Have questions about the Arctic or about going on a tour with us?

Here are some of the more common questions we get asked:

 

About Arctic Kingdom

What is Arctic Kingdom?

Arctic Kingdom is Canada’s leading Arctic travel, logistics and professional services organization. We are passionate about the Arctic – and the people who call it home. Pioneers in land-based Arctic travel, we work with community partners to design and deliver exceptional Arctic travel and wildlife experiences, including Arctic safaris, private trips, polar diving and getaways in the High Arctic. Experienced polar logistics experts, we support major film and televisions productions and scientific studies – enabling worry-free and safe access to the Arctic.

Is Arctic Kingdom socially and environmentally responsible?

The Arctic and Northern Canada are dynamic and changing places. Home and the traditional lands of Inuit and First Nations, we believe respecting and collaborating with local cultures, empowering communities and leaving wildlife untouched is the only way to be able to provide authentic sustainable experiences for years to come. We travel in small groups on land and everything, from the way we plan and operate our trips, to our business practices, is geared toward making a positive impact on the areas we visit and minimize our environmental impact.

To ensure our trips economically benefit the local communities we hire local guides and drivers, purchase food supplies in community (whenever possible), eat local food, and use local services. By continually reassessing our trips, we ensure that they are socially, economically and environmentally sound.

Arctic Kingdom strictly adheres and supports the Wildlife Policy for the Territory of Nunavut.

Why do you use real fur on your parkas/gear?

Arctic weather conditions can be extreme. Gear is important for the comfort and warmth of our guests, we ensure we provide the highest quality. The jackets we provide are designed for extreme cold temperatures, where skin around the face can freeze in minutes. Fur and down are the best choice for warmth and protection. Fur trim around the hood disrupts airflow and creates warm air to help protect the face from frostbite. Fur remains the warmest option versus synthetic, and is the traditional choice of Inuit.

Visiting the Arctic

Are there restrictions on alcohol in the Canadian Arctic?

Restrictions on alcohol vary by community; there are three types of alcohol policies in Nunavut. Only five communities, including Iqaluit, have no alcohol restrictions. This means you can purchase and drink alcohol at licensed establishments. Other communities restrict local purchasing of alcohol, but allow it to be brought in for personal consumption only with a permit endorsed by the local Alcohol Education Committee. The communities visited on Arctic Kingdom with this policy are: Arctic Bay, Igloolik, Pond Inlet, and Qikiqtarjuaq. Some communities have a complete prohibition on alcohol, including Arviat.

What is throat singing?

Inuit throat singing or katajjaq is a form of traditional singing found among Inuit. Usually performed by women and in duet. Performances are often an entertaining contest in which singers try to outlast one another in song. Historically, throat singing was a form of entertainment among women when men were out on hunting trips. It was regarded as more as a vocal or breathing game in Inuit culture, rather than a form of music.

When and where can I see the Northern Lights?

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. The best places to see the Northern Lights in North America are in the northwestern parts of Canada – including Nunavut. Small communities and remote locations without light pollution are great for seeing the Northern Lights as they are most clearly seen on a dark sky. You can learn more about the Northern Lights on our blog here. You can get the opportunity to see the Northern Lights on these trips:

When and where can I see polar bears?

The Canadian Arctic is home to about than 60% of the world’s polar bear population. Arctic Kingdom offers polar bear tours year-round. You can get the opportunity to see polar bears up-close in their natural habitat on these trips:


When and where can I see narwhal?

Your best chance to see narwhal is at the northern reaches of Baffin Island in spring when they congregate at the floe edge. You can get your opportunity to see narwhal, in pods of one to hundreds, close-up on these trips:

When and where can I see walrus?

Walrus are typically observed near the Arctic Circle, lying on the ice in groups. One of the best places to view walrus in the Arctic is Igloolik, Nunavut. See them by land and boat on Kings of the Arctic in July.

What kinds of animals can I see in the Arctic?

