If close wildlife encounters are right at the top of your Arctic Expedition wish list, then the Canadian Arctic is your dream destination. The added bonus of utterly spectacular and dramatic landscapes, a plethora of outdoor activities, enticing history and rich culture, certainly make for glorious added bonuses.
On the northernmost reaches of the North American continent, the Canadian Arctic stretches for a mind-boggling 1.5 million square kilometres and comprises over 36,000 islands. The exploration of this region has been intertwined with the country’s history for centuries. The search for the HMS Erebus and Terror, the vessels with which Franklin tackled his ill-fated voyage in … continues to this day.
In Resolute, one of Canada’s northernmost cities, locals love to say that ‘although you may not be at the end of the world, you can surely see it from here’, and when you visit on a Canadian Arctic expedition, it certainly feels like you’re exploring the end of the world. No matter how far you’ve sailed and where you’ve been, there’s nowhere on earth that looks like this. It’s as if the entire American continent simply melts into the frigid waters of the Arctic as if by osmosis.
The Spectacular Landscapes & Wildlife of the Canadian Arctic
One of the most common remarks we receive by guests on Canadian Arctic expeditions is that they felt an overwhelming sense of personal insignificance, up here. It’s humbling to be confronted by such remote and grandiose natural beauty. Everything is huge. The fjords, the icebergs, the mountains, the vast glacial tundra and the endless horizons of pack-ice covered waters. Much like Antarctica, the Canadian Arctic stirs the soul like few other places on earth manage to do. The fiercely mesmerising nature is incomparable, as is the array of wildlife which has carved a thriving life, this far north. It is in this regard that the Canadian Arctic shines most resplendent.
Polar bears, walruses, ringed seals, caribous, arctic foxes, wolves and muskox far outnumber humans and that’s hardly surprising. Inuit settlements are few and far between, mostly concentrated on the southern islands. The resilient Inuit are an astonishing people and in the Canadian Arctic you’ll encounter settlements whose inhabitants still live as they have done for hundreds of years.
What to See and Do on a Canadian Arctic Expedition
The islands of the Canadian Arctic are some of the world’s largest and the sheer amount of land, and space, makes this archipelago an active traveller’s dream playground. Wildlife spotting excursions are a daily occurrence and the incredible bonus of 24 hours of daylight in summer make this an extraordinary – and extraordinarily varied – place to visit. Retrace the Pathways of Franklin and his men on Beechey Island, the spot where they spent the winter of 1885/86, and the waters and islands they meandered through in search of the fabled Northwest Passage. Bob in your Zodiac at the base of the breathtaking 300m sheer cliffs of Prince Leopold Island and explore the superlative fjords of Baffin Island. You could base yourself at the stellar Arctic Watch Wilderness Lodge if you wish to maximise your animal spotting pleasures, or go for gold on a 17-day High Arctic expedition which takes in all the highlights of the Canadian Arctic, Iceland and Greenland.
It’s no wonder Arctic aficionados keep coming back here year after year. Let alone the fact that this glaciated corner of the world is only accessible for such a short amount of time every year, there’s enough to see and do here to last several lifetimes of travel.
The waterways and fjords, including the magnificent UNESCO-listed Ilulissat Icefjord in Greenland, make the Canadian Arctic region a perfect place to explore by expedition ship. Even if you’re not all that active, you’ll certainly enjoy the splendid landscapes and will feel immensely rewarded by the unique and once-in-a-lifetime experience.
5 Interesting Facts About the Canadian Arctic
- This region is known as the Arctic Lowlands and consists mainly of tundra – mostly frozen soil plains shaped by constant high winds – in the Canadian region of Nunavut
- Year round animal residents are caribou, muskoxen, lemmings and several species of birds including enormous ravens
- Polar bears can be seen roaming the coastal areas whilst inland, foxes and wolves reign supreme
- As the Canadian Arctic is inhospitable to agriculture, native Inuit survive on fishing and hunting, primarily
- Although only 100,000 people in the Canadian Arctic, the region makes up over 40% of the country’s landmass
At Chimu Adventures, we offer an array of Canadian Arctic expeditions. No matter where you want to go or how long you want to stay, you’ll find a voyage that’s just right for you. Contact us to discuss your options and don’t just dream but start planning your unforgettable adventure to the northern end of the world.
Author: Laura Pattara
“Laura Pattara is a modern nomad who’s been vagabonding around the world, non-stop, for the past 13 years. She’s tour guided overland trips through South America and Africa, travelled independently through the Middle East and is now in the midst of a 5-year motorbike odyssey from Germany to Australia.”