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Canadian Rangers – Thank you for your service

November 10th, 2015 | By | Filed in Current Events

On the eve of Remembrance Day, we honour members of the 1st Canadian Ranger Patrol Group. 1 CRPG members patrol the Arctic territories and Atlin, British Columbia. Headquartered in Yellowknife, NWT, under the command of Major Craig Volstad, the First is tasked with patrolling 40% of Canada's landmass. According to the official website, the mission of the Canadian Rangers is:
provide lightly equipped, self sufficient, mobile forces in support of Canadian forces sovereignty and domestic operation tasks in Canada.
Members assist in Search and Rescue when required. They are role models for young people and are often found in leadership roles in their home communities. Read more about the 1 CRPG patrols here. Arctic Kingdom thanks members of 1 CRPG for their service. We will be marking Remembrance Day, tomorrow, November 11 at 11 AM. We encourage all our followers to stand in silent respect at that time for 2 minutes to honour those who gave their lives in defense of freedom.

Pan Am Games work around when travelling to Baffin Island

July 6th, 2015 | By | Filed in Current Events

Iqaluit Northern LightsFrom June 10 to 26 and from August 7 to 15, , Toronto and the Golden Horseshoe region are hosting the 2015 Pan Am Games. Seven thousand athletes and a quarter million visitors are expected. Needless to say there will be a strain on all transportation systems, including flights.

Ottawa is the gateway to Baffin Island: Toronto is not the only gateway to Ottawa

We recommend that you fly to Ottawa via Montreal, Quebec, if you are planning a visit to Iqaluit and Baffin Island during the dates of the Games. Montreal is a major international gateway with an excellent airport. If you are arriving from Paris, London or San Francisco, you will find convenient connecting flights to Ottawa. There are plenty of hotels surrounding Pierre Elliott Trudeau International (YUL).

Take the Train

There are as many as 12 departures a day between Montreal and Ottawa by VIA Rail, Canada's passenger rail service. The Dorval train station is a short distance from the Montreal airport (YUL). It is a comfortable alternate. Plan to spend a night in Ottawa before catching your northbound flight, if you choose this method.

Add to your Pan Am Games visit a weekend in the Arctic

Plan to extend your stay in Canada by adding a weekend in the Arctic. Iqaluit, the capital of Canada's eastern Arctic is only a 3-hour direct flight from Ottawa. If you catch our 9 AM Friday flight from Ottawa, you'll be in the Arctic by lunch time. Our 2 night, 3 day Arctic Weekend Getaway is an extraordinary value. A return flight from Ottawa to Iqaluit is normally $2,500 a person. Our package includes the flight, 2 nights hotel, a city orientation tour, taxes and airport transfers in Iqaluit at a per person cost of $1,516. Yes. You read that correctly. You'll save $984 per person!

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  

Earth Day – An Arctic Perspective – #EarthDay

April 22nd, 2015 | By | Filed in Current Events, Global Warming

A pair of narwhal

A pair of narwhal

Happy Earth Day!

Wednesday April 22, 2015 marks the 45th Anniversary of Earth Day. It serves as the perfect reminder to educate yourself and do your part to help make a difference in the world we live in. The Arctic is home to incredible wildlife and Arctic Kingdom is passionate about giving you the opportunity to see animals in their natural habitat, which is the reason we appreciate Earth Day and value everything it stands for. Earth Day’s year- round mission is to broaden, diversify and activate the environmental movement worldwide. A major focus of many campaigns is saving the Arctic and preserving the region’s rich biodiversity.

Earth Day - Consequences of Apathy

As climate change becomes progressively more threatening to Arctic wildlife, drastic changes need to be made to help save the environment. As the Earth warms up and the ice begins to melt, sea levels rise which has an impact on our coasts. Many Arctic species rely on sea ice to survive and the shift in temperature is making ice vanish at an alarming rate. Within several decades, the Arctic Ocean ice cover is predicted to completely disappear during summer months, leaving many species without that necessity for survival. Polar bears, for example, rely on summer ice to hunt seals. Losing one of the Earth’s primary ecosystems leaves animals that rely on it with an uncertain future, which is the reason scientists predict that two-thirds of the polar bear population could be extinct by 2050. Earth Day is a reminder that we all need to be conscious of our lifestyle and how it has a ripple effect on the rest of the world. Climate change not only affects countless creatures, it affects us all. The celebration of Earth Day is necessary to remind people of the importance of saving our planet and raise awareness of its need for protection. Let Earth Day be a lesson: You can make a difference that has the potential to result in global change. For more information about Earth Day and how you can get involved and show your support, visit www.earthday.org. Author: Mandy Ams

