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How to pick the right season to travel to the Arctic

February 1st, 2017 | By | Filed in TRIPS

arctic kingdom icebergs glaciers

By: Liz Carino

With dramatic landscapes and ice formations, unique wildlife, and incredible natural phenomena at any time of year, visiting the Arctic is a once in a lifetime opportunity for many travellers, adventurers, and photographers. We’re thrilled to help people around the world plan their bucket-list experience.

Picking the time of year to travel is one of the most important things to consider when planning your Arctic adventure. Unlike tropical vacations where you can expect sun and sand throughout the year, the Arctic is always changing and evolving.

While we run polar bear tours from March to November, the different seasons also bring a variety of amazing experiences. Depending on what you want to see and how you want to explore– whether it’s viewing rare wildlife like narwhal, incredible glaciers, the midnight sun or the Northern Lights – there is a season for you in the Arctic.

Here’s what you can look forward to throughout the year:

Early Spring – March and April



This time of year is great for adventurous travellers looking for unique, award-winning polar bear photography and the chance to view the Northern Lights.

The opportunities for polar bear (and possibly cubs!) photography are incredible during this season. Depending on the location you travel to, you may have the chance to see polar bear mothers and newborn cubs as they leave their dens for the first time, or polar bears lounging on sea ice and climbing majestic icebergs. For polar bear mothers and newborn cubs, you’ll want to visit one of the world’s largest denning areas, Wapusk National Park, on Polar Bear Mother & Newborn Cubs. For polar bears and icebergs, and to be one of the first to explore the high Arctic in early spring, check out Spring Polar Bears & Icebergs of Baffin Photo Safari.

arctic kingdom polar bear mother and newborn cubs

If conditions are right, you may also get the chance to witness the Northern Lights!

Travelling at the end of the Arctic’s cold season can mean more extreme weather with average daily temperatures ranging between -15°C and -29°C (5 to -20°F), but can drop as low as -40°C (-40°F). While cold, you can still have an enjoyable experience with the right gear! We offer a Polar Clothing Rental Package to keep you comfortable no matter what Mother Nature brings.

Experience early spring in the Arctic on these trips:

Spring Polar Bears & Icebergs of Baffin Photo Safari

Polar Bear Mother & Newborn Cubs

Spring – May and June

Narwhal Arctic Kingdom Wildlife

This is floe edge season! The floe edge, also known as the “line of life”, is where the land-fast ice meets the open water. It is also where all Arctic marine mammals come to mingle. Throughout May and June, you can have opportunities for Arctic whale watching – including the chance to see narwhal, beluga and bowhead whales – as well as possibilities to see other wildlife like polar bears and thousands of bird species.

You’ll also have the chance to experience incredible land and icescapes. From soaring icebergs, to spectacular mountains and glaciers, there are breathtaking panoramas at every turn – all under the midnight sun.

arctic kingdom kayaking at the floe edge

Activities to look forward to in Arctic spring include travelling across the sea ice by snowmobile and qamutik (traditional Inuit sled), snorkeling and kayaking at the floe edge, hiking, and more.

Temperatures at this time of year range from -3 – 10°C (26 - 50°F) but can feel much warmer because of the 24-hour sun.

Experience the Arctic in spring on these trips:

Narwhal & Polar Bear Safari

Great Migrations of the Northwest Passage

Baffin Island Dive Safari

Summer – July and August

arctic kingdom summer glaciers

Arctic summers are perfect for any type of traveller – including families! This season also experiences the midnight sun – with almost 24-hours of daylight in July and upwards of 17 hours of daylight in August. During this time, much of the ice has melted and the tundra blooms with colourful wild flowers and berries. Weather in this season is mild, with temperatures ranging from 10 – 20°C (50 – 70°F).

polar bears in summer arctic kingdom

The Canadian Arctic is a great place for summer fun in nature. With the warmer weather, activities include boating, fishing and hiking among spectacular landscapes – including Canada’s most stunning national park, Auyuttiuq National Park. You’ll also have opportunities for wildlife viewing at this time of year, including chances to see polar bears on land and swimming, walrus, bowhead whales and more.

Learn more about summers in the Arctic here.

Experience the Arctic in summer on these trips:

Kings of the Arctic

Polar Bears & Glaciers of Baffin Island

Bathurst Inlet Lodge

Autumn – October and November

arctic kingdom polar bear migration fly-in

Autumn is a great time of year for travellers looking for up-close polar bear photography and chances to see the Northern Lights, or travellers looking to unplug and experience the peacefulness of the Canadian Arctic tundra.

