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Arctic Watch Wilderness Lodge Adventure and Wildlife at 74°N

DAY 1 — Yellowknife, Northwest Territories

Enjoy an included night in Yellowknife and meeting your fellow travelers.

Day 2 — Yellowknife, Northwest Territories

We’ll meet early in the morning to board our private chartered plane to fl y the 1,000 miles (1,500 km) to the Arctic Watch lodge. During the four and a half hour flight, we’ll pass over the treeline to the barrens, refueling in the community of Cambridge Bay, and landing in the afternoon on a private airstrip on Somerset Island. A short walk across the tundra, and an even shorter raft ride across the Cunningham River, will bring us to the lodge. Following a tour of the facilities, you’ll settle into your cabins and meet the expedition staff for a briefing on the activities in the days ahead.

Day 3 — Arctic Watch Lodge, Somerset Island, Nunavut

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 drive. Later, we may take a short hike to the Cunningham River estuary to watch beluga whales frolic in the shallow water only a few yards off shore, followed by a wonderful buffet lunch. In the afternoon, 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 buntings, sandpipers and rough-legged hawks. Exploring the canyon introduces you to the delicate beauty of wild Arctic flowers. Encounters with muskox are common. After a hearty 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, skeletal remains of Arctic fauna, and a collection of traditional Inuit clothing from Canada, Greenland and Siberia.

Day 4 — Arctic Watch Lodge

Today we may attempt to kayak in Cunningham Inlet. All equipment and basic instructions are provided. Paddle among icebergs, looking out for ring and bearded seals as well as beluga whales. Sightings of sea birds, including Arctic terns and eider ducks, can be expected. After a lunch served along the shoreline, we’ll take a short hike to explore a local canyon aptly named “Kayak Falls.” From there we’ll have stunning views of the Northwest Passage and the opportunity to see polar bears. In the afternoon, we’ll return to the Cunningham River estuary to watch the beluga whales. This site is unique the world over because of the density of the whale population and their proximity to our lodge. Standing on the river banks, you’ll be able to see the beluga whales frolic in the shallow water and be close enough to hear their calls. Guides will use our hydrophones so that you can also hear their underwater calls. In the evening, following a delicious dinner, we’ll have a lecture on the beluga research being conducted in Cunningham Inlet.

Day 5 — Arctic Watch Lodge

Following breakfast, we’ll depart for a trip to Flatrock Falls, crossing the Cunningham River delta. There, you’ll have the option of hiking or travelling by Mercedes Unimog a (multi-purpose four-wheel drive truck). We’ll visit the Somerset Island canyons, formed as the result of shifting fault lines. Their walls, mostly vertical, vary from 200 to 1,000 feet (up to 305 meters). Millions of fossils of prehistoric plants and animals litter the ground. You may also have the opportunity 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, we’ll travel to Gull Canyon, where you can see the striking biological contrasts between barren canyon and a lush gull rookery. The Canadian Wildlife Service recently visited and claimed this spot to be a unique and special eco-system for the gull rookery and the presence of peregrine falcons. In the evening, Arctic Watch’s scientist-in-residence will give an informal lecture.

Day 6 — Arctic Watch Lodge

The first leg of today’s journey will be by Mercedes Unimog truck. We’ll get to the Arctic Watch raft and kayak launch on the Cunningham River, 20 km from the lodge. Typically, the final six kilometers require a hike through the Badlands, passing the skeletal remains of two bowhead whales dated from eight thousand years ago. The voyage includes encounters with muskox, snow geese, jaegers, Arctic foxes, sandpipers and rough-legged hawks. We’ll savor a picnic lunch on the beach beside the river, as the staff and guides prepare the rafts and kayaks. Returning to the lodge, you’ll have the choice of kayaking or travelling by raft. The river has swift-flowing, crystal-clear water with no difficult sections or rapids. The views are amazing and include steep canyon walls and, at one point, a 180-degree turn. Tonight, we’ll enjoy our final dinner and evening at the Arctic Watch lodge.

Day 7 — Departure Arctic Watch Lodge

Today, you’ll bid a fond farewell to the lodge team and the High Arctic. You may have time to take advantage of one last activity before we depart. In the late afternoon, the plane will arrive for the return flight back to Yellowknife. Upon arrival in Yellowknife you will be transferred to your included hotel.

Day 8 — Yellowknife, Northwest Territories

Today you can make your way home at your leisure or spend some more time in the Yellowknife area.

Important reminder: Embracing the unexpected is part of the legacy – and excitement – of expedition travel. There are no guarantees that we can achieve everything we set out to accomplish. A measure of flexibility is something all of us must bring to an expediton. 

PLEASE NOTE: Dates of charter flights may be altered due to weather conditions. Please bear this in mind when making international flight arrangements. Consider purchasing flexible, changeable airline tickets, or booking a one-way flight home after completing the expedition, to help reduce ticket change fees. These delays may not be covered by travel insurance. Baggage allowance on charter flight is 15 kilos checked and 5 kilos carry on