Loren Christie takes in the sights in Nunavut
Published Monday, July 9, 2012 8:44AM EDT
Last Updated Monday, July 9, 2012 9:29AM EDT
I am thrilled to say that I have just crossed off trip number four from my bucket list. Coming to Nunavut has been something I have wanted to do since it became a territory.
Nunavut offers visitors the chance to explore numerous national and territorial parks spanning vast distances. Each of them holds special cultural significance, whether as traditional hunting and fishing spots or as places of historical importance.
Some like Quttinirpaaq involve long chartered flights from Iqaluit, but there are also parks that are easily accessible from the territorial capital.
Visitors can have a picnic next to a rushing river or fish for arctic char in Sylvia Grinnell Territorial Park, which is located a short, 30-minute walk from the centre of Iqaluit.
Katannilik Territorial Park, often considered the crown jewel of territorial parks, is a short flight away. There, travellers can hike a 120 km overland trail stretching alongside the Soper River. The stretch from Mount Joy to Kimmirut is especially impressive. As you make the trek the valley walls, covered in numerous cascading waterfalls, surround you.
Many travellers are intrigued by the unique animals that inhabit Canada’s North. Like the safaris of Africa that entice tourists with the prospect of seeing the Big Five game animals, Nunavut’s allure is tied to their own version of the Big Five: caribou, walrus, polar bear, muskox and beluga. The numerous opportunities to see these and other animals up close is a highlight of anyone’s trip here.
If you do wish to come north remember that you should be reasonably physically fit to go into many of the parks, which are considered a wilderness backcountry experience. You also need to be flexible with your schedule since the weather here is variable. Even in the summer months accessibility can be conditional on the ice.
I would highly recommend that you book your trip through a tour operator or at least have an experienced tour guide join you. In addition to just being convenient, a tour operator can manage things you can’t up North. It can be challenging to do on your own, but to not do it means you are missing out on spectacular scenery, incredible wildlife and the chance to experience a unique culture.
Nunavut Tourism re-launched their website today. It is extremely user-friendly and makes planning your trip here effortless. Check out the list of tour operators that service the territory.
My biggest surprise about Nunavut is how easy it is to get up here. There are twice daily direct flights from Ottawa and daily flights from Winnipeg. It’s also less than three hours to fly here from Ottawa. Check out First Air for fares and schedules.