8 days departing YELLOWKNIFE from

Style: Wildlife
Destination: Canada
Tour Code: AWW

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Trip Overview

Spend eight days exploring the unique Canadian Arctic wilderness, staying in a world-class beluga whale observation site. The Arctic Watch Wilderness Lodge is a family-run basecamp, hosted by arctic enthusiasts Josee 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.

Situated 500 miles north of the Arctic Circle, the fixed lodge offers fully-guided opportunities for hiking, kayaking and discovering the Arctic tundra in all-terrain vehicles (ATV's). You'll have the unique opportunity to observe Muskox and Polar Bears in their natural habitat, as well as other unique wildlife. Enjoy comfortable accommodation and superb food, all accessible within a short flight from Yellowknife, Northwest Territories to Somerset Island in Nunavut, Canada. Additional expertise comes from veteran polar expedition team member, Hadleigh Measham.

Included Highlights
  • Explore the Canadian Arctic wilderness
  • A host of wildlife, photographic and specialist guides to enhance your Arctic experience
  • Visit the Cunningham River estuary - home to hundreds of Beluga Whales
  • Rarely observed Arctic Wildlife: Polar Bears, Beluga Whales, Arctic Fox, Muskox, Snowy Owls and Ringed Seals
  • Visit ancient stone and bone houses in Cape Anne Thule
  • Included activities: all-terrain vehicles, Mercedes Unimog, kayaking, rafting and guided hikes
Tour Facts and Features
Accommodation: 5 nights Arctic Watch Lodge and 2 hotel nights in Yellowknife. For your own room request our optional Solo Sleeper (see 'Dates and Prices' tab).
Transport: Flight, kayak, raft, Mercedes Unimog 4WD truck, ATV's and raft
Meals: 7 breakfasts, 6 lunches, 7 dinners
Guided: Services of a specialist guides including veteran polar expedition team member, Hadleigh Measham, Arctic enthusiasts Josee Auclair and her husband and photography expert Nansen Weber.
Group size: Maximum 26
Age range: 8+

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Trip Itinerary

Our routes have been carefully chosen to include the best night stops and highlights. However, as local and operational conditions may vary and unforeseen circumstances can arise, the following itinerary should be used as a guideline.

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Download the Arctic Watch Wilderness Lodge trip dossier for tour-specific details including full itinerary, pre-departure information, packing tips and more about our style of travel.

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Optional Activities (paid locally)

Our optional activities offer the flexibility to do the things you want to and leave out the things you don't. Below are the main optional activities for this trip which can be arranged once you are on tour via your tour leader and paid for locally. Please note that not all optional activities may available on every tour and prices are subject to change.

  • Fly-in excursion - Beechey Island US$895.00 (minimum 8 people, maximum 12)
  • Fishing for Arctic Char - Somerset Island (US$30 license fee)

Day 1: Arrival day in Yellowknife, Northwest Territories

Enjoy an included night in Yellowknife where you'll meet your tour leader and fellow travellers. A discussion about your forthcoming trip will leave you excited about your journey ahead, as you travel into the Arctic wilderness.
Accommodation: Hotel in Yellowknife | Meals: Dinner included

Day 2: Yellowknife, Northwest Territories

Meet your group in the early morning and board your private chartered plane for a four and a half hour flight to the Arctic Watch Lodge. During the 1,000 mile (1,500km) flight, you'll pass over the treeline to the Barren Grounds, refuelling 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 deliver you safely to the lodge. After an initial tour of the facilities on offer, you'll settle into your cabins and meet the expedition staff for a briefing on the activities in the days ahead.
Accommodation: Arctic Watch Wilderness Lodge | Meals: Breakfast, lunch and dinner included

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 (ATV's), which are easy and fun to drive. Later, you 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 for you to explore 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.
Accommodation: Arctic Watch Wilderness Lodge | Meals: Breakfast, lunch and dinner included

A great way to better explore the terrain of Somerset Island is by all-terrain vehicle. Guests receive a hands-on introduction to driving ATV's, which are easy and fun to operate. Helmets are provided.

