Posted by on in Nunavut Tourism

Pangnirtung

 First Air, and Canadian North, provide air service into Pangnirtung (pronounced Pang-ner-toung, or Pang as most Nunavummiut call it) daily with an 18-seater turbo prop plane.  The approach into Pang, depending on which direction the wind is blowing, can be rather thrilling and the airport is located in the middle of town!  The moment you step off the plane you will know that you are in a particularly exceptional place – the view down the Pangnirtung Fiord is extraordinary!

Be sure to arrange your accommodations ahead of time, at the Auyuittuq Lodge (Inns North) or Pangnirtung Fjordview Bed and Breakfast.  If you’re planning to hike and have the gear, Piskutinu Tunngavik Territorial Campground is an excellent alternative. The campground is nestled at the edge of town beneath the mountains and features tent platforms, picnic facilities, outhouses and campfire rings.

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Don’t miss the Uqqurmiut Centre for Arts & Crafts (pronounced oo-koo-me-oot), where Pangnirtung’s Inuit artists showcase their extraordinary talents in this unique and enchanting facility.  View ornate tapestries woven by skilled weavers in the circular “weave shop”; observe prints celebrating the land and traditional ways come alive through stencils, lithographs, etchings, drawings and more in the adjacent workshop.  Browse or buy from the archived print collection concealed in the loft or invest in a famous crocheted ‘Pang Hat’ or woven scarf.

Uqqurmiut Centre

Across the road is the Angmarlik Visitor Centre which features displays depicting the lifestyle of Thule and modern Inuit.  Ask the friendly staff to show you how to write your name in Inuktitut, the Inuit language - or enjoy an impromptu tour of the centre.

Next door is the Parks Canada Office and Visitor Centre where you will participate in a mandatory three hour orientation and registration session (Parks Canada recommends you book this 2-3 hour session two weeks in advance. Phone 867-473-2500 or email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .  link  http://www.pc.gc.ca/eng/pn-np/nu/auyuittuq/visit.aspx

Investigate the historic Hudson`s Bay buildings and the story behind the canon perched on the rock cliff; keys for the buildings generally rest with the Angmarlik Visitor Centre, if you want to peek inside before heading to the Arctic Co-op store or the Northern Store to stock up on supplies for your next day’s adventure.

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Sweeping glaciers and polar sea ice meet jagged granite mountains in Auyuittuq National Park. Established in 1976, Auyuittuq - an Inuktitut word meaning "land that never melts" - comprises the highest peaks of the Canadian Shield, the Penny Ice Cap, marine shorelines along coastal fiords, and Akshayuk Pass, a traditional travel corridor used by the Inuit for thousands of years.

Meet your outfitter at the boat harbour; Peter-owner/operator of Peter’s Expediting and Outfitting or Joavie owner/operator of Alivaktuk Outfitting.  The journey to Mount Overlord, at the southern entrance of the park will take about an hour by boat, through the stunning Pangnirtung Fiord (the boat trip to Overlord is offered as a half day sightseeing tour as well).

Arctic Circle Sign

Travel and hike above the Arctic Circle - hikes in the Akshayuk Pass can be day trips or multiday trips with wilderness camping.   Aksayuk Pass is the place to view towering mountains and glaciers.  The sharp mountain ridges and peaks lining the pass were created by small mountain glaciers called cirque or alpine glaciers.  One such mountain is the majestic peak of Overloard.  Another spectacular mountain is Mount Thor where the peak soars 1500 metres up out of the valley floor.  At the summit of the pass is Mount Asgard which stands amongst surrounding glaciers like a scene out of Norse mythology and has been the goal of climbing expeditions from around the world.  You can also view Crater Lake which is a beautiful, circular blue lake that got its features from the latest advance of glaciers over just over 100 years ago!  Travel from the North or South side of the pass to witness the breathtaking scenery of the land and animals in a place where the sun does not set during the summer months.

Take a moment along the way to leave or read a note from past hikers in the guest books located in the cabins.  Be sure to take a picture with Parks Canada’s Red Chair at the first cabin, Ulu cabin – and send it to Parks when you arrive back home.

Crossing The River

Hike back to your drop off location to meet with your outfitter at the predetermined time, which you would have arranged prior to departure.

