Category Archives: canada travel

Hanging in the Arctic with Canada’s Amazing Inuit

The Inuit of the Arctic
The Inuit of the Arctic

When I talk about the arctic it’s usually in relation to me complaining about how cold it can get in New York City or some frosty metropolitan center. It’s sorta my humorous West coast take on what normal people call ‘seasons’. That said, for those who want to do the arctic well, Canada’s arctic offers visitors a glimpse into a different life; spectacular scenery and wildlife; a sense of timelessness and an experience that will last a lifetime.

We like this brand new tour series called “A Touch of the Arctic”, offered by The Great Canadian Travel Company, because it features the opportunity to spend two, three or four nights in a traditional Inuit community.  This is enough time to explore the area, learn about the cultures of the region, meet local peoples and enjoy the relaxing atmosphere of these remote villages.

An Inuit Fishes
An Inuit Fishes

The programs have no organized day tours, although they may be available in the communities (and arranged locally), to allow each participant to customize their own Arctic experience. Accommodation is in the comfortable and welcoming Inns North properties, each owned by the local co-operative. The Inuit communities are not used to many tourists –they are simply home to a small and tightly-knit group who will be happy to talk to you of their lives, their land and their culture. Life in the north runs at its own pace, and operates on a very different wavelength; which is a great part of the fascination of these villages. A tolerance of the northern lifestyle will add immeasurably to the enjoyment of your northern expedition.

An Inuit Hunter
An Inuit Hunter

The communities offered:

Kimmirut lies on the southern coast of Baffin Island and is home to just 400 people. It is a “new” community, first settled in the early 20th century. There is evidence of habitation of the Dorset people from thousands of years ago. Kimmirut prides itself on its warm, friendly people, traditional way of life and indigenous culture.

Qikiqtarjuaq lies at the northern end of Auyuittuq National Park, and means “Big Island”. The area is rich in wildlife, whales, walrus and narwhal, and offers spectacular scenery. Enjoy the walking trails, watch icebergs in the Davis Strait, rock climb or simply enjoy the community of 470 Inuit who call this village their home.

Pond Inlet is one of the major tourist attractions of Baffin Island, and offers visitors ample opportunities for wildlife viewing, including the spectacularly rich birdlife of the region. Local tours may be arranged through the co-op to see the ice floe edge, and learn about the remarkable wildlife of this region.

A Killer Whale spotted in Repulse Bay
A Killer Whale spotted in Repulse Bay

Repulse Bay lies on the Arctic Circle, and visitors to this traditional community will be delighted by the wide bay, the wildlife, the hikes and ancient settlements.  You can take a tour of the Arctic waters of Repulse Bay to look for narwhal, orcas, bowhead whales, seals and possibly polar bears. The community is renowned for its excellent artists, especially for its carvers who work in bone, ivory and stone.

Pangnirtung, an old whaling village, is an iconic destination lying at the southern end of Auyuittuq National Park and has been a favorite for tourists for many years. Pangnirtung has achieved an international reputation for producing high-quality traditional arts, as well as printmaking and weaving. The tour to this community will allow you the chance to enjoy magnificent scenery, and learn some of the history of the people of this fjord village.

Programs are priced from $2427 – $4006, depending on community and length of stay and include round trip air from Ottawa or Winnipeg to the community; 3 nights’ accommodation (4 or 2 nights in Repulse Bay); and all meals. The programs also operate year round.

The Great Canadian Travel Company also offers a 3-day, 2-night trip to Iqaluit, the capital city of Nunavut (population 6,000) for only $1499 per person, including accommodations and round trip air from Ottawa or Montreal.

Maine: Cheese-Making and Moose Safaris!

Cheese Making

Beer-brewing, cheese-making, mushroom foraging and moose safaris? Can I get a ‘Hell Yeah!” We just uncovered a new group of quaint outdoorsy adventures that tickled our fancy (and our adventure bone).  Select Registry is an elite network of 400 award-winning inns, luxury B&Bs and boutique hotels in and around major destinations across North America with scenic retreats throughout the U.S. and Canada. Members offer travel experiences as unique as the inns themselves – from hands-on cheese-making and beer-brewing on property to moose safaris, mushroom foraging, Native American drum circles, and fall foliage tours. Many members offer weekday deals and packages, perfect for long weekends and road-trips.  Below are two from properties in Maine that are next on our To Do List.

Hartstone Inn Maine Bed & Breakfast

  • Mushroom foraging tour at Hartstone Inn (Camden, Maine) – Part of Select Registry’s ‘Fun for Foodies Vacations’ program, Hartstone Inn’s guided mushroom hunt takes place in the picturesque Camden Hills State Park. Guests forage through wooded trails with an expert mushroom hunter to uncover Porcini, Hen of the Woods, Chicken of the Woods and many other wild varieties. During the two-hour excursion, participants learn to identify and distinguish edible species of mushrooms from those best left untouched. This unique tour is priced at $75 for one guest, and $15 for each additional participant.

Maine Outdoor Adventure Moose Safari

  • Moose Safari at The Lodge at Moosehead Lake (Greenville, Maine). Guests get a private canoe trip into the back country of Maine’s North Woods, home to the largest moose population in the continental U.S. Personal guides navigate the lake’s shoreline to provide up-close views of moose and other wildlife. Prime moose sightings take place May through July, but also last long into October and trips depart twice daily in the early morning and afternoon. Cost for two people is $225, which includes transportation to the moose habitat and canoe equipment, as well as a Safari Box breakfast and Moose-A-Lix trail mix for afternoon adventures.

So what are you waiting for? The moose to come to you?

Select Registry

The Hartstone Inn

The Lodge at Moosehead Lake

Vancouver Island, Canada: Free Spirit Spheres!

We don’t know why, but we’re always strangely drawn to capsules, pods, and spheres. And, just to prove we’re not alone…

Welcome to the world of Free Spirit Spheres!

Set amid the tall trees of Vancouver Island’s rainforest, it’s, you guessed it, a tree house for adults. Jaunt says, ‘Finalmente.’ Built with an un-tamed vision of nature and engineering, you’ll feel like an Ewok swinging from the canopy and crawling from your tree sphere at dusk.

Handcrafted spheres are suspended like pendants from a web of rope and, as their website says, “They occupy a truly unique place in the world while providing a habitat for the un-tamed spirit that exists in all of us.”

So just how un-tamed are you? If you really want to make a statement, you can purchase a pod or components to build your own. Recommended uses include: Healing, meditation, photography, leisure and game watching.

Spheres, Eve and Eryn, are available for overnight rental and promise a truly unique, jungle experience. Approximately 30km north of Parksville on Vancouver Island along the Inland Island Hwy (#19), near Qualicum Bay. The acreage is on private property close to Horne Lake Caves, Georgia Strait and Mount Washington.

Rates: $125-$175/night

Free Spirit Spheres
Qualicum Beach, BC, Canada
Tel (250) 757-9445
Cell (250) 951-9420