During this time of year temperatures begin to drop and polar bears congregate around the western coast of Hudson Bay waiting for freeze up so they can continue their migration north. This allows for incredible opportunities for polar bear viewing at ground level. Other wildlife sighting possibilities include Arctic fox, Arctic hare and birds.

northern lights arctic kingdom polar bear migration fly-in

If conditions are right, you’ll also have the chance to see the spectacular Northern Lights!

Experience Autumn in the Arctic on this trip:

Polar Bear Migrations Fly-In Photo Safari

Whatever time of year you choose to travel, don’t forget to pack a camera! There are amazing photography opportunities at every turn. Get tips for photography in the Arctic here.

Our trips are determined by the cycle of life; wildlife migrations and natural phenomena. Scouted with expert insight from Inuit guides, we bring you the best of the Arctic at any time of year. See all our Arctic safaris here.

Still need help picking the right time of year to travel, or the perfect trip for you?

Contact us to talk to one of our Arctic Travel Advisors.

Want to plan a fully-customized private experience in any season?

We’d love to help you build your dream itinerary. Contact us today!

 

6 ways to see the Northern Lights in the Canadian Arctic

August 30th, 2016 | By | Filed in Northern Lights - Aurora Borealis

Northern Lights igloo Arctic Kingdom The legendary Northern Lights (Aurora Borealis) are one of the most beautiful and spectacular natural phenomena in the world, visible in the higher latitudes of the Northern hemisphere. Viewing this natural light show is easier than you’d think! From August to May,  the Northern Lights bejewel the night sky in the Canadian Arctic, against a backdrop of incredible scenery and possible rare wildlife sightings.

What causes the Northern Lights?

Northern Lights Arctic Kingdom World-renowned as one of nature’s most incredible wonders, the shimmering lights of the aurora are the result of collisions between electrically charged particles. Gaseous particles in the Earth’s atmosphere collide with charged particles released from the sun’s atmosphere. The Northern Lights appear in many colours including red, yellow, green, blue and violet, and can appear in many forms including patches or scattered clouds, streamers, arcs, rippling curtains or shooting rays, lighting up the sky. Different altitudes and types of gas particles that collide cause the variations in colour. The most common auroral colour is a pale yellowish-green. This display is caused by oxygen molecules located approximately 96 km (60 miles) above the earth. Blue or purple-red auroras are created by nitrogen, and though rare, all-red auroras are produced by oxygen at a high altitude, at heights of up to 321 km (200 miles).

When and where can I see them?

Northern Lights in Iqaluit Arctic Kingdom Seen both in the northern and southern hemisphere, the Aurora occur in an irregularly-shaped oval centered over each magnetic pole – the auroral oval. In the north, it is known as the Aurora Borealis and the Aurora Australis in the south. The best places to watch the lights in North America are in the northwestern parts of Canada – including Nunavut. Smaller communities and remote locations without light pollution are great for watching the aurora displays – one of the reasons we love the Canadian Arctic! These dancing light shows are most clearly seen at night against a dark sky. With long periods of darkness and a higher frequency of clear nights, winter is a great season to view the Northern Lights in the north. Here are six ways to witness the magic of the Northern Lights in the Canadian Arctic:

Polar Bear Migration Fly-In Photo Safari

Polar Bear Migration Fly-In Photo Safari Arctic Kingdom Our Polar Bear Migration Fly-In Photo Safari provides an incredible off-the-grid experience to witness the Northern Lights in October and November. This seven-day trip offers exclusive opportunities to view polar bears up-close during the day and dazzling Northern Lights at night, in the comfort of our remote Polar Bear Cabins, located 110 km south of Arviat, Nunavut, on the coast of Hudson Bay. View trip details and departures for 2016 and 2017 here.

Spring Polar Bears and Icebergs of Baffin

Spring Polar Bears and Icebergs of Baffin Photo Safari Arctic Kingdom This photo safari takes you into the heart of the high eastern Arctic, where travellers seldom go, in March and April. See the Northern Lights at night after spending the days capturing amazing photos of polar bears close-up, as they venture on to the sea ice and climb majestic icebergs on this nine-day trip. View trip details and departures for 2017 here.

Polar Bear Mother and Newborn Cubs

Polar Bear Mother And Newborn Cubs Safari Arctic Kingdom This lodge-based expedition provides the opportunity to witness the Northern Lights at night after days viewing polar bear cubs and their mothers at a close proximity. Located in the world’s largest polar bear denning area in Wapusk National Park, Manitoba, travellers can experience this 10-day trip in March. View trip details and departures for 2017 here.