A boat ride to the historical whaling station in the Kekerten Territorial Park will let you immerse yourself in the history of the area and the ride is offered by both outfitters, ask about details during the planning stages of your trip.  The park is about 3 hours away from Pang by boat.  While there you can explore the historical remains of this bygone era, which is detailed with signage along an interpretive trail in the park. Keep an eye out for whales in the Arctic waters; Bowhead, Beluga and Narwhal.

Chef Louis, a distinct northern character, and the manager of the Auyuittuq Lodge features a tasty and diverse set menu that can include Arctic char from the Pangnirtung Fishery which is located just down the road.  Notify Chef Louis early in the day if you would like to attend the supper hour.  The Lodge also offers showers for a small fee, if you plan to make your way back to the campground for the night.

Before catching your flight back to Iqaluit, call on the Pangnirtung Fish Plant for a quick tour and pick up a few fillets of Arctic Char or Turbot to take home and share with your friends and family. On your way to the plant stop by the giant Turbot carving on the pier of the harbour.

Hiking in Auyuittuq National Park requires proper planning and preparation. Please educate yourself by visiting http://www.pc.gc.ca/eng/pn-np/nu/auyuittuq/index.aspx.

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View of Northern Lights from Apex

A trip to Iqaluit can be whatever you make of it! Getting here is easy with departures daily from Ottawa International Airport and tri-weekly flights departing from Montreal with First Air or Canadian North.  After arriving into Iqaluit's impressive new airport which is eight times larger than the previous terminal, which was lovingly referred to as the "Yellow Submarine" by locals. Contact your hotel for shuttle services or call Tuktu Caribou Cabs at 867.979.4444, which travel anywhere in the city for $7 per person, keeping in mind that pick up of additional passengers while en route is common practice.   The shuttles or cab will take you to one of the three full service hotels: The Discovery Lodge, Frobisher Inn or Capital Suites or to one of Iqaluit’s well-equipped B&B’s, each with spectacular views. 

 

Bye Iqaluit! It's been real. #grizzliesmovie

A photo posted by Zazu Myers (@zazumyers) on

day1

The Unikkaarvik Visitor Centre, located on the beach of Koojesse Inlet is a great location for a selfie with our 2400 pound marble drum dancer, which was airlifted into the building in 1991. Nunavut Tourism’s expert staff will hook you up with a hot beverage and provide you with an informative tour of the arctic wildlife dioramas and interactive displays. Make sure to grab a city guide or download the SikSik App to help navigate the Arctic capital! We also have an Iqaluit Audio Tour if you’re interested?

Unikkaarvik Visitors Centre

Down the road from the Visitor Center you’ll find the Grind and Brew Café, which offers something you won’t find anywhere else - their amazing Arctic Char Pizza! After lunch it’s a short walk to the Nunatta Sunakkutaangit Museum which hosts rotating exhibits of northern artwork and a fantastic gift shop, boasting loads of unique Inuit arts and crafts.  

Make your way out to Sylvia Grinnell Territorial Park, which is located about 20 minutes (walking) from the Discovery Lodge Hotel. If you’d like to rent a pair of snowshoes to make traversing the park a bit more exciting, call Tour Iqaluit for a rental – 867.979.1900.

 

Beautiful signs up here #nunavut #iqaluit #sylviagrinnellpark

A photo posted by shaimaphoto (@shaimaphoto) on

 The view of the frozen landscape from the platform is something you must see! Look out for the info-graphic plaques which narrate the history of the original town settlement, including Martin Frobisher’s journey to Frobisher Bay.  Make your way through the snow and down to the river to see the frozen rapids then enjoy a hike through the park loop and keep your eyes open for Arctic Fox, Hares and other wildlife that may cross your path.

 Looking for a night on the town? Check out a local favourite - Wing-Night – and be sure to get there early there might be a line up. For real - we take our wing nights very seriously up here! The Storehouse Bar & Grill at the Frobisher Inn and the Legion feature wings on Wednesday nights and the Kickin’ Caribou Pub, in the Hotel Arctic, has one every Tuesday!