Spring is in two days in the Northern Hemisphere

March 18th, 2015 | By | Filed in Current Events

Ringed Seal PupThose of us North of the Equator often forget that when Spring begins here, Fall or Autumn begins south of the equator. Our days are getting longer; those in the South are growing shorter. In the North elementary school children learn that the first day of Spring is the 21st of March. It is -but not always - 2015 is an exception. Spring arrives March 20 at :
  • 6:45 PM EDT
  • 5:45 PM CDT
  • 4:45 PM MDT
  • 3:45 PM PDT

Total Eclipse of the Sun - sung to the tune Total Eclipse of the Heart

In 2015 from the Faroe Islands to the North Pole, a rate total eclipse of the Sun will occur at the Vernal Equinox.  The next time that will happen is in 2034. (I apologize for the ear worm, by the way.) The Vernal Equinox is the technical term for the position of the Sun relative to Earth on the first day of Spring.

The New Moon Coincides with Spring this Year

Coinciding with the arrival of Spring 2015 is a New Moon. A new moon cannot be seen from Earth, because the moon's night side is facing the planet. New moons rise and set at the same time as the sun. By the way, because it is the Equinox, there should be about 12 hours of daylight on the 20th. The sun will rise at 7 AM and set at 7:06 PM in eastern North America.

Taste of and Arctic Spring

An Arctic Spring is a unique experience. Birds return from a winter spent in the South to breed. Whales migrate to summer feeding grounds. Polar bears migrate too. Ice and snow linger longer, so snowmobiling and cross-country seasons are extended. To learn more about a Taste of the Arctic Spring.

The Polar Sea – Episode 1

December 2nd, 2014 | By | Filed in Current Events

The Polar Sea

Episode One

Did you follow our Tweets during the premier episode of the Polar Sea last night? This 10-part series, produced with Canadian and German money, is occupying the TVO's 9pm slot for 10 nights, Monday through Friday, until December 12, 2014. The premise is that three Swedish friends will sail the Dax from Iceland through Canada's Northwest Passage, a mid-life quest documented every step of the way by an invisible camera crew. Spoiler alert: Problems were foreshadowed during last night's episode - and not just Global Warming. (According to the documentary, Greenland is a hot bed for climate change research.) During their sail from Reykjavik to Ilulissat they encountered an Arctic storm that tossed their ship and the adventurers about. When they limped into port, their comms were down and the engine was unreliable. The mouth of the Northwest Passage was still hundreds of miles away. The first rule of Arctic exploration is self-sufficiency, even today in a GPS world. The crew of the Dax had stocked the galley, undertook routine engine maintenance, but they were far from ready to face the unforgiving forces of the Arctic: Adventurers 0, Arctic 1. We've been working in the Arctic for 15 years, on the edge of ice floes and under the ocean surface. We've provided logistics for film crews and researchers. We know that an ice free Northwest Passage is not a trouble free Northwest Passage. The intrepid trio aboard the Dax did not. Even if they had asked our advice, I expect they would not have taken it. That's the thing about adventuring, it conquers caution.

So…what’s it really like? – Day # 6

November 12th, 2012 | By | Filed in AK NEWS, AK PRODUCTS & SERVICES, Client Reports, Current Events, Featured Trip, IN THE NEWS, TRIPS

Day 6 Author: Liz Fleming Because it was our last full day at camp, Tom and Mike suggested we sleep in a bit in preparation for a late, great night.  Lolling in bed felt delicious. When we finally crawled out into the daylight, the sun was dazzling – so warm, in fact, that we began to lose our minds…just a little. I went in to the bathroom to brush my teeth and stepped out to find that the usually conservative Cornelius had stripped down to his black Calvin Klein boxers and was setting up his camera for an iceberg photo shoot in front of the iceberg. Sandra and I were enchanted!  Not wishing to be outdone, we ran for our bathing suits and the craziness took hold.   Never had our Inuit guides looked more surprised. After an hour of rampant silliness and giggling, we gathered our clothes and our wits and headed for a new floe edge – one that was much closer…just half an hour away.  We arrive to find the air filled with hundreds of birds and as we dragged the kayaks to the edge and set out on the calm water, we were snapping photos of the mers, kittiwigs, king eiders reflected on the surface.

