Bowhead, beluga and orca whales glide through glacial waters alongside mysterious and rare narwhals. Walruses and seals share the ice anxiously with hungry polar bears. Giant icebergs float by against the backdrop of Baffin Island’s huge rugged peaks, earning the island its moniker of ‘Iceberg Capital of the North’. With such an immense abundance of Arctic wildlife and tremendously impressive scenery, you could say that Qikiqtarjuaq – ‘Big island’ in Inuktitut – has been aptly named.
Just north of the Arctic Circle, you’ll find this spectacular island lying along the Davis Strait, adjacent to Baffin Island’s eastern coast. Its township of the same name is one of the closest Nunavut communities to Greenland, giving it a special character. As you approach you’ll be greeted by an inukshuk on a hill, a portent of the covetable craft pieces you’ll find below such as traditional Inuit clothing, cravings, prints and jewellery.
Qikiqtarjuaq also benefits from being conveniently close to the northern boundary of the majestically-mountainous Auyuittuq National Park. It serves as a great northern access point to this playground of awesome glaciers, incredible waterfalls, frozen lakes, sheer cliffs, semicircular valleys and flat-topped peaks such as Mount Asgard, famously featured the James Bond film ‘The Spy Who Loved Me’.
When to go
Cross-country skiing is a popular activity in the winter. Qikiqtarjuaq hosts a two-week celebration of games and festivities over Christmas and New Year to which visitors are warmly welcomed and encouraged to participate in.
Early spring provides great snowmobiling opportunities and the summer is excellent for hiking and camping. Fall is a good time for polar bear watching.
What to do
- Spot orca, right, beluga and bowhead whales; narwhals; walruses; seals; and polar bears
- Excursions to Qaqulluit and Akpait National Wildlife Areas to see migratory Nunavut birds
- Visits to Auyuittuq National Park
- Please note that polar bear sightings cannot be guaranteed
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