The thrill of a vacation in Nunavut is one of the world’s best kept secrets – a unique experience. It is a place where you will find amazing wildlife, untouched landscape and ancient traditions. A journey to the Canadian Arctic will allow you the opportunity to observe polar bears and whales, try dog sledding, and watch the Northern Lights illuminate the sky.
Nunavut became the largest and newest territory in Canada in 1999 due to 20 years of negotiations by the Inuit people who make up roughly 80 percent of the population. The territory is massive, quiet and breathtaking – no mass development causing disturbances in nature.
Weather in Nunavut
Even if you take a vacation in Nunavut in the summer, it is important to pack warm clothes because the temperature can suddenly drop without warning. Due to the territory’s vast size, there are extreme variations in the weather. Winters can be severe, with an average temperature of -31 degrees Fahrenheit, while summers tend to be a mild 50 degrees Fahrenheit.
In the winter, you will need polar-temperature gear, waterproof and windproof clothing, warm gloves, hats and molded, weatherproof boots and shoes. During the summer, light clothes are appropriate but it is advisable to wear layers in order to accommodate sudden weather changes. Protective lotion and sunglasses are recommended year round.
Some areas of the territory can be hazardous when strong winds occur, especially in combination with low temperatures. Visitors should take weather warnings very seriously.
Nunavut’s entire territory holds a mere population of approximately 30,000 people (80% Inuit). The cities are better defined as large communities of generous and welcoming people.
- Iqaluit – As the capital of the territory and Nunavut’s largest urban community, it is a “must-see”. Here you will find historic parks and ancient artifacts. Its springtime festival offers snowmobile and dog sled races, igloo building contests and scavenger hunts.
- Rankin Inlet – With a population of less than 3,000, this is Nunavut’s second most inhabited community, and the world’s most recognized supplier of Inuit fine arts. Archeological sites attract history buffs, and beautiful parks beckon tourists who like to canoe, fish and hunt.
- Arviat – Tourism is active here due to an abundance of wildlife. Visitors can observe various species in their natural environment; animals such as polar bears, caribou, beluga whales and migratory birds are common to the area. The community is known for its many talented musicians.
Things to Do
It is recommended to take a vacation in Nunavut as part of a tour, or at least with a well experienced guide. Due to the area’s untouched wilderness, sparse population and unpredictable weather, solo travelers should always stay in contact with Nunavut Tourism for advice, information, and updates on weather reports.
Most people traveling to Nunavut are looking for an outdoor adventure, and they are never disappointed. Below are just a few reasons to visit this exhilarating region of Canada.
- Canoeing – There are exceptional canoe expeditions that operate in protected areas where you will see caribou, musk-ox, and occasionally, a grizzly. There are numerous bays and inlets to explore; however, a tour or a local guide is advisable, even for the highly experienced.
- Kayaking – This water activity is a huge part of the Inuit heritage. You can silently drift past walrus herds, touch massive icebergs and explore Sirmilik National Park’s unspoiled natural world.
- Floe Edge – Between April and July, this spot is the most dynamic place in the world to be. At this time of year, the retreating ice meets the sea, allowing you to walk along the edge. Whales swim right off-shore and seals bask in the sun.
- Camping and Hiking – Set up camp amongst caribou and bird sanctuaries, and then spend your days backpacking in the wilderness. Auyuittuq National park on Baffin Island is considered a world-class destination for individuals who enjoy hiking.
- Bird Watching – Wherever your vacation in Nunavut takes you, birds will surround you. Millions of birds travel to this region at the beginning of June, and you can often see 50,000 birds nesting together, in one area. There are 11 bird sanctuaries, home to loons, sand-hill cranes, snowy owls, gyrfalcons and plovers. Nunavut is the best bird watching location in the world.
- Dog Sledding – There are many winter dog sledding tours that take you to see glaciers, mountains, icebergs and an abundance of wildlife. Some tours include spending a night in an igloo.
- Shopping – Nunavut is not only an adventure in nature, but also a unique shopping trip. Almost all communities specialize in art and handicrafts that are exceptional, yet reasonably priced; however, be prepared to pay high shipping costs. It is money well spent!
Johnny Mangiante is an online journalist. He is also the editor and webmaster for many websites. For more information on Travel Medical Insurance for Visitors to Canada see his website www.visitorstocanada.com.
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