Destinations Magazine - May/June 2018 - 53

WESTERN CANADA

The narwhal
whale has a long
tusk jutting from
its forehead and
is often dubbed
the unicorn of
the sea.

NUNAVUT

The Most Beautiful
Place You've Never Seen

Supremely remote Nunavut is the ultimate
bucket-list destination

MICHELLE VALBERG AND NUNAVUT TOURISM; BLACK FEATHER AND NUNAVUT TOURISM;
CURTIS JONES AND NUNAVUT TOURISM; CHRISTIAN KIMBER AND NUNAVUT TOURISM.

F

irst, some facts: Nunavut is the size of Western Europe. Its 36,563 islands, the
largest of which is Baffin Island, comprise one-fifth of Canada. This Canadian territory (it's not a province) is the world's northernmost place inhabited by people. (The
northernmost outpost is a military installation only 508 miles from the North Pole.)
The territory sprawls from northeast of the Northwest Territories, forming an arc
around northern Greenland. The native Inuit people have lived here for centuries and
make up 84 percent of its population. Since fur traders came in the 1700s and Canada
took possession of the land in 1870, many longtime traditions have fallen away.
There are no roads going to Nunavut, and there are no roads in Nunavut. Most outsiders reach it by flying to its capital, Iqalit, near the southern tip of Baffin Island. About
4,000 tourists visit Nunavut annually, according to a 2016 study commissioned by
the territory. About two-thirds (2,750) arrive on Arctic cruise ships stopping at Baffin
Island, up from 1,890 in 2011; the remainder fly in for land-based tours.
These cruisers tend to be well-heeled, as the study says such voyages typically run
about $17,000. They tend to be older than 65 (yet very active), more female than male,
more likely to be Canadian than American, and interested in native arts, culture, and
archaeological sites dating back 3,000 years. One cruise line describes the experience
this way: "See the gargantuan bottoms of the icebergs, coldwater jellyfish, and the polar
bears that love to go for swims here. Or, you can harness your inner Inuit as you drive a
traditional sled or explore the tundra by snowmobile."
Land-based travelers come mostly for hiking the region's unparalleled Arctic beauty
and for hunting, birding, and wildlife watching. Besides polar bears and jellyfish, the
territory's wildlife is extraordinary, including caribou, musk ox, beluga whales, seals,
walruses, and narwhals-whales that may have inspired ancient mariners to dream
up unicorns. The narwhal has a long, straight spike jutting from its forehead. Its use is
somewhat mysterious, but some experts think it is used to dig the ocean floor for food.
More than 100 bird species live or migrate here, including falcons, hawks, eagles, ravens,
puffins, finches, grouse, and loons.
To research Nunavut, head for its official tourism website below, or visit Nunavut
Tourism's Facebook page. Pictures showing the diverse scenery, animals, and local
arts are posted frequently. Surprisingly, much of the scenery-at least in the summer
months-is green, lush, and rocky.

■ Government of Nunavut | www.nunavuttourism.com

Inuit garments
are still
handmade in
Nunavut today.

There are no
roads to Nunavut.
Travelers arrive
by air or by sea.

Visitors are
welcome to come
and explore the
unspoiled, natural
paradise of
Nunavut.

MAY-JUNE 2018

\ DESTINATIONS 53


http://www.nunavuttourism.com

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