Birds in flight

Justin and Jens pulled on dry suits and kayaked to a floating berg, where they were quickly surrounded by belugas.  Pulling on their masks and snorkels, they slipped into the water (no mean feat when you’re balancing a kayak at the same time) and began what was for them, their best ever day of whale watching. Meanwhile, on shore, the sense of last-day lunacy returned.  Spreading out a couple of caribou skins, Sandra, Tom, Cornelius and I posed for our own Arctic version of a Sports Illustrated swimsuit shoot. This time, the guides had their cell phone cameras ready and snapped shot after shot – most of which were no doubt sent to their friends under the heading: “Dumb things southerners do when the sun shines.”

Arctic Swim Shoot

The biggest excitement of the day was provided not by the whales and not by our swimsuit silliness but by Edward, our fifteen-year-old campmate.  All week long, he’d been needling his parents about wanting to do a polar plunge – and they’d said no.  This was his last opportunity and he somehow managed to convince them.  Stripping down to his bathing suit, the lean, lanky, shivery Edward headed for the edge.  Tom quickly tied a rope around his wrist to enable a quick yank back onto the solid ice should the cold water prove too much – and Edward’s moment had come.  We gathered at the edge, cameras at the ready, and waited.  And waited.  Edward looked at the water.  And waited…and looked as if he might change his mind…and waited some more. The tension was deadly until Tom took matters in hand.  “We’re doing this together, buddy,” he said, stripping down to his own bathing suit. Then Tom jumped, giving Edward the encouragement – and the yank on the rope – necessary for him to make his much-anticipated polar plunge.  It was a life-changing moment and we are all impressed by both Edward’s courage and Tom’s ‘just do it’ attitude.

Just do it!

There was a sense of trying to hold onto that last day...to stretch it out as long as we possibly could…to savour every last moment of that Arctic passion we’d all developed.  As the long, long day came to an end, Cornelius and I followed Simon and Mike on a slow paddle in our kayaks.  A thin film of ice was crusting the utterly still surface of the water – each stroke of our paddles carved into it.  In the distance, narwhals were breeching and all around us, breaking the stillness of the air, was the gargantuan sound of a bowhead whale breathing.  It sounded just as the dinosaurs once did. When we loaded the komatiks and headed back to camp, it felt as if we’d filled our own lungs to bursting with the clear, fresh air of the far north – and it’s a scent that will linger with us forever.  

So…what’s it really like? – Day # 5

October 29th, 2012 | By | Filed in AK NEWS, Client Reports, Current Events, FEATURED, Featured Trip, IN THE NEWS, Recent Trips, TRIPS, Trips

Day Five - By Liz Fleming After our incredible day and night (hard to distinguish between the two) yesterday, crawling out of our cozy beds was harder this morning, but luckily, breakfast waited for us.  A big feast of eggs and toast and lots of chatter about all that we saw and did the day before and we were soon revved for another trip to the floe edge – on this, the longest day of the year. Our arrival was punctuated by a group of belugas cavorting just off the edge of the ice, so we hurried to get into our dry suits and kayaks to join them, wriggling into dry suits or climbing into the kayaks.  The whales lingered with us for a while, gliding smoothly around the drifting ice chunks, then slowly swam off, leaving us eager for more.  