The Canadian Arctic is home to some of the world’s most unique wildlife including polar bears, narwhal, beluga, walrus, bowhead whales, arctic fox and more. Get your opportunity to see these incredible animals up-close, in their natural habitats on one of our Arctic safaris or private journeys. If you have specific wildlife in mind that you’d like to see and photograph, our Arctic Travel Advisors are happy to help you plan a trip. Fill out our Contact Us form to inquire.

When and how can I see big ice, including icebergs and glaciers?

  • The Canadian Arctic boasts some of the most dramatic and incredible land and icescapes in the world. Icebergs and glaciers can be seen by land, sea ice and boat throughout Baffin Island and other regions in Nunavut. Get the opportunity to see icebergs and glaciers on these trips:


What kind of banking services are available in Nunavut?

We recommend having Canadian currency on hand when travelling to Nunavut as it still mainly operates on cash (Canadian dollars). Nunavut’s capital Iqaluit, located on Baffin Island, offers the most banking services, including a variety of banks and ATM machines. Many communities, however, have no banking services at all and very few communities have physical banks, due to remoteness. Interac® is not available outside the capital of Iqaluit and credit cards including Visa, Master Card and American express are typically not available

What forms of payment are accepted in Nunavut?

We highly recommend having local Canadian currency with you while travelling. Some shops and restaurants may also accept credit cards and/or debit cards.

What forms of banking services/ payment are accepted in Churchill, Manitoba? Churchill, Manitoba operates on Canadian currency and has several ATMs available. Many shops and restaurants also accept credit cards and/or debit cards.

What is an inukshuk?

An inukshuk or inuksuk (pl. inuksuit) is a stone figure or monument made of unworked stones that can be found throughout the Arctic The word inukshuk means “in the likeness of a human” or “something which acts for or performs the function of a person”, in Inuktitut Historically, they have been used by the Inuit for communication and survival. Today they are used as navigation aids, to mark a place of respect, as a memorial for a loved one, or to indicate migration routes or places where fish can be found. Although most inuksuit appear alone, they can sometimes be found arranged in sequences spanning great distances or grouped to mark a specific place.

Travelling with Arctic Kingdom

What is an Arctic Safari?

Think African safari, in the Arctic. Our safaris are land-based mobile camps that allow small groups of guests to get up-close and personal with unique wildlife, discover local culture and take in breathtaking landscapes. Carefully researched and scouted with insight from Inuit guides, we bring you the best of the Arctic.

How close can I get to polar bears? Why can’t we get closer?

Following the Wildlife Policy of Nunavut, and for the safety of our guests and wildlife, we ensure all participants remain at a minimum distance of 100 meters (approx. 300 feet) from polar bears in the wild. Arctic Kingdom Expeditions Leaders and Inuit guides are trained and experience in polar bear safety and de-escalation.

Are Arctic Kingdom adventures strenuous and/or physically challenging?

We want our guests to enjoy the wonders of the North! The majority of our Arctic adventures have been designed so guests can participate and enjoy regardless of your age or activity level and are perfect for families. Many trips include riding in qamatiks (sleds pulled by snow machines) or riding in boats; and we are pleased to offer comfortable, real beds on safari. While our trips may include optional activities such as hiking, kayaking, snorkeling or diving, participants can choose how much or how little do to. Our Arctic Travel Advisors are happy to help you choose which experience is right for you if you have any concerns.

Can I join a trip if I have mobility issues?

Travel in the Arctic requires a significant level of mobility to get around. The terrain is rugged and uneven and rides on the qamatiks can be quite bumpy. Bathroom facilities in our mobile camps are set aside from your private tent so you must be able to make your way over to this area unattended, or with the help of a travelling companion. Unfortunately, at this time we do not have the resources to accommodate those in a wheelchair or requiring personalized assistance through the trip. If you have any concerns about your mobility level, our Arctic Travel Advisors are happy to discuss the best options for you including the possibilities of travelling on our less strenuous safaris or lodges including Bathurst Inlet Lodge.

I have a special event that I’d like to celebrate on a trip. Is it possible to arrange something?

Of course! Just tell us the details, whether it’s your birthday, anniversary, or engagement. We’d be happy to be a part of your special event. There may be some additional charge depending on the request.

