Canada: Walrus and Bowhead Safari

walbow

A journey onto and beyond the ice floe edge to view the gregarious and inquisitive walrus and the enormous and playful bowhead whale.

Bowheads are one of the rarest of whale species. Hunted nearly to extinction by commercial whalers, they are encouragingly making a slow comeback. Rarely seen even in their native Arctic waters, it is always a very special moment to see them spy hopping along the horizon. The Foxe Basin bowhead spring migration is well known to the Inuit in the high Arctic and to wildlife filmmakers.

This a journey of amazing panoramas. Whether you’re facing a hundred walrus, reflecting on the beauty of an absolutely mirror-calm ocean, staring up mountains of ice, or watching for animals along the tundra, there are countless unforgettable scenes. Some are so lucky as to connect with the animals and peer into the eye of a passing bowhead or directly into the eyes of a polar bear swimming by our boat.

Watching the animals under the midnight sun is simply magical. Dusk moves directly into dawn, with each sunset followed by an immediate sunrise, creating a dramatic play of light and shadow across the ice and the open sea. The shallow depths are ideal for divers, who can easily reach the bottom while ice diving and explore walls covered in life. Open water diving from the floe edge along walls of ice is an unforgettable experience, especially for snorkelers and divers wishing to experience the sights and experiences underwater without venturing below the ice.

Day 1

Arrive in Ottawa and overnight in the hotel of your choice.

Day 2

Depart Ottawa for Iqaluit, the capital of Nunavut. Change planes and arrive in Igloolik/Hall Beach - the starting communities from which your journey begins.

Transfer to a waiting snowmobile and boat and travel to the luxury outpost safari-style base camp where the chef has prepared a welcome dinner.

Day 3

Take your first visit to the floe edge – where sea ice meets the open water. Familiarize yourself with this new environment. Wonder at the numerous sea birds diving and swooping over the water.

Day 4

Travel by boat far out into the Foxe Basin where you may come upon a pair of walrus huddled on the ice pack. Quietly watch these enormous animals and take photographs from both the ice and boat, getting as close as our expedition leaders and Inuit guides will allow.

Enjoy a hot lunch on the very same piece of ice as the walrus, which are not at all concerned by your presence. On the journey back, you may spot a few bowhead whales cruising the icy waters.

Day 5

Journey out again by boat. The bright sun reflecting off the crystal-clear flat waters is simply magical. You’ll come upon four large floating islands of ice covered with walrus.

At least a hundred animals sit on each island. Steam rises from the group as they sun themselves. Observe the walrus diving for clams and repeatedly hauling themselves out of the water and back up onto their resting platform on the ice.

Days 6-8

Enjoy daily boat excursions (can be up to 10 hours per day with lunch stops and wildlife viewing) with local Inuit boats and guides out into the waters of the Foxe basin in search of walrus and bowhead whales. If lucky, you will spot polar bears swimming among the ice.

Day 9

Early morning departure to Ottawa.

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