Arctic Kayaking

 

More Arctic Kayaking

With the belugas gone, we turned our cameras on the huge flocks of birds that swooped overhead.  Though they were all beautiful, my favourites by far were the king eiders with their black and white bodies and brilliant, toucan-like beaks.  It was incredibly peaceful to simply sit in the sun and watch them soar and dive. Peaceful sitting in the sun got old pretty quickly for the four kids in the group, however, so Mike and Tom started an impromptu ice soccer game, using a cushion for a ball.  Despite my basic lack of both ability and competitive spirit, I found myself playing goal – and getting decked by a rampaging Mike!  I laughed so hard I could barely get up. Brett, our crazy Aussie pal, had brought a kite and his flip-flops (what else would you pack for an Arctic adventure?) and put them both to use that afternoon.  The reds and yellows of the kite were like bright streaks of paint against the white landscape and the blue sky. Though a duck hybrid dropped by to fascinate Jens the biologist, other wildlife proved elusive for the rest of the afternoon.  Still tired from the night before, we were content to head back for dinner at what seemed like the early hour of 8pm.  When the sun never stops shining, you lose all track of time. Back at the camp, Chef Andrew had a great dinner waiting – and Tom and Mike had more treats in store.  One of the guides had agreed to tell us the story of his family and their life in the north…speaking in Inuktituk.  Billy, another guide, sat beside him to translate what was a harrowing story of devastating hardships.  The guide’s grandparents had traveled for two years from a tiny, remote community to make their home in Pond Inlet.  The grandfather was sick throughout the trip and unable to hunt, so the grandmother carried the burden of the family alone. Often going without food, the family lost six of their seven children during the course of the journey – those who remained survived only because the desperate woman managed to kill a walrus. As we listened, we could hardly believe that anyone could live through such terrible challenges – or that the grandson whose mother was the only child to survive that epic journey could tell the story in such a matter-of-fact way.  We were coming to realize that life in the high Arctic is unlike anything experienced anywhere else.

Landscape of ice

   

So…what’s it really like? – Day # 4

October 9th, 2012 | By | Filed in AK NEWS, Client Reports, Current Events, FEATURED, Featured Trip, IN THE NEWS, Recent Trips, TRIPS, Trips

Day Four – By Liz Fleming We woke to an unexpectedly damp camp.  The sun had come out and was shining brilliantly (yay!) but the sunbeams, in combination with a warm wind, were turning the surface of the ice to melt-water and causing our camp manager Simon grief.  Not to worry.  This was a man who’s spent a good chunk of his life navigating Antarctica, largely without support – a little water was no match for him. In no time, Simon had produced an enormous auger and was drilling holes down to the sea below the ice, creating a superb drainage system.  He also, quite unexpectedly, created a whole new form of adventure for the guys in the group who all wanted to take a turn with the auger and seemed fascinated by watching the water get sucked down the hole. With the water situation well in hand, we again loaded the komatiks and headed for the floe edge.  We’d only just gotten underway when our convoy came to a halt and the guides all jumped from their snowmobiles.  They’d seen polar bear tracks in the snow.

Furiously snapping away with our cameras, we marveled at the huge footprints.  The guides scanned the horizon with the binoculars and finally spotted the maker of the prints far in the distance – he was hard to see as he blended so well with the landscape.  After a few moments, he seemed satisfied and ambled off. We hopped back in the komatiks and continued our journey to the floe edge. Today was our day! The sun was blazing overhead and the water seemed filled with life. Tom, Mike and the guides hauled out the toys for the day – kayaks, paddles, survival suits, drysuits, snorkels, masks – everything we needed to get up close and personal with the whales, narwhals and seals we could see just beyond the edge of the ice. If you’ve never wriggled into a dry suit, let me tell you, it’s a trick that’s best achieved by removing all your hair and perhaps your ears as well.  Because the seal has to be complete to keep the frigid water from rushing in, necks and cuffs are incredibly tight.  We took turns torturing one another, stuffing heads and hands and feet through the rubber openings as we fought our way into the suits – and we laughed ourselves sick while we were at it. My best moment of what proved to be an absolutely incredible day, filled with every kind of Arctic wildlife I’d ever dreamed of seeing came when two enormous, browny-grey narwhals surfaced on either side of my kayak.  I raised my paddle and laid it across the gunwales so I wouldn’t disturb them, while my heart tried to beat its way out of my chest. It was a moment I’ll never forget…but only a taste of what was yet to come. After hours of snorkeling and kayaking in the endless sunshine, we were reluctantly packing up the komatiks to head back to the camp for dinner when suddenly the water erupted.  Beluga whales – dozens of them – were breaching.  We abandoned the komatiks and raced to the edge of the water where we could see our new playmates arriving – gigantic bowhead whales had joined the belugas.  The excitement in the group was off the chart. Later that night, following a toast to Simon, who’d created an entire small city’s working drainage system in our absence and secured all of our tents, we were still so pumped that going to bed just wasn’t an option.  Heading out with Mike and Tom, we hiked our neighbourhood icebergs, leapt like ballet dancers off icy outcrops and took turns photographing one another’s reflections on the lenses of our sunglasses.  It was long past 2am when we finally fell asleep in our beds listening to the winds whipping the sides of our tents, still reeling from the glory of our incredibly Arctic day.

