July - August
Have you ever been to an Arctic safari?
Kayak with Beluga whales, watch polar bears on an Atv tour or hike to the Triple waterfalls and explore the canyon!
Arctic Watch Wilderness Lodge at Cunningham Inlet on Somerset Island, Nunavut. Canada’s twelfth biggest island, Somerset Island has no permanent residents on its 24786 square kilometers (9570 miles sq).
Located 500 miles north of the Arctic Circle and 50 miles from the nearest town, Arctic Watch is a permanent wilderness resort that offers hotel-like accommodations in a remote Arctic setting. Our guests experience the beauty and wonder of this fabulous place, while enjoying the comforts of home and delicious meals.
Accessed from Yellowknife by private charter aircraft and a 1,500 km (900 mile) flight. While the lodge is located just one kilometre from the beluga whales’ favourite summer hangout, a visit to Arctic Watch is much more than just about whales. It is an all-encompassing Arctic safari. Visitors see muskox, polar bears, arctic foxes, birds and archeological sites. They travel across land and water by foot, sea kayak, raft, mountain bike and ATV (all-terrain vehicle). Guests can climb mountains, fish lakes, and hike through canyons, across tundra and around waterfalls. The vistas are immense and, since the lodge only accepts guests in the summer, it’s daylight 24 hours a day.
8 DAYS STAY
Early in the morning, at the hangar in Yellowknife, Arctic Watch guests meet the private chartered plane that will fly them the 1,000 miles (1,500 km) to Arctic Watch. Your wallet is no longer of any use; your worries from the south are behind you, this is the start of your Arctic adventures. The plane is a modern and comfortable aircraft. You will pass from trees, across the tree line and over the barrens; it’s time to sit back and relax. You will also pass over the impressive holes in the earth dug for the Diavik mine. Food will be served during the four-and-a-half-hour flight north. After one stop for refueling in the community of Cambridge Bay, guests will land in the afternoon on our private airstrip next to Arctic Watch on Somerset Island. A short walk across the tundra, and an even shorter raft ride across the Cunningham River, brings guests to the lodge. Following a tour of the Arctic Watch facilities and some time to get their luggage settled in their cabins, guests assemble in the great room for a welcome and to meet our staff. Then dinner is served in our cozy dining room.
Breakfast is served at 8:30.
Guests receive a hands-on introduction to driving all-terrain vehicles (ATVs), which are easy and fun to drive. A short-distance hike to the Cunningham River estuary to watch beluga whales frolic in the shallow water only a few yards offshore among the ice floes is followed by a lunch buffet that includes: hot and nutritious soups such as French-Canadian pea, leek, smoke tomato, potato and cream of corn; freshly baked sourdough and rye breads; specialty meats and cheeses; fresh vegetables; and homemade desserts.
In the afternoon, guests hike to Triple Waterfalls, a five-story torrent of free-falling water. There they can see nesting peregrine falcons and other birds such as loons, snow buntings, sandpipers and rough-legged hawks. Exploring the canyon introduces them to the tiny beauty of wild Arctic flowers. Encounters with muskox are common.
All that hiking builds an appetite. Hearty evening meals typically include a main course of baked Arctic char, AAA heritage Angus Canadian beef, barbecued pork tenderloin or other meats. Side dishes of oven-roasted vegetables, red and white wine, fresh bread, and homemade desserts round out the meal.
In the evening, there’s free time for local exploration. The library has a broad selection of Arctic and polar titles.
Our interpretive center contains collections of local fossils; skeletal remains of Arctic fauna, and a collection of traditional Inuit skin clothing from Canada, Greenland, and Siberia.
Breakfast served at 8:30, typically includes fresh coffee, home-baked pastries, muffins, cinnamon rolls, fresh fruit, yogurt, muesli, French toast or pancakes with Quebec maple syrup, eggs, double-smoked bacon, and sausages.
Guests will travel by ATV, crossing the Cunningham River delta, then driving along the Muskox Ridge Trail, which provides a scenic overview of the entire area. To date, every excursion to this location has resulted in a muskox encounter. Passing an impressive Arctic fox den, guests may have the opportunity to watch fox cubs at play.
Following a picnic lunch at our own Arctic Watch shelter at Inukshuk Lake, gear is supplied and guests have an opportunity to “catch-and-release” fish for Arctic char. Returning on ATVs, the tour takes an alternate route via the River Trail so guests can view hoodoos (sculptured sand pillars) and local coal deposits.
That evening, Richard Weber, internationally recognized polar explorer and owner of Arctic Watch, offers an informal lecture on his North Pole adventures. His historic 1995 unassisted journey to the North Pole and back—a feat that has never been repeated—is highlighted.
Another hearty breakfast is served at 8:30.
Monday’s focus is on sea kayaking in Cunningham Inlet. All equipment and basic instructions are provided. Guests will paddle among icebergs, ring seals, and bearded seals while watching for beluga whales. Sightings of sea birds, including Arctic terns and eider ducks, can be expected. Lunch is served on the shoreline, with a small hike to explore a local canyon aptly named “Kayak Falls”. Guests have stunning views of the Northwest Passage and the opportunity to see polar bears.