What items/souvenirs am I not allowed to bring into my home country?

Your home country customs officials may prohibit certain items from being imported. Typical items that are prohibited are meat products and traditional items made of whale bone, antler, or seal skin. Please review the rules, regulations, and restrictions directly with your country of origin’s Customs Offices to avoid disappointment.

Do I need to get medical insurance to travel on an Arctic Kingdom trip?


Arctic Kingdom does not carry health, life or injury insurance for trip participants. It is your responsibility to ensure your medical coverage covers you for life and health care risks while on our trips, and in addition should provide transport to your home country or province (for Canadians traveling on our Canadian trips).

All participants will be required to provide proof of travel medical insurance that includes sufficient emergency evacuation coverage. Please note, this is due 120 days prior to departure date.

In the event of a medical emergency where a patient must receive care of a doctor as soon as possible, almost all of our trips will require a private charter aircraft to complete the evacuation. Depending on the location and where the closest hospital is located, the expense could be very costly. It is imperative that you check with your insurance provider to ensure you are covered for the location you are visiting. Arctic Kingdom is not responsible for any expenses incurred for medical reasons.

If you do not have your own sufficient evacuation insurance, we recommend Global Rescue (www.globalrescue.com), which offers superior service in remote locations. See their website for specific plans, prices and details.

For emergency evacuation insurance, what dollar amount do you recommend clients cover themselves for?

Many guests that travel with us obtain a minimum coverage of $500,000 (USD). It’s difficult to determine the exact amount to purchase so we recommend travellers consult their insurance provider.

Our preferred partner for emergency evacuation insurance is Global Rescue. Click here for more information about Global Rescue or to enroll.

Do I need to purchase trip cancellation/interruption insurance?

In light of our cancellation policy and the extreme environment in which we travel, we strongly recommend that all trip participants purchase trip cancellation and trip interruption insurance. On very limited occasions, Arctic Kingdom has had to cancel trips after they have started due to unforeseen environmental conditions.

What is your cancellation policy?

We spend months preparing and continuously make non-refundable deposits and material purchases to suppliers, hotels, airlines and staff. Therefore we must strictly adhere to our Cancellation & Refund Policies for all travellers. These policies can be found in our Terms and Conditions on our website here.

Is it possible to get a refund on the VAT for Arctic Kingdom trips?

You may be eligible to receive up to 50 per cent back on all GST and HST for our trips. Apply directly with Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) using the form on the CRA website.

When do I book my flight?

When booking your flights, be sure to book your arrival on day 1 of your trip itinerary and depart home on the last day of your trip itinerary. Arctic Kingdom is pleased to book flights for you, offering very competitive rates.

Why should I book my flights through Arctic Kingdom, and not directly with the airline?

Flight prices to the Arctic have increased over the years. Arctic Kingdom has established, long-standing relationships with local airlines, allowing us to charge less than the public rates. In the event of flight delays, changing flights is also easier and the change fees are much less.

Can I book as a group or a family on Arctic Safaris?

Yes, if you have a group or are travelling with your family we are pleased to accommodate group bookings, based on availability. Please speak with your AK Travel Advisor and indicate your group size when booking a trip.

Private and Custom Trips

Does Arctic Kingdom offer private or custom itineraries?

We are happy to plan a custom itinerary for you. We have more than 15 years of experience in the Arctic and can help bring your Arctic dreams to life. Please contact us to start planning!

The dates I am available to travel are outside of any of your Safari departure dates. Can I still book a trip to the Arctic?

We are happy to plan a custom itinerary for you. We have more than 15 years of experience in the Arctic and can help bring your Arctic dreams to life. Please contact us to start planning!

What types of private trips are possible?

Arctic Kingdom offers bespoke private itineraries for travellers as well as custom trips for professionals, including Film, TV, Advertising, and scientific studies.

For travellers: Whether you want to have dinner at the North Pole, float above icebergs in a hot air balloon, or tour glaciers by helicopter, if you can imagine it, we can make it happen. From Iqaluit, NU to Ilulissat, Greenland and beyond, if you can see it on our Destinations Map, we can take you there. Please contact us to start planning your dream trip!

