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Arctic Watch Wilderness Lodge Adventure and Wildlife at 74°N

8 or 10 days

Spend a week exploring the Canadian Arctic at this unique wilderness lodge and world-class beluga whale observation site on Somerset Island in Nunavut, Canada. Situated 500 miles (805 km) north of the Arctic Circle, the lodge offers guests fully guided opportunities for diverse adventure activities, and extraordinary polar photography thanks to 24 hours of daylight. Observe the elusive musk ox, polar bear and more wildlife in their natural habitat and enjoy comfortable accommodations and superb food, all accessible via a scenic flight from Yellowknife, Northwest Territories.

Your Hosts

Arctic Watch Wilderness Lodge is a family-run basecamp, hosted by arctic enthusiasts Josée Auclair and her husband, Richard Weber, along with their two sons, Tessum and Nansen. They are distinguished across the Canadian High Arctic as polar experts, particularly in Nunavut, and specialize in North Pole and arctic tourism. Additional expertise comes from Quark Expeditions’ veteran polar expedition team member, Hadleigh Measham.

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Day-by-Day Expedition in Brief

  • Encounter rarely seen and iconic arctic wildlife and their habitats: polar bears, muskoxen, ringed seals, bird cliffs, fox dens and much more
  • Visit the Cunningham River estuary, seasonal home to hundreds of beluga whales
  • Take advantage of included equipment and activities such as all-terrain vehicles (ATVs), a Mercedes Unimog, kayaking, rafting, fishing and hiking
  • Visit Cape Anne Thule sites with ancient stone and bone houses
  • Enjoy unique photography opportunities
  • Make the most of optional activities such as fishing for arctic char, and the Beechey Island fly-in excursion
  • Adventure Week (June 30 - July 7, 2016) Take advantage of included equipment and human-propelled activities unique to the first week of the season, such as fat biking, river kayaking, and stand-up paddleboarding

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.

2 — Yellowknife and Arctic Watch Wilderness Lodge

Today, board our private chartered plane to fly the 1,000 miles (1,500 km) to 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, a beluga whale migration site.

3 — Arctic Watch Wilderness Lodge, Somerset Island, Nunavut

After a hot breakfast, you’ll have the chance to explore Cunningham Inlet, home to ring and bearded seals as well as nearly 2,000 beluga whales, on one of Arctic Watch’s new fat bikes. You’ll ride out on the sea ice to visit Flatrock Falls and Kayak Falls. Formed as the result of shifting fault lines, these two spectacular geological formations have steep walls that vary in height from 200 to 1,000 feet (61 to 305 meters).

4 — Arctic Watch Wilderness Lodge

After a full breakfast, you’ll tackle the tough arctic terrain on ATV—one of the most popular activities at Arctic Watch—traveling along the Muskox Ridge Trail, which offers scenic vistas of the entire area. Along the trail, you’ll also pass by an impressive arctic fox den, where you may have the opportunity to watch fox cubs at play. You’ll likely encounter muskoxen, too.

5 — Arctic Watch Wilderness Lodge

After breakfast, long-distance hikers and runners will get their hearts pumping on this once-in-a-lifetime trek across the tundra! From the lodge, you’ll run or hike across the varied terrain of Somerset Island, following along ridges, passing fossil beds and crossing over striking red iron-oxide stone up to Nansen’s Ridge, where you’ll be rewarded with spectacular views of the Northwest Passage.

6 — Arctic Watch Wilderness Lodge

Following breakfast, you’ll head out on a full-day ATV excursion across Somerset Island, from Cunningham Inlet to Garnier Bay. Take in the memorable scenery as you ride over the rough arctic terrain, from riverbeds to ridges, and keep a lookout for muskoxen, which are common here. Not far from the bay, we’ll stop at Inukshuk Lake for a picnic.

7 — 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 more activity before you depart: hiking and stand-up paddle boarding in Google Canyon. Wander between the narrow walls of this cool-looking canyon, named after a Google research balloon crashed here. Herds of muskoxen can often be found grazing in the area. At Sunday Lake, you may encounter snow geese as you savor a picnic lunch, before returning to the lodge.

8 — 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.
View full 8-day itinerary »

Adventure Options Add an Extra Rush of Adrenaline to Your Expedition

Arctic Watch offers a range of unique adventure travel experiences. Everything you imagined and more, guests can experience arctic safaris, raft the Cunningham River, sea kayak with hundreds of beluga whales, hike the tundra, spot polar bears roaming the Northwest Passage, investigate the mysterious Thule ruins crafted from giant whale bones, fish for arctic char and more.

All-terrain vehicle

Included Activity at Arctic Watch 

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. (only available at Arctic Watch Wilderness Lodge)

Expedition Facts

The most northerly fly-in lodge in the world

Constructed and opened in 1992, the Arctic Watch Wilderness Lodge is located in Cunningham Inlet, on Somerset island, in Nunavut, Canada’s largest and newest territory, which formally came into being in 1999.

Photography Adventure at Arctic Watch

Internationally recognized as one of the top Arctic wildlife locations on earth, Arctic Watch offers photographic programs for both amateur and professional photographers.