In the afternoon, guests return to the Cunningham River estuary to watch the beluga whales. This site is unique in the world because of the density of the whale population and their proximity to the guests. With guests standing on the riverbanks, the beluga whales frolic in the shallow water and come within several yards (meters), close enough to clearly hear their communication calls. To better appreciate the underwater calls, a hydrophone (underwater microphone) is used. Beluga whale researchers from Mystic Aquarium will be based at Arctic Watch. The resident scientist(s) is a resource to visitors during the day by the whales.
In the evening there is a lecture on the Beluga research being conducted in Cunningham Inlet.
Following breakfast, guests depart, crossing the Cunningham River delta, for a trip to Flatrock Falls. The guests have the option of hiking or traveling by Mercedes Unimog truck. Somerset Island canyons, which guests will visit, are as yet unnamed. They were formed as the result of shifting fault lines and their walls, mostly vertical, vary from 200 to 1,000 feet. Millions of fossils of prehistoric plants and animals litter the ground.
Today’s trip also offers opportunities 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, guests travel to Gull Canyon, named by Arctic Watch owners Richard and Josée Auclair, where they will see the striking biological contrasts between the barren canyon and lush gull rookery. The Canadian Wildlife Service recently visited this spot to view the Gull rookery and observe the presence of peregrine falcons. They claimed this spot to be a unique and special micro-ecosystem.
In the evening, Arctic Watch’s house scientist will give an informal lecture.
An 8:30 breakfast starts another day at Arctic Watch.
Today’s excursion is by ATV to Cape Anne. Guests visit five Thule sites along the coast and look for polar bears. The ride includes scenic vistas, icebergs, ancient Inuit campsites and pre historic giant whale bones. The Thule culture was a bowhead-whale-hunting culture, 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. Polar bears can be often seen on the shoreline, as they wander the coast, waiting for the ice to return. The return trip is overland via the Red Valley and guests can expect to be inspired by the magnitude of the landscape.
At the end of a long day, guests will enjoy another delicious dinner at Arctic Watch.
This evening guest can relax with a lecture by Richard Weber. His presentation includes stunning images and fascinating stories of Arctic expeditions to Baffin, Ellesmere, and other High Arctic islands.
Guests begin this final day at the lodge with one of Josée’s hearty homemade breakfasts.
The first leg of today’s journey is covered by Mercedes Unimog truck. Guests will reach the Arctic Watch raft and kayak put-in on the Cunningham River, 20 kilometers from the lodge. Typically, the final six kilometers require a hike through the Badlands, passing the skeletal remains of two bowhead whales dated at eight thousand years ago. The voyage includes encounters with muskox, snow geese, jaegers, Arctic foxes, sandpipers and rough-legged hawks.
While guests savor a picnic lunch on the beach beside the river, staff prepares the rafts and kayaks.
On the return to Arctic Watch, guests have the choice of paddling their own kayaks or traveling by raft. The river is swift-flowing crystal-clear water with no difficult sections or rapids. The views are amazing and include steep canyon walls and, at one point, an 180-degree turn. Guests can expect to be on the water for two to three hours.
Guests enjoy their final dinner and evening at Arctic Watch.
By their last day in the High Arctic, guests are familiar with the area of Somerset Island occupied by Arctic Watch. If there is an activity that was missed during the week or one that a guest particularly enjoyed and wants to repeat, there is time today to do these things.
In the late afternoon, the plane will arrive to take guests back to Yellowknife. Guests can choose to spend some time visiting Yellowknife or catch a flight south.
10 DAYS STAY
DAY 1 Yellowknife, Northwest Territories
Enjoy an included night in Yellowknife and meet your fellow travelers at a welcome expedition
briefing, followed by boot and signature Quark Expeditions® parka distribution.
DAY 2 Yellowknife and Arctic Watch Wilderness Lodge
Today, board our private chartered plane to fly the 1,000 miles (1,500 km) to the Arctic Watch
Wilderness Lodge. During the four-and- a-half- hour flight, you’ll pass over the treeline as you cross
the Arctic Circle. Following a refueling stop in the community of Cambridge Bay, you’ll circle above
Cunningham Inlet. Enjoy aerial views of the lodge below, before landing on the private airstrip on
Somerset Island. A short walk across the tundra—and an even shorter raft ride across the
Cunningham River—will bring you to the lodge. After a tour of the facilities, you’ll be escorted to
your cabin. Upon settling in, meet your hosts for a safety briefing and overview of the exciting
activities and options ahead.