Northern Lights Fly-in Lodge

Northern Lights Fly-In Lodge Getaway Arctic Kingdom Get a front-row seat to watch the magical Northern Lights at this remote and rustic lodge, located deep in the Canadian wilderness of Yellowknife, Northwest Territories. This trip has options of four to nine night packages, from December to April. View trip details and departures for 2016 and 2017 here.

Weekend Getaways

Iqaluit weekend getaways Northern Lights Arctic Kingdom For travellers short on time, our exclusive getaways take you above the treeline in Iqaluit for an accessible, family-friendly Arctic escape. Our Arctic Weekend Getaway and Taste of the Arctic Spring provide opportunities to see the Northern Lights from October to April. Only 3 hours' flight from Ottawa, Canada.

Want to see the Northern Lights but not sure which trip is for you?

Click here to get in touch with one of our Travel Advisors - they are happy to help!

Want to create your own Northern Lights adventure?

Contact us to ask about custom trips.

Top 3 Myths About the Arctic

May 24th, 2015 | By | Filed in Current Trips

Iceberg

1) Barren and Isolated

Myth busted: Stunning landscapes, rich in wildlife, wild berries carpet the tundra, vibrant Inuit culture The first words that often come to mind when thinking about the Arctic: barren and isolated. Looking around, you’re not going to see skyscrapers and street signs, which is the reason many people are reluctant to trek up north. Despite the sparse surroundings, countless wildlife survive and make the Great White North home. For thousands of years Inuit share and live off the same land. If an entire culture is able to thrive year-round, the Arctic really can’t be completely barren or isolated. We’ll design a custom trip for you dare you so you can see for yourself!

2) Difficult to Access

Myth busted: There are daily scheduled flights - from Ottawa the Arctic is just a 3-hour flight! Are you under the impression that the Arctic is next to impossible to get to? Do commercial airlines even fly that far north? We have news for you! There are daily commercial flights out of numerous international airports across Canada. Depending on where you’re headed, there are direct flights out of Vancouver, Calgary, Edmonton and Ottawa. From Ottawa, the Arctic is only a three-hour flight away. Now that is accessible!

3) Cold Temperatures

Myth busted: Summer months are warm enough for t-shirts when the sun shines! Even though the Arctic does see its fair share of frigid temperatures, the summer months actually get quite warm. July and August see temperatures anywhere from 10 to 20 degrees Celsius (50 to 68 degrees Fahrenheit). That means that you could be hanging out in the Arctic in a t-shirt! We bet you never thought that was a possibility!

Visit the Canadian Arctic this summer

Now that the top 3 Arctic myths have been debunked, there is nothing holding you back from experiencing the undoubtedly one-of-a-kind adventure to the Arctic! You won’t feel deserted, you can easily catch a direct flight and you might not be as cold as you initially thought! So, what are you waiting for? Email us to request a custom-designed itinerary. Author: Mandy Ams

Are polar bears dangerous?

February 19th, 2015 | By | Filed in Arctic Animals, Current Trips

Polar bear and cubThomas Lennartz is an experienced expedition leader who has been an important part of the Arctic Kingdom family for a very long time. We were chatting the other day about the reputation of polar bears as dangerous creatures. An undeserved reputation according to Tom. On the islands of Svalbard, where Norway's polar bear population resides there is a precautionary principle: Keep your distance. Norwegians take seriously their stewardship of the Svalbard polar bear population. So seriously that they have published a how-to manual for visiting their polar bear territory.

Human behaviour toward polar bears can be dangerous

The answer to the question "are polar bears dangerous" lies somewhere in between Svalbard's "Polar bears are potentially dangerous animals" and Tom's belief that their reputation is undeserved. The key is found in our behaviour as travellers through polar bear habitat. Baiting, pursuing or approaching polar bears feeding are three behaviours that will bring out the beast in the bears. Quietly observing polar bears in a non-threatening manner as they go about their normal activities will keep a bear calm. So calm in fact that the polar bear may ignore you completely. That is the perfect opportunity to take the money shot, like the one that illustrates this post. The smell of breakfast cooking that drifts from a camp can draw a polar bear. The smell of bacon brings me into the kitchen from wherever I've been. So we shouldn't be surprised that a polar bear reacts just like us! When you travel with us on any of our polar bear trips, you'll be in the hands of experts who know how to behave in polar bear country.

