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Arctic Watch Lodge: Adventure and Wildlife at 74°N

Trip Length

Trip Code

10 days PPAW15

Maximum Passengers

26 people

Countries Visited

Canada - Arctic

Start City

End City

Yellowknife Yellowknife
Arctic Watch Lodge: Adventure and Wildlife at 74°N

Spend a week at this unique Canadian Arctic wilderness lodge and world-class beluga whale observation site. Situated 500 miles north of the Arctic Circle, the lodge offers fully-guided opportunities for hiking, kayaking, and exploring the Arctic tundra in all-terrain vehicles (ATVs). Observe muskox, polar bears and more wildlife in their natural habitat and enjoy comfortable accommodations and superb food, all accessible within a short flight from Yellowknife, Northwest Territories, to Somerset Island in Nunavut, Canada.

 

Activities

HIKING
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.

RIVER RAFTING
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.

ATV
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.

KAYAKING
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.

FISHING
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.

 

POSSIBLE LANDINGS AND WILDLIFE SIGHTINGS

CUNNINGHAM INLET
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.

TRIPLE WATERFALLS
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.

MUSKOX RIDGE TRAIL
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.

INUKSHUK LAKE
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.

FLATROCK FALLS
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.

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

 

CAPE ANNE
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.

Arctic Watch Lodge: Adventure and Wildlife at 74°N


Day to Day Itinerary

Day 1: Yellowknife, Northwest Territories

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

Day 2: Yellowknife to Arctic Watch Lodge

Meals included: 1 breakfast, 1 lunch, 1 dinner

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.

Day 3: Arctic Watch Lodge

Meals included: 1 breakfast, 1 lunch, 1 dinner

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.

Day 4: Arctic Watch Lodge

Meals included: 1 breakfast, 1 lunch, 1 dinner

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.

 

Day 5: Arctic Watch Lodge

Meals included: 1 breakfast, 1 lunch, 1 dinner

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.

Day 6: Arctic Watch Lodge

Meals included: 1 breakfast, 1 lunch, 1 dinner

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.

Day 7: Arctic Watch Lodge

Meals included: 1 breakfast, 1 lunch, 1 dinner

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.

Day 8: Arctic Watch Lodge

Meals included: 1 breakfast, 1 lunch, 1 dinner

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.

Day 9: Arctic Watch Lodge to Yellowknife

Meals included: 1 breakfast, 1 lunch

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.
 

Day 10: Trip ends

Meals included: 1 breakfast

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


Your Trip

What's Included

Transport

Not Included


What to know

Vaccinations

Vaccinations may be required for this trip. Please talk to your doctor about the up-to-date information for this region.  We're travel experts, not doctors and defer to the medicos when it comes to inoculations.

Visas and Permits

Please ensure that you have all required visas for your trip – this is your responsibility. Rules and regulations governing the issuance of visas are constantly changing, and vary for different nationalities and you should check visa requirements with your travel agent or relevant consular authority well before travel.

Insurance

You are required to have travel insurance before heading off on a Peregrine trip. Insurance can be organised by your Peregrine representative or your travel agent.

Responsible Travel

Our Responsible Travel ethos is at the heart of everything we do, from getting the basics right like respecting local cultures and the environment, to initiating projects that make positive contributions to communities, to our staff’s fundraising efforts and offsetting our carbon emissions.
Please visit our Responsible Travel (http://www.peregrineadventures.com/rt) page for more information.

Customs and Culture

Our Pre Departure Information or Travel Dossier (provided upon booking a trip) provides tips on how you can show respect for the local customs and culture in the country you are travelling in. Your leader will also help steer you though the complexities of local cultural norms.

Pre Departure Information
The information listed above is a brief description of some things you may need to consider when booking a trip. Once a tour is booked you will be provided with a link to your Travel Dossier which will contain detailed Pre Departure information.

Further Reading

Canada - Arctic


Important Information

These Trip Notes should be read in conjunction with Peregrine’s Arctic pre-departure information that is provided to you shortly after booking.

1. Itinerary:
The itinerary outlined is a sample of a typical week at Arctic Watch Lodge.  Day to day activities may vary and are also weather dependant.  Please note that during the first week of the season (30 June - 9 July), there is less likelihood of seing belugas.

2. Clothes:
Please read our Arctic pre-departure information carefully. Although you don’t need to make expensive, specialist-clothing purchases for this trip, you will need clothes that adequately protect against cold and wet conditions.  It is recommended that you have warm, waterproof clothing available for use upon arrival to protect yourself against any inclement weather.

3. Gratuities:
We suggest you allow the equivalent of US$13-$15 a day per guest for gratuities for the hospitality and expedition staff. The amount you choose to give is at your discretion and can be added to your account.

4.  Charter flight baggage allowances:  

Strict baggage limits for the charter flights from Yellowknife to Arctic Watch Lodge and return apply.  Guests may carry a maximum of 18kgs (including carry on).  These limits will be stictly enforced.

5.  Facilities at Arctic Watch Lodge

Arctic Watch Lodge is a semi permanent tented camp consisting of stand alone accommodation tents, and a main structure which houses communal dining, recreation and shower facilities.  The bedrooms are unheated but warm bedding suitable to the conditions is provided.  Each room has cold running water and a marine toilet.  Bathing is ini the communal shower block and towels are provided.  Hair dryers and heated hair appliances are not permitted in bedrooms.                                                                                                                                                              

Peregrine Voyage Documentation
Once you have booked your voyage to the Polar regions with Peregrine, you will be required to complete a series of online forms. You will be sent a link via email (my polar forms) which will take you to an enrolment form, cruise contract, medical form, arrival/departure information form and expedition parka size order form. These forms must be completed.

About this Information

The information provided here is given in good faith and has been compiled with all reasonable care. However, things change and some of the information may become out of date. Please keep this in mind when you read it and check with us if you want to be sure about something. The document was correct at time of printing, but you can check online for the most up to date version.  If you have any queries, please contact your travel agent or our staff in Australia. We are here to help you!

Last Updated

16 April 2014


General Contact Details

Peregrine AdventuresPhone: 1-800-663-5132
E-mail: sales@peregrineadventures.com
Web: Visit Peregrine