Planning Your Trip to Nunavut


Please read the following information from beginning to end. It will help you know more about what to expect in Nunavut Parks. This information is not definitive and cannot replace your own planning. You should also look at other sources of information about Arctic travel and wildlife.

When traveling in remote wilderness, there is always some risk. You must be self-reliant and responsible for your own safety. All costs of a search and rescue are the responsibility of the visitor. Search and rescue may be difficult or impossible under certain conditions. Survival in an emergency will depend on how well prepared you are to deal with the extremes of changeable weather, river crossings and wildlife, including polar bears.

When you arrive in Nunavut, the mandatory parks registration and orientation system will allow you to find out about the area you will be visiting. Ask park staff for specific information regarding your trip plans and be flexible in case you receive information that will cause you to alter your plans.

If you have any doubts about your skill level and experience, consider hiring a local guide or outfitter.

Ask yourself the following questions:

  • Do you have experience in Arctic wilderness travel?
  • Are you prepared to travel in polar bear country and willing to accept the risk?
  • Do you have first aid and wilderness survival skills required for self-reliance?
  • Will you be traveling with others who have experience and training?
  • Do you have the necessary camping gear, maps, safety equipment, first aid and repair kits?
  • Are you willing to reassess and possibly change your trip plans if necessary?
  • Do you have judgment, patience and respect for changing conditions?
  • Do you have time and provisions for unexpected delays such as waiting out bad weather, high water levels, boat shuttles held up by rough water or tides, and delays in flight schedules?
  • Do you have alternate plans with things to do in communities if you are unable to make your destination?

Self-planned canoe and kayak trips are popular with northern visitors. You will need specialized gear, knowledge and preparation.

Before embarking on a canoe or kayak trip in Nunavut consider the following:

  • Are you comfortable with bracing, maneuvering, surf landing, surf launching and self-rescue techniques?
  • Can you interpret marine charts and tide tables and use them to identify marine hazards?
  • Can you travel on a bearing and use triangulation to establish your position?
  • Can you navigate in fog?
  • Are you able to estimate the speed of currents and estimate ferry angles under varying conditions?
  • Do you have white water experience, canoe spray decks and wetsuits?
  • Do you have the necessary maps and river reports?
  • Have you considered ice conditions, tides and water levels that may delay your trip?
  • Have you considered the safest size of group in case one of your boats is damaged?

In An Emergency

You must carry appropriate gear and take every precaution to keep yourself, and those who may be called upon to rescue you, out of danger.

Consider the following:

  • Order necessary maps well in advance of your trip. Don’t rely on obtaining them when you arrive in the north. Check with the Natural Resources Canada Centre for Topographic Information for a list of map dealers.
  • Carry and know how to use emergency communication devices such as satellite phones. Some satellite phones may be available for rent in Nunavut but you are advised to rent one at home to bring on your trip. Be aware that local topography and weather conditions can limit reception. Carry a Global Positioning System (GPS) unit for navigation as well as for relaying accurate location coordinates in case of emergency.
  • Know how to use your equipment before your leave on your trip. Batteries don’t last as long in cold weather so keep equipment warm and use them only when necessary.
  • There are limited aircraft throughout Nunavut. Planes and helicopters are rarely stationed in smaller communities. Air access can be delayed, sometimes for many days, due to poor visibility, weather conditions, or high winds. Aircraft can only land if the terrain is safe.

The region, which is now mainland Nunavut, was first populated approximately 4500 years ago by the Pre-Dorset, a diverse Paleo-Eskimo culture that migrated eastward from the Bering Strait region.[16]

The Pre-Dorset culture was succeeded by the Dorset culture about 2800 years ago.[17] Anthropologists and historians believe that the Dorset culture developed from the Pre-Dorset; however, the relationship between the two remains unclear.[17]

Helluland, which Norse explorers described visiting in their Sagas of Icelanders, has been associated to Nunavut’s Baffin Island. Claims of contact between the Dorset and Norse, however, remain controversial.[18][19]

The Thule people, ancestors of the modern Inuit, began migrating from Alaska in the 11th century into the Northwest Territories and Nunavut. By 1300, the geographic extent of Thule settlement included most of modern Nunavut.

The migration of the Thule people coincides with the decline of the Dorset, who died out between 800 and 1500

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