DAY 3 Arctic Watch Wilderness Lodge, Somerset Island, Nunavut
After a hot breakfast, 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 operate. Later, you
may take a short hike to the Cunningham River estuary to spot beluga whales frolicking in the
shallow water only a few yards offshore. After lunch, there may be an opportunity for a hike to
Triple Waterfalls, a five-story torrent of free-falling water. There, you can see nesting peregrine
falcons and other birds such as loons, snow
DAY 4 Arctic Watch Wilderness Lodge
After a full breakfast, you’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
you’ll see muskoxen and pass by an impressive arctic fox den, where you may have the
opportunity to watch fox cubs at play.
Following an outdoor lunch at Inukshuk Lake, we’ll supply gear for those who would like the
opportunity to try catch-and- release fishing for arctic char. Returning on ATVs, the tour takes an
alternate route via the River Trail, so you can view hoodoos (sculptured sand pillars) and local coal
In the evening, after dinner, we’ll enjoy an informal lecture.
DAY 5 Arctic Watch Wilderness Lodge
One of today’s activities may be kayaking in Cunningham Inlet. Paddle among icebergs, looking out
for beluga whales as well as ring and bearded seals. Sightings of seabirds, including arctic terns
and eider ducks, can be expected. After a lunch served along the shoreline, you’ll take a short hike
to explore a local canyon aptly named Kayak Falls. From there, you’ll enjoy stunning views of the
Northwest Passage and the opportunity to see polar bears.
In the afternoon, you’ll return to the Cunningham River estuary, a beluga whale migration site.
This site is unique the world over because of the density of the beluga population and its proximity
to our lodge. You may even be able to see the whales while you stand on the river banks, and be
close enough to hear their calls. Guides will use hydrophones so you can also hear the whales’
underwater song. In the evening, following a five-star dinner, you’ll hear a lecture on the beluga
research being conducted in Cunningham Inlet.
DAY 6 Arctic Watch Wilderness Lodge
Following breakfast, you’ll depart for a trip to Flatrock Falls, crossing the Cunningham River delta.
There, you’ll have the option of hiking or traveling by Mercedes Unimog (a multipurpose four-
wheel-drive truck). You’ll visit the Somerset Island canyons, formed as the result of shifting fault
lines. Their steep walls vary from 200 to 1,000 feet (61 to 305 meters). Millions of fossils of
prehistoric plants and animals are scattered around the ground. You may also have the
opportunity to observe nesting sites of local birds, including terns, plovers and snow geese. An
alfresco lunch is served directly on the flat rocks that surround this canyon.
After lunch, you’ll travel to Gull Canyon, where you can see the striking color contrasts between
the barren canyon and a lush gull rookery. This spot was recently declared a unique ecosystem by
the Canadian Wildlife Service due to the area’s gull rookery and the presence of peregrine falcons.
In the evening, a Scientist in Residence will give an informal lecture.
DAY 7 Arctic Watch Wilderness Lodge
Today, you’ll set out on an ATV to Cape Anne, where you’ll visit some Thule sites along the coast
and look for polar bears. The Thule people were bowhead whale hunters, ancestors of today’s
modern Inuit. The ride showcases 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 buntings, sandpipers and rough-legged hawks. Exploring this canyon introduces you to
the delicate beauty of wild arctic flowers. Encounters with muskoxen are common.
During your gourmet dinner, pair your meal with a fine Canadian bottle of wine from the
Northwest Passage Wine and Spirit List. After 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 center
contains collections of local fossils, the skeletal remains of arctic fauna, and a collection of
traditional Inuit clothing from Canada, Greenland and Siberia. Coast, waiting for the ice to return.
The return overland trip via the Red Valley will give us incredible views of the place we’ve called
home this week.
DAY 8 Arctic Watch Wilderness Lodge
Today’s full-day rafting adventure will begin after breakfast with a Mercedes Unimog truck ride to
the Arctic Watch raft launch on the Cunningham River, 12.5 miles (20 km) from the lodge. Opt to
hike the final four miles (6 km) through the Badlands, passing the skeletal remains of two
bowhead whales that date back 8,000 years. On the way to the launch, you may encounter
muskoxen, snow geese, jaegers, arctic fox, sandpipers and rough-legged hawks.
You’ll savor a picnic lunch on the beach, beside the river, as the staff and guides prepare the rafts.
Return to the lodge by raft on the swift-flowing, crystal-clear water of the gentle rapids. The views
are amazing and include steep canyon walls that at one point make a 180-degree turn.
Tonight, you’ll enjoy our farewell dinner and evening at Arctic Watch Wilderness Lodge.
DAY 9 Depart Arctic Watch Wilderness Lodge
Today, you’ll bid a fond goodbye to the lodge team and the High Arctic. You may have time to take
advantage of one last activity before you depart. In the late afternoon, you’ll return to Yellowknife.
Upon arrival in Yellowknife, you will be transferred to your included hotel.
DAY 10 Depart Yellowknife
After breakfast and boot return, you can make your way home at your leisure or spend some more
time in the Yellowknife area.
- FAT BIKING
- RIVER RAFTING
Yellowknife - Somerset Island, Wilderness lodge.
Wilderness lodge - Yellowknife