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Duration
8 days
Activities
  • 5 days hiking with a full pack
Accommodation
  • 2 nights twin share/double
  • 5 nights wilderness camping
Meals
  • 6 Dinners
  • 6 Lunches
  • 6 Breakfasts

Price

$2795USD

* All prices subject to applicable taxes

Trip Code: THO

Overview

Trip highlights


  • Cross the Arctic Circle by foot
  • Enjoy views of Thor Peak, the world's second tallest rock face
  • Walk the path of the Inuit through Akshayuk Pass
  • Feel dwarfed by the landscape in Baffin Island's Auyuittuq National Park
  • Take a boat ride deep into Pangnirtung Fiord
  • Visit an historic whaling station at Kekerten Island Territorial Park
  • Sample Inuit delicacies during your stay in Pangnirtun
  • Watch for arctic fox, seals, hare, polar bears, bowhead whales, and icebergs

Prepare to enter one of the most awe-inspiring places on Earth; into a landscape named after the ancient kingdom of the powerful Norse gods. Among the dramatic granite towers carved in bedrock by glaciers, stand Odin, Asgard, Overlord, and the second tallest rock face on earth, Thor Peak. This is Auyuittuq National Park on Baffin Island, an 'end-of-the-earth' destination sought out by climbers and intrepid hikers from around the world. From the territorial capital of Iqaluit, we fly farther north to Pangnirtung, the southern gateway to the 97-kilometre Akshayuk Pass; a traditional Inuit travel corridor that cuts through the national park from north to south and provides access to its iconic peaks. After a two-day hike, crossing the Arctic Circle, surrounded by barren plateaus, we will set up base camp. From here, unburdened by heavy packs, we make our way to one of the most spectacular lookouts in the park where we take in majestic views of Thor and his otherworldly companions. On our way, we have the opportunity to see impressive rock formations dating back to the last ice age, moraines, boulder fields, and much more. During the five-day trek, we tread over terrain ranging from arid gravel to fertile, humid tundra with a backdrop of jagged mountains and the Penny Ice Cap's valley glaciers. The trek is book-ended by two scenic boat rides: The one-hour ride into Pangnirtung Fiord to access the park; and a post-trek adventure to Kekerten Island Territorial Park where an Inuit guide will show you around the island's old whaling station and its carefully-preserved artifacts from the late 19th century. This guided tour will take you through a part of history that is kept alive by a just a few elders in the nearby community.

Activities:
Grading:
6

More info about grading system


Itinerary

After a three-hour flight from either Ottawa or Montreal (not included in base trip price - see trip notes for pricing), one of our guides will meet you at the Iqaluit airport for a transfer to the group hotel. There is time to grab a light snack before we gather this afternoon (around 4pm) at the outfitting office to go through gear, get to know fellow group members, answer questions, and prepare for the upcoming big adventure. After going back to the hotel for some last-minute re-packing, we highly suggest that you visit one of Iqaluit's great local restaurants, and ask if arctic char or caribou is on the menu. Overnight full-service, centrally-located hotel (or B&B option).

Meals:  Nil

We head back to the airport this morning for a stunning 60 minute flight to Pangnirtung that offers a glimpse of the mountainous landscape we are about to explore. As soon as we touch down, we will head to the Parks Canada office for a safety briefing by the park wardens. As we watch a video on polar bear safety, our guide will take care of registration details and gather the last few locally-sourced items. We will eat lunch on the deck between the Parks office and the Visitor Centre - Wait until you see the view. And this is just the beginning! You will then meet Peter, our long-term Pangniqutuumiuq friend and the captain of the boat that takes to Overlord Camp at the southern entrance to Auyuittuq National Park. On the one-hour boat ride through Pangnirtung Fjord, feel free to ask Peter stories of how he personally participated in the formation of Nunavut. He's not your average boat captain! As soon as we land, we'll get into hiking mode, as our goal is to cover a few kilometres before setting up camp.

Meals:  L,D

On this first morning in the northern wilderness, you'll wake up in a truly awe-inspiring place. Your guide will be up, coffee should be ready, and breakfast will be served in the shelter of the rain/bug tent. Yes, you can expect mosquitos at camp, but rest assured that the bugs will be swept aside as soon as the wind picks up - and it will. After packing up camp, we head off into the traditional Inuit travel corridor called Akshayuk Pass and come to our first river crossing. As you sit on your backpack, you'll soon learn your new river-crossing mantra, "boots off, water shoes on". The first one is always the coldest. Rest assured that your guide has crossed rivers like this hundreds of times and will ensure a safe group crossing. The goal today is to reach the base of 'The Sandcastle', an immense gravel moraine left by glaciers millions of years ago. If time allows, venture to the top of the moraine for impressive lake views.

Meals:  B,L,D

Today's hike will take us through a variety of terrain - sandy beaches, fields of green tundra with splashes of colourful flowers, a few river crossings, and rocky ups and downs. You will soon be part of the very select group of people who can brag about having crossed the Arctic Circle on foot. Years ago, Parks Canada erected an Inukshuk that marks this point; group photos are a must! This marks the latitude where you have at least one full day of darkness during winter and its sunny counterpart during summer. Across the Weasel River are Schwarzenbach Falls. Starting with a roughly 200m vertical drop over a granite ledge, this impressive waterfall then cascades down the steep cliffs over a distance of about 700m. Our goal today is to reach Windy Lake where, as the name might imply, record wind speeds have been observed. This is why hikers have, over the years, built rock walls behind which we will shelter our tents for the night. This is also the location of one of the route's emergency cabins. While we cannot sleep here, we are welcome to use them for the evening.

