Day 1: Yellowknife, Northwest Territories
Tonight you'll stay in Yellowknife, where you'll attend a welcome briefing and meet your fellow travelers. Following this, you'll sign out the Quark Expeditions gear for the trip.
Day 2: Yellowknife and Arctic Watch Wilderness Lodge
Today, you will board a private charter plane and fly 1,500 km to the Arctic Watch Wilderness Lodge, your home for the duration of the trip. The flight takes approximately 4.5 hours, and you'll pass over the treelines and cross the Arctic Circle.
In Cambridge Bay, the plan will refuel and you'll circle above the Cunningham Inlet. Enjoy the stunning views of the lodge from above before landing on their private airstrip at Somerset Island.
You'll trek across the tundra 900m and then take a 100m raft ride across the river before you arrive at the lodge. You'll be given a tour of the facilities and then escorted to your cabin. After you settle in, you'll meet your hosts, take a safety briefing and an overview of the activities and options coming!
Day 3: Arctic Watch Wilderness Lodge, Somerset Island Nunavut
Start the day with a hot breakfast. Typically on the first morning after arriving at the lodge, you may receive an introduction to driving an ATV for a little extra fun!
Take a short hike to the Cunningham River Estuary where you may spot beluga whales playing in the shallow water just offshore.
Enjoy lunch, and then you may have the chance to take a hike to Triple Waterfalls, which stands five stories high! The area is home to nesting peregrine falcons, as well as other birds like loons, snow buntings, rough-legged hawks, and sandpipers. Explore the canyon and discover the beautiful wild arctic flowers.
During dinner, enjoy a bottle of Canadian wine from the Northwest Passage Wine and Spirit List.
You'll have free time in after dinner to explore the area. Make sure to check out the library which boasts a large selection of Arctic and Polar titles. There's also an interpretive center with a collection of local fossils, skeletal remains of other animals in the Arctic and traditional Inuit clothing.
Day 4: Arctic Watch Wilderness Lodge
After breakfast, travel by ATV across the river delta and along the Muskox Ridge Trail. The view of the area is stunning. You'll likely discover Muskoxen in the wild and pass by an Arctic Fox den, where you may see cubs at play!
Enjoy lunch outdoors today at Inukshuk Lake. If you would like, you will have an opportunity to try your hand at catch and release fishing of Arctic Char.
You'll return to the lodge on the ATVs, taking an alternate route along the River Trail. Watch for hoodoos and coal deposits.
Enjoy dinner followed by an informal lecture.
Day 5: Arctic Watch Wilderness Lodge
Today you may enjoy kayaking in the Cunningham Inlet, where you'll paddle among icebergs, beluga whales and ring and bearded seals. Keep an eye open for seabirds such as the Arctic Tern and Eider Ducks.
After lunch along the shoreline, take a short hike to a local canyon called Kayak Falls. The views are beautiful here where you can see the Northwest Passage and possibly polar bears!
This afternoon, return to the Cunningham River Estuary, a migration site for beluga whales. This site is unique because of the proximity to the lodge and density of the belugas. It's possible to see the whales as you stand on the river banks, you may even hear them! Your guides will also use hydrophones so you can hear their underwater song!
This evening, enjoy a 5-star dinner and a lecture on the beluga whale research happening at Cunningham Inlet.
Day 6: Arctic Watch Wilderness Lodge
After breakfast, take a trip to Flatrock Falls, across the Cunningham River delta. You'll have the option to hike or travel by Mercedes Unimog (a fun, multipurpose 4WD truck). Visit the Somerset Island Canyons, which were formed due to shifting fault lines. The walls vary from 200-1000 feet while millions of fossils and prehistoric plants and animals are seen scattered around the ground. Observe nesting sites of local birds as well!
Enjoy lunch on the flat rocks that surround the canyon. After, you'll travel to Gull Canyon, which was declared a unique ecosystem by the Canadian Wildlife Service due to the gull rookery and the presence of peregrine falcons.
Tonight, a resident scientist will give an informal lecture.
Day 7: Arctic Watch Wilderness Lodge
Start today with an ATV ride to Cape Anne, where you'll see some Thule sites and watch for polar bears.
The Thule people hunted with bowheads for whales, and are ancestors of today's modern Inuit. The ride will show you the beautiful vistas, icebergs and Inuit campsites, as well as prehistoric whale bones.
The Cape Anne Thule site is the largest site in the area and is home to the ruins of 15 stone and bone houses. Often polar bears are seen on the shoreline as they wait for the ice to return.
Return via the Red Valley where you'll see a great view of the lodge.
Day 8: Arctic Watch Wilderness Lodge
Your rating adventure today will begin after a good breakfast. You'll take the Mercedes Unimog truck to the raft launch on the Cunningham River. You can choose to hike the remaining 6km through the badlands, where you'll pass the remains of two bowhead whales that are over 8000 years old!
Along the way, you may see muskoxen, snow geese, jaegers, sandpipers, rough-legged hawks, and arctic fox.
Enjoy a picnic lunch on the beach alongside the river, as the rafts are prepared.
You'll return to the lodge by raft through the clear waters and gentle rapids. The view is incredible!
Return to the lodge and enjoy a goodbye dinner & evening at the lodge.
Day 9: Depart Arctic Watch Wilderness Lodge
Say goodbye to the lodge team and the High Arctic today. You may have a chance to do one more activity today if time permits.
Late in the afternoon, you'll be returned to Yellowknife. When you return, you'll be transported to your hotel for the night.
Day 10: Depart Yellowknife
After breakfast, return your boots and make your way to the airport or to your next destination!