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Arctic Kingdom’s Tom Lennartz honoured by Conde Nast

January 6th, 2016 | By | Filed in Uncategorized

Conde Nast ExperiencesEvery year, the influential travel magazine Conde Nast selects Experience Makers - travel professionals that the magazine has identified as experts in their field. Our own Tom Lennartz was on the 2015 list. You will note that he was recognized for the depth of his knowledge of expedition ships. Tom is equally adept at creating private expeditions to the remote reaches of the world. On ships or land!

Tom Lennartz has worked with captains of industry

We aren't allowed to brag about Tom's network of the rich and famous. We can tell you that he has arranged private journeys for major documentarians, captains of industry, royalty and famous movie stars. Tom Lennartz has spent his entire life outdoors - diving, snowmobiling, swimming with whales and leading expeditions. That depth of knowledge and experience is at your service, whenever he creates a custom tour. Tom is a family man, so he is sensitive to the needs of parents who want to create lasting family memories when they travel. Congratulations, Tom!

What is the plural of walrus?

August 23rd, 2015 | By | Filed in Uncategorized

Walrus and PupThe plural of walrus is walruses or walrus. Either is acceptable, although walruses appears to be the more common use. The word was first referenced in 1728. Despite the "us" ending, the origin is Dutch or Norwegian, not Latin.

Walrus, A keystone species

Take a guess at the favourite month of a walrus. Given their mustached appearance, it’s safe to assume it’s Movember! Aside from their bristly appearance, walruses are also part of the exclusive club of animals that have tusks. They are considered a ‘keystone species’ in the Arctic marine regions, meaning they play a critical role in maintaining the structure of the ecosystem. Walruses are an extremely social animal and are typically observed near the Arctic Circle lying on the ice and congregating with their many companions. Adult walruses are distinguished not only by their elongated canines but also their blubbery body and their prominent whiskers. Walruses like to bellow and snort and can also turn aggressive during mating season, using their tusks in self defense and to demonstrate dominance. As expected, the bigger the tusks, the more dominant the male. The male with the largest tusks is typically the leader of social groups and holds the most power. Because walruses have limited diving abilities, it means that they depend on shallow water and ice floes to access their food supply. Their tusks are also practical when forming holes in the Arctic ice, acting as an aid to help walruses haul out of the water. The Arctic air is frigid and the water is just as chilling but luckily for walruses, they are insulated from the cold because of the blubber stored beneath their skin. Walruses are also capable of slowing down their heartbeats in order to endure the temperature, thus allowing them to live comfortably and continue to be a prevalent presence in the Arctic.

Quick Stats:

  • Walruses live 20- 30 years in the wild
  • Orcas and polar bears are the walrus’ only two natural predators
  • Tusks are present in both male and female walruses and can reach a length of over three feet
  • Males can weigh up to 3700 lbs while females can weigh up to 2700 lbs
  • The walrus population was severely reduced due to hunting but has since rebounded -The worldwide walrus population is roughly 250,000

Check Them Out!

Interested in checking out the walruses? Arctic Kingdom offers various trips that allow you to see these stunning creatures including: Kings of the Arctic where you can observe walruses sunning themselves on ice floes! Author: Mandy Ams

Snowy Owls: Harry Potter’s Owl

August 15th, 2015 | By | Filed in Uncategorized, Wildlife

snowy owl and Arctic fox
Native to the Arctic region in North America and Eurasia, Snowy Owls have thick plumage, heavily-feathered, taloned feet and light colouration making them well-adapted for life in the chilly Arctic. Although Snowy Owls are thought to be completely white to blend into their surroundings, it is actually the males that are white while females and young owls have more flecks of grey.

Snowy Owls are opportunistic hunters

Snowy owls are classified as opportunistic hunters. Based on the climate, their prey may vary considerably, feeding on just about anything they can get their talons from deer mice to muskrats. Unlike most owls, Harry Potter's owl is diurnal, using daylight and dark nights to search for prey. Their keen eyesight and excellent hearing serves as an asset since they are able to identify their kill beneath the snow and vegetation. The Snowy Owls’ tactic is a patient ‘sit and wait’ approach in contrast to predators that seek and follow their prey until the ideal time to attack. Once their efforts have paid off, like many other birds, these owls will swallow their small prey whole.

Parenting style

Both males and females are very protective of their nests during nesting season. Although Snowy Owls have few predators, the males are constantly on guard while the female incubates the eggs. Approaching predators can expect to be attacked by both sexes. Snowy Owls will dive-bomb in an attempt to distract the unwelcome predator away from their offspring. It is in part because of the Snowy Owls’ protective instincts that they are considered in least concern of becoming an endangered species.

Quick Stats:

  • Snowy owls are one of the largest species of owl and the heaviest in North America
  • Their wingspan is 1.4 to 1.7 meters (4.5 to 5.5 feet)
  • Female snowy owls can lay a clutch of anywhere from 3 to 11 eggs
  • Lifespan in the wild is just over nine years
  • Longest lifespan in captivity is 28 years
  • Check Them Out!

    Interested in checking out Snowy Owls? Arctic Kingdom offers various trips that allow you to see these stunning creatures including: Hiking in the Auyuittuq National Park where you can get a firsthand view of Snowy Owls and their nests during the summer months! [There is no chance of seeing Harry Potter, however.] Author: Mandy Ams

Arctic Foxes: The Clowns of the Tundra

July 31st, 2015 | By | Filed in Uncategorized, Wildlife

Arctic Fox

Photo: R J Sauer

Undoubtedly, the Arctic is not an easy place to survive with its deep-winter frigid temperatures and seemingly barren landscape. Arctic foxes are extremely well-adapted to the harsh environment. They have thick fur which enables them to maintain a consistent body temperature and provides excellent insulation. Their paws have fur on the soles, adding extra protection against the frozen ground and helping them walk on ice. Their noticeably bushy tail is useful as a warm cover. Arctic foxes also have a very compact body shape, with small ears and a short muzzle and legs which minimizes the surface area exposed to winter air.

