Day 0: Arrival in Winnipeg
Participants will need to be in Winnipeg the night prior to our flight to Naujaat. We’ll enjoy a meal together in the evening before our flight, where we can discuss the exciting tour. Night in Winnipeg.
Day 1: Travel to Naujaat
This is the moment we’ve been waiting for: arriving at the arctic circle. First, however, we have a stopover in Rankin Inlet on the shores of Hudson Bay. When arriving in Naujaat, we can check out the Arctic Circle Monument, do some birding around town and settle in for dinner. We may glimpse an Iceland Gull atop an iceberg—something you don’t see every day, unless, of course, you live here. Shopping for local crafts, carvings and handiwork is another alluring possibility. Soapstone is a specialty of this area. We’ll relax at the hotel and perhaps enjoy some arctic char for dinner. Light sleepers will have to pull down the blinds because there is no natural darkness here during our visit! Hotel night in Naujaat.
Day 2: Travel to the floe edge
This morning we’ll have a birding walk on the outskirts of town. You won’t find an ebird list for the area so any sort of surprise is in order! Most likely, we’ll hear the twittering flight songs of Lapland Longspur and Horned Lark, while Snow Bunting and Common Redpoll flitter among the town’s buildings. Naujaat means “Seagull nesting place”—we are always pleased to offer tours to locations named after birds! Fittingly, Iceland, Herring, Sabine’s and Glaucous Gulls can be found in the area. Tundra Swan, Red-throated Loon and King Eider can be found in ponds near town, depending on the ice conditions when we arrive. After lunch, we will depart for the floe edge—a two-hour journey by snowmobile. We travel in komatiks pulled behind snowmobiles driven by our experienced and charming Inuit guides.
Once we arrive at camp, our Inuit guides will set up and we’ll have some time to explore the nearby tundra. Some of the avian possibilities here are White-rumped and Purple Sandpipers, and maybe even Red Knot. Rock Ptarmigan is a possibility. The birding at the floe edge is usually superb, but that will have to wait until our guides are ready to take us out there. After all, we’ll need a cozy camp to return to at the end of our day trips.
Days 3–6: Floe edge
The floe edge here is dynamic and wonderful. Marine wildlife is concentrated to such an extent that we scarcely need to move, but rather sit back, relax and enjoy. It’s like watching the Discovery Channel from your favourite chair, except we provide the chair!
A polar bear could be sighted at any time so we’ll keep watch in the water, on ice floes and on the fast ice to our rear. Narwhal move through in small pods, foraging on arctic cod, with the males’ long “tusks” (they are truly a tooth) poking up to seven feet out of the water! Narwhal in this region are abundant, with the population of Hudson Bay whales estimated around 20,000. Belugas could pass through at any time, too, in addition to the magnificent Bowhead Whale.
Black Guillemot, Thick-billed Murre, Common and King Eider, Long-tailed Duck, Snow Goose, and various gulls will be the main birds on the scene, but we’ll have an eye for rarer species like Brant, Yellow-billed Loon, Red Phalarope and both Long-tailed and Parasitic Jaegers. When it’s time to pick up and move, we’ll have an opportunity to explore the vicinity by snowmobile to track down more elusive animals such as walrus, should they evade us at our daily stake-out.
Ringed Seals dot the landscape, and by now we appreciate that they are not just a hearty meal for a bear, but rather beautiful, highly adaptive species that warrant our curiosity. But if we see one being eaten by a polar bear that will be fine too. We may even have a chance to taste one for ourselves.
Our activities will depend on the location of the floe edge and weather conditions, but will involve a short commute from camp to the edge. Our more conventional—and comfortable— land-based camp will ensure it’s not all ice, all the time, on this trip. Indeed, a pleasant stroll around midnight with a guide is a fascinating way to experience a memorable arctic moment.
Day 7: Return to Naujaat
When it’s time to return via the approximately 40km commute back to Naujaat, we’ll have memory cards—but more importantly, vivid memories—full of our edgy adventure! On the journey we continue to scan for wildlife and we may have to negotiate getting around a “lead” or a crack in the ice.
We arrive back in town in the afternoon in time for dinner and the opportunity to walk around town in the evening. Night in Naujaat.
Day 8: Travel to Winnipeg and onward
We have a final morning to explore Naujaat after this unforgettable experience in the High Arctic before we catch our flight back to Winnipeg after lunch, arriving in the evening. We recommend you spend this night in Winnipeg before travelling home.