Nunavut is Canada’s largest territory and the home to a unique flora and fauna which makes it the ideal destination for fishing, hunting, and dogsledding. Some of the popular tourist spots not to miss here are the Auyuittuq National Park, Naujaat, and Iqaluit, offering plenty of opportunities to meet locals and learn about their traditions and observe wild animals in their natural habitat.
Found within the Arctic Circle, the Auyuittuq National Park is dominated by rivers, deep valleys, mountains, and glaciers which attract skiers and hikers. As the terrain is challenging, visitors can use a snowmobile or dogsled to cross the 95-kilometre Akshayuk Pass. Its mountains, rugged cliffs, and glaciers offer excellent opportunities for backpacking, hiking, summer climbing, skiing, and camping in the wilderness. Visitors also have the chance to see remnants of traditional way of life such as fox traps, kayak stands, and tent rings. While wildlife and vegetation are scarce here, the park is bordered by sea and visitors can occasionally spot beluga whales and herp seals and ringed seals. Wildlife in the park is represented by Arctic hares and foxes, polar bears, snowy owls, wolves, and red foxes.
Also located on the Arctic Circle, Naujaat tends to experience some rough weather which is why just slightly over 1,000 people live here. Arctic tundra, charming inlets, and rolling hills characterize the landscape and makes it ideal for a variety of outdoor activities. There is plenty to do here, from bird watching and kayaking to hiking, ATV riding, and fishing. The area is the home to snow geese, peregrine falcons, tundra swans, and seagulls.
The capital of Nunavut Iqaluit is found in the Everett Mountains and has a population of 7,740. Its residents rely on sea connections for imported commodities as there is no rail or road for a good part of the year. The city can only be accessed by boat and air subject to weather conditions.
Here traditional culture and way of life is virtually everywhere, from annual festivals to musicians and arts and crafts. While Iqaluit has a polar climate, that doesn’t stop tourists from visiting from some great dogsledding, snowmobiling, and hiking. Traditional activities are also berry picking, fishing, and hunting.
The capital also has two sports complexes, Arnaitok and the Arctic Winter Games Arena. There are plenty of opportunities to practice sports, with facilities like outdoor ice rinks, soccer nets, basketball courts, a golf course, skate park, and shooting range.
What to Do
As Nunavut is the home to a number of parks and conservation areas, visitors enjoy diverse ecosystems and bird and animal species. There are 11 bird sanctuaries with interesting and protected species such as sea birds, cranes, and geese. Akimiski Island is a popular spot to observe ducks and geese in summer and spring and spot polar bears and beluga whales. Boatswain Bay, which is found on James Bay has large populations of geese and ducks, including the Lesser Snow Goose, Atlantic Brant, and America Black Duck.
Close to a range of outdoor activities, Nunavut’s wilderness lodges offer visitors the chance to experience a mix of freedom, unique culinary delights, and adventure. Season-wise, visitors will arrive by a snowmobile, dogsled, boat, or floatplane to enjoy nature. There is no scarcity of activities to try, from cross-country and para sliding and fat biking, to rafting down rapids, kayaking by icebergs, fishing, and trekking. Some lodges offer select activities such as hunting and fishing while others offer custom expeditions. Tourists also enjoy traditional food represented by freshly baked bannock, barbecued caribou burgers, smoked char, tundra blueberry compote, and muskox meatballs.
Hiking and Camping
In summer, tourists can hike the Akshayuk Pass, along the shores of Whale cove for beluga whale sightings, or the Polar Bear Pass and its migratory bird wetlands. Visiting the communities of Chesterfield Inlet, Ranking Inlet, and Baker Lake is a wonderful opportunity to observe calving grounds and caribous. Those who wish to experience authentic winter igloo-camping can do so with a local guide and near all of Nunavut’s communities.