Frobisher Inn

Feeling something a bit more traditional? Try the Gallery Dining Room also located in the Frobisher Inn, the Granite Room in the Discovery Lodge Hotel or the Water’s Edge Restaurant at the Hotel Arctic. The restaurants often feature local fare or “county food” as Nunavummiut call it; char being very popular, and seasonally they have musk-ox and caribou dishes. Iqaluit restaurants often double as a sit down shopping experience, as local artisans might visit your table with their latest creations for sale.  

day2

Start off your day by grabbing a quick bite and a coffee at the Caribrew Café (Also in the Frobisher Inn). After getting fueled for a day of discovery make your way down to the Legislative Assembly of Nunavut. Free tours are available throughout the year by appointment… You can call 975-5000 to book it!

Have you ever been dogsledding? Even if you have, I’ll bet you’ve never been dogsledding on the Sea Ice! Venture out on a Qamutik (traditional Inuit sled, pronounced kah-mo-tick) pulled by a team of spirted Inuit Sled Dogs in fan formation; witness the ever changing ice walls created by our massive tides (second in Canada only next to the Bay of Fundy) and admire the freedom of Canada’s Arctic as you ingest the sights. When you return home to the dog lot with one of our qualified and welcoming outfitters (Inukpak Outfitting, Tour Iqaluit, Northwinds Arctic Adventures) make sure to reward your new furry friends with some yummy treats and a few doggy kisses.

Dog Sledding Outside of Iqaluit

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Go with the “floe” and take an adventure out to the Iqaluit Floe Edge! This is a full day expedition of a lifetime; make sure to dress warm (arctic clothing can be supplied by the outfitter on request).

Whale Watching

Transportation will take the form of driving or riding as a passenger on a snowmobile or potentially in a Qamutik pulled by the snowmobile, snuggled under some cozy seal skins and/or caribou hides.

 You’ll have lunch at the polynya; an area of open water surrounded by sea ice and home to thousands of migratory birds. Lunch could consist of some fresh Arctic Char and piping hot tea made from virgin melted snow! On sunny days when the tide is low, giant ice walls reflect a thousand different shades of blue into the icy open water.  If you’re up for it, there’s time for a quick paddle with a portable kayak in the polynya!

Upon arrival at the floe edge, where the frozen ocean meets the open water, the epic views will make your jaw drop to the snow.  This is a very special sight that few people have had the opportunity to experience; it evokes feelings of being at the edge of the earth. If you’re lucky you might even see walrus, seals, polar bears, narwhals, bowhead and beluga whales, and a variety of migratory birds.

When you get back to town why not some tasty ribs or pulled pork at Big Racks Barbecue. Then possibly a visit to Carvings Nunavut, Iqaluit Fine Arts or Northern Collectables and take a piece of Nunavut home with you!

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*Blog Post Re-Posted With Permission.

Visit http://www.maudreturnshome.no/uncategorized/maud-summer-2017/ for the original post or more information.

 

June 18, 2017 

ARRIVAL CAMBRIDGE BAY Maud crew Stig was the first to arrive in CB again this year – spending his first weeks waking our tug Tandberg Polar up from its 3rd winter hibernation here in CB. All windows are blinded and we insulate her as best we can to withstand the severe winter cold, averaging in the low minus 30 degrees Celsius. Engines har tested and serviced, and all looks good. Well done to Stig and Terje who has all our engines as one of their major responsibilities. 

This week Stig and I have had some wonderful early summer days looking over Maud and starting over where we finished last autumn preparing Maud and barge Jensen for the long trip home to Norway, hopefully starting before the end of this summer, probably around the last part of August, when the ice situation allows us to sail throughout the Northwest Passage direction Greenland, that will probably be our next winter stop. Ideally we will arrive Greenland mid September if all goes well. 

Our main tasks in the weeks and months to come is to prepare Maud and Jensen as well as our tug for the long journey home. These days Stig and I have cleaned all the straps and ropes around Maud that was used for the lifting operation and Maud looks even better ( if possible) after being stripped. Inside we are still working to empty loose pieces of wood and mud in the front section of Maud around the main windlass. The one that was also on board famous polarship Fram. Still some tons to dig out will keep us busy for another couple of weeks. 

Maud seem to have enjoyed her first winter above the ice since 1930. She has rested on top Jensen through the whole winter and has had good conditions for starting her slow drying process. Experts suggest temperatures in the far low minus as ideal for drying and it was not very difficult for us to arrange for that. Specially the surface of the wood can benefit from this freeze drying process to secure as much as possible of the original surface structure of the wood. 

