10 days

Arctic Watch Lodge: Adventure and Wildlife at 74°N

Arctic Watch Lodge: Adventure and Wildlife at 74°N

Beluga Whales

Arctic Watch Lodge

The Arctic landscape


Trip rating
  • Get out and explore the wild Canadian Arctic then come home each day to your comfortable base at the Arctic Watch Wilderness Lodge. The world’s most northerly and remote lodge is situated on the northern tip of Somerset Island, which is a world-class beluga whale observation site. On this eight-day adventure you’ll get the full Arctic safari experience, with guided activities and extraordinary wildlife sightings conducted in 24-hour daylight. After an overnight stay in Yellowknife, you’ll be flown to Somerset Island in Nunavut and transferred to the lodge. Each day brings the chance of new wildlife sightings, including beluga whales, ringed seals, polar bears, roaming musk oxen, Arctic foxes, snowy owls and more. Learn to drive all-terrain vehicles, try your hand at kayaking among icebergs, navigate the gentle Cunningham River rapids on a raft and fish for Arctic char at Inukshuk Lake. You can also explore the shorelines and canyons on hikes to Triple Waterfalls, Kayak Falls and the Badlands. The Cunningham River estuary is a beluga whale migration site and it’s so close to the lodge that you can see them from the riverbank. Come home with a memory card full of unique photos and a lifetime of stories about your time in the Canadian Arctic.



    Hiking is a great way to appreciate the immense windswept landscapes of the Arctic. The tundra comes alive during the brief Arctic summer, with bursts of color from the shrubs and plants that eke out a living in this polar environment. You’ll find each hike is different - exploring shorelines or landscapes, often on the lookout for wildlife. Hiking participation is optional and your Expedition Team will advise you of what you can expect prior to each excursion.

    Typically lasting two to three hours, guests will travel by raft on a river excursion. The Cunningham River is swift-flowing, crystal-clear water with no difficult sections or rapids. Guests are given a hands-on introduction to rafting prior to departing, and no previous experience is required.

    A great way to better explore the terrain of Somerset Island is by all-terrain vehicle. Guests receive a hands-on introduction to driving ATVs, which are easy and fun to operate. Helmets are provided.

    Led by experienced kayak guides, guests will paddle among icebergs, on the watch for ring and bearded seals and beluga whales. Sightings of sea birds, including Arctic terns and eider ducks, can be expected. All equipment and basic instructions are provided.

    Guests have the opportunity to try “catch-and-release” fishing for Arctic char at Innukshuk Lake. Fly fishing is also welcome and guests are free to bring their preferred gear. Fishing equipment and gear is supplied, and spinning equipment is also available.



    Every summer, this sheltered inlet is home to about 2000 beluga whales who pass through the Cunningham River estuary on Somerset Island, Nunavut. Arctic Watch Lodge is located within walking distance of this cluster of whale activity, and we will be able to view them enjoying the warmth of the river water and socializing.

    A hike from the lodge brings you to a five-story torrent of free-falling water. Here you can see nesting peregrine falcons and other birds such as loons, snow buntings, sandpipers and rough-legged hawks.

    The trail provides a scenic overview of the entire Cunningham River delta. Here you will see an Arctic fox den and are very likely to encounter muskox herds.

    Located two hours from the lodge by ATV, at Inukshuk Lake you can fish for Arctic Char as part of the lodge’s catch and release program.

    Here you can view the Somerset Island canyons, formed as the result of shifting fault lines. Their most vertical walls vary in height from 200 to 1,000 feet. Keep your eyes open for fossils of prehistoric plants and animals.

    Named by Arctic Watch owners Richard Weber and Josée Auclair, Gull Canyon shows the striking biological contrasts between barren canyon and lush gull rookery.


    A trip to Cape Anne includes seeing scenic vistas, icebergs, ancient Thule campsites and giant prehistoric whale bones. The Thule were a culture of bowhead whale hunters, and ancestors of today’s modern Inuit. The Cape Anne Thule site is the largest in the area and includes the remains of 15 stone and bone houses.

    Why we love it

    • The rustic atmosphere of the Arctic Watch Wilderness Lodge. This is the most northerly safari resort in the world, located on the Northwest Passage and within walking distance to a beluga whale migration site.
    • The chance to drive all-terrain vehicles, kayak among icebergs and navigate the Cunningham River on a raft. All activities are guided by a team of experts and beginners are welcome to have a go.
    • Get up close to your surroundings on plenty of hikes. See the striking Triple Waterfalls, marvel at the canyon walls and prehistoric fossils at Flatrock Falls and see an Arctic fox den on the Muskox Ridge Trail.
    • Bird lovers can see nesting peregrine falcons, loons, snow buntings, sandpipers and rough-legged hawks at the unique eco-system of Gull Canyon.
    • Explore Canada’s past at Cape Anne. See prehistoric whalebones and ancient Thule campsites, including the remains of 15 houses made from stone and bone.