So…what’s it really like? – Day # 3

September 20th, 2012 | By | Filed in AK NEWS, AK PRODUCTS & SERVICES, Client Reports, Current Events, Current Trips, FEATURED, Featured Trip, IN THE NEWS, TRIPS, Trips

"Don't open your mouth when you look up!"

Day Three - By Liz Fleming As we climbed out of our tents the first morning, the air was damp with mist.  Although Tom and Mike were a little apologetic  about the lack of sunshine, we were all so pumped about heading out for our first trip on the ice, we hardly noticed. After a big breakfast, we gathered at the komatiks and loaded up for a trip to the bird cliffs, a particularly great area for Jens, an ornithologist and biology professor from Germany.  He was my komatik partner and I felt very lucky to be able to listen to his commentary as we headed out, bumping along the ice behind the snowmobile. I could tell I was going to go home considerably better informed about birds. “The best advice I can give you,” Tom told us when we arrived, clambered out of the komatiks and stared up at the sheer cliff faces ahead, where hundreds of birds wheeled and screamed, “is don’t open your mouth when you look up!” Wise counsel.

Birds of a feather

Birds

Murre eggs

The guides warned us often to watch where we stepped – the ice was solid but there were cracks.  Our Aussie buddy Brett learned the hard way.  Looking up as he focused on a shot, Brett put his feet too close to the edge and plunged into the water up to his armpits.  In just moments, the guides had hauled him out – no mean feat, as Brett’s a tall, solid man.  Wet but none the worse for wear, he was helped to a komatik and offered a quick ride back to camp.  In a display of true Aussie toughness and good humour, Brett opted to stay and seemed to dry out remarkably quickly. After a return to camp for a hot lunch, we made our first trip out to the floe edge – a world unlike anything we’d seen anywhere…ever.  Pulling our small chairs from the komatiks, we moved to the edge of the ice where we sat, stunned into near silence by the vastness of the water. As we watched, cameras in hand, we played with photographing the King eider ducks that swooped past in huge flocks, their images reflected in the mirror-like surface of the water. Suddenly, though very quietly, our guides signaled us to come. As binoculars were passed from hand to hand we saw – perhaps a kilometer away – a polar bear, watching us as intently as we were watching him.  Against the brilliant white background, his fur seemed cream-coloured – almost yellowish – and he was huge.  And we were in his backyard. It was an afternoon of watching, of breathing in the cool, clear air, of trying to capture the size of our new world with cameras that suddenly seemed inadequate.  When it was time to reload the komatiks and head for camp, we were stunned to see that it was long past 8pm.  In a land where the sun never sets, we were quickly losing our sense of time. On the way back to camp, a seal appeared on ice, sitting stock still beside its hole.  Our guides stopped and Cornelius, whose camera outclassed the rest of ours, climbed out to see if he could get a shot. Taking slow, deliberate steps, Cornelius moved closer to the seemingly unconcerned seal, clicking shots as he went.  He didn’t get very far before the seal – who had actually been hyper-aware of his approach the whole time - turned, slid into the water and disappeared.  I suddenly realized how incredibly difficult hunting seals must be and how ridiculous it was to worry about the possibility of mass slaughtering.  Seals are far too quick. After our long day on the ice, we’d have been happy to eat anything that stayed still on our plates, but were thrilled by the feast Chef Andrew had waiting for us.  Hot carrot and ginger soup, rare lamb chops and a decadent chocolate dessert topped with berries. How he managed that, in the middle of nowhere, I can’t imagine. A few hours later, stuffed like a Thanksgiving turkey, I snuggled into bed in my little yellow tent and listened to gentle rain falling.  I’d have been happy to stay there forever.  
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