive chances to capture rare photography of these unique creatures among spectacular landscapes, the Arctic is a haven for professional and amateur wildlife photographers alike. The Arctic is a destination like no other, and wildlife photography in the north requires special considerations. Find all our tips to ensure you capture every wildlife moment here.

Here are some of the ways you can view wildlife in the Arctic with Arctic Kingdom:


Arctic wildlife polar bears_Arctic Kingdom

See polar bears all year round with us. Opportunities to view them on these trips:


Polar Bear Mother and Newborn Cubs Photo Safari
Spring Polar Bears and Icebergs of Baffin Photo Safari
Narwhal and Polar Bear Safari
Kings of the Arctic
Polar Bears and Glaciers of Baffin Island
Polar Bear Migration Fly-In Safari
  narwhal arctic wildlife_arctic Kingdom

Opportunities to see narwhal on these trips:


Narwhal and Polar Bear Safari
Great Migrations of the Northwest Passage
  arctic wildlife beluga_Arctic Kingdom

Opportunities to see beluga on these trips:


Great Migrations of the Northwest Passage
Baffin Island Dive Safari 
  bowhead

Opportunities to see bowhead whales on these trips:


Great Migrations of the Northwest Passage
Narwhal and Polar Bear Safari
Kings of the Arctic
Polar Bears and Glaciers of Baffin Island
 
arctic wildlife walrus_arctic Kingdom

Opportunities to see walrus on these trips:


Kings of the Arctic
Great Migrations of the Northwest Passage
  arctic wildlife migratory birds_arctic kingdom

Opportunities to see migratory birds, musk oxen, caribou and grizzly bears (northern range) on this trip:


Bathurst Inlet Lodge  

2. Northern Lights

Auyuittuq National Park_Northern Lights_Arctic Kingdom

One of the most beautiful and spectacular natural phenomena on the earth are the legendary Northern Lights (Aurora Borealis). Visible in the higher latitudes of the Northern hemisphere, the Canadian Arctic boasts some amazing locations to view the shimmering lights of the aurora, including throughout Nunavut. This incredible light show is the result of collisions between electrically charged particles in the atmosphere, and can appear in many colours. World-renowned, travellers from around the globe visit the north to view this natural wonder.

Learn more about the Northern Lights and how they are caused here.

Northern Lights are visible from late August to May. Get the chance to see the Northern Lights on these trips:


Spring Polar Bears and Icebergs of Baffin Photo Safari
Polar Bear Migration Fly-In Photo Safari
Polar Bear Mother and Newborn Cubs
Northern Lights Fly-In Lodge
Taste of the Arctic Spring
 

3. Icebergs

icebergs arctic kingdom

Majestic icebergs are another symbol of cold-weather destinations and another wonder of the Arctic. Icebergs are chunks of ice larger than five meters (16 feet) across, and can be as large as a small country. Formed when pieces of ice break off, or calve, from glaciers, ice shelves or other larger icebergs, they travel via ocean currents. Icebergs in Canada mainly originate from west Greenland glaciers. These immense and beautiful floating chunks of ice never fail to mesmerize explorers, artists and photographers.

Typically only one-tenth of an iceberg’s volume exist above water, making it even more spectacular to view them from below while diving on our Baffin Island Dive Safari.

You can also view them from the frozen sea ice, land or boats, and even possibly kayak amongst them on these trips:


Spring Polar Bears and Icebergs of Baffin Photo Safari
Narwhal and Polar Bear Safari
Great Migrations of the Northwest Passage
Kings of the Arctic
Polar Bears and Glaciers of Baffin Island
 

4. Midnight Sun

arctic midnight sun_Arctic Kingdom

Another iconic northern phenomena is the midnight sun. In early summer, visitors in the Arctic can experience 24-hours of sunshine, north of 60 degrees latitude. Even near the end of the season in August, travellers can enjoy extended daylight hours (upwards of 17 hours of sun!) and seemingly endless sunsets. Longer days mean more uninterrupted opportunities for adventure and wildlife encounters. Plus, the lighting is incredible for photography.

Experience the midnight sun on these trips:


Narwhal and Polar Bear Safari
Baffin Island Dive Safari
Great Migrations of the Northwest Passage
Kings of the Arctic
Polar Bears and Glaciers of Baffin Island
Bathurst Inlet Lodge
 

5. Glaciers

Glaciers Arctic Kingdom Safari

One of nature’s most dramatic and fascinating forces, glaciers are another phenomena that travellers look forward to seeing in the Arctic. These massive, slow-moving masses of ice are formed by years of fallen snow that have compressed into snow. Thanks to gravity, they eventually begin to flow along the land.

The eastern Arctic is home to the biggest and oldest glaciers in Canada – giant wonders that can take your breath away in an instant. Learn more about glaciers here.