Meals:  B,L,D

Today is the big day! After a hearty breakfast, we will leave our gear behind and hike with just a light pack as we head out on our mission to come face-to-face with the second tallest rock face on Earth: Thor Peak. It won't be long before we see the iconic mountain on the horizon, named after the Norse thunder god. With a cliff overhanging at an average angle of 15 degrees from vertical, climbers come from around the world to climb its over 1.5 kilometres of straight rock face. With a full day of sunlight, we take time to enjoy the spectacular views before returning to camp for the evening.

Meals:  B,L,D

The day of the challenge: Two days in one! Our goal today is to hike in a single day the distance we covered on days 2 and 3 of the trip, all the way back to Overlord camp. This time packs are a little lighter, as we have less food to carry, and our bodies (and minds) have found their rhythm over familiar terrain. At the day's end, we set up camp as close as possible to the boat pick up point.

Meals:  B,L,D

This is a boating day, so make sure to keep your warm clothing handy (and dry). Peter will take us to Kekerten Island Territorial Park for a tour. On Kekerten Island, you can see the remains of an old whaling station that was at its busiest in the 1870s. The island’s rich history is illustrated by many artefacts and, lucky for us, our guide is an expert on that subject. On the way there and back, keep an eye on the water for seals, polar bears, bowhead whales and icebergs. Once back in Pangnirtung, we will head to the Auyuittuq Lodge for the night. Accommodations in Arctic communities are quite small with limited facilities, so please be ready to share with another group member (with your partner or with a person of the same sex for solo travellers).

Meals:  B,L,D

Our last few hours in Pangnirtung will be spent visiting the impressive tapestry and print-making shop at the Uqqurmiut Centre. Your eyes can feast on internationally-recognized local art and, if you were to fall in love with a piece, the centre's staff will help you pack it to make it travel-proof. This is also the place to buy the famous 'Pang Hat', a colourful, tasseled hat, hand-crocheted by Pangnirtung Inuit women working in their own homes. Two options are available for your departing flights: Connect directly through Iqaluit to Ottawa or Montreal, or stay an extra night in Iqaluit (extra cost) for a great opportunity to share a final dinner with the group, go through photos, and reflect on your once-in-a-lifetime adventure.

Meals:  B


Inclusions

  • Certified, bilingual guide with Advance Wilderness First Aid
  • 5 nights wilderness camping
  • 2 nights twin share/double accommodation
  • 6 breakfasts, 6 lunches, 6 dinners
  • National Park fees and permits
  • All camping and activity-specific group equipment including tents/shelters, and cooking gear
  • Emergency communications & group first aid kit
  • Reservation services for group flights from Ottawa or Montreal to Iqaluit and Pangnirtung
  • Ground transportation to/from Iqaluit Airport
  • Boat charter between Pang, Auyuittuq NP, and Kekerten (Return)

  • Group Flights necessary to undertake the journey, these are at additional cost
  • Accommodation in Iqaluit on Day 8
  • Meals in Iqaluit
  • Travel insurance (must include Search and Rescue coverage)
  • Personal gear such as backpack, sleeping bag, sleeping matt
  • Items of a personal nature
  • Tips and gratuities
  • Applicable taxes

About Your Leader

Our tour leaders have walked the route many times, with years of experience living and guiding in Nunavut. They have an in-depth knowledge of the Arctic, Inuit culture, traditional ancestral knowledge, and sound understanding of the Inuktitut language. In the company of your certified professional guide, wilderness first responder and “Active Guide” member of the AGPTA (Adventure Tourism Professional Guide Association), you know you’re in good hands.


Suitability

6

To hike Auyuittuq Park you will need to be able to walk with a 35-45lb (16-20kg) backpack for a distance of 8 to 18km per day (4-8 hours per day). There is no trail but a route to follow through Akshayuk Pass. The hike is not technical and there is no altitude to consider (apart from a slight uphill grade from the shore to Mount Thor), however the terrain offers other challenges such as 'spongy', wet marshlands, rock-hopping and unstable footing, and most notably glacier river crossings (with knee-level water). Days will be spent in the great outdoors while nights will be spent in tents. You should be prepared for complete wilderness immersion for the entire trip and have some camping experience. The weather conditions add another element to the challenge, as snow is possible any time of year and wind is a certainty. The Penny Ice Cap, steep mountain slopes and the linear valley of the Akshayuk Pass create conditions for steady winds and we are likely to experience blowing sand at times. Although prior backpacking experience is not required, it is recommended. Most important are a good level of fitness, balance and strength, a positive attitude, and quality (broken-in) hiking boots. Suggested training: 1 hour of aerobic exercise, four to five times per week for three to six months leading up to departure. Hill walking with a full pack in variable weather conditions or on/off road cycling is essential. If you have purchased new boots for this adventure, be sure to wear them on your training hikes. You should be building up both your endurance and comfort with your gear in the months prior to the expedition.


Departure dates


Notes

Note:
Pricing for 2021 has not yet been confirmed and is subject to change. Confirmation of pricing should be completed after January 2020.

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Total Priceper person from

$2795USD

* All prices subject to applicable taxes

Options & Supplements*
  • Mandatory Group FlightsUSD$1620
* Prices listed are per person. All prices subject to applicable taxes.

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