June 28, 2024 - July 6, 2024
Join Sweet Skills for an adventure of a lifetime in the Arctic! Explore incredible scenery and see wildlife that you’ve only ever dreamed of.
Journey deep into the Arctic as we base camp at the Arctic Watch Wilderness Lodge, 800km north of the Arctic Circle. Our purpose built electric bikes will help us access remote regions and cover lots of ground as we explore the frozen landscapes of the Northwest Passage floe edge.
Early July offers a very rare opportunity to explore the arctic ice edge by bike before the pack ice fissures and floats out to the open water of the Northwest Passage. We’ll safely watch as polar bears hunt seals, bike through tundra in search of muskoxen as the flora begins to bloom and life takes hold on the summer landscapes of Somerset Island. Every day is an incredible new adventure!
Arctic Watch Wilderness Lodge is located on Somerset Island, Nunavut. Situated on the banks of the Cunningham River, where one of the largest beluga congregations in the world occurs. This off-the-grid basecamp will be our oasis when we are not out adventuring. It is where we will enjoy gourmet meals, daily stretch sessions, and education talks to learn more about the Arctic.
Our excursions are guided by the Weber Arctic team of polar explorers who have over 30 years of experience in the area and supported with a Sweet Skills coach.
All culinary experiences are provided and prepared on-site from the finest ingredients in the Arctic. Our talented chefs bake breads, make yogurts, ice creams and other delights to satisfy you at breakfast, lunch and dinner. If you’re not out exploring the land or on the water, it’s all about great Canadian cuisine. Experience gourmet fare inspired by every province coast to coast including Alberta Organic Beef to Okanagan Valley wines and more.
The Arctic Watch Wilderness lodge has a main lodge for dining, lounging, stretching, as well as an archeological centre. There are 16 private cabins for guests, each equipped with a marine toilet and sink. Due to the extremely sensitive natural environment showers are located in the main complex. One night will be spent camping at Cape Anne with arctic tents, mattresses, and bedding.
The type of terrain we’ll be riding is a wild mix of solid flow ice, gentle shale slopes, atv dirt roads, and trails through the tundra. It’s nothing like you’ve ever ridden! There are no specific mountain bike trails here, rather we are using the bikes to explore across the land on our daily excursions. EBikes are necessary to cover the daily mileage (over 90kms of trails/roads to be ridden on the trip). The bikes are also equiped with fat tires to handle the ice and shale. Any level of rider will enjoy this trip as the terrain is not technical in nature and the e-bike will help those that need a little more help with their fitness ,) Because of the specific bikes, the remote location and the small chartered flight, guests do not bring their own bikes.
All you need to do is get yourself to Yellowknife the day before the private charter departs for Arctic Watch. Discount codes will be available with Air North. A complete packing list will be sent to each participant well in advance.
Small group focus: 4 participants max for 2023 camp
Normal daytime temperatures range from 6° to 14°C, and warm days can go as high as 21°C. With snow only seen extremely rarely during this time.
$16,300 cnd +gst ($2900 deposit due at time of booking with balance due 180 days prior to departure) *Payments by credit card incur an extra 3% fee, Etransfer payments have no fees. Send Etransfer payments to email@example.com
Biking the Arctic ice flow: Story
In the wild and unpredictable Arctic, weather patterns and wildlife can disrupt even the best-laid plans. Therefore, itineraries are marked as ‘suggested’ to accommodate for some flexibility based on guest desires, abilities and interests as well as daily wildlife and weather conditions.
Fly to Yellowknife, the capital of Canada’s Northwest Territories, meet the group for dinner and spend the night at the Explorers Hotel.
After breakfast, depart Yellowknife on a private charter for the 3-hour flight to Arctic Watch. Guests will land in the Arctic later that afternoon. After an introduction to the lodge and the surrounding landscape by the Arctic Watch team, you’ll have time to settle into your cabin. Before dinner is served, a short hike up to the local mountain is offered with breathtaking views of the Northwest Passage and ice formations on the Arctic Ocean.
Today we’re going to explore the sea ice of the Northwest Passage. The first part of the adventure includes covering some distance on the tundra on ATVs. After a hands-on introduction to all-terrain vehicles we take a short drive to the Cunningham Inlet where we’ll get onto our bikes and head out onto the sea ice of the Northwest Passage. Today’s goal is to familiarize ourselves with biking on this unique terrain of the frozen Arctic ocean. In the early summer season at Arctic Watch, a natural ice corridor forms around Somerset Island. At nearly two metres thick in places, this stable ice causeway (aptly named Arctic floe edge) is used by polar bears to hunt, birdlife, and seals who are busy sun tanning (and avoiding polar bears!). We’ll pedal along the ice in between stunning pools of turquoise water that is only 1-2” thick. This is a very rare and special opportunity before the ice breaks up and heads into the ocean.
