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Arctic Watch Wilderness Lodge

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 members, Niki Trudeau, and Dave Allcorn.

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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

Day 1 — Yellowknife, Northwest Territories

Enjoy an included night in Yellowknife and meet your fellow travelers at a welcome expedition briefing.

Day 2 — Yellowknife and Arctic Watch Wilderness Lodge

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 tree line 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.

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.

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.

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.

Day 6 — Arctic Watch Wilderness Lodge

Today we’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 (multi-purpose four-wheel drive truck). You’ll visit the Somerset Island canyons, formed as the result of shifting fault lines.

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.

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.

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.
View complete 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.

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.