Dare to #compare our Polar Bear Migration Fly-in Safari

January 21st, 2015 | By | Filed in Current Trips, Wildlife

Mother polar bear and cub

Mother and cub

I overheard someone who had completed a polar bear trip to Churchill. He was right. Churchill is a great place to see polar bears. But there is an alternative.

Polar bear mothers and cubs at eye level

Our Expedition Leader and bon vivant, Jason Hillier, took the photo of this mother and cub when he led a trip to our polar bear camp on the western shore of Hudson's Bay. Do you notice the camera angle? He was eye level with the bears. How did he do that? He was leading our land-based adventure like Polar Bear Migration Fly-in Photo Safari.

"But my partner doesn't like to rough it."

This objection to adventure travel is one of my personal favourites, because whoever says it takes the words right out of my mouth. There is no badge of honour in my mind for discomfort while exploring the wild. Our polar bear cabins are rustic, but they all the mod cons: each of the four cabins has an en suite bathroom and a private shower. The cabins sleep two people. So do the math, no more than 8 people are sharing the extraordinary landscape, and fabulous food with you. No waiting in line. No boarding a buggy. No taking your turn behind 20 others at the buffet. Give me good food, a private cabin, facilities en suite, a sense of exclusivity and wildlife in their natural habitat on my doorstep and I will "rough it" every time!

Flights to the Arctic are expensive

No kidding! But there are bargains, especially if you know a specialist like Arctic Kingdom. We are currently quoting a rate of $1,100 + $185 (taxes & fees) per person return from Winnipeg to Churchill. The private flight from Churchill to our camp is included in the trip price. If you are dreaming of a polar bear adventure in 2015, I dare you to compare.

Entering Canada by Air: 5 Tips for Travellers

December 30th, 2014 | By | Filed in TRIPS

Taking flight

Photo credit: Michelle Valberg

You might be wondering about entering Canada by air, if you are planning to take one of our polar bear safaris or an Arctic Weekend Getaway.  Here are 5 tips to make arriving in Canada simpler. You may need a visa, or you may not. Check before you leave home.  Click here to find out if you need one. 
(1) You will be asked to complete a declaration card on the plane, so carry a pen in your hand luggage. (2) You may list up to four people living at the same address on one declaration card. (3) Alcohol and tobacco have limits all their own - and they are not generous. Only one of three options is permitted to enter duty-free - 1.5L of wine OR 1.14 L or liquor OR 24 x 355 ml cans or bottles of beer or ale. (4) You have to be of legal drinking age per the province of entry. (5) The duty-free allowance for visitors entering Canada are gifts (excludes alcohol and tobacco) valued at no more than CAN$60 per visitor. (At the time of writing).

The finer points of entering Canada by air:


Education, healthcare and legislation governing the consumption of alcohol are provincial responsibilities. They differ from province to province and territory to territory. We have two official languages at the Federal level, but only one province has made bilingualism law - that is New Brunswick. Most Canadians cannot speak both official languages - French and English. Many Canadians, however, are bilingual - English and Mandarin or French and Arabic, or Inuktitut and English - are examples.
There are restrictions on the amount of currency or monetary instruments a visitor may bring into the country without declaring it. The declaration card has a section that asks you to declare weapons you are carrying, commercial goods, currency and a long list of food stuffs, such as meat, fish, seafood, eggs, dairy products and fruits. Read the section carefully on your declaration card, and answer truthfully. Better to have a piece of sausage confiscated than be refused permission to enter the country.  

MV Cape Race – Northern Lights – the Final Journal Entry

November 12th, 2014 | By | Filed in Featured Trip, Northern Lights - Aurora Borealis, Photographers

Northern lights

Northern Lights through rigging

Jason Hillier, lover of Northern Lights, kept a journal while sailing for 17 days aboard our charter vessel M V Cap Race.

Northern Lights at sea

From Makkovik, recharged we sailed through the Strait of Belle Isle. Labrador was on our starboard and the island of Newfoundland was on the port side. I was tantalizing close to home, but not close enough. Throughout the voyage, the Northern Lights could be seen dancing in the sky. One strong advantage to chartering a vessel to sail exactly when and where you want is creating outstanding photo opportunities. I will return home with an amazing collection of pictures of Northern Lights over the Atlantic Ocean. From the Strait of Belle Isle we sailed for two days, observing dolphins, whales and countless seabirds, including the colourful puffin. We arrived in the French port of Ste. Pierre the morning of September 17. Yes, you read that right, France. Off the south coast of Newfoundland, Ste. Pierre and Miquelon are two islands owned by France. Visiting this little bit of Europe in North America was a unique way to end a spectaculair sail tthrough the Arctic and along the east coast of Canada.