Get the chance to see glaciers on these trips:


Polar Bears and Glaciers of Baffin Island
Baffin Island Dive Safari
Narwhal and Polar Bear Safari
Great Migrations of the Northwest Passage
 

6. Floe Edge

floe edge_Arctic Kingdom

The classic spring floe edge is where the land-fast ice meets the open sea. Otherwise known as the “line of life”, the floe edge is the one place where all Arctic marine animals co-mingle. Wildlife enthusiasts and photographers revel in the possibility to see narwhal, beluga, bowhead whales, polar bears and other Arctic wildlife, under the midnight sun in May and June.

The floe edge offers the opportunity to witness magical, but rare, events including large pods of narwhal and breaching whales amongst a spectacular background of icebergs, glaciers and mountains. Special experiences like this are possible at the top of Baffin Island, in remote and exclusive locations including Arctic Bay and Pond Inlet, Nunavut.

Experience the floe edge on these trips:


Narwhal and Polar Bear Safari
Baffin Island Dive Safari
Great Migrations of the Northwest Passage
 

The Arctic is nothing short of wonderful. With inspiration at every turn, photos can’t always do it justice, but we try our best! See photos from our Expedition Leaders and travellers’ journeys on our Instagram. You can also browse the hashtag #ArcticKingdom.

Want to check these six wonders of the Arctic off your bucket list but not sure which trip is for you? Contact us today – we are happy to help you choose or build your own custom adventure.

The Freighter Canoe – Uniquely Canadian, Uniquely Northern

November 4th, 2015 | By | Filed in Arctic History, Trips

Freighter canoe, Eeyou Istchee


Freighter canoe with the Canots Nor-West decal.

Freighter canoes are hybrids, part motor-boat, part canoe. They are large, long and oddly beautiful. Note the straight stern, on which an outboard engine can be attached. The photo to the right was taken on the eastern shore of James Bay in the Cree territory known as Eeyou Istchee. The people of Waskaganish, a small coastal Cree village on the southern coast of Eeyou Istchee, has a 300 year history of building canoes designed to carry the freight associated with the fur trade. It is thought that the current design was based on those more traditional canoes used by the Hudson Bay Company. Igloolik Freighter CanoeWhat those of us in the south often forget is that the North is Canada's third sea coast. James Bay and its northern and larger extension - Hudson Bay - are subject to strong winds, ice and currents. The motorized freighter canoe was designed to navigate that treacherous seacoast. The photo to the left was taken in the summer of 2015 near Igloolik, an Inuit community far north of Hudson Bay on the banks of the Northwest Passage. Our Kings of the Arctic Safari is staged there. Riding in the canoe are members of our Field Staff, showing off their skill in the canoe that Northern peoples have adopted as their own.

The Arctic’s Big 5

October 23rd, 2015 | By | Filed in Trips

Walrus and PupTravellers to Africa talk about the Big 5: lion, leopard, rhinoceros, elephant and the Cape Buffalo. These are the five animals that earned a reputation as the hardest to bag when trophy hunting. In the digital age, in the Canadian Arctic the Big 5 are wildlife that are extremely difficult to photograph in the wild. The Arctic’s Big 5
Narwhal, the single-tusked whales that inspired the legend of the unicorn, are wary of the sound of engine motors. They will dive to great depths rather than encounter curious photographers hanging over the side of a boat.
Polar bears are migratory. Their home territories are massive, larger than any other type of bear. To see them in the wild takes an understanding of their natural behaviour.
Bowhead whale is the largest whale in the Arctic Ocean, yet are seldom visible. They slough dead skin from their bodies annually, a sight that is seldom scene.
Walrus live in the Arctic all year round. They need sea ice, like the polar bear, to survive. Due to shrinking sea ice, 35,000 female walrus and their calves were photographed congregating on a beach in 2014. The largest gathering ever recorded.
Beluga, white whales with comical faces, spend summers in the Arctic Ocean, when the ice has melted. They migrate south to avoid freeze up. To see them in the Far North, we depend on the local knowledge of Inuit, who have hunted them for centuries.
Safaris to see the Arctic Big 5

International Left-Handers Day – August 13, 2015

August 13th, 2015 | By | Filed in Sports, Trips

Kayaking in the narwhal summer feeding groundsAugust 13, 2015 marks the 22nd Anniversary of International Left-Handers Day. This day is a way to honour all the lefties out there and the everyday struggles they face living in a right-handed world. Most ordinary products are created and aimed to support right-handed people, as that is the dominant hand of 87% of the world. So what do all the lefties do? Right-handed kayak paddles, for instance, are more common than those geared for left-handed kayakers. Just like a right-handed paddler controls most movements with their right-hand, a left-handed paddler controls most movements with their left. The blades of the paddle are set dependent upon the neutral position of the dominant hand and the paddle would then naturally face the kayaker. The difference is visible in which hand you grip and rotate with. Kayaking is just one example of the struggles lefties face living in a right-handed world. Paddles and other sports equipment for left-handed athletes aren’t as available as they are for right-handed ones. This results in discomfort and a handicap that has an effect on the athlete enjoying their sport. Though, fortunately enough, there are kayak paddles specifically designed for left-handed enthusiasts, a lot of sports discourage participation and limit the athlete’s ability unless they are right-handed.

