Imagine: You wake up in your spacious and warm yurt, swing the door open and look out at the stunning vista of the High Arctic. You’ve begun your day on a floe edge safari.
The floe edge is where land-fast ice meets the open ocean. The arrival of spring and 24-hour daylight brings a dynamic ecosystem here, with all Arctic marine mammals coming to congregate. It’s no wonder the floe edge is also known as the “line of life”.
For travellers looking to join our Narwhal & Polar Bear Safari, it’s not always easy to imagine such a unique experience.
How can you articulate the serenity of the floe edge or the exhilaration of travelling across sea ice by snowmobile and qamutik? These are experiences that can’t simply be put into words but leave a lasting impression on your heart.
What we can put into words is what you may see and do. Once you fly into our remote safari camp in Navy Board Inlet, your days are filled with breathtaking landscapes and unforgettable experiences. And with the 24-hours of daylight, your week in the High Arctic is one continuous adventure.
While daily itineraries vary depending on weather, conditions and wildlife, here’s a look at a typical day on Narwhal & Polar Bear Safari:
Waking Up to spectacular views
For most guests, the day starts at 7 am. The yurts offer blackout windows to combat the light of the Midnight Sun, so opening the door might be your first look at the dramatic landscapes around you. Your yurt is strategically placed for the best view, so you start and end your day with beauty.
The camp is powered by generators that start early so you can make sure your camera is charged and ready for the day. For those that want to shower, hot running water awaits you in the bathroom facilities. Pour yourself a hot coffee or tea in the lounge before breakfast.
You’ll find a spread of breads, cereals, pastries and fruit all waiting for you before your warm gourmet breakfast is brought out. You may enjoy eggs benedict or maybe it’s pancakes garnished with berries. The daily menu varies.
During the meal, the trip leader goes over the plan for the day. This includes conditions, weather, or information from scouting parties about where animals might be found. Get ready for an exciting day ahead!
Journey to the floe edge
The first departure of the day will be approximately 8:30 a.m. – 9 a.m. There may also be later departures depending on group interest and conditions.
Head outside to meet the qamutik (traditional sled pulled by snowmobile) right outside your front door. Hop in and set off to experience the wonders of the floe edge!
With landscapes filled with icebergs, glaciers and towering mountains, the journey to the floe edge is an adventure in itself.
Upon scouting the perfect location for the day, we immediately put up a portable bathroom, warming tents, and hot water for tea and coffee. For lunch, the chef prepares a hot meal of gourmet comfort food.
Wildlife, activities and the majesty of the floe edge
We realize that each traveller will have different ideas of the perfect adventure. Some may want to relax and simply take in the wonder of this special place, and some will appreciate activities and other opportunities for adventure.
You will have had the chance to sign up in advance to optional excursions. This may include scouting for icebergs, a trip to see thousands of nesting birds at the bird cliffs, hiking and more.
You can also opt to stay at the floe edge and enjoy activities including photography, kayaking and snorkeling, depending on conditions. You may also enjoy talks from our naturalists about animal behaviour to help you get the best photos.
There is no better place to photograph Arctic wildlife than the floe edge of Lancaster Sound. Each year, nearly the entire population of narwhal migrate through here offering chances to see pods of up to 100. This is also a great place to see roaming polar bear who use the opening in the ice to hunt for seals.
For those not taking pictures, relax in chairs set up at the ice edge. It’s impossible to express the calm here, where you can hear a bird flapping its wings a hundred feet above you. A guide may drop a hydrophone into the water so you can hear the whales before you see them, or the ring seals making torpedo-like noises.
Days at the floe edge are fluid. All daily itineraries are crafted with mobility in mind, so we can offer the best experience. Everything we take with us can quickly be assembled or taken down within minutes. For example, if we find out that whales were spotting a little way up the ice, we can quickly move the group for better viewing. If we want extend viewing time at the floe edge, we can also do that.
Heading back to camp for a gourmet meal
Trips will usually return to the camp around 7:00 pm, but there are times we stay later. When whales are bubbling on the surface, or seals are putting on a show, we may tell the kitchen we’re coming back late! The chefs are happy to adjust the dinner schedule to our timeline.
There will be snacks waiting for you as soon as you arrive back at camp. A hot, gourmet dinner will be served shortly after.
Evenings under the Midnight Sun
After dinner, you may stick around the lounge for optional programming as part of our lecture series. This may include a half hour presentation from the trip leader, a filmmaker or a scientist in camp on topics such as photography tips, animal behaviour, or glaciology. You can also just sit back and relax in the lounge, share photos, or read a book.
After a day of exploration, you may find yourself wanting to head to bed early. The Midnight Sun is an incredible natural phenomenon that you may also want to take advantage of. Bring a camp chairs outside and watch the sky change colours as the sun dips above the horizon and turns a pastel hue.
Our own Jason Hillier, VP Product Management, who is no stranger to the Midnight Sun describes the experience. He explains, “the 2 a.m. light is like nothing you’ve seen, a gorgeous soft light.”
Those are the kinds of moments that people take away. This trip is more than just being at the floe edge. Its about being in a comfortable camp in such a remote and spectacular location with new friends, eating beautifully prepared meals, and sitting back to watch the sun at midnight as the light changes.
Sharing special moments with new friends
Many guests arrive as independent travellers or groups and families, but by the end of the trip they’re all good friends. Hugs and emails exchanged, pictures taken and shared. So many of our guests are worldly travellers and our leaders are often in complete awe of what our guests have done as they share stories. The family dynamic makes this experience so special.
The allure of this tour starts with the wildlife. People travelling in search of an epic narwhal or polar bear shot. Throughout the week, some are surprised at what becomes the highlight. For some, it’s becoming friends with their Inuit guide and seeing them come out of their shell to tell you about life in the North. For others, it’s the moment when the sound of the wind in your ear is the only sound. These special experiences are things you can’t express in a brochure but come to life under the Midnight Sun.
Exclusive experiences at the floe edge
Our floe edge tours are designed for exclusivity, combining a cultural experience, unparalleled vistas and wildlife encounters you can’t get any other place in the world.
Navy Board Inlet is the most special floe edge destination on Earth and we’re proud to be the only tour operator sharing it with guests from around the world. At the northern reaches of Baffin Island, this floe edge has only been previously visited by an elite few including select Inuit, film crews and scientists. We are proud to be the only tour operator at Navy Board Inlet.
Want to experience the floe edge for yourself?
By: Mat Whitelaw