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Day Trips in Nunavut

By: Cityseeker
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Igloolik Island

A charming point near the Melville Peninsula, Igloolik Island is home to an artistic Inuit community. The island itself was first inhabited over 4,000 years ago and today stands as a testament to the vibrancy of the Inuit culture. The world's only Inuit circus troupe, the Artcirq, proudly resides on Igloolik Island, and it also served as the location for the much-heralded 2001 film Atanarjuat: The Fast Runner, which is based on Inuit legend. Visitors to the island can go whale watching, dog sledding, and learn about Inuit culture, all under the beautiful Northern Lights.

Igloolik, NU, Canada
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Auyuittuq National Park

Auyuittuq National Park's spectacular landscape includes an impressive range of Arctic wilderness terrains. Dramatic fjords weave between the tundra's ice fields under the watchful eye of the park's many granite peaks. There is little vegetation in Auyuittuq National Park, which in turn means little wildlife, and it is believed that only 12 mammalian species call it home. These remarkable creatures include lemmings, wolves, and both red and Arctic foxes. Perhaps the most significant natural landmarks on the park's grounds are its glacier-capped peaks, notably Mount Asgard and Mount Thor, whose names originate from Norse mythology. Visitors to Auyuittuq National Park mainly include experienced adventure travelers, and the park requests that all visitors register, pay a fee, and attend an orientation before enjoying its magnificent beauty up close.

Baffin, NU, Canada
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Quttinirpaaq National Park

Quttinirpaaq National Park can be found on Ellesmere Island in the Qikiqtaaluk region of Nunavut, the northernmost stretch of land in Canada. The park's icy landscape, classified as a polar desert, is marked by craggy peaks and glacier-fed waters. As the region does not support much wildlife, it has been largely uninhabited throughout history, though archaeological evidence suggests that the ancestors of modern Inuits likely visited the area. Later, it was also used by researchers and polar explorers. Visitors to Quttinirpaaq National Park can check out the historic Fort Conger research base, which is now a Federal Heritage Building.

Baffin, NU, Canada
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Iqaluit

Known as Frobisher Bay up until 1987, Iqaluit is Nunavut's only city and also its capital. The city's icy climate is largely controlled by the Labrador Current, which causes the Iqaluit community to become relatively disconnected from the rest of the world when the roads and rails freeze over in the winter. The Iqaluit community was founded thousands of years ago when the Inuit settled here and started a fishing community. When World War II broke out, American forces built an airbase in the area around which a town grew up. Visitors to the seaside city have plenty to entertain them - from kite-skiing and snowmobiling in the winter, to hiking and kayaking in the summer, Iqaluit is an outdoor lover's dream. Several festivals also take place here, including the Alianait Arts Festival.

Iqaluit, NU, Canada
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Sirmilik National Park

Although it has been home to native inhabitants for thousands of years, Sirmilik National Park was first discovered by European whalers and explorers looking for the Northwest Passage in the early 1600s. It is comprised of Bylot Island, named for British explorer Robert Bylot, Baffin Island's Borden Peninsula, and Oliver Sound, a natural waterway just north of Baffin Island. The park was originally created as a bird sanctuary in 1965, but since being designated a National Park in 2001, it has protected a variety of remarkable wildlife. The park's Arctic Cordillera location is particularly comfortable for species like Beluga whales and polar bears. Safety requirements dictate that visitors to Sirmilik National Park must register, pay a fee, and participate in an orientation before entry.

Baffin, NU, Canada
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Akimiski Island Migratory Bird Sanctuary

The Akimiski Island Migratory Bird Sanctuary is an important stop along the migratory route for numerous species of birds, situated on an island in James Bay. Spanning an area 3,367 square kilometers (1,300 square miles), including a significant portion of marine habitat, the Akimiski Island Migratory Bird Sanctuary covers two-thirds of the eponymous island in Qikiqtaaluk. Each year, thousands of snow geese, Caspian tern and Atlantic Brant, alongside several other avian varieties, descend on the island, a flurry of feathers filling the air with the sound of their calls both shrill and melodious. Seals, beluga whales, and polar bears also roam the wild landscape of the island sanctuary.

