Winter Itinerary: Wake up to the Northern Lights
There’s no point wasting any time this morning – jump right into the winter activities you came to experience 200 km north of the Arctic Circle! Choose the exhilarating power of a snowmobile or the traditional freedom of a dog team and head out on the snow-covered hills and powdered channels of the Mackenzie Delta. Take a break halfway at a rustic cabin heated by a wood stove. Enjoy the peaceful setting with warm tea cupped in your hands and a delicious Eskimo donut. As you return to Inuvik, see the last of what visible light is above you as the darkness of the polar night sets in.
After spending the day “out on the land”, gain an even deeper appreciation of the Western Arctic this evening during a cultural tour and dinner. See and visit the local attractions within the town, including Canada’s most famous building north of the 60th parallel – the Igloo Church. The last stop on the tour will be your guide’s home, where you will receive a warm invitation to enjoy a traditional northern feast! Have you ever tried muktuk, bannock or tuktu? With a full stomach, rest comfortably as your host shares stories about the land and life in Canada’s Arctic.
Today, get the best of both worlds as you embark on an once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to the Arctic Ocean and the well-known hamlet of Tuktoyaktuk. Take your wheels from frozen pavement to frozen water as you begin the 3-hour drive north on the Mackenzie River Ice Road. Watch as the landscape changes from boreal forest to the treeless Arctic tundra. Drive across the solid Arctic Ocean into Tuktoyaktuk and hear what your GPS has to say. As you arrive, try and spot Ibyuk Pingo amongst the many ice-cored hills. At 49 metres in height, this is Canada’s highest – and it’s still growing! After a short visit, head to the airport to board a plane back to Inuvik. Keep your camera close at hand because there is nothing more spectacular than seeing the Delta from above.
Later this evening, take part in one of the many local festivals that happen in Inuvik. Enjoy a memorable show by the Inuvik Drummers and Dancers. As they share stories through songs and dances, you will fall in love with the mesmerizing beat of the drum. After, admire the beautiful handiwork of the Inuvik Jigger’s mukluks and slippers as they perform for the crowd. Watch closely because you will be stepping a few jigs of your own at this evening’s ‘Old Tyme’ dance.
Begin your day by visiting two local aboriginal craft shops – one is operated by the Inuvialuit and the other by the Gwich’in. View stunning carvings made out of soapstone and intricate beadwork on everything from keychains to moose hide vests. Take note of what you really love because a talented local artist will work with you in creating your very own authentic souvenir. Head to their shop and work hand-in-hand, learning the process of their creation.
There will be plenty of options to marvel at the mesmerizing beauty of the Northern Lights later this evening. In order to see them at their finest, you will need to make your way outside the lights of the town. To do this, choose between cross-country skiing, snowshoeing the creeks and rivers of the Delta or ice fishing in one of the many pristine lakes that dot the region. Or if you prefer, learn the traditional art of making igloos. Keep your eyes on the sky above as the colours of the Aurora dance in spectacular fashion.
We don’t always save the best for last, but when we do, it involves reindeer. Join your guide early this morning and begin the trip back out to the tundra to visit Canada’s only free-range reindeer herd. Be amazed at the sights and sounds as you get up close and personal to over 4,500 of these distinctive animals. Observe them on the back of a snowmobile and on your own two feet. Help in the herding process, learn about the animal’s history in Canada, help with a harvest and enjoy a traditional local delicacy for lunch – you guessed it, reindeer! Listen to the stories about life as a reindeer herder, as many first-hand experiences of living in the Arctic tundra are shared around an open fire. There’s a reason why they are nicknamed the Tundra Cowboys! Don’t forget to take a picture next to one of the herders in their traditional Sami attire.
Return back to Inuvik after an incredible day full of amazing photo opportunities by both snowmobile and by truck on the ice road. Once again, as you drive back into Inuvik, turn your head to the sky to witness the Northern Lights and reminisce about all the unbelievable memories you now have of Canada’s Arctic.