This past Wednesday, I had been invited by Graham Dickson, the co-founder of Arctic Kingdom, to attend a luncheon about the “Jewel of the Arctic.” Learning more about the land of the midnight sun, and Nunavut, really intrigued me; so I’d gladly accepted his kind invitation to lunch at the Rideau Club.
I had known a little about Arctic Kingdom http://arctickingdom.com/ before the luncheon. I knew they did expeditions to the Arctic and Antarctica.
I am affiliated with Vision 2000 Travel Group, and Vision is a leading Canadian member of the worldwide Virtuoso luxury travel network. (See here http://www.virtuoso.com/). I am a also a VAST travel advisor, which is Virtuoso Active & Specialty Travel (see catalog here http://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/vast/2013/) So, I knew that Arctic Kingdom was a Virtuoso partner of mine, and that they were an active member of VAST.
I’d also learned a bit more about them at Virtuoso Travel Week in Vegas last August. Travel Week is the world’s largest luxury travel show, and 4000 travel advisors, hoteliers, cruise lines, and destination specialists come together to network and build connections. I’d already met Thomas Lennartz of Arctic Kingdom at the Virtuoso Travel Week. And I’d spent a little time at his booth at Virtuoso’s one day VAST globetrotting event that takes prior to the Travel Week…
So, I knew Arctic Kingdom did amazing packaged and bespoke trips, and could do multigenerational trips that might allow grandpa, son, and grandson to sleep outside in an igloo. I thought their stuff was pretty cool (literally and figuratively).
But I hadn’t known MUCH about Arctic Kingdom…. until the luncheon.
I certainly hadn’t realized that 80% of their arctic safaris, getaways, and expedition cruises leave from Ottawa, where I am located. That tidbit of information certainly took me back. Nunavut’s capital of Iqaluit is only a short 3 hour flight from Canada’s capital of Ottawa.
I also now know that Arctic Kingdom has been operating since 1999, and has been a member of Virtuoso and VAST since 2010. Besides offering both scheduled departures and tailor-made trips, they have won Conde Naste‘s “Top Travel Specialist” in the Arctic region, and have been in the “top 25 trips” 3 years in a row in Explore magazine. They have worked with film and TV, and count Disney Nature’s Oceans, as well as National Geographic, and the Discovery Channel, amongst their travelers. And Virtuoso Life just featured them in their top 25 destinations to go for 2013. See article here http://arctickingdom.com/Press/2013_Go-with-the-Floe.pdf
With my appetite whetted by Graham’s presentation slides, as well as the blow ups of the awesome photography of Michelle Valberg (of Ottawa) and Nansen Auclair (of Arctic Watch Wilderness Lodge) on display; I was still keen to learn more. Since the luncheon, I’ve completed two Virtuoso webinars on their product offerings, and have toured their website and brochure. I will still seek to improve my knowledge of this incredible VAST supplier of mine, but I now know more about the incredible vacations and life-changing experiences it offers.
If we just focus on Canada’s North right now (and completely ignore the expeditions they also do to Antarctica), Arctic Kingdom operates trips throughout the entire Polar region including: Greenland, Russia, Svalbard and the North Pole. There are a great variety of trips offered – from Arctic wildlife safaris, to getaways, to expedition cruises.
So, for my clients who’ve been everywhere, and may have already done an African safari, I can now recommend they do an Arctic safari. Of course, it’s also much closer than Africa or the Galapagos (where I was in November) for those wanting a wildlife expedition.
This map simply shows their Canadian Arctic trip locations and southern gateways.
The Arctic can certainly lay claim to being a unique destination. Less than 1000 people visit Canada’s north each year, so only a small number of people have bragging rights of experiencing real cultural experiences.
Is your interest piqued? Do you wish to go to the land of the exotic midnight sun? Maybe walk on icebergs? See the narwhals and belugas? Walk with the bears? Want to get out of your comfort zone?
Do you wish to “Go Where Few Have Gone Before?”
Arctic Kingdom offers Arctic safaris that are 5-8 days, and run March-November. Their Getaways are 4 days, and run April -October to Iqaluit out of Ottawa. Their expedition cruises are 10 days, and run all year.
Maybe you’re not sure which season to go? Here are some rough guidelines (with photos shared from Arctic Kingdom’s site with photographer’s noted.)
March-April – photographers flock to the Arctic to see the newborn cubs and the northern lights. This time of year is only for the hearty, and it can be very cold. Temperatures are -15 to -20 C. You go to Western Hudson Bay/ Labrador. There is roughly 8 hours of daylight. But, if you want to sleep in an igloo, this is the time to go!
May-June – things begin to warm up, and there are safari camps on ice. You go to Upper Baffin Island. There is 24 hours of daylight. There are wildlife migrations – narwhal, polar bears, birds. This weather is akin to what you might experience on a spring ski vacation (-7 to +10 C). You can stay in a safari tented camp (the equivalent of 5* accommodations in the Arctic), and take day trips from that base. You can kayak or snorkel in the open water. You travel by snowmobile, with Inuit wooden sleds (Qamutik).
July-September is the warmest – the ice starts to break up. Temperatures are +5 to +22 C. You go to Lower Baffin Island. There is 17-24 hours of daylight. You see icebergs, and land polar bears. There is great hiking, land-based safari camps, and you can travel by boat.
(photo from Arctic Watch)
October-November – the temperatures are cooling again with -5 to -20 C. You go to Western Hudson Bay. There is 8-10 hours of daylight. You can see the polar bear migration, walk with the bears, and see the northern lights.
Watch this video to get a sense of what this is all about.
And give me a call if you’d like to go check it out in person!