Interesting Facts about Lefties:

  • About 13% of the population around the world are left-handed and it is thought to be genetic
  • There is a high tendency in twins for one to be left-handed
  • Stuttering and dyslexia occur more often in left-handers (particularly if they are forced to change their writing hand as a child)
  • Left-handers adjust more readily to seeing underwater

To mark International left-handers day, if you are a rightie, try using your left hand for the day! Looking for kayaking inspiration? Try this > Author: Mandy Ams

The Spirit of Discovery – Arctic Kingdom Style

April 23rd, 2015 | By | Filed in Trips

bowhead, arctic kingdom, swim with bowhead

View from the boat when the bowhead whale surfaced

When you hear the word expedition does it ignite in you an expectation of discovery? We think so. Whenever we travel we seek the undiscovered or the little known. There are still new discoveries to be made.

One of our most exciting moments of discovery occurred during a Polar Bears and Glaciers of Baffin Island Safari, a few years ago. Our travellers sighted more than 20 bowheads in a shallow bay. That is a lot of whale blubber, as a single bowhead can weigh up to 80,000 kilos (176,370 pounds) and grow as long as 18 meters (59 feet). After consulting one of Canada's foremost bowhead researchers we learned that we had identified a bowhead whale molting sight. In the shallow water, the whales wallow rubbing their bodies to slough off dead skin.

Bowheads are denizens of the Arctic Ocean. You won't see them in marine parks or zoos. You won't encounter them on a whale-watching trip in the Baja or Canada's East Coast. Even in the Arctic, a bowhead sighting is rare. We increase the odds of a sighting by knowing the places they frequent.

Knowing where Arctic wildlife is likely to be found and why...is the secret to our success as an Arctic trip provider. We use natural biology and the knowledge of local guides to plan our adventures and deliver extraordinary wildlife viewing opportunities.

Arctic Kingdom’s environmental responsibility honoured by VacationIdea

December 7th, 2014 | By | Filed in Diving, Media

Floe-edge-Photographers---Jane-Whitneyenvironmental responsibility is an important pillar of our business. We thank the people of VactionIdea.com for naming us as one of the 25 coolest green destinations. Our travellers are face-to-face with the environment as our photo indicates. To keep the environment pristine enough to return year after year, our standard operating procedures must accommodate human waste, garbage, fossil fuels and the cleanliness of the water through which we paddle and dive. Read about our stand on conservation here.  

Walk with Grizzly Bears in your wildlife #film

September 6th, 2014 | By | Filed in Arctic Animals, Featured Trip, Filmmakers, Films, Northern Lights - Aurora Borealis, Trips

Walking with Grizzlies

Walking with Grizzlies

Have you seen Disneynature's Bears? Filmed in Alaska, it follows a mother and her two cubs from the time they emerge from the den until they return to that den a year later. Alastair Fothergill co-directed and co-wrote the documentary. His pedigree as a wildlife documentary is long and distinguished. He began in the renowned BBC Natural History department working with Sir David Attenborough. So you don't have to take my word that Bears is worth spending an afternoon on the couch with the family and a bowl of popcorn. Make your own documentary - about Grizzly Bears You are right to be skeptical about your ability to equal the quality of Bears, but that doesn't mean you can't make a wildlife documentary. Digital cameras - and smartphones - shoot HD video. You can edit your footage on your home computer. You can even add soundtrack music and titles. If you are shouting at your tablet screen, "Yes I can do that, but there's no way I can get as close to bears as professional documentary makers," desist. Because you can! Really. The picture to above is proof. The video we shot at the grizzly bear camp is further proof. Watch the grizzly bears here. Make your own documentary - about Polar Bears Now that I have convinced you that you can make your own wildlife documentaries, let me amp the excitement up a notch. Make a documentary about polar bears. Yes, you can get close enough to shoot polar bears and live. We can make it happen for you. We have the video to prove it. Watch the polar bears here.  