I must say it was a warm welcoming feeling to enter Maud again these last days. The temperatures has raised above 0 degrees Celsius and when the sun comes through it feels like the perfect place to be. We can smell the warm wood of the old lady and every day we find new details that makes this recovery story ever more gratifying for all of us. 

In a couple of weeks our team will be complete for the summer when Terje and Bjørn arrives. and as July arrives the ice will open around Maud and we can continue our preparations with Tandberg Polar long side. We are looking forwards to another eventful summer with Maud in the high arctic. 

Many thanks to Nunavut Tourism for helping us out to get promotional tickets for our flight up north this time. 
As you well know Tandberg Eiendom of Norway stands alone financing this whole project of bringing Maud back home to Norway. 

Jan Wanggaard – mrh 

 

Maud can experience the spring melting in CB from above the ice this year.

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 Photo: Jan W

 

Clearing the floor for the big dance.

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 Photo: Jan W

 

And there was light.

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Photo: Jan W

 

Heavenly ladder close to Maud

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Photo: Jan W

 

Stig deals with some tight old knots from last years lifting operation.

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Photo: Jan W

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Blog Courtesy of https://www.weberarctic.com/

 Arctic Heli Skiing on Baffin Island

 Nestled on the shores of Baffin Bay, the fjords of Baffin Island hold some of the best skiing in the circumpolar Arctic! Unskied mountains, hanging glaciers and rolling alpine terrain of the Arctic cordillera provides uniquely untapped terrain for guests to explore. 

Panorama of Weber Cocktail Couloir

 This land is the home of polar exploration; Baffin Island is more than 500,000 square kilometers in size (5th largest island on earth) and has a population of less than 15,000 inhabitants across the entire island. This is the land of glaciers, polar bears, and Arctic mountain ranges. 

During the months of April and May, a very unique event takes place. As the spring Arctic sun begins to bring warmth to the polar terrain, the snow quality and temperatures provide great skiing! Light snow and 24-hour sunlight! The month of April and May also coincides with polar bears (who), having emerged from the dens in late March, have yet to leave the coastal baffin area for the floe edge - they inhabit the very areas where we ski! 

A great video produced from a visit in 2015 gives a flavour of some of the heli-skiing, ski touring and wildlife in the area! 

 

Weber Arctic Expeditions is proud to offer heli skiing on Baffin Island every April and May to guests from across the globe.

Working with the community of Clyde River, Nunvaut, we are proud to host guests in the community of Clyde River at a privately staffed hotel. Welcoming a maximum of 8 guests per week, heli skiing is offered in the fjords of Baffin, a short flight from the village. We operate on a small basis - two groups of four guests only.

Truly Arctic elements such as polar bear viewing, dog sledding and drum dancing are a few of the highlights to name. 

Raven Brothers Glacier

 

 

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Blog Post Courtesty of Adventure Canada - http://blog.adventurecanada.com/

 

 An interview with filmmaker-photographer Jason Van Bruggen




 

Jason van Bruggen is a self taught photographer and filmmaker based in Canada. His lens has previously captured an incredible Adventure Canada Journey through the Northwest Passage. We are thrilled to share Jason's latest cinematic poem featuring AC staffer and author-explorer James Raffan, and caught up with him to ask some questions about his craft. 

 

 Adventure Canada: Jason, what draws you to the wilderness as a filmmaker?

Jason Van Bruggen: Our wilderness is an endlessly fascinating subject to me. Not only for its beauty, but also for the opportunities it provides us in terms of learning and reflection. As we enter an age of scarcity and climate change, these opportunities become more precarious. As a visual artist, I have a role to play in conserving wild places and encouraging an appreciation for them in others. Not only for their visual interest but for their profound importance. My passion for wilderness locations is decades old and predates my current role as a filmmaker and photographer. My current career choice was informed by a passion for wild places rather than the other way around. A fascination with intrepid travel has spanned my whole life. Growing up, I spent my summers on unsupported canoe trips in the Canadian backcountry, which is probably at the root of it. I have worked in the most remote and austere locations on the planet ranging from the Tibetan Himalaya to the deserts of Iraq, and spent time wandering around in well over a hundred countries. Wilderness travel and exploration have been profoundly formative and continue to provide me with boundless inspiration.

