The sparsely populated Northwest Territories comprise vast swathes of Arctic tundra and pristine boreal forest, five times the size of the United Kingdom. Home to beluga whale and bearded seal, Arctic fox and polar bear, the endless landscapes of Canada’s far northern provinces are blessed with a wild beauty quite unlike any other.
This is a region of epic proportions, where a unique aboriginal culture is set against a backdrop of four national parks and the shimmering blue of Great Slave Lake – the deepest in North America. The sub-Arctic town of Yellowknife is gateway to a host of off-the-beaten-track experiences, with remote hotels offering seasonal tours by boat or snowmobile in search of caribou, grizzly bears, black bears and wolves. Head further north still, to Nunavut, to experience nature in its rawest form.
Yellowknife's picturesque centre and pioneering spirit make this frontier town a charming gateway to the myriad of wilderness adventures found in Canada’s Northwest Territories and beyond. Head to Somerset Island in Nunavut for well off-the-beaten track travel; this faraway island in Canada’s Arctic archipelago is all untamed landscapes and a remarkable diversity of nature, best explored from the faraway comforts of the Arctic Watch Wilderness Lodge. If Nunavut sounds a little too extreme, perhaps consider Manitoba. Equally enticing in both summer and winter, its forests, mountains, farmlands and prairie stretch north from the US border, past Winnipeg’s big-city sophistication to the desolate western shores of Hudson Bay. Here, amid the Arctic tundra, polar bears and beluga whales come to feed and, in winter, the technicolour swirls of the Northern Lights can be seen dancing in dark skies overhead. Explore Baffin Island and its national parks, one of the world's largest islands, where you'll find ice caps, dramatic fjords dominated by colossal steely mountains.
Northern Lights over Yellowknife
Canada’s largest province is a network of mainly uninhabited islands, save for a small Aboriginal population who’ve carved out an existence amid its inhospitable remotes. Here, the wildlife takes on an altogether more Arctic feel, with roaming polar bears and herds of muskox making the most of the almost unlimited space. The remote outpost of Churchill in northern Manitoba will sate the appetite of even the most demanding adventure seekers; perhaps search for polar bears in the wilderness or swim with beluga whales in the frigid waters of Hudson Bay. While touring the Canadian Arctic Archipelago, keep an eye out for wildlife such as the arctic fox, caribou and muskox, or head north to Ellesmere Island to spot narwhal, beluga whale and polar bear.
Yellowknife is wonderfully photographed from Bush Pilot's Monument in Old Town, and the heritage museum tells the story of the Dene First Nations tribe. Follow guided tours of Nahanni National Park or fly to Nunavut to discover Inuit culture, and take a look at their artwork in Baker Lake or visit the Thule (Inuit ancestors) native site in Rankin Inlet. Head to charming Winnipeg for historic neighbourhoods, a vibrant arts scene and one of the world’s best fringe-theatre festivals. Discover all this and more in Manitoba’s capital, which rises from the vast expanse of the province’s southern prairie.