Great Migrations of the Northwest Passage Overview
Journey with us on the ultimate scenic and wildlife safari to witness the migratory patters of some of the most exceptional animals the Arctic has to offer, including the mystical narwhal and beluga.
Escorted by a qualified expedition staff member and Inuit guides, you’ll relish kayaking amongst pack-ice, climbing icebergs, and finding yourself simply mesmerized by the majestic mountain scenes. Stimulate all of your senses and revel in this epic Arctic wildlife safari!
From our safari-style base camp along the floe edge of Lancaster Sound, which borders the Northwest Passage, we’ll set off on our daily adventures. This region is world-renowned amongst filmmakers as one of the most prolific areas of wildlife in the Arctic. Much of the best wildlife footage is captured in this region and it is one of the few places where all of the Arctic marine animals co-mingle. Never before has access to this remote and largely inaccessible area been possible for all but the most dedicated and sponsored expeditions. To a privileged few, Arctic Kingdom is proud to offer access to this pristine Arctic jewel.
As winter transitions to spring, and spring transitions to summer, the frozen expanses of sea ice begin to crack and break away to float serenely out into the Northwest Passage. The floe edge, where sea ice meets open water, is one of the most ecologically diverse areas of the Arctic. Each spring, the waters at the ice edge become rich with life and it is for this reason that the Inuit of northern Canada have hunted here for centuries. Thousands of belugas and narwhals gather in Lancaster Sound waiting for the ice to clear. Snorkelling with the whales in the comfort and safety of a dry suit is possible without any prior experience, and encounters may be extended and exceedingly playful. A bowhead whale may occasionally pass by, flanked by dozens of narwhals and belugas. Pods of male narwhal, with their long famous ivory tusks, may also be seen in pool-sized openings in the ice.
Getting there is part of the adventure as we travel with our Inuit guides over the sea ice, past spectacular towering cliffs and the never-ending rows of snow-capped mountains that line the passageway out to the Northwest Passage. We will navigate around fantastic ice formations, past glacier-filled valleys and immense icebergs that protrude up from the frozen sea before reaching our eco-friendly, zero footprint base camp far out on the sea ice in the middle of one of the Arctic’s most ecologically diverse regions.
On this Arctic adventure, you’ll witness a sight few people have been privileged with: the migration of beluga and the rarely seen narwhal to their summer feeding grounds. From the floe edge, you will see the whales lingering sometimes almost within arm’s length. On a windless, sunny spring day, you will be able to see narwhal playfully jousting in the glassy smooth surface of the water. Belugas, in a flash of milky white, crest the surface and take a breath in a large exhale before diving under the ice to continue their feeding. We provide dry suits as well as snorkel equipment so that the adventurous can enter the water and watch as the inquisitive whales swim up to investigate, darting under the snorkeller, only metres away. The feelings you’ll experience looking into the eyes of these wild and elusive creatures and connecting with them in their domain are sure to be ones of pure elation and wonder.
(Note: Snorkelling with whales is not guaranteed but if conditions present themselves we will provide the expertise and dry suits for guests to try).
- Witness the beauty of life at the floe edge, where frozen ice meets open water – from crystalline icebergs and electric blue pack ice formations, to hundreds of birds diving and weaving, and of course, the migrating pods of whales.
- Capture stunning photographs of pods of narwhal as they rest on the surface, cross tusks in playful sword fighting, and exhale plumes of mist.
- Snorkel along the floe edge and exhilarate in the moment a narwhal and beluga swim inquisitively beneath you.
- Listen to the chirps and whistles of whale song while underwater or from the surface through a hydrophone.
- Experience all aspects of the High Arctic, from Inuit culture to the spectacular landscapes of Baffin and Devon Islands.
- Travel over sea ice by snowmobile and traditional Inuit qamutik, an adventure in itself, as we cross leads and cracks, hug shorelines, and navigate around icebergs.
- Live on the ice close to the floe edge in our eco-friendly, zero footprint, comfortable base camp on almost 8 feet of solid sea ice.
- Visit ancient Thule sites.
- Catch a glimpse of polar bears out hunting for seals.
- Bask in the warm glow of the midnight sun during the Arctic’s brief period of 24-hour daylight.
- See the transition of the Arctic from winter to spring – from frozen tundra to melting rivers and blossoming Arctic flowers.