The following is a representation of an itinerary. This can be used as a guideline for what to expect, but due to the unpredictable nature of the arctic – ice conditions, animal behavior and weather play an integral part in determining the daily activities. However, this can be seen as the beauty of the arctic and wildlife viewing. You can never predict exactly what you will see and no two trips are ever the same.
Arrive in Ottawa. Overnight in Ottawa hotel (self arranged)
Depart Ottawa on 9:05 Flight to Iqaluit. Transfer planes in Iqaluit and continue on 14:30 flight to Arctic Bay (YAB) for a late evening arrival. Total flying time is approximately 6 hours. The flight up Baffin Island is spectacular with fiords, vast expanses of ice and water, deep valleys and fiords unfold below your eyes to whet the appetite for what to expect once you touch down. Upon arrival, you will be met by an your trip leader at the Nanisivik airport just outside of Arctic Bay. A welcome dinner at the hotel and introduction to the other team members will be held. Overnight in Arctic Bay. (D)
After breakfast, we travel by snowmobile and qamutik (pronounced: Kam-oo-tick) to our seasonal safari-inspired base camp on the sea ice a short distance back from the floe edge. Along the way, you will experience first-hand how the Inuit travel to their summer camps. Qamutiks are sledges pulled by snowmobiles and are specially designed to flex over the ice. Travel along the spectaucular red hued St. George Cliffs towering 1000′s of feet vertically above your head. Become enamored by the first of the vast panorama’s of the Arctic that will unfold along the journey. Along the way you will pass by bird cliffs home to many species of nesting birds such as the Black billed Murres, kittwacks, and more. Arrive at your Arctic Safari Yurt base camp set directly on the sea ice and be welcomed by hors d’oeuvres prepared by the chef. After settling into your spacious quarters complete with raised beds, feel free to wander and absorb the incredible mountains, ice and photographic rich scenery that surrounds you. (B,L,D)
Days 3 to 6 we will conduct day trips to the floe edge. The following itinerary is a representation of what those days could look and feel like as there is no structured itinerary.
Initial journey to the floe edge. It is a bright and sunny day, and the whales are everywhere. We have a late lunch on the floe edge and stay through 11PM. We return to camp, and bask in the midnight sun. For those that have elected to try snorkeling, we will don the drysuits and snorkel with the whales. It is a magical moment to see the whales come directly beneath you, turn upside down and look up at you. One of the most intimate connections one can have to look eye to eye with a whale in its own natural environment that has chosen to come to you of its own volition. (B,L,D)
Wind is blowing south and the floe edge is alive with incoming waves and heaving ice. We travel as close as we can to appreciate the power of the changing seasons. We continue south, following the rough ice, and hike to a towering iceberg. We’ll break off some ice from the iceberg and make some tea with 1000 year old ice. Watch as the ice crackles as compressed air is released as it melts. We head back to camp in the early afternoon, have a relaxed evening, enjoying a chef-cooked dinner. (B,L,D)
The wind has died down and the sky is overcast. We make our way to the floe edge, which has calmed right down. The wind has blown lots of pack ice in, and the area is full of large contained ‘pools’ of water. Dozens of Narwhals rest in these pools and occasional groups of Belugas come through. While photographing the seemingly always smiling Belugas, we glimpse the massive ivory tusks of a pod of male Narwhal as they swim by. We have lunch at the floe edge and watch as the whales travel up and down the edge in search of food. We relax with the guides as they tell us about traditional Inuit life. In the late afternoon, we go to the rough ice where we hike to a distant Iceberg. You will walk around the iceberg taking photographs and marveling at the spectacular formations of icicles that form and end in electric turquoise blue meltwater pools. (B,L,D)
A magical day. We journey out to the floe edge and see hundreds of whales. Two Bowheads go by. Some guests focus on surface photography while one snorkels and another paddles out in a kayak and spots a lone walrus on the floating pack ice. On our journey home, we come across polar bear tracks and follow them to the rough ice where we can no longer go by snowmobile. Along the way, we encounter a whale carcass that was left after an Inuit hunt. The carrion has attracted a Polar Bear. We observe from a safe distance as he devours the remains. After an hour watching the bear, we return back to base camp and review our pictures in the lounge tent and celebrate the days successes with a toast during dinner. (B,L,D)
After breakfast we travel back to Arctic Bay via snowmobile and qamutik with an arrival in the late afternoon in time. Explore the local community. Visit soap stone carvers, sod house, watch seal skin being stretched, and other Inuit cultural activities. (B,L,D)
Depart Arctic Bay on 8:00am flight back to Ottawa. (B)