Today’s focus is exploring Cunningham Inlet – along the route, we’ll stop at a historical site from the Thule people (circa 1100AD), nearby canyons and look for wildlife on the ice edge. A picnic lunch is served on the floe edge and dinner awaits our return to Arctic Watch lodge. After dinner, an informal lecture by Richard Weber on his North Pole expeditions – highlighting his historic (and unrepeated) 1995 unassisted journey -will be offered.
Today we venture further onto the floe edge – a morning ATV ride along the shoreline of Cunningham Inlet brings us to Polar Bear Point, where we embark towards the Northeastern shoreline of Somerset Island. The day is spent biking amongst the pressure ridges on the Arctic ice edge. Named “Sinaaq” in Inuktitut, this is where open water meets the ice still attached to the shoreline. The environment is where most marine wildlife will congregate in early summer – polar bears hunting seals, fish, migratory birdlife, whales and more.
Somerset’s coastline is a stunning high-arctic topography. Barren shale bluffs laden with fossils and narrow creeks that spill into the ocean provide the perfect backdrop to this floe edge landscape. Lunch is served picnic style alongside one of these small creeks. Dinner is served at the lodge that evening. An informal lecture by Nansen Weber on wildlife photography is offered after dessert.
We’ve now had two days of Arctic ice biking under our belts – today is the big expedition. Today’s goal is to bike down the north-western shores of Somerset Island towards Cape Anne, where we will spend the night camping on the Arctic floe edge. Cape Anne was home to a Thule settlement (two archaeological sites remain) nearly 700 years ago. Using the floe edge as our “bike trail” for the day, we bike the coastal environment to search for wildlife while exploring the unique landscapes. Lunch is served on the shoreline nearby a local grazing area for muskoxen. This full day expedition arrives into ice-basecamp that evening. The team welcomes cyclists with hot drinks and appetizers before settling in that evening. Dinner is served outdoors in the Arctic. Take in the midnight sun from the shoreline as you settle into your expedition tent for a restful sleep.
After breakfast, we break from camp and head back towards the lodge. Our route is overland – this time leaving the floe edge overland on the tundra back to Arctic Watch. In early July,
the tundra comes to life as purple saxifrage is in full bloom, muskoxen graze and birds are nesting for the summer. Your bike trail over the tundra is bright red – almost martian like as the high iron content of the soil in the region lends to a mars-like feeling. The expedition arrives for a celebratory welcome back at Arctic Watch that afternoon. Take the evening to rest at the lodge and enjoy the midnight sun.
Today is an optional rest day from biking and an opportunity to take advantage of all the other excursions that are offered such hiking the inland canyons to the Triple Waterfalls, sea-kayaking the Cunningham inlet alongside beluga whales, fishing for Arctic char, rafting the Cunningham River, or simply relaxing at the lodge.
Back onto our trusty bikes, today we head inland onto the tundra of Somerset Island. Using the local hill tops and ridges that are a perfect shale soil to bike, we aim for Muskox Ridge. This scenic trail provides spectacular views of the area and is a great vantage point from which to see muskoxen and arctic foxes. From the high ridge, hike down into one of the many depressions where muskoxen often spend the summer months foraging. Snowy owls are known to nest in the area as well – have your camera ready! Lunch is served on the tundra and dinner is served back at Arctic Watch.
By now, guests are familiar with the area, and can opt to do an activity that they missed during the week or would like to repeat. There’s lots of time before the flight departs in the late afternoon. Upon arriving in Yellowknife you will spend the night at the Explorer Hotel before your return flight home.
Depart Yellowknife for the return flight home. Bringing back amazing memories and photos from this truly wonderful bucket list trip.
*Itinerary may change at any time due to weather, ice floe conditions and other circumstances. There will always be a fun substitute! No refunds for changed itineraries.
Any cancellations before 180 days prior to the departure date will receive a full refund less a $750 administration fee, per person. Any cancellations after that are not eligible for a refund.
Trip Cancellation Insurance
Our guest cancellation policy is firm and we recommend you purchase a trip interruption/cancellation
insurance policy to avoid disappointment should you need to cancel your trip last minute. Travel insurance can be purchased through World Nomads, or your travel agent. Ensure your travel insurance covers you and your equipment and that your current health insurance covers the unforeseen like medical flights and back-country emergency rescue.