Though Canada’s Confederation was in 1867, Nunavut was not named a territory until 1999. It is a territory that covers most of the Canadian Arctic. Its name means “Our Land” in Inuktitut, the language of the Inuit people who reside there. From birdwatching and boating to dog sledding and visits to the floe edge, Nunavut is a place for many adventures. Whether you are an adrenaline junkie, a nature lover, or someone who enjoys art and culture, Nunavut has something great to offer you.
A trip to Nunavut will have to be carefully planned depending on the activities you wish to do; the territory is so vast that the climate and conditions will vary greatly from place to place.
I have been fortunate enough to travel throughout most of Canada but I am missing two of Canada’s territories. To round out my Canadian travel bucket list I still have to get to experience Northwest Territories, and Nunavut. When I travel, I plan. I like to know about the place I will be visiting and activities I will do to make sure I can fit everything in. In planning for my someday-trip to Nunavut, I figured I’d share my “someday Nunavut” trip itinerary. The folks at Nunavut Tourism were helpful in providing all of the photos to help flesh this post out.
1. Floe Edge
Sinaaq, the Inuktitut word for floe edge, is a great place to visit in the spring. A floe is drift ice – a flat chunk of sea ice that is up to 10 kilometers (6 miles) wide. Floes rise and fall with the tides. In the spring, the floe edge is one of the greatest places on earth. You can stand where the open sea meets the frozen sea and admire the beauty held there.
There are guided tours offered which I love because the tour guides are always so knowledgeable and as much as I enjoy the beauty, I also see travel as a learning experience. Visiting the floe edge provides the tour to enjoy the majestic beauty of Canada’s wildlife that inhabit the area. You expect to possibly see walruses, seals, polar bears, narwhals, and bowhead and beluga whales. There will also be many species of birds to enjoy.
2. Dogsledding in Nunavut
Snowmobiles are a more common form of transportation now but the Inuit people are tied to tradition and many still use dog sled teams for hunting. Because of the important role of the dogs and the historic use of dogsled teams, you will see them also used for tourism purposes and annual dogsled races in many of Nunavut’s communities.
3. Nunavut Birdwatching
Nunavut is replete with many species of birds. You can see raptors such as snowy owls, gyrfalcons, peregrine falcons, rough-legged hawks, bald eagles, and golden eagles. The raven is a corvid and can be seen almost everywhere in Nunavut. The raven is a central character in many trickster tales so be careful you are not fooled by Raven. You will also be able to see various species of grouse, songbirds, seabirds and waders, and waterfowl. You will see many birds as you are exploring the vast land of Nunavut but if you have a particular interest there are also many sanctuaries throughout the region.
4. Arctic Sport Fishing
I have always wanted to go sport fishing and I can’t imagine a better place to try it out. The largest fish I have ever caught (pike) was probably in the 3-5 pound range. In Nunavut, the largest fish caught there that are on record range from 20-32 pounds.
Arctic char is the only freshwater fish that can be found this far north. Other fish you may be able to snag are lake trout, northern pike, and arctic grayling. Depending on the time of year you can try your hand at spin-cast fishing, fly fishing, or ice fishing.
5. Snowmobiling in Nunavut
There are companies that provide snowmobiling experiences if the adrenaline of riding over snow in the open air is your thing. If you are interested in more about this the Nunavut Tourism website has a list of places you could contact about tours.
6. Nunavut Performance Art
Music, dance, and drama are a part of Inuit culture. There are opportunities to experience the wonder of throat singing, storytelling, drumming, and dancing.
You may have a chance to experience the culture of the performing arts in several different places. If you are planning a trip see what festivals are going on at the time.
In April, you could attend the Toonik Tyme Festival which is a weeklong event. The festival features traditional Inuit games and activities, dogsled races, and seal skinning contests. You also be entertained with music and feasts.
The Rockin’ Walrus Arts Festival in June provides the opportunity to enjoy music, dance, and acrobatic and theatrical performances. This is one of two popular festivals in the capital city, Iqaluit.
7. Package Tours to Nunavut
There are many tours available where you can have one or two experiences with a guide in a small group. These kind of tours always appeal to me as I feel I get an adventure and a great learning experience where I can find out more about an area and the culture of the people.
One of particular interest to me is a dogsledding and igloo building tour that can be done during the month of May up until mid-June. You get to travel about 10 kilometers out of Goja Haven by dogsled and once there you will help to build an igloo in which you spend the night.
Another tour of great interest to me is Retracing the steps of Sir John Franklin. You will visit areas that are connected with Sir John Franklin’s Arctic expedition of 1845. It is a voyage from which he and his crew members never returned
There are many other tour packages available as well and the options are almost overwhelming.If you are a resident of the area or a traveler who has taken any tours there, I would love to hear about your experiences in the comments. I would also love to hear about the hidden gems. Every place has the out of the way little-known restaurant that I love to visit or a local store that sells hand crafted items I love to take home with me.