Arctic Foxes: Excellent Hunters

Arctic foxes are extremely well- known for their hunting style. They use their outstanding hearing to pinpoint small animals moving under the snow, pouncing until they catch their prey. Another advantage for Arctic foxes is that their fur changes colours with the seasons. In the winter, their white fur helps them blend into snowy surroundings while their greyish brown fur is similar to the environment during the summer months. When hunting tactics fail, cheeky Arctic foxes have been known to follow in the footsteps of the premier predator, the polar bear, and feed on leftover scraps.

Quick Stats:

  • The Arctic fox has the warmest pelt of any animal in the Arctic, enduring temperatures as low as -50°C
  • They are carnivores and scavengers
  • Arctic foxes live in underground burrows that can have up to 100 entrances and have likely been used by numerous prior generations
  • Females tend to be smaller than males
  • Arctic foxes are monogamous animals and have one mate for life
  • They don’t hibernate and are active year- round
  • The Arctic fox’s approximate lifespan is three to six years in the wild

Check Them Out!

Interested in checking out the Arctic foxes? Arctic Kingdom offers various trips that allow you to see these stunning creatures including: Polar Bear Migration Fly-In Safari where you go on guided hikes of the tundra. Keep your eye open for the clowns of the tundra. Author: Mandy Ams

Birders: The Arctic is teeming with #birds

July 8th, 2015 | By | Filed in Uncategorized

MurresBirders, Bylot Island is a Migratory Bird Sanctuary off the northern tip of Baffin Island. Located 25 kilometres (16 miles) north of Pond Inlet, across Eclipse Sound, visits to the Sanctuary are conducted during our Narwhal and Polar Bear Safari. The island is nesting habitat for large numbers of Thick-billed Murres and Black-legged Kittiwakes. Moist lowland tundra on the island welcomes migrating songbirds, shorebirds and waterfowl. Bylot Island has the largest breeding colony of Greater Snow Geese in the Canadian High Arctic. A total of 74 unique species of arctic birds thrive can be seen on the island.

Birders are welcome in the autumn too.

Our Autumn Caribou and Northern Lights Safari is an opportunity to visit the transitional boreal landscape of southern Nunavut. As the caribou migrate so does the Lapland Larkspur, one of the birds you can see on this expedition.

Prime Bird Watching Season

The Snowy Owl, the Raven and the Ptarmigan are the only bird species to winter in the eastern Canadian Arctic. However about 100 species of birds migrate to the region annually. May through August is the prime birding season. Our Arctic Weekend Getaways are affordable options for birders who want to visit the Far North during prime birding season. Iqlauit, on Baffin Island, is a mere 3-hours from Ottawa, by direct flight. Fly from Ottawa Friday morning and you will be birding on the tundra by lunch time. Call us (1 888 737 6818 toll free in North America) to learn more about your birding options in the Canadian Arctic.

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

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 >

Do you have what it takes to #enjoy an Arctic adventure?

January 5th, 2015 | By | Filed in Uncategorized, Upcoming Trip

Iceberg and woman

At last, my dream has come true

If you have decided to book an Arctic safari or getaway, you are already a special type of traveller. Most likely you are curious about the natural world, passionate about wildlife and have a sense of adventure. You could have been motivated by the desire to go where few have gone before. Perhaps, you grew up reading about the search for the Northwest Passage and dreamed of seeing it yourself one day?

How to enjoy your Arctic adventure

When you pack your bag, there are some essentials that do not take up room or put your luggage over the weight limit. These must-packs are free, but have great value, because they will ensure that you enjoy your Arctic adventure: Flexibility - local conditions and the natural behaviour of wildlife dictate a day's agenda while on the land. Change is inevitable. Patience - wildlife don't read itineraries. We use local Inuit knowledge to place our camps near known wildlife haunts, but you may find you have to wait patiently by the floe edge until the mammals appear. Adaptability - provisioning an Arctic camp takes months of planning. Every bit of food and equipment must be carried in...and out. More than 15 years of experience outfitting our trips has taught us what works well. Be prepared to try new foods and new things. Adaptability is a key quality for enjoyment. If you are flexible, patient and adaptable then you have what it takes to enjoy an Arctic adventure. Join us on the adventure of a lifetime?

#PolarBearWeek @ArcticKingdom – Polar Bear Legends

September 17th, 2014 | By | Filed in AK PRODUCTS & SERVICES, Uncategorized

Polar Bear

Polar Bear by Jane Whitney

The people of the Far North have legends they have handed down for generations, particularly about polar bears interacting with human beings. One polar bear legend tells of an Inuit family that lived next door to a family that looked like humans but were actually polar bears. The story claimed that when polar bears shift into people their fur is left on the on the ground. Another Inuit legend revolves around an old woman who had no family to hunt for her. She discovers an abandoned polar bear cub and adopts it. She names the cub Kunik. As he grows up under her care,  Kunik's hunting skills surpass those of the men in the community, who become jealous and threaten to kill the bear. His adopted mother encourages Kunik to run away to protect himself from the hunters. The polar bear leaves but continues to hunt for his mother. Polar bear legends that tell of bears with the characteristics of people are a natural extension of a fundamental Inuit belief. Explorer Knud Rasmusssen noted while living with the Inuit that they believe that all living creatures have souls. The diet of humans, then, consisted entirely of souls. Thus hunting rituals were adopted to demonstrate respect for the souls of the animals they hunted.
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