Muskoxen & Polar Bear Photography at Arctic Watch

Muskoxen & Polar Bear Photography at Arctic Watch

Photograph The Polar Bears and Muskoxen of The Northwest Passage.

High Arctic Muskoxen & Polar Bear Photography

  • 9 nights
  • 2 dates available - View Dates

Price

$19,500.00CAD

Deposit

$3,500.00CAD



High Arctic Muskoxen & Polar Bear Photography

Early Autumn in the high Arctic - a unique time where polar bears await the return of winter ice and muskox battle for breeding rights. As the final throws of 24-hour sunlight hit the tundra, we set out to experience the wildlife of Arctic Watch and Somerset Island in a small photography-focused adventure. Polar bears, muskoxen, narwhal, Arctic foxes, snowy owls and more. This adventure is open to a maximum of 9 guests, expertly led by the team at Weber Arctic.

Arctic Watch Wilderness Lodge, situated 800 kilometres above the Arctic circle is our basecamp as we set out to explore the tundra of Somerset and coastline of the Northwest Passage.

In August as the pack-ice begins to return on the Northwest Passage, polar bears eagerly await their winter platform atop the Arctic Ocean and begin to concentrate in coastal areas of Somerset island. Muskoxen are in full rut - epic displays and battles between males as they fight for breeding rights. Muskoxen herds amass in larger numbers (as many as 15 - 35 animals), almost as spectators to watch the males fight. Migratory animals such as narwhal travel alongside the coastal areas of Somerset - heading towards a unique concentration of Arctic char to feed before winter. Equipped with your camera, our team at Arctic Watch and all the necessary equipment (including one day of helicopter assisted hiking), we set out to explore and photograph the beauty of the Canadian high Arctic.

Read more about Arctic Watch Wilderness Lodge, and what to expect on staying at the world's most northerly fly-in lodge.

Cancellation Policy

Any cancellations before 180 days prior to the departure date will receive a full refund less a $500 administration fee, per person. Any cancellations after that are not eligible for a refund. ADD-ON POLICY: If an Add-On trip is cancelled due to weather or insufficient numbers, everyone who signed up will receive a full refund. To ensure a stress-free adventure, we recommend guests purchase travel insurance prior to visiting the Arctic.

As per Canadian Law, all quoted rates are GST applicable at 5%. Prices are in Canadian currency.

*All guests must be fully vaccinated (two weeks prior) against covid-19 before to arriving at Arctic Watch Wilderness Lodge.*

Itinerary

In the wild and unpredictable Arctic the weather patterns and wildlife can disrupt even the best-laid plans. Therefore all of our itineraries are marked as ‘suggested’ - most excursions will be happen, just not necessarily on the days noted below. Daily excursions are planned based on guest desires, abilities and interests as well as daily wildlife and weather conditions.

Daily excursions are led by the team at Weber Arctic - limited to 9-guests, this adventure focuses on photographing and observing muskoxen, polar bears and other high Arctic animals in August on the Northwest Passage. 

Arrival Instructions

All adventures to Arctic Watch include accommodation in Yellowknife the nights before and after at the Explorer Hotel. Guests arrive into Yellowknife the day before the private charter departs for Arctic Watch.

Day 1

Fly to Yellowknife, the capital of Canada’s Northwest Territories and spend the night at the Explorer Hotel.

Day 2

After breakfast, depart Yellowknife on a private charter for the 3-hour flight to Arctic Watch. Guests will land in the Arctic later that afternoon. After an introduction to the lodge and the surrounding landscape by the Arctic Watch team, guests will have time to settle into their cabins. Before dinner is served, a short hike up to the local mountain is offered; breathtaking views of the Northwest Passage and ice formations on the Arctic ocean. Spend time with your guide that evening, as you prepare your camera gear for the adventure.

Day 3

ATVs are our most practical form of transportation to cover long distances on the tundra. Attend a hands-on introduction to all-terrain vehicles followed by a short drive to the badlands of Somerset. The area is a distinctive grazing around for muskoxen denoted by salt deposits. The flora, combined with the natural salt deposits attract muskoxen herds. Spend the afternoon following and photographing muskoxen. In August bull muskoxen will battle for breeding rights in the herd. These fights can often be heard from big distances - males colliding heads at 60km/h. Female muskoxen (and young) will often nearly stand in observation. The area is also home to foxes and snowy owls. 

Day 4 

A short ATV drive from the lodge, we head inland into Somerset Island's tundra to an area we call muskox ridge. Deep peat moss and sedge grasses will attract residential muskoxen to spend most of the summer feeding in this area. Herds will wander between feeding sites - looking for the best foliage to graze on. Spending the day hiking the ridge and surrounding area, our goal is to follow and photograph the local herds. An arctic fox den in the vicinity can often have denning kits and snowy owls are known to hunt lemmings in this area. 

