The Canadian Arctic offers a diverse range of experiences for travelers, encompassing awe-inspiring wildlife encounters, immersions in small Inuit communities, and mesmerizing displays of the Northern Lights.
This destination is perfect for those in search of an opportunity to connect with the grandeur and purity of glacier-capped mountains, rugged coastlines, and magnificent wildlife. Explorers venturing into the Canadian Arctic can look forward to remarkable wildlife sightings, including encounters with Arctic wolves, hares, and foxes. Witness polar bears in their natural habitat, skillfully hunting for marine life from the icy expanses, while marine enthusiasts can observe seals, walruses, narwhals, and beluga whales. Additionally, travelers can engage with the local inhabitants of Inuit communities, some of which are accessible only by sea or air, to gain profound insights into their way of life, encompassing their rich art, culture, and traditional practices like whaling.
Axel Heiberg Island: This uninhabited island, nestled in the Qikiqtaaluk Region of Nunavut, Canada, is one of the world's least-visited islands, situated approximately 1200 kilometers from the North Pole. Journeys to this remote destination are limited and cater to those who aspire to explore Canada's northernmost islands.
Baffin Island: Situated in the expanse between Greenland and the Canadian mainland within the Nunavut territory, Baffin Island ranks as the fifth largest island globally. It boasts a habitat teeming with spectacular wildlife, colossal glaciers, breathtaking fjords, and quaint coastal Inuit communities.
Beechy Island: This petite island, technically a peninsula linked to the larger Devon Island, holds the status of a Canadian National Historical Site. It is most renowned for the solitary graves of explorers, resting on a desolate rocky shore. The windswept, barren landscape makes it a favored landing site for Arctic expeditions.
Northwest Passage: The Northwest Passage is a maritime route linking the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans through the Canadian Arctic. This intriguing waterway remains relatively uncharted, offering a captivating adventure for those who seek genuine Arctic exploration. It presents opportunities to visit Inuit communities and delve into the historical narratives of intrepid past explorers.
Resolute: Also referred to as Resolute Bay, it stands as a small Inuit settlement on Cornwallis Island, marking one of Canada's northernmost communities. The multitude of small islands and Arctic waters serve as habitats for nesting birds and substantial migrating pods of Beluga Whales. Additionally, Polar Bears are frequent visitors to the community and its surrounding areas.
When to go / useful information
When to go
The Canadian Arctic is typically explored from May to September, a period when the ice has thawed, facilitating access to remote regions.
For optimal wildlife viewing:
Polar Bears: The best time is in July and August.
Polar Bear Mothers and newborn cubs: March.
Polar Bear Migration: Witness this incredible phenomenon in October and November.
Narwhal, Ring Seals, Migratory Birds: Late May, June, and July are prime times.
Walrus: Late June and July offer great opportunities.
Bowhead Whales: Late May, June, and July are ideal for sightings.
Belugas: Plan your visit in June and July.
Caribou Migration in Autumn: Early September.
Caribou Migration in Spring: May is the time to catch this spectacle.
Northern Lights: The best chance to see the Northern Lights is in March and early April.
Currency: Canadian dollar
Language: English, French, Inuit languages
What makes it special: Northern Canada is a treasure trove of outdoor activities, an abundance of diverse flora and fauna, and a captivating fusion of cultures. Here, you can witness the mesmerizing aurora borealis, encounter black bears and grizzlies in their natural habitats, and be left in sheer wonder by the stunning mountainous terrain. Much of Northern Canada, including the entirety of Nunavut, can only be reached by sea or air, which results in vast expanses of untouched wilderness beckoning to be explored.
Weather: For more than half of the year, the majority of Northern Canada lies under a blanket of ice and snow, with temperatures typically staying below freezing from October to May. The coldest months can see averages ranging from -29ºC to -34ºC, while the brief summers tend to hover around 7.2ºC, occasionally reaching highs of 19ºC. In essence, packing warm winter clothing is essential!
Social customs: Given the remote nature of many communities in the Canadian Arctic, a significant portion of the Inuit population relies on hunting for sustenance. Local hunters often sell traditional northern foods such as raw seal meat, Arctic char, and caribou meat. In various parts of Nunavut, alcohol is strictly regulated, and there are bylaws prohibiting its sale or consumption due to high rates of addiction. It is strongly discouraged to bring alcohol into officially designated "dry" communities. However, in other areas, local bars are permitted to operate.