AC: What extra considerations does a filmmaker have to make when shooting in remote locations like the Arctic? How did you prepare? What is the hardest part about shooting in cold weather?

JVB: There are many, many additional considerations that go into shooting in remote locations, especially when travelling with a sophisticated equipment package. Preparation involves fastidious attention to detail, starting with the planning stages. You need to be ready for contingency, for equipment failure (total or partial) and have backups of all the essentials. The hardest parts about shooting in cold weather are pretty obvious—keeping yourself warm, keeping your batteries warm, and keeping your equipment running are always crucial.  

AC: Is there anything in particular that makes a shooting location special? What do you look for when gathering footage?

JVB: The light. The fleeting point of confluence at which light, topography, and activity all meet is what yields magic.

AC: Wildlife is notoriously hard to shoot. Is there anything you take into consideration to help get the perfect shot?

JVB: First off, I don’t think I have gotten the perfect shot. In my view, the best way to capture wildlife is to research where you might find the fauna you are looking for, identify a target location, and then spend time there. I prefer to wait in one place and get to know it intimately; this allows me to develop an understanding of where the best opportunities exist. This enables me to find the best light and, hopefully, understand the habits and interests of the animals I am shooting. Observing animals candidly, without disturbing them, is always the most rewarding. That being said, you can do everything right and walk away without a single shot. It’s a crap-shoot like that, especially in landscapes as vast and changeable as the Arctic.

AC: What was the most challenging shot in this most recent project?

JVB: Many individual shots had their challenges, but I think the most delicate part of this project was trying to strike a balance between a number of competing priorities. At the end of the day, this is a piece to promote Arctic travel on behalf of Adventure Canada. It is also a portrait of a friend of mine, and one that I wanted to make candid without being overlyrevealing. Like many of the stories that I imagine and film, I wanted this to be honest and to steer away from a clichéed interpretation of the North, exploration, and wilderness travel.

AC: Part of what makes your northern films and images so striking is the haunting, subdued palate. Can you comment on how you achieve such a vivid representation of local colour?

JVB: I try and represent on film what I feel when I am in the North. The Arctic, as it lives in my memory, is not an overtly colourful place. It is an eerily beautiful place, though. I see a great deal of photography which feels like it stretches the boundaries of credible human experience in the Arctic. While there are flashes of brilliant colour on many of my Arctic voyages, my emotional memory of the Arctic on most days is reflected in my colour treatment of both still and moving images.

AC: How would you describe the experience of working with Adventure Canada?

JVB: I love these guys. It’s a family-run business with tremendous purchase in the communities we visit and huge respect for the part of the world in which they travel. Those relationships have taken decades to build, and aren’t something that can be bought. The resource staff aboard the AC vessels keep coming back, year after year, for the same reasons that I do—we get to work with great people in amazing places.

AC: What is your dream shoot? Somewhere you haven’t been, and always wanted to?

JVB: Tough question. I’ve been lucky enough to travel to a lot , and get to a lot of ‘bucket list’ destinations. I want to continue to explore the most compelling and hard to get to pieces of wilderness in Canada, and around the world. If I had to narrow it down, I would say all of National Parks in Canada that I haven’t been to yet.

AC: Thanks very much, Jason!

JVB: Thank you!


Jason’s work is focussed on depicting North American wilderness, including the Far North in a manner that is authentic and narrative—building new interpretations of these landscapes. Favouring travel that brings him in direct contact with the frontier and those who inhabit it, Jason’s immersive work seeks to explore these emerging landscapes and capture the vulnerability of the ecosystems and the people who live within them, illuminating a tension between the strength and fragility of the region; the age-old resolve to survive, and the current intention to thrive in places where scarcity fosters incredible ingenuity, resilience, and hospitality. Visit his portfolio online for more information.

All photos courtesy of Jason Van Bruggen.

 

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cambay

 The community of Cambridge Bay is located on the southeast coast of Victoria Island at the western end of Queen Maud Gulf where it narrows into Dease Strait. In Inuinnaqtun “Cam Bay” is called 'Iqaluktuuttiaq' because it is a 'good fishing place’. The hamlet is located close to the Ekaluk River, which is famous for giant Arctic Char.  Cam Bay is the principal stop for passenger and research vessels traversing the Northwest Passage.

