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Arctic Watch Wilderness Lodge Adventure and Wildlife at 74°N

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.

Enjoy aerial views of the lodge below, before landing on the private airstrip on Somerset Island. A half mile (900 metre) walk across the tundra—and a 110 yard (100 metre) raft ride across the Cunnigham River—will bring you to the lodge. After an afternoon tour of the facilities, you’ll be escorted to your cabin. Upon settling in, you’ll enjoy a delicious dinner in the cozy dining room.

In the evening, meet your hosts for a safety briefing and overview of the exciting activities and options ahead, including paddling in northern waters and driving all-terrain vehicles (ATVs).

You’ll have 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.

You may also join your Expedition Team for an after dinner “wine and whales” event at mouth of the Cunningham River, where you can wander down to the shore on foot. This site is unique the world over because of the density of the beluga whale population and its proximity to the lodge. As you stand on shore, you may even be able to see the whales and be close enough to hear their calls as they congregate in the shallow, warm water where the river meets the ocean.

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).

Millions of fossils of prehistoric plants and animals are scattered across the canyon floors. You may also have the opportunity to observe nesting sites of local birds, including arctic terns and eider ducks.

After a picnic lunch, you’ll travel to a well-preserved ancient Thule house. The Thule, the original Inuit culture, built their houses out of whale bones and flat stone slabs. Out on the peninsula, you may spot polar bears wandering the shoreline, and nesting snow geese and ducks.

In the evening, pair your gourmet meal with a fine Canadian bottle of wine from the Northwest Passage Wine and Spirit List. After dinner, relax with a presentation by lead Arctic Watch photographer Nansen Weber, who will share his stunning images of Somerset Island wildlife.

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.

From here, you’ll continue along a special trail back to the river, where our kayaks await. Delight in the stunning views as you paddle the swift-flowing, crystal-clear water. As you go through a deep canyon, keep your eyes peeled to the top of the steep walls, and you may see rare nesting peregrine falcons and other birdlife. After working up an appetite, you’ll travel the back to the lodge by ATV, ready for a mouthwatering meal.

After dinner, join Arctic Watch co-owner Richard Weber for a presentation on polar exploration.

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. This is the land of icebergs and polar bears, and at this time of year this area affords some of the best opportunities for seeing both, as well as marine birds such as king eider ducks and guillemots.

Down on the shore, you’ll be welcomed by a team from Arctic Watch. After changing into dry clothes, you may have the chance to wander along the shoreline to observe the pack ice. The return trip to the lodge is by ATV, so you can take in the magnitude of the landscape at a more leisurely pace.

In the evening, following a five-star dinner, you’ll hear a lecture about the history 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. After lunch, we’ll supply gear for those who would like to try catch-and-release fishing for arctic char. This area also offers opportunities for seeing polar bears, as well as arctic fox and birdlife.

Tonight, you’ll enjoy our farewell dinner and evening at Arctic Watch Wilderness Lodge. Celebrate with a vodka toast and take a polar plunge in the icy waters of the Arctic Ocean.

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.

In the late afternoon, you’ll return to Yellowknife. Upon arrival in Yellowknife, you will be transferred to your included hotel.

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.

Important reminder: The itinerary outlined is only a sample of a typical week at Arctic Watch Wilderness Lodge. Day-to-day activities may vary and are also weather dependent. Please note that the likelihood of seeing belugas early in the season is dependent on weather and ice conditions.


  • Hotel shuttle transfers on arrival and departure between airport and hotel in Yellowknife
  • One night’s hotel accommodation in Yellowknife with breakfast
  • Group transfer to and from charter flight to Arctic Watch Wilderness Lodge
  • Charter flight from Yellowknife to Arctic Watch Wilderness Lodge (return)
  • One night’s hotel accommodation in Yellowknife with breakfast Package cost: $1,690


Dates of charter flights may be altered due to weather conditions. Please keep 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.