Narwhals & Polar Bears: Naujaat

Canada
Land Tour
Highlights

Highlights

  • Unique wilderness experience in the High Arctic
  • Watching narwhals and other northern specialties while on the frozen ocean
  • Experiencing travel with our welcoming Inuit hosts
Map

Map

Tour Overview

Naujaat, formerly called Repulse Bay, is an Inuit community situated directly on the Arctic Circle. For nature enthusiasts and photographers, the location means the sun will at times be kissing the horizon, offering dramatic lighting on the rolling, shield-like landscape and featured ocean bays. Imagine crisp white chunks of diamond-like ice immersed in glimmering, azure waters at the floe edge. Around our land-based camp the flowering tundra glows in a kaleidoscope of colours.

Narwhal are abundant off the shores of nearby Ukkusiksalik National Park, along with other mammals in the area such as wolf, polar bear, caribou, Muskox and Arctic Fox, along with Bowhead and Beluga Whales. Another denizen of the area is walrus, which is rare but more likely to be found here than on our other floe edge trips. Migratory shorebirds, waterfowl and songbirds are also more prevalent, and we can encounter redpolls, longspurs, plovers, loons, eiders, geese, jaegers and more. Viewing and photography of sandpipers in breeding plumage is an exciting pastime near camp. Each has its own stunning song, not heard farther south on migration. Our trip involves five sunlit nights at a comfortable camp accessed via a two-hour commute, bookended on either end by a night in Naujaat.

We also have a Narwhals & Polar Bear tours to Pond Inlet and a Narhwals & Polar Bear tour to Arctic Bay.

Itinerary

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

What's Included

Tour Includes

  • 2 nights in hotels in Naujaat, 5 nights comfortable camping near floe edge (equipment provided)
  • Ground transportation
  • Travel by komatik (sled) to/from the floe edge
  • Includes all meals from dinner on Day 1 to lunch on Day 8
  • Eagle-Eye Tours guide plus local Inuit guides with 4 – 7 participants

Tour Does Not Include

  • Round-trip airfare from Winnipeg to Naujaat (2022 price is currently $2,650 CAD / $2,250 USD +5% tax) or Winnipeg to Naujaat to Rankin Inlet if you are combining this with our Walrus & Bowhead Whales tour (2022 price is approximately $1,995 CAD / $1,675 USD +5% tax)
  • Mandatory Emergency Medical Insurance
  • Items of a personal nature
  • Additional expenses in the event of flight delays (trip interruption insurance strongly recommended)
  • Accommodation pre or post in Winnipeg

What to Expect

Mid-June can still be cold in the Arctic, but it is generally comfortable with snow melting quickly and pleasant weather. Temperatures should be a little above freezing and it could snow or be windy, but warm layered clothing along with the waterproof boots should keep you warm. The sun is up almost 24 hours, so bring sunscreen. We will provide camping equipment including a thick mattress. We can provide a warm sleeping bag, or you can bring your own. Single travelers get their own tent. You can sit up in these tents but not stand up in them. We have larger tents at the camp that we use for dining and cooking. Our toilet is set up inside a tent near the camp and we bring a toilet and tent when we are out for the day on the ice.

We aim to provide delicious meals while we are out on the land and ice, and are happy to work to accommodate dietary requests.

Our daily outings from our camp on our polar bear and narwhal tour will be focused on looking for narwhal and watching birds and other wildlife at the floe edge or on the tundra. This tour also presents an excellent opportunity to learn about the local Inuit and their culture as their ancestors have been surviving and thriving in this harsh environment for many generations.

Walking on this tour is generally easy. We will be walking on ice at the floe edge and during our travels. Around our camp we will encounter small hills and uneven tundra and beach walking. We spend most of our time traveling in the komatiks (sleds) and set up at the floe edge wildlife viewing, but typically do one or two optional hikes on the tundra for a couple of hours as well.

While we have outlined the detailed itinerary, this schedule and our daily activities will be very dependent on the daily weather and ice conditions as well as possible schedule changes from the airline. In addition, we cannot guarantee single occupancy in our hotel in Naujaat.

Please note that the deposit for this tour is $1000 CAD/USD. Due to the remote nature of this tour and the high cost of evacuation, emergency medical insurance is required on this tour.

Featured Wildlife

Even though we cannot guarantee a sighting of the animals below, we feel quite confident that an encounter with the ones listed below is quite likely.

  • Narwhal
  • Polar Bear
  • Thick-billed Murre
  • Black Guillemot
  • Northern Fulmar
  • Common Eider
  • King Eider
  • Pomarine Jaeger
  • Long-tailed Jaeger