Getting to know this region and its people could take weeks, but if you only have a few days…

 day1

Soar into Cambridge Bay from Yellowknife with one of our hospitable Northern Airlines - First Air or Canadian North. You won’t arrive hungry; our airlines still feature complimentary in-flight full service meals! After collecting your two free checked bags, book into one of the Cambridge Bay’s welcoming hotels (Arctic Island Lodge, Green Row Exective Suites, Enokhok Inn & Suites or The Umingmak Lodge Bed & Breakfast). 

 

Made it!! Great first night working with CBMHA coaches & players!!

A photo posted by Shoot To Score Hockey (@shoottoscorehockey) on

Stop in at the Arctic Coast Visitor Centre to experience the interactive displays, resource materials and meet the friendly staff, in addition to perusing some Nunavut merchandise.

acvc

Enjoy a leisurely bike ride (the Visitor Centre offers bike rentals) to the east side of the Bay where the Loran Navigational Beacon formerly stood. It is here you will find the remains of Old Town, which was once a small Inuit camp.  From there pedal to the Stone Church which first opened in 1954; the mortar is made from clay and seal oil.

church

 

Try your hand at constructing an Inuksuk on the beach beside the Maud Cairn which was a gift of friendship and unity from the Norweigans, who are currently working to bring the Maud back to Norway on a custom-made barge that towed her home. Don’t forget to stop in at Kitikmeot Arctic Foods for a tour and to purchase some Muskox, Caribou or Arctic Char; what we Nunavummiut call “country food”.

Explore the community by foot under the midnight sun, meeting local characters and carvers working outside on their latest stone creations.

day2

Rent a “Honda” (AKA four wheeler) from Go Cargo Taxi, load up your pack and head out to Ovayok Territorial Park, about 16 km east of town.  

The central feature of the park is the mountain called Ovayok (Mount Pelly).The legend surrounding the mountain tells the story of Ovayok, a giant who died and overtime morphed into the mountain. The park offers over 20 km of interpretive trails that showcase the legend of Ovayok, human history, plant life and wildlife. While on route keep an eye out for Muskox, Arctic Foxe and flocks of Migratory Birds.

Ovayok/Mount Pelly

Pitch your tent, enjoy some of your country food and marvel, as you watch the sun circle around the horizon and you capture that famous “it’s still bright out at midnight” shot!

day3

Meet up with a local outfitter Hakongak Outfitting or Ekaluktutiak Sport Hunts, Ltd. for an interpretive tour of the Dorset, Tuniit and Thule archaeological sites just north of town.

Continue by ATV to the Japanese Monuments and gravel pit area for some tea and bannock at a cabin with a local elder for some traditional story telling.

elder

Now it is time to head down to the shore to catch the freshest Arctic Char in the world or make your way over to “Many Pebbles Municipal Golf Course”, where an ATV is the preferred golf cart, only a pitching wedge is needed and the green fee or “tundra fee” is FREE!

golf

Prior to taking off stop in at the Arctic Closet Airport Gift Shop for a creamy latte and possibly even a “Cam Bay” memento.

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Posted by on in Nunavut Tourism

1. Photograph the mythical unicorn of the sea - the narwhal

2. Ride in a qamutik (traditional Inuit sled) across an open lead in the sea ice

igloo fred lemire

3. Learn the skill of Iglu building from an Inuit hunter

4. Learn the art of traditional Inuit throat singing

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5. Smell the bitter sweet scent of a purple saxifrage, the Nunavut flower

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6. Feel the history resonate from the abandoned Inuit camps, rocky graves and tent rings

7. Taste muktuk, whale blubber

8. Dance under the magic of the Midnight Sun. Experience the 24 hour daylight

Plummers

9. Reel in an Arctic Char from the Arctic Ocean

10.  Create an arctic melody on a traditional Inuit drum

 

 #DiscoverNunavut and follow our list or create your own for an adventure of a lifetime!