Day 5

Today, we head onto the Northwest Passage to track polar bears. Climbing aboard our helicopter, we'll spend the day travelling and stopping to hike areas along the coast where autumn pack ice begins to collect. These areas are often inhabited by polar bears, who are actively hunting seals. Beautiful floating pack ice, the scree slopes of Somerset and the open waters of the Northwest passage are in themselves jaw-dropping. It's also the time of year that narwhal are migrating through. These quiet and gentle marine creatures are often best observed from hill sides on the Northwest Passage or from the air.

Day 5 - 8

Daily excursions led by the Weber Arctic team at Arctic Watch focus on observing, photographing and encountering the animals of Somerset and the Northwest Passage. Guests are provided the best opportunities to photograph unique moments and are welcome to bring handheld and drone based photographic equipment (under the guidance of our team to ensure we don't disturb any Arctic animals).

Day 9

The flight departs in the late afternoon. Upon arriving in Yellowknife you will spend the night at the Explorer Hotel before your return flight home.

Day 10

Depart Yellowknife for the return flight home.

Preparing For Your Trip

In the wild and unpredictable Arctic, weather patterns and wildlife can disrupt even the best-laid plans. All of our itineraries are ‘suggested’– we strive to ensure your visit to Arctic Watch is a trip of a lifetime. Each day’s activities take into consideration the dynamic environment we operate within, your interests, and may not always reflect the suggested itinerary outlined below.

Travel Recommendations & Notes

All travellers must purchase travel insurance - even Canadian guests. We recommend trip interruption, cancellation and health insurance that includes air ambulance. If an air ambulance is required to Yellowknife, Iqaluit or Ottawa, all non-Nunavut residents are responsible for the cost.

All guests must be fully vaccinated (two weeks prior) against covid-19 before to arriving at Arctic Watch Wilderness Lodge.

Baggage allowance on the charter flight from Yellowknife to Arctic Watch is 20 kg per person, including carry-on. If you have additional gear that will exceed the weight limit please let us know in advance.

Gear List

  • Neoprene Boots - A comfortable update to the traditional rubber boot with neoprene uppers and a neoprene/polyurethane foot. The best brand is Muck Boots - muckbootcompany.com.
  • Hiking/Walking Boots - Sturdy, waterproof/water-resistant leather lightweight boots are nice to have, but if happy with the Muck boots, these are not needed.
  • Light Winter Jacket/Raincoat - In the cooler evenings, a warm jacket is a must.
  • Comfortable Hiking Pants - Pack a couple pairs of quick dry pants made from tightly woven, wind-resistant material. No cotton or silk content.
  • Long Underwear - A couple sets of long underwear made from synthetic or wool - no cotton or silk content.
  • Day Pack - You’ll need a day pack to carry cameras and extra clothing on your excursions. We recommend Osprey Backpacks. Waterproof/water resistant storage compartments are a must for water sports.
  • Personal Items - Toiletries, cameras, sunglasses, extra glasses/contacts or any other items you might require.
  • Fishing - We have gear, but if you prefer your own - bring it.
  • Rain Pants - This item is primarily for protection against the wind while on the ATVs. Ensure your pants are waterproof and seam-sealed.
  • Lodge Shoes - Light, comfortable shoes to wear in the lodge are useful. We will supply guests with lodge shoes.
  • Fleece Jacket - A fleece jacket is another necessity as an extra layer under your raincoat, for warmer days, or just to wear around the lodge.
  • Hat - A wool toque or fleece hat. Any cap really that is made from a material that dries easily.
  • Gloves - Wind-resistant gloves/mittens for cold days or the ATV excursions.
  • Socks - Several pairs of good wool or wool-synthetic socks are a must. No cotton or silk content. Arctic Watch has Smartwool socks available for purchase if needed.
  • Sunscreen - The summer sun in the Arctic is extremely strong - not to mention it shines almost 24 hours a day. So pack sunscreen.
  • Binoculars - Great for spotting wildlife. We recommend Swarovski Optiks.
  • Arctic Watch has gear available for use on specific excursions: ATV helmets, fishing gear, paddling dry jackets and pants, life jackets, and more.

Staff Gratuities/Tip: If you wish to leave a tip to the team after your stay, it is greatly appreciated. Gratuities are split evenly amongst the staff members. We don't make suggestions - every culture has different expectations surrounding tips. Guests will (on average) leave about 10% of the value of their trip.

We're here to help.

We understand that booking a trip like this is a big endeavour. Please reach out to us with any questions that you might have regarding your upcoming adventure.

PARTNERS & SPONSORS