Torngat Mountains National Park – Aboard M V Cape Race

November 10th, 2014 | By | Filed in Diving, Featured Trip, Recent Trips, SCIENCE, Scientists

Raw research from the waters off Torngat Mountains National Park

Raw research from the waters off Torngat Mountains National Park

Torngat Mountains National Park is the third entry in a series of posts from the journal of Arctic Kingdom's Jason Hillier who spent 17 days aboard our charter vessel M V Cape Race in the company of researchers.

Sunshine Fiord - Torngat Mountains National Park

As we sailed the coastline of Torngat Mountains National Park we encountered amazing fiords, most notably Sunshine Fiord. We had to hole up overnight there to escape some wind. We had crossed the Davis Strait and made a beeline for Labrador in order to get the researchers on shore and the dive team in the water again. We had a great day of sampling, and diving in the waters just off the Park. The epic scenery and the mountains of Torngat, especially Seven Islands Bay, was a great backdrop to a spectacular day and we even knocked off a couple more successful dives. The sailing continued past  Saglek Basecamp. After dropping off our Parks Canada crew, we made our way to Makkovik for fuel, water and supplies. Makkovik is an Inuit community on the coast of Labrador. It was great to be on land again, but our researchers never tired and we were able to squeeze in three dives. A great inter-tidaling-sample effort from our shore team meant that they came home with not only specimens but fresh berries. A delicious treat!

Aboard charter vessel M V Cape Race

November 7th, 2014 | By | Filed in Current Trips, Diving, Filmmakers, Northern Lights - Aurora Borealis

Northern Lights from our charter vessel

Northern Lights from our charter vessel MV Cape Race

Aboard our charter vessel M V Cape Race, Jason Hillier, one of Arctic Kingdom's senior Team Members, spent 17 days sailing from Baffin Island to Newfoundland. He shared his log entries with us.

September 2, 2014 - at sea on charter vessel M V Cape Race

  With two quick dives under our belts, on Day 2 we leave Qikiqtarjuaq, the iceberg capital of Nunavut, in fine style as a dazzling display of Northern Lights dance in the night sky. Our charter vessel, MV Cape Race, will  sail all night to the next dive site on Baffin Island.  "Qik" is the location of our Polar Bears and Glaciers of Baffin Island Safari. The hamlet is one of the best places to see icebergs in Nunavut. Our next land fall will be the Torngat Mountains, a few days sail away. Torngat is a corruption of the Inuktituk word Torngait, meaning "places of spirit." Torngat Mountains National Park is one of the most remote in Canada's national park system. During the summer, visitors must either charter a vessel or a plane. During the winter, access is possible by snowmobile.   MV Cape Race is available for charter for private expedition cruising, research or film making anywhere in the world.

Aboard the MV Cape Race – September 2014

November 6th, 2014 | By | Filed in Diving, Projects, Recent Trips

Jason Hillier, one of Arctic Kingdom's senior Team Members, spent 17 days aboard our charter vessel M V Cape Race in September. He has shared his log entries with us.
M V Cape Race at sea

M V Cape Race at sea

September 1, 2014 - Qikiqtarjuaq, NU - Day One aboard MV Cape Race. Today, we set sail on a "reverse" course of Arctic Kingdom's The Best of Labrador, Baffin Island and Greenland. Stepping out of the airport, I was struck by my luck; a sunny, warm day and no wind. It was a great day to get on a ship and start an adventure! After meeting the crew, who had strolled up the road to the airport to find me, once they saw the plane land, we piled into a Zodiac to make our way to my home for the next 17 days. We were sailing from Baffin Island to the Torngats in Labrador, through the Strait of Belle Island and down the west coast of my home province to the island of Newfoundland. We were bringing 12 university scientists on an epic voyage to collect data and samples of everything from kelp to invertebrates to freshwater algae. We would also conduct bird surveys. The team consisted of cold water divers and "inter-tidalers" that we affectionately referred to as Team Bear Bait as they are biologists who wade through inter-tidal zones collecting specimens. Our Parks Canada Bear Monitor was on board to ensure everyone was safe and sound throughout all the shore excursions, both inside and outside the National Park. But it’s always fun to tease.
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