 

 

 

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arcticchallenge4

 

The rising moon glittered on the frozen snow and the massive bulk of Mt. Asgard silhouetted against the darkening sky. I paused for a moment in the frigid air, appreciating the arctic beauty. As I headed to my tent I could hear the ripple of women’s laughter from Katja’s cooking shelter.  It had been a hard, cold ski from our last camp … up and over the divide from the Owl River and then a trudge across Glacier Lake into a wicked headwind to this spot in a sheltered nook. What on earth were those ladies laughing about? I soon realized that the warmth of our tiny MSR cookstoves in the cozy cocoon of the shelter allowed the hardships of the past few days to subside.

We were a group of 18 women, thirteen from Lease Plan UK, an international corporation involved with automobile leasing, one photographer, one Parks Canada staff and three Black Feather guides. The expedition was Arctic Challenge, a twelve day, 100 km all-women ski touring expedition across Baffin Island’s Auyuittuq National Park . The expedition was designed to foster gender equality within the company and to encourage women to challenge themselves to reach for goals and dig deep to succeed. The 14 women were selected in September, 2014 from over 100 company employees who applied.  Since then, they trained for the expedition; learning to cross country ski, to set up tents and light backpacking stoves in cold conditions and doing mental and physical training to prepare.

Lease Plan contracted with Black Feather Adventures, a Nunavut licenced wilderness tourism business, to provide equipment, food, logistics and 3 female guides. Black Feather has a long history of outfitting in Canada’s north and was a logical choice due to its exemplary reputation in the Arctic.  There was much preparation  … food and equipment packaged and freighted north, group members flew from London to Ottawa to Iqaluit, and finally on April 9, the group met in Qiqitarjuaq.  After a final equipment check, the trek was starting!

The first few days saw frigid temperatures and howling winds … with highs -20 C and winds up to 80 km per hour.  One member twisted an ankle on day 1 and we had to turn back to our first camp.  We contacted a local Inuit with snowmachine, who evacuated the injured woman to Qiqitarjuaq’s Nursing Station.  This initially dampened the team’s enthusiasm. Despite this we forged on, slowly skiing up the Owl River. Each night, 2 person Hilleberg arctic tents were set and our cooking shelters erected. The group divided into 3 cooking groups. Our shelters provided a haven from the blustery wind as hot soup and a good meal was enjoyed.  After dinner, as the light faded from the sky, we headed to our tiny tents to snuggle into our arctic sleeping bags and draw the hoods up to our noses. 

It was tough to get moving in the chilly mornings.  The condensation from our breathing froze as ice crystals on the outside of our sleeping bags and inside of the tent walls.  As we sat up to get ready, showers of ice crystals would rain down … a cold welcome to the day!  After donning parkas, thick overpants, boots, mitts and hats we could step out into the crisp morning.  A hot breakfast fueled us and loading our sleds, we set out.  On some days we had snow pack on the ground, allowing us to ski. Other days, we followed the icy river, wind-blown of snow. 

After a steep ascent up a glacial moraine we reached Glacier Lake, named because of the 3 glaciers feeding into it.  Frozen most of the year, it was totally ice covered, with sections of wind packed snow.  Famous Mt. Asgard beckoned us from the other side and we aimed there for our next camp. As a beautiful bright day dawned the next morning, spirits of the group lifted -  we were almost half the way there! Soon we were underway, heading past Mt. Asgard, Mt. Loki, the Highway, Turner and Norman Glaciers.  It took us all day to traverse Summit Lake to our campsite near the south end of Summit. From here, it would be downhill … down the frozen Weasel River.

One of the most memorable days was the initial descent of the Weasel.  The river, with waterfalls, rapids and a good gradient, was totally frozen.  Using our ice grippers, we descended this icy stream, our sleds skittering behind and sometimes in front of us!  We were becoming very adept at maneuvering the sleds around rocks, rough ice patches and over small frozen waterfalls.  A sense of adventure and excitement permeated the group. I could hear laughter and chatter from the various groups as they helped each other over challenging sections.

Lunch each day was a quick affair. We warmed up ingredients to make sandwiches in the morning, using our backpacking stoves.  Once made, we would tuck the sandwich down the front of our shirts underneath our parkas, to keep them from freezing - anything left for any time would be frozen solid.  We also had warm water or tea in our thermoses and chocolate or granola bars for snacks. We would need about 5,000 calories per day to fuel our body’s exercise and warmth.  Despite eating copious quantities of high energy foods laced with butter, we all lost weight!