    Day 1 - Yellowknife, Northwest Territories

    Enjoy an included night in Yellowknife and meeting your fellow travellers.

    Day 2 - Yellowknife to Arctic Watch Lodge

    We’ll meet early in the morning to board our private chartered plane to fly the 1,000 miles (1,500 km) to the Arctic Watch lodge. During the four and a half hour flight, we’ll pass over the treeline to the barrens, refueling in the community of Cambridge Bay, and landing in the afternoon on a private airstrip on Somerset Island. A short walk across the tundra, and an even shorter raft ride across the Cunningham River, will bring us to the lodge. Following a tour of the facilities, you’ll settle into your cabins and meet the Quark staff for a briefing on the activities of the week ahead.

    Breakfast | Lunch | Dinner

    Day 3 - Arctic Watch Lodge

    A typical first morning at the lodge may include receiving a hands-on introduction to driving all-terrain vehicles (ATVs), which are easy and fun to drive. Later, we may take a short hike to the Cunningham River estuary to watch beluga whales frolic in the shallow water only a few yards offshore, followed by a wonderful buffet lunch.

    In the afternoon, there may be an opportunity for a hike to Triple Waterfalls, a five-story torrent of freefalling water. There you can see nesting peregrine falcons and other birds such as loons, snow buntings, sandpipers and rough-legged hawks. Exploring the canyon introduces you to the delicate beauty of wild Arctic flowers. Encounters with muskox are common.

    After a hearty dinner, there’s free time to explore in and around the lodge. The
    library has a broad selection of Arctic and polar titles. The interpretive centre contains collections of local fossils, skeletal remains of Arctic fauna, and a collection of traditional Inuit clothing from Canada, Greenland and Siberia.

    Breakfast | Lunch | Dinner

    Day 4 - Arctic Watch Lodge

    After a full breakfast, we’ll travel by ATV, crossing the Cunningham River delta, and driving along the Muskox Ridge Trail, which provides a scenic overview of the entire area. It’s very likely that we’ll see muskox and pass by an impressive Arctic fox den where you may have the opportunity to watch fox cubs at play.

    Following a picnic lunch at our shelter at Inukshuk Lake, we’ll supply gear for those who would like to take the opportunity to “catch-and-release” fish for Arctic char. Returning on ATVs, the tour takes an alternate route via the River Trail so we can view hoodoos (sculptured sand pillars) and local coal deposits.

    In the evening after dinner, we’ll have an informal lecture.


    Breakfast | Lunch | Dinner

    Day 5 - Arctic Watch Lodge

    Today we may attempt to kayak in Cunningham Inlet. All equipment and basic instructions are provided. Paddle among icebergs, looking out for ring and bearded seals as well as beluga whales. Sightings of sea birds, including Arctic terns and eider ducks, can be expected. After a lunch served along the shoreline, we’ll take a short hike to explore a local canyon aptly named “Kayak Falls.” From there we’ll have stunning views of the Northwest Passage and the opportunity to see polar bears.

    In the afternoon, we’ll return to the Cunningham River estuary to watch the beluga whales. This site is unique the world over because of the density of the whale population and their proximity to our lodge. Standing on the river banks, you’ll be able to see the beluga whales frolic in the shallow water and be close enough to hear their calls. Guides will use our hydrophones so that you can also hear their underwater calls.
    In the evening, following a delicious dinner, we’ll have a lecture on the beluga research being conducted in Cunningham Inlet.

    Breakfast | Lunch | Dinner

    Day 6 - Arctic Watch Lodge

    Following breakfast, we’ll depart for a trip to Flatrock Falls, crossing the Cunningham River delta. There, you’ll have the option of hiking or travelling by Mercedes Unimog a (multi-purpose four-wheel drive truck). We’ll visit the Somerset Island canyons, formed as the result of shifting fault lines. Their walls, mostly vertical, vary from 200 to 1,000 feet (up to 305 meters). Millions of fossils of prehistoric plants and animals litter the ground. You may also have the opportunity to observe nesting sites of local birds, including terns, plovers and snow geese.
    A picnic lunch is served directly on the flat rocks that surround this canyon.

    After lunch, we’ll travel to Gull Canyon, where you can see the striking biological contrasts between barren canyon and a lush gull rookery. The Canadian Wildlife Service recently visited and claimed this spot to be a unique and special eco-system for the gull rookery and the presence of peregrine falcons.
    In the evening, Arctic Watch’s scientist-in-residence will give an informal lecture.

    Breakfast | Lunch | Dinner

    Day 7 - Arctic Watch Lodge

    Today we’ll set out on ATVs to Cape Anne where we’ll visit five Thule sites all along the coast and look for polar bears. The Thule culture were bowhead whale hunters, ancestors of today’s modern Inuit. The ride includes scenic vistas, icebergs, ancient Inuit campsites and giant prehistoric whale bones. The Cape Anne Thule site is the largest in the area and includes the remains of 15 stone and bone houses. Polar bears can often be seen on the shoreline, as they wander the coast, waiting for the ice to return. The return trip overland via the Red Valley, will give us incredible views of the place we’ve called home this week.