Day 4: Arctic Watch Lodge

Today you 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, you'll take a short hike to explore a local canyon aptly named `Kayak Falls'. From there you have stunning views of the Northwest Passage and the opportunity to see Polar Bears. In the afternoon, you'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 your lodge. Standing on the riverbanks, 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 hydrophones so you are able to hear their underwater calls. In the evening, you'll have a lecture on the Beluga research being conducted in Cunningham Inlet.
Accommodation: Arctic Watch Wilderness Lodge | Meals: Breakfast, lunch and dinner included

River Rafting (included)
Typically lasting two to three hours, guests have the choice of paddling their own kayaks or traveling by raft during the river excursion. The Cunningham River is swift-flowing, crystal-clear water with no difficult sections or rapids. Guests are given a hands-on introduction to rafting prior to departing, and no previous experience is required.

Day 5: Arctic Watch Lodge

After a hearty breakfast, you 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 4WD truck). You'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 metres). 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, you travel to Gull Canyon where the fascinating biological contrasts between barren canyon and a lush gull rookery are evident. 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 deliver an informal lecture with chance for questions.
Accommodation: Arctic Watch Wilderness Lodge | Meals: Breakfast, lunch and dinner included

Hiking (included)
Hiking is a great way to appreciate the immense windswept landscapes of the Arctic. The tundra comes alive during the brief Arctic summer, with bursts of colour from the shrubs and plants that eke out a living in this polar environment. You'll find each hike is different - exploring shorelines or landscapes, often on the lookout for wildlife. Hiking participation is optional and your Expedition Team will advise you of what you can expect prior to each excursion.

Day 6: Arctic Watch Lodge

The first leg of today's journey will be by Mercedes Unimog truck which delivers you to the Arctic Watch raft and kayak launch on the Cunningham River, 20 km from the lodge. Typically, the final six kilometres require a hike through the Badlands, passing the skeletal remains of two Bowhead Whales dating back 8,000 years. The voyage includes encounters with Arctic Foxes, Jaegers, Muskox, Snow Geese, Sandpipers and Rough-legged Hawks. You'll enjoy a picnic lunch on the beach beside the river, as the staff and guides prepare the rafts and kayaks.

Returning to the lodge in the afternoon, you have the freedom to choose either 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. In the evening you will enjoy your final farewell dinner at the Arctic Watch Lodge before departing for Yellowknife the following day.
Accommodation: Arctic Watch Wilderness Lodge | Meals: Breakfast, lunch and dinner included

Kayaking (included)
Led by experienced kayak guides, guests will paddle among icebergs, on the watch for Ring and Bearded Seals and Beluga Whales. Sightings of sea birds, including Arctic Terns and Eider Ducks, can be expected. All equipment and basic instructions are provided.

Day 7: Departure Arctic Watch Lodge

Today, you'll bid a fond farewell to the lodge team and the High Arctic but there may be time for one final activity before you depart. In the late afternoon, the plane will arrive for the four and a half hour return flight back to Yellowknife, where you will be transferred back to your hotel upon arrival.
Accommodation: Hotel in Yellowknife | Meals: Breakfast, lunch and dinner included

Day 8: Yellowknife, Northwest Territories

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

If you wish to extend your trip by two more days, we also have departure dates with 10 day duration options. Please ask our sales staff.

Tour Notes

Arctic Watch Wilderness Lodge
The Arctic Watch Wilderness Lodge is a family-run base-camp, hosted by Arctic enthusiasts Josee Auclair and her husband, Richard Weber, along with their two sons, Tessum and Nansen. They are well known across the Canadian High Arctic as polar experts, particularly in Nunavut, and specialize in North Pole and Arctic tourism.

About Nansen Weber
Nansen Weber has grown up in the Arctic, spending every summer exploring its landscapes and has studied the behaviours of Arctic wolves, caribou, herds of Musk Oxen, Polar Bears, curious Arctic Foxes and playful Belugas - he's photographed it all. He is Arctic Watch's professional wildlife photographer. When not busy leading a private photography trip, or working with film crews, Nansen is a lead guide and makes sure guests capture picture-perfect memories of Arctic Watch on camera. Nansen knows Arctic animals and environments - don't be shy to ask him questions! Spending many years at Arctic Watch has helped him master its unique surroundings, untamed wildlife and environment.

Photography (included)
The Arctic Watch photography program offers a variety of interesting, enriching ways to improve your wildlife, landscape and nature photography skills, under the guidance of award-winning Arctic wildlife photographer Nansen Weber.

