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The Arctic North

The appeal of the Arctic

Bone-chilling temperatures and unpredictable weather may not sound like the makings of a perfect holiday but if you crave adventure and want to go where few friends have, the Canadian Arctic is the place to be.

There are a few reasons travellers are beginning to venture here. The discovery of the Franklin Expedition wrecks of HMS Erebus and Terror in 2014 and 2016 has fuelled a renewed interest in the Canadian Arctic and the Northwest Passage specifically.

In turn, this has led to cruise companies updating itineraries aimed at historians, archaeologists and maritime romantics fascinated with the shipwrecks and sea-faring tales of tragedy. Secondly, the Arctic is home to polar bears and who doesn’t want to see one of these fearsome creatures in their natural habitat?

Thirdly, the culture of Canada’s northern Inuit communities is undoubtedly fascinating, and, in this day of climate change, it’s important to understand how the world’s northernmost residents are adapting.

How to experience it

The best way to experience the inlets and islands of the Arctic is aboard an expedition ship. Small-scale icebreakers will get you to the most fascinating, remote ports of call, and One Ocean Expeditions is a leader in the industry.

The company’s Pathways to Franklin cruise traces the route of the early explorers as they endeavoured to find a way through the Northwest Passage.

You can also join a tour of Baffin Island, visiting Inuit villages, as well as Beechey Island, where some of the ill-fated Franklin crew were laid to rest.

Cruises book out well in advance, so plan ahead and start saving

On a much smaller scale, you can join day trips from places such as Yellowknife, in the Northwest Territories, and experience the Arctic via snowmobile and dogsled, or on ice-fishing and Indigenous cultural tours.

The Arctic Circle also offers prime Aurora Borealis viewing and there are plenty of companies and lodges running sightseeing and photography tours from Canada’s northern provinces and territories.

If you’re not a fan of cruising but still want to experience the Arctic, you might want to try tackling an infamous ice road beyond the far reaches of the Yukon.

Join a guided tour in Whitehorse and travel up the Dempster Highway to the Inuvialuit village of Tuktoyaktuk, accessible only in winter.

How to get there

This really depends on what section of the Arctic you want to see. The main access points, however, are Whitehorse, in the Yukon; Yellowknife, in the Northwest Territories; and Ottawa, Ontario.

Words by Jennifer Ennion.

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