For professionals: Where ever you need to go, we can safely take you there! We have supported numerous large-productions in the Arctic, including BBC, Discovery, National Geographic, Red Bull and more!

Photography

What size camera lens do you recommend?

Our guests use everything from a point and shoot to 500 mm and even the occasional 600mm lens. Our Expedition Leaders use a 85-300 mm without a tele-convertor. We recommend a wide angle lens to try and capture the grandeur of the ice and landscapes. To learn tips for photographing Arctic wildlife, please visit our blog here.

How do you shoot the Northern Lights?

A tripod, a long (20-30s) exposure, high ISO and extra batteries will get you the shot you wants. Batteries will drain fast in the cold so having a second fully charged one/set is always helpful.

Do I need to have a professional camera to participate in a safari?

No, while some of our guests are photographers, many bring point-and-click or even smart phone cameras. There are incredible sites at every turn in the Arctic, but the camera you bring to capture them depends on you!

Do I need special gear for my camera for the weather? What about a tripod?

Weather in the Arctic can be unpredictable. Depending on the season, we recommend bringing snow or rain cover, and heavy duty plastic bags to wrap your gear in the case of extreme weather. While not necessary for every trip, we recommend bringing a tripod. A tripod is especially helpful when capturing the Northern Lights.

Accommodations

How do you accommodate dietary considerations?

We are always pleased to ensure our guests have the best experience possible, including when it comes to food! If you have any dietary considerations, please let us know in advance and we will try our best to make accommodations within the trip menu.

How thick is the sea ice that the Tented Safari Camp and Premium Safari Camp on ice are set up on?

The sea ice we setup base camp on is generally 1.2m – 1.8m (4-6 ft) thick.

The trip I booked says Tented Safari Camp, can I upgrade to the Premium Safari Camp?

The accommodations stated for each trip are the accommodations set for each guest on that trip and they cannot be upgraded. If you prefer alternate accommodations in a specific location, we are happy to provide a quote for a custom, private trip.

Can I get mobile phone reception? What about Wifi?

Mobile phone reception and WIFI is not guaranteed in such a remote location. You may be able to get cellphone reception in some of the communities, and Wi-Fi may be available at some hotels at the beginning and end of your trip, but it is not guaranteed. You will not have cellphone reception while in camp. It is best to plan ahead and not need access to the internet once you have begun your trip. Our Expedition Leaders communicate from our remote locations using Iridium satellite phones and InReach satellite communicators for text messaging. These tools can be made available to you in the event of an emergency, but not for casual communication. If you would like to stay in contact with your family and friends during your trip, we have satellite phones or communicators available for rent.

How do I rent a SAT phone?

Please contact gear@arctickingdom.com to rent an Iridum Satellite Phone or InReach Satellite Communicators.

How do I charge my laptop or camera batteries in camp?

We supply power to each and every tent, Arctic Yurt or cabin via a gas powered invertor generator. These generators are running until about 10:00 or 11:00 each night and are turned back on around 7:00 am.

Diving/Snorkelling in the Arctic

I am interested in snorkeling in a dry suit. What should I bring to wear under the dry suit?

For snorkeling in a dry suit in the Arctic, you don’t need to pack anything extra. You simply need to wear the same base layer that you would wear under your parka for under the dry suit. This means you can wear your shell jacket, sweater, and snow pants and fit comfortably. Your Expedition Leader will be pleased to guide you through the whole process.

I wear glasses and have prescription goggles. Will “standard” goggles be okay, or does the cold temperature require something different?

A prescription mask is fine to use in cold water temperatures. If you have prescription swim goggles, however, you cannot use them for diving or snorkeling. In this case, you would have to use our diving mask and simply wear contact lenses to see clearly.

SCUBA Diving in the Arctic: Do the diving cylinders for the trip use DIN or yoke adapters?

Both yoke and DIN are available for our diving cylinders, but most of our tanks are currently set up for yoke.