Akimiski Island, NU, Canada
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Ukkusiksalik National Park

Now uninhabited, Ukkusiksalik National Park was home to Nunavut's Inuit people from the eleventh century to the mid-twentieth century. There are more than five hundred archeological sites scattered across the park's expansive tundras and coastal flats, many of which feature ancient artifacts like tent rings, food caches, and fox traps. While the region's arctic climate means little plant life, it attracts a wealth of extraordinary animals, notably polar bears and Arctic foxes. Visitors can access the park by boat and begin their wildlife-watching adventures from the beautiful Naujaat Bay.

Ukkusiksalik National Park, NU, Canada
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Bloody Falls

Bloody Falls is located inside Kugluk Territorial Park, an area that was often visited by European explorers following trade routes in search of the Northwest Passage. One such explorer was Samuel Hearne, who, in 1771, witnessed his own Chipewyan and Dene guides attack a group of Copper Inuit people camping near the Coppermine River valley. After the massacre, Hearne decided to name the waterfall near the incident Bloody Falls to commemorate the horrors he witnessed. Later, in 1996, Inuit and Dene members performed a healing ceremony to mend the wounds the attack left on the First Nations' relationship. Today, visitors to Kugluk National Park can gaze up at the falls and admire its calm, natural beauty.

Kugluktuk, NU, Canada
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Qausuittuq National Park

Qausuittuq National Park, meaning "place where the sun does not rise" in Inuktitut, was granted National Park status in 2015. It is situated northwest of Bathurst Island in Canada's Arctic Nunavut territory. The area is known for its remoteness, and as its traditional name suggests, it has been largely uninhabited. Species that thrive in the Qausuittuq National Park region include Peary caribou, snow geese, and walruses. The wilderness park attracts mainly experienced adventure travelers who visit to experience its vast and unspoiled lands.

Baffin, NU, Canada
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Southampton Island

Proudly rising above the cold, sparkling waters at the entrance to Hudson Bay, Southampton Island boasts soaring cliffs, beautiful limestone plains and a welcoming community called Coral Harbour, or Salliq in Inuktitut. The island is known as one of the best spots for polar bear and walrus watching in the far north. The Sadlermiut, a pre-Inuit culture, resided on the island for many centuries before they succumbed to infectious diseases carried by Europeans who came to the island. An archaeological site on the shores of the island's Native Bay is the largest Sadlermiut site found in the area, while the rest of the island houses many archaeological sites that are an important part of the narrative of the ancient Dorset people and the Sallirmiut. In the early 20th-Century, a group of Aivilingmiut moved to the island, while Baffin Islanders moved there some 25 years later. Today, visitors to the island can dog-sled or cross-country ski while looking for wildlife. Birding enthusiasts can also visit East Bay Migratory Bird Sanctuary and Harry Gibbons Migratory Bird Sanctuary, both of which are located on the island and are valuable breeding grounds for the lesser snow goose.

Southampton Island, NU, Canada
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Beechey Island

Despite its relative remoteness, Beechey Island has been the site of many historic happenings, most notably those associated with the hunt for the Northwest Passage. In 1819, Captain William Edward Parry became the first European explorer to visit the site. Parry's lieutenant, Frederick Beechey, was granted the honor of naming the island and did so after his father, artist William Beechey. In 1845, British explorer Sir John Franklin designated the island his winter camp while Roald Amundsen, the Norwegian explorer credited with discovering the Northwest Passage, stopped at the island in 1903. Tourism to the National Historic Site is limited, but excursions are possible with a handful of adventure travel companies.

Baffin, NU, Canada
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Flaherty Island

Named for the visual anthropologist Robert J. Flaherty, Flaherty Island is the largest of the Belcher Islands, and also one of the most strangely shaped. The island, particularly the town of Sanikiluaq, was the setting for Joel Heath's documentary People of a Feather, which explored climate change and the relationship the people of the Belcher Islands have with the natural world. Beluga whales, seals, and other marine critters can be found in the waters surrounding the island, while many species of migratory birds use the island as a breeding and resting ground. On its north coast, the community of Sanikiluaq is home to native Inuit residents.

Flaherty Island, NU, Canada
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