Postcards from Our Narwhal and Polar Bear Safari: Part 4 – May/June 2014

August 11th, 2014 | By | Filed in Postcards from the Arctic

Story and Photo by Jane Whitney We are standing at the margin of the sea ice called the floe edge in northern Baffin Island, 30 km from the nearest point of land. If there is swell in the open water, it will gently rock our snowy platform. We can see thick-billed murres swim underwater to feed underneath the ice where we stand. The high pitched call of the black guillemot reflected in the water blends in with the glorious silence. Floe-edge-Photographers---Jane-Whitney We are waiting, watching, hoping to see the narwhal. When they come, it’s like they’re there all at once. Their exhalations explode through the surface of the water followed by sounds of trumpeting, half snores, and squeaky doors before inhaling as they propell forward, their foreheads bulbous-shaped with the spermaceti to echo-locate their prey. Sometimes we’ll catch sight of the tusk from a male or the white of an older narwhal, originally thought to live as old as half a century, but may now be thought to be double that age span. Mothers and calves stop at the surface for the calf to nurse. Once the narwhal raises its heart shaped tail, it too will dive in the dark abyss under the pack ice in these rich feeding grounds off of Baffin Bay. And we know we have to wait another 15 to 25 minutes for them to reappear. We are spellbound. Jaws left wide open. Natahia, one of the women standing on the icy platform comments, “this is one of the best days of my life. It’s an experience that is hard to describe. It’s the peace of hearing the complete quiet with only narwhal everywhere you look.” Another spectator, Michael replies that he thought seeing 28 blue whales off of South Georgia was the best day of his life, but he changes his mind. “Seeing the narwhal surface from under the ice and stream pass is glorious but it is the setting of where you are that makes it magnificent. The pack ice you stand on can be cold under foot. The breeze off the Arctic open water can chill your hands. This whale takes you to this wild place of the High Arctic: the realm of a big wide open landscape, under a 24 hour sun, back dropped with 4000’ glaciated peaks. And you are kept warm by the genuine hospitality of the staff and the friendship of those you are traveling with."

Postcards from Our Narwhal and Polar Bear Safari: Part 3 – May/June 2014

August 11th, 2014 | By | Filed in Postcards from the Arctic

Story by Jane Whitney That familiar cry of a red-tailed hawk made me want to turn to see what it was but I had to keep watching the seal that we were approaching. When the seal’s head was up, we’d stop. When the seal put its head down, we’d walk, all in single file. Half way there Steve thwacked me on the back and whispered excitedly “gyr falcon”! I take my eyes off the seal to look. The pair of birds did have a quick wing beat but not fast enough for a falcon. Looking through our binoculars, we see they are rough-legged Hawks. One is carrying nesting material. Their distribution is indicated for southern Baffin Island, and west and north of us, but not for the northern edge of Baffin Island where we are.
Eider Duck  Photo credit: Michelle Valberg

Eider Duck
Photo credit: Michelle Valberg

We are en route to the floe edge. When we arrive, we hear the cry of the black-legged kittiwake, flying daintily in large numbers right in front of us. We are excited to see large groups of king eider. Northern fulmers glide by, silently. Many flocks of thick-billed murres pass, the sound of their wingbeat reminding me of a tabby cat hungrily lapping up milk. We see groups of 30 or more of pomerine and long-tailed jaeger, brandt, snow and Canadian geese. We see our first narwhal, then 3 more.
Murres

Murres

The wind is blowing some pan ice down and we watch as the smaller pieces of ice ride over on top of each other, bulldozing blocks of blue ice over the floe edge. The building of waves in the open water rock the pack ice we stand on, occasionally making us find our sea legs for balance. By the end of our first day we count 12 species of birds. As we leave, we look over our shoulder at glaucous gulls reflected in the Bahamian turquoise melt water.

Postcards from Our Narwhal and Polar Bear Safari: Part 2 – May/June 2014

August 8th, 2014 | By | Filed in Postcards from the Arctic

Story by Jane Whitney Sheattie-in-sunSheattie was born in an igloo 64 years ago. He is now one of the most respected hunters and elders in all of Baffin. He is our main guide as we go out across the pack ice to the floe edge. Quaima? Ready? He calls out with a smile. We will cross leads of open water where 5-foot thick pans of ice break apart. We will travel under cliffs of ancient rock and look across at the spectacular mountains and glaciers of Bylot Island and Sirmiluk National Park. We will pass by a towering iceberg frozen in the pack ice and watch seals lining the leads and individual holes. Robert Bylot sailed into this area with William Baffin nearly 400 years ago. They set the furthest north record of reaching 77° 45’ North. They named Lancaster Sound, which would eventually become the gateway to the long sought after Northwest Passage, and Smith Sound, the future highway to the North Pole. Two centuries would pass before another exploring ship would sail this far north. And yet Sheattie’s ancestors travelled to the floe edge, as we are doing today, for over a thousand years. The floe edge is where the ice pack meets the open water. Here, life flourishes, with flocks of thick-billed murres, king eiders, and black-legged kittiwakes. Narwhal travel close to the edge. Polar bear tracks show of their passing. The floe edge will be our home for the next week, in the land of the 24 hour sun.
Photo credit: Stephen A. Smith

Photo credit: Stephen A. Smith

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