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Arctic sea ice melting in Cunningham Inlet

Arctic Watch Wilderness Lodge Discovery

9-day escorted tour from £7,310 pp incl. flights


Short description

Head to Nunavut in Arctic Canada in search of beluga whales, polar bears and a rich array of birdlife

In Brief

  • 1 Night Yellowknife
  • 5 Nights Somerset Island
  • 1 Night Yellowknife


Recommended for:
Escorted tour | Mountains | Photography | Summer | Wildlife

The Arctic Watch Wilderness Lodge is open for just a few weeks each year in July and August and its location, on Somerset Island in the vast Canadian territory of Nunavut, offers unforgettable wildlife encounters. Beluga whales snatch the headlines and polar bears are also occasionally seen. It’s also a great place for birders, amateur photographers and outdoor enthusiasts, with fabulous kayaking and hiking trips taking guests deep into the surrounding wilderness.

Day by day itinerary

Day 1

Fly from the UK to Yellowknife via Calgary. On arrival, make your way to your hotel and, in the evening, get your bearings with a wander around the town. Yellowknife lies on the north shore of Great Slave Lake, North America’s deepest and one of its largest freshwater lakes.

Stay: Selected Yellowknife hotel

Day 2
Arctic Watch Wilderness Lodge

Catch a private charter flight north to Somerset Island and the Arctic Watch Wilderness Lodge. During the four-and-a-half-hour flight, you’ll pass over the treeline as you cross the Arctic Circle. Following a refuelling stop in the community of Cambridge Bay, you’ll circle above Cunningham Inlet. Enjoy aerial views of the lodge below, before landing on the private airstrip on Somerset Island. A half mile (900 metre) walk across the tundra—and a 110 yard (100 metre) raft ride across the Cunningham River—will bring you to the lodge. After a tour of the facilities, you’ll be escorted to your cabin. Upon settling in, meet your hosts for a safety briefing and overview of the exciting activities and options ahead.

Stay: Arctic Watch Wilderness Lodge (Standard)

Meals: B L D

Day 3
Arctic Watch Wilderness Lodge

After a hot breakfast, a typical first morning at the lodge may include receiving a hands-on introduction to driving all-terrain vehicles (ATVs), which are easy and fun to operate. Later, you may take a short hike to the Cunningham River estuary to spot beluga whales frolicking in the shallow water only a few yards offshore. After lunch there may be an opportunity for a hike to Triple Waterfalls, a five-story torrent of free-falling water. There you can see nesting peregrine falcons and other birds such as loons, snow buntings, sandpipers and rough-legged hawks. Exploring this canyon introduces you to the delicate beauty of wild arctic flowers. Encounters with muskoxen are common.

During your gourmet dinner, pair your meal with a fine Canadian bottle of wine from the Northwest Passage Wine and Spirit List. After dinner there’s free time to explore in and around the lodge. The library has a broad selection of arctic and polar titles. The interpretive center contains collections of local fossils, the skeletal remains of arctic fauna, and a collection of traditional Inuit clothing from Canada, Greenland and Siberia.

Stay: Arctic Watch Wilderness Lodge (Standard)

Meals: B L D

Day 4
Arctic Watch Wilderness Lodge

One of today’s activities may be kayaking in Cunningham Inlet. Paddle among icebergs, looking out for beluga whales as well as ring and bearded seals. Sightings of seabirds, including arctic terns and eider ducks, can be expected. After a lunch served along the shoreline, you’ll take a short hike to explore a local canyon aptly named Kayak Falls. From there, you’ll enjoy stunning views of the Northwest Passage and the opportunity to see polar bears.

In the afternoon, you’ll return to the Cunningham River estuary, a beluga whale migration site. This site is unique the world over because of the density of the beluga population and its proximity to our lodge. You may even be able to see the whales while you stand on the river banks, and be close enough to hear their calls. Guides will use hydrophones so you can also hear the whales’ underwater song.

In the evening, following a five-star dinner, you’ll hear a lecture on the beluga research being conducted in Cunningham Inlet.

Stay: Arctic Watch Wilderness Lodge (Standard)

Meals: B L D

Day 5
Arctic Watch Wilderness Lodge

Following breakfast, you’ll depart for a trip to Flatrock Falls, crossing the Cunningham River delta. There, you’ll have the option of hiking or traveling by Mercedes Unimog (a multipurpose four-wheel-drive truck). You’ll visit the Somerset Island canyons, formed as the result of shifting fault lines. Their steep walls vary from 200 to 1,000 feet (61 to 305 metres). Millions of fossils of prehistoric plants and animals are scattered around the ground. You may also have the opportunity to observe nesting sites of local birds, including terns, plovers and snow geese. An alfresco lunch is served directly on the flat rocks that surround this canyon.

After lunch, you’ll travel to Gull Canyon, where you can see the striking color contrasts between the barren canyon and a lush gull rookery. This spot was recently declared a unique ecosystem by the Canadian Wildlife Service due to the area’s gull rookery and the presence of peregrine falcons. In the evening, a Scientist in Residence will give an informal lecture.

Stay: Arctic Watch Wilderness Lodge (Standard)

Meals: B L D

Day 6
Arctic Watch Wilderness Lodge

Today’s full-day rafting adventure will begin after breakfast with a Mercedes Unimog truck ride to the Arctic Watch raft launch on the Cunningham River, 12.5 miles (20 km) from the lodge. Opt to hike the final four miles (6 km) through the Badlands, passing the skeletal remains of two bowhead whales that date back 8,000 years. On the way to the launch, you may encounter muskoxen, snow geese, jaegers, arctic fox, sandpipers and rough-legged hawks.

You’ll savor a picnic lunch on the beach, beside the river, as the staff and guides prepare the rafts. Return to the lodge by raft on the swift-flowing, crystal-clear water of the gentle rapids. The views are amazing and include steep canyon walls that at one point make a 180-degree turn.

Tonight, you’ll enjoy our farewell dinner and evening at Arctic Watch Wilderness Lodge.

Stay: Arctic Watch Wilderness Lodge (Standard)

Meals: B L D

Day 7
Arctic Watch Wilderness Lodge > Yellowknife

Today you’ll bid a fond goodbye to the lodge team and the High Arctic. You may have time to take advantage of one last activity before you depart. In the late afternoon you’ll return to Yellowknife. Upon arrival in Yellowknife you will be transferred to your included hotel.

Stay: Selected Yellowknife hotel

Meals: B

Days 8-9
Yellowknife > UK

Depart Yellowknife and fly home to the UK via Calgary on your overnight flight arriving on Day 9.



Any element of this itinerary can be adjusted to suit your needs. Just contact us to find out more.

9-day escorted tour from £7,315 incl. flights



  • Complimentary UK airport departure lounge access
  • Return flights between UK and Yellowknife
  • 1nt pre-accommodation in Yellowknife
  • Chartered return flight between Yellowknife and Arctic Watch Wilderness Lodge on a FB basis
  • Guided activities as per itineraries
  • Visit the Cunningham River estuary, home to hundreds of Beluga whales
  • View rarely seen and iconic Arctic Wildlife; Beluga whales, polar bears, muskox, ringed seals, snowy owl and arctic fox
  • Included all-terrain vehicles (ATV's), Mercedes Unimog, kayaking, rafting and more
  • Take advantage of optional activities such as fishing for Arctic char and the Beechey Island fly-in excursion
  • Visit Cape Anne Thule sites with ancient stone and bone houses

Different durations tours during the season

Longer duration packages are available throughout the season

Terms & Conditions

Prices are per person based on two people sharing a twin/double room; prices are subject to availability and possible change; normal booking conditions apply.

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