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NUNAVUT MAP AND NUNAVUT TRAVEL ITINERARY
NUNAVUT TRAVEL INFORMATION
WHAT TO DO AND WHAT TO SEE IN NUNAVUT?
Nunavut is a federal region of Canada that includes a vast area north of the American continent to the west of Greenland. Much of this territory lies north of the Arctic Circle and has a severely cold climate that sees most of the sea turned into a vast expanse of ice between October / November and June / July depending on the currents and latitude. Nunavut is populated mainly by Inuit natives, for a total of about 32,000 inhabitants distributed among few villages, sometimes extremely remote. If you are fond of polar travel, there are numerous tours in Nunavut that may be of interest, such as trekking in the remotest places of the world, paddle among beautiful fjords, skiing, snowmobiling or dog sledding, not to mention cruising for those who want a more comfortable trip. The trip described in this travelogue focuses on a short tour to Iqaluit (the capital of Nunavut) followed by an 8 days expedition over the sea ice not far from the remote community of Pond Inlet, along the northern coast of Baffin island.
WHAT TO EXPECT FROM AN ICE FLOE EXPEDITION?
North in the heart of the Arctic, the boundary where the sea ice becomes actually the sea, is called the "line of life" because most of the wildlife typical of the Arctic regions, is concentrated mainly in these areas. The best time to visit the "line of life" is at the end of winter, when the animals are most active and when the limit of sea ice is closer to the mainland, making the trip shorter and easier. In such time of year, the arctic landscape represents probably one of the most beautiful and unique scenery you can see throughout the world: the brown color of the tundra, now free from snow, makes a sharp contrast with sea ice, while the sun shines 24 hour on 24, illuminating the mountains, the valleys and the icebergs trapped in the sea ice, also at midnight. The site chosen for this tour is an area north of Baffin Island located about 3 hours by snowmobile from Pond Inlet, over frozen Arctic ocean. Once a proper site is identified, tents and camping facilities are built over the ice floe as close as possible to the edge of the water, making it the ideal base for daily excursions in the surroundings and for wildlife viewing. For more than a week, tourists will walk, sleep, eat and have sledge excursions directly over sea ice, in a place where a month later there will be just open water, but all this is still experienced in the full comfort of a well equipped camp. The tours are led by experienced guides ensuring safety and choosing the best itineraries to maximize the enjoyment of this beautiful place and its wildlife. The trip does not require any special skills, except some "open-mind" and the temperature at the end of winter is never extreme (it usually varies between a few degrees below and a few degrees above freezing point, with some wind). A large heated communal tent allows to have meals and relax during or after a day full of adventure and excitement.
HOW TO GET TO POND INLET IN NUNAVUT?
The Inuit community of Pond Inlet is located just north of the 72th parallel on northern Baffin Island, and can be reached (at time of this trip review) with two daily flights from Ottawa via Iqaluit and Clyde River offered by First Air and Canadian North. Although the places are all within Canada, the length of the flight is around 9 hours (including layover time in Iqaluit and Clyde River) due to the long distance, and is extremely expensive. As the flight departs Ottawa in the morning and return in late afternoon, it's advised to add at least one night in Ottawa before and after the trip, to make an extra buffer in case of any delay (usually, if the flights are not purchased within the same ticket, an airline may ask you to buy a new ticket in case a formally "non-connecting" flight is missed, so it's best to travel smart and Ottawa is a beautiful city, with lot of fantastic museums). Optionally, it's possible to get to Iqaluit, where the flight to Pond Inlet operates, also from Montreal via Kuujjuaq or from Yellowknife via Rankin Inlet. Seasonally, flights to Iqaluit are also offered a few times per week from Nuuk (Greenland) and from Halifax via St. John's with more routes added occasionally. In any case, please check current schedule and updated route maps with the airlines, since things change very often in the north.
WHERE TO BOOK ICE FLOE TRIPS OR OTHER EXPEDITIONS IN NUNAVUT?
WHAT IS THE BEST TIME TO VISIT NUNAVUT?
There is actually no best season to visit Nunavut, since the time of year should be chosen depending on what you want to do and to see. For excursions along the edge of the ice, like the trip described in this travelogue, the best time is a few weeks before the sea ice will break and thaw, so around June if the tour will be made around Pond Inlet. For trekking and kayaking, the best months are July and August, while for snowmobile tours and dogsled, the best time is from March to May. The winter months, between November and February, are characterized by freezing temperatures that can drop down to -40 degrees, both Fahrenheit and Celsius, while an eternal twilight illuminates the endless nights around noon: during this period, the activities are more limited and can include hiking in the Inuit villages, the observation of the northern lights and landscape photography.
WHAT TRIP EXTENSIONS ARE POSSIBLE BEFORE AND AFTER A TRIP TO NUNAVUT?
As discussed before, getting to Nunavut requires to overnight in southern Canada at least one night before and after the tour, giving the opportunity to visit Ottawa, Montreal, Edmonton, Yellowknife and St. John's depending on the routes offered by First Air and Canadian North when you will travel and by your actual departing city. Tourists coming from Europe, may consider to travel via Nuuk in Greenland, although Air Greenland is not very reliable and they tend to adjust schedules short before travel date, depending on the number of booked passengers and other factors. Visiting Iqaluit is also an interesting option, since this city, the capital of Nunavut, is also the main hub for the flights connecting the remote communities.
POND INLET & ICE FLOE PICTURES AND TRIP REVIEW
|<<-- GO Pond Inlet (Mittimatalik in Inuktitut language) is a small Inuit community located in northern Canada and, thanks to the spectacular landscape and to the wildlife, the town is an ideal starting point for a variety of tours in the region.|
|<<-- GO The edge along an ice floe is a dynamic environment that offers the opportunity to enjoy plenty of Arctic wildlife and to have interesting excursions in the surroundings, thanks to the camp built directly over sea ice very close to the open water.|
|<<-- GO Pictures of polar landscape taken along the northern coast of Baffin Island, not far from the community of Pond Inlet, taken during numerous excursions on the sea ice at the beginning of the summer.|
|<<-- GO Pictures of typical Arctic wildlife, including narwhals, polar bears, seals, walruses and flocks of birds flying in beautiful formations above the pack ice. A real safari in the heart of the Arctic ocean, but still in the comfort of a fixed camp.|
|<<-- GO Bylot Island is separated from Baffin Island by a narrow channel of water (Eclipse sound) and is included in the protected area Sirmilik National Park, thanks to the presence of archaeological findings and for the interesting vegetation.|
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IQALUIT PICTURES AND TRIP REVIEW
|<<-- GO Iqaluit is located on the southern part of Baffin Island in Canada and is the capital of Nunavut. In spite of its relatively southern latitude, the city has a polar climate, and the tundra, as well as the sea ice, are the ideal places of interesting excursions.|
|<<-- GO Excursion from Iqaluit by ATV along Sylvia Grinnell river and half day tour by dog sledge over the frozen sea in front of Iqaluit (Frobisher bay). These are just samples of the tours and activities available in Iqaluit.|