    Breakfast | Lunch | Dinner

    Day 8 - Arctic Watch Lodge

    The first leg of today’s journey will be by Mercedes Unimog truck. We’ll get to the Arctic Watch raft and kayak launch on the Cunningham River, 20 km from the lodge. Typically, the final six kilometers require a hike through the Badlands, passing the skeletal remains of two bowhead whales dated from eight thousand years ago. The voyage includes encounters with muskox, snow geese, jaegers, Arctic foxes, sandpipers and rough-legged hawks. We’ll savor a picnic lunch on the beach beside the river, as the staff and guides prepare the rafts and kayaks. Returning to the lodge, you’ll have the choice of kayaking or travelling by raft. The river has swift-flowing, crystal-clear water with no difficult sections or rapids. The views are amazing and include steep canyon walls and, at one point, a 180-degree turn. Tonight, we’ll enjoy our final dinner and evening at the Arctic Watch lodge.

    Breakfast | Lunch | Dinner

    Day 9 - Arctic Watch Lodge to Yellowknife

    Today, you’ll bid a fond farewell to the lodge team and the High Arctic. You may have time to take advantage of one last activity before we depart. In the late afternoon, the plane will arrive for the return flight back to Yellowknife. Upon arrival in Yellowknife you will be transferred to your included hotel.

    Breakfast | Lunch

    Day 10 - Trip ends

    Homeward bound. You are free to leave at any time today, or stay on and enjoy more time in Yellowknife.

  • What to Know

    What's Included

    • Accommodation with daily housekeeping
    • All breakfasts, lunches, dinners and snacks throughout the week
    • All activities per the daily program, e.g. ATV, kayaking, fishing, etc.
    • Leadership throughout the voyage by our experienced Expedition Leader and guides
    • Formal and informal presentations by the Expedition Team and Special Guests as scheduled
    • Photographic journal on DVD, documenting the expedition
    • A pair of waterproof expedition boots on loan
    • A waterproof expedition parka to keep
    • Coffee, tea, water and juice available around the clock. No softdrinks
    • Comprehensive pre-departure materials, including a map and an informative Arctic Reader
    • All miscellaneous service taxes throughout the program
    • All luggage handling at the airport and at the lodge
    • Emergency Evacuation Insurance for all passengers to a maximum benefit of US$100,000 per person
    • Complimentary WIFI

    Not Included

    • Passport and any applicable visa expenses.
    • Government arrival and departure taxes.
    • Baggage, cancellation, interruption, and medical travel insurance.
    • Excess baggage charges.
    • Wine served with dinner
    • The voluntary gratuity at the end of the expedition for staff
    • Any additional pre or post expedition accommodation

    Safety Information

    Cell phone service is not available at Arctic Watch but the lodge has a satellite phone for emergency communication.

    The staff are trained in wilderness first aid, and have experience dealing with Arctic injuries. If you are under regular treatment for any ailment, you must bring a sufficient supply of medicines to cover your stay.

  • Our Ships

  • From our Blog

    Tips for photographing the Arctic

    In so many ways The Arctic is overwhelming.  It is simply huge in scale, and in many cases travellers into the region can be made feel like they are little ants in a world of snow, ice, and water. It is also such a foreign place to most, as very few people live in a world anything close to...

    Read on...

    Put yourself in this picture

    We posted this image on Facebook recently, and invited our fans to play our new game, Picture Yourself With Peregrine. We also asked if they could picture themselves in the Arctic.

    Here's a few of the responses from those who have been, and those who are still dreaming of their...

    Read on...

    Penguins & polar bears: Same same but different

    They both love to swim, they both love to eat fish and they both thrive in some of the harshest climates in the world. But the penguin and the polar bear are destined never to meet.

    Living at opposite ends of the world, penguins and polar bears have made very different homes for themselves. And...

    Read on...

    Our Antarctic 'Big Five'

    Notching up sightings of the 'Big Five' is in the back of every African safari-goer’s mind. So, in the interests of fairness, below is our equivalent list for another wildlife wonderland – Antarctica. Whether you’re taking in the sub-Antarctic Islands, Antarctic Peninsula or to...

    Read on...

    Guide to the Good Life

    Guide to the Good Life is a lifestyle television series that airs on Channel 7 every Saturday at 5.00pm.

    The film crew including ‘Coxy’ as presenter have just returned from our Introduction to Spitsbergen voyage with some great footage which will form a special feature on the Arctic...

    Read on...

Select a trip date below

Trip Start Dates
Trip Duration
Guaranteed Departure Start Date
Trip Selected:
Discount price:

*Please note: To receive the discounted price for this departure, please enter the Promo Code at Step 4 of the booking form.

No Code available
View all departures

Trip at a glance

Trip Code PPAW15
Start City: Yellowknife
End City: Yellowknife
Style: Small Group

Contact an expert

855-832-4859We'll call you

Simply enter your details and we'll call you back within the next business day.