The Lease Plan group had a few special projects along the way. Each member’s family had, unbeknownst to them, written a letter of encouragement and enclosed a photo of their family, which was brought along. On day 7, we stopped in a protected nook and the letters were distributed to the surprised team. The outpouring of pride, support and love from their families and friends back in the UK gave them more inspiration to forge ahead. A few days later, we reached the Arctic Circle, the geographic line where at the winter solstice there is 24 hours of darkness.  We arrived in full sunlight and took the opportunity for some great photos.

We could now smell the finish and sense that the expedition would be a success. We counted down the kilometres to ‘Overlord’, the terminus of Ashuyak Pass, where our Inuit snowmobile drivers would be waiting to take us the 30 km to Pangnirtung. By now, the well-oiled team could break camp and pack sleds efficiently and we were soon underway. Finally we could see the stark outline of the Overlord emergency shelter … our goal!  The last kilometer was done hand in hand, a team that had struggled with extreme cold, blustering winds, heavy sleds and difficult terrain. They had watched over each other for signs of frostbite and hypothermia, helped each other put up and take down frozen tents, given encouraging words when spirits were low and tears falling … and finished stronger and more appreciative of their place in the world.

As we made our final steps a sense of well-being and happiness permeated all of us: hugs, tears and smiles all around. Back in Pangnirtung, we checked into Auyuittuq Lodge and dominated the communal dining room with hilarious recounting of hardships and accomplishments. The beaming faces still showed the tell-tale signs of the north … frost-nipped noses and cheeks, chapped lips and  ‘raccoon eyes’ where goggles shielded the sun and wind. 

Now back in the UK, Lease Plan is thrilled with the expedition’s outcome; the spirit and confidence that this project has developed in its employees. I know, however, that each member has been touched profoundly and will carry a part of Canada’s north with them in their hearts forever.

By Wendy Grater

Find out more about Black Feather’s Arctic adventures:

-          Auyuittuq Ski Tour

-          Auyuittuq Hikes

-          Pond Inlet Ski Tour

-          Pond Inlet Sea Kayaking

-          Quttinirpaaq Hiking

-          Floe Edge Basecamps

www.blackfeather.com

1-888-849-7668

 

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Please read the following letter from Adamie Sakeeta, Chair of Nunavut Tourism.

 

New CEO Announcement

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The Arctic has some of the most beautiful flowers, hidden in plain sight, on the tundra. They may be small, but sure do make up for their size in colour, beauty and striking contrast to the often bare high-arctic tundra.

Every summer, these small colourful plants come out from underneath the winter snow, and bloom with the arrival of the arctic summer sun. Some bloom for just a few days! Here are just a few of the flowers on Somerset Island, along the Northwest Passage, and within the vicinity of Arctic Watch.

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I must say I have never been a big fan of audioguides. True, most of the audioguides I have listened to in my life were those strange sound systems they sometimes give us in museums. What happens is I often don’t have the time the whole visit requires. Often I speed through the museum in thirty to sixty minutes, stopping at the places that interest me the most. With these systems, we are forced to follow a rhythm and descriptions that make me feel like a prisoner.

However, I always appreciate the content, which teaches me a great deal of things. I also like audio books I can listen to while walking to work, cooking or cross-country skiing. They are a great way to nurture the mind.

We don’t just spend an hour or two in a city, we discover it for days, even years, and in my case anyway, I get to know cities from top to bottom and take great pleasure in discovering major boulevards and small side streets, which sometimes hide well-kept secrets.

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We are very excited to introduce this feature to our website and to have a new way to connect with people around the world who want to travel to Nunavut. Whether you're interested in Inuit culture, our exotic wildlife, the abundance of unique outdoor adventure opportunities or other activities, our blog will have something for everyone! Subscribe or check back regularly – we will be adding new content every month!

Here you can expect to find stories, photos, videos and other great content – not only from the team here at Nunavut Tourism, but also from our 130+ members from Nunavut's tourism industry who deliver and contribute to the experiences that will leave you with memories to last a lifetime. From our guides and outfitters to our cruise operators to our fishing and wilderness lodges, our members have an endless supply of great stories and stunning imagery that will inspire ideas for your northern adventure!

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