The program is an active photography adventure covering the varied landscapes of the region, comprised of glacier-carved cliff sides, canyons, riverbeds, waterfalls, and wide variety of flora. Guests will learn tips and techniques for tracking and photographing unique Arctic wildlife, all while exploring the diverse sights of Summerset Island and Cunningham Valley under 24-hour sunlight and evening 'Arctic golden light'.

Guests may also have opportunities to photograph Polar Bears, Beluga Whales, Arctic Hare and Fox. Natural wildlife habitats, which have been undisturbed for hundreds of years, will likewise be discovered in the program.

Daily workshops cater to all levels of photographers and are geared to nature and landscape photographers seeking immersive instruction and photo assignments in the field, talks on techniques, and edit-and-critique sessions.

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No credit card fees
  • A 10% deposit per person is required to confirm your booking.
  • Full payment is due 8 weeks before the tour departure
  • We charge no credit card fees or hidden surcharges
  • ABTA & ATOL licensed operator offering financial security for our tours
  • Prices are land only. Call 0333 999 7965 for a flight inclusive quote (UK)

Important Notes

We highly recommend you book this trip at least 60 days prior to departure. Reservations received within 30 days will be on request and subject to availability of en-route accommodation.

Please note some July departures are 10 days in duration. All other departures are 8 days.

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Private Departures

Why not arrange your own Grand American Adventures departure? For groups of 8 or more, we can offer tailor-made private departures for any of our published tours enabling friends, families or organizations to enjoy our style of travel at special rates. Tailored itineraries and departure dates can be chosen to suit your needs. (Subject to seasonal/operational restrictions).

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Tour Extras

We've offer a whole range of travel extras with everything from city sightseeing, additional hotel nights, insurance and more so you can organise everything you'll need for your trip in one easy place

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We have preferred contracts with many international carriers and have secured some of the most competitive prices in the industry. We are also ATOL protected and IATA licensed.

Special offers are regularly available, so call us now on +44 208 682 8921 or click below to request a flight quote by email.

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Travel Insurance

At Grand American Adventures we believe that your safety and enjoyment are the most important parts of your holiday.

Travel Insurance

We recommend you take out insurance as soon as your booking is confirmed. You MUST be covered by insurance that includes adequate coverage for baggage, medical expenses and the cost of repatriation. We can offer you a comprehensive travel insurance policy which is completely tailored for your trip and is specially designed to include all the activities listed.

See our insurance page for more information.

Beechey Island Excursion

Want even more adventure? We offer an excursion to Beechey Island available after your trip.

Beechey Island Excursion

Visit one of the most significant places in the history of Canadian Arctic exploration and a Canadian National Historical Site. During the Franklin Expedition of 1845-46, two of Franklin's ships, the HMS Erebus and HMS Terror anchored here with perilous results. Three of his crew died and are buried at a marked grave site. A supply depot, 'Northumberland House' also remains, nearly 170 years later. In September of 2014, the HMS Erebus, was found in the ocean south of Beechey Island. The mystery of what happened to the Franklin expedition remains.

Departing Arctic Watch on a De Haviland twin otter, you'll fly across the Northwest Passage, for the 40 minute flight to Beechey Island. During the flight we'll look out for Narwhal, Bowhead Whales, Beluga Whales, seals and Polar Bears. Once on Beechey Island, we'll pay our respects at the graves, visit the storage depot, have a picnic lunch, and explore the island. Stunning ice formations, untamed landscapes, and one of the Arctic's most historical places are all part of this incredible day trip.

Price: $895 USD per person (Minimum 8 guests, Maximum 12)

Contact us on +44 208 682 8921 for further details.

Fishing (optional)

Want even more adventure? We offer a fishing excursion to catch Arctic Char available during your trip.

Fishing for Arctic Char

Fishing for Arctic Char at the top of the world is a once-in-a-lifetime experience. Guests are welcome to try their hand at 'catch and release' conservation fishing using the equipment and gear provided. Or, bring your preferred gear and fly fish beautiful Innukshuk Lake.

Price: $30 fee (Nunavut sport fishing license)

Contact us on +44 208 682 8921 for further details.

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