NUNAVUT NA­TIONAL PARKS: RE­MOTE, SPEC­TAC­U­LAR AND IN­CREAS­INGLY AC­CES­SI­BLE

Travel Guide to Canada - - Table Of Contents - BY MARGO PFEIFF

With jagged peaks, glaciers, sheer fjords and vast tun­dra dot­ted with cari­bou, muskox, po­lar bears and Arc­tic foxes, Nunavut’s five na­tional parks are among the coun­try’s big­gest, new­est and most spec­tac­u­lar. Though at the top of the world, Parks Canada is help­ing visi­tors to more eas­ily and af­ford­ably ac­cess some of these re­mote gems, some­times in the com­pany of knowl­edge­able lo­cal Inuit proud to share their cul­ture and unique home­land (www.parkscanada.gc.ca). A GLOBE-TOP AD­VEN­TURE OF A LIFE­TIME

All Nunavut parks are open to the pub­lic with most of­fer­ing sched­uled flights to ad­join­ing com­mu­ni­ties where cer­ti­fied out­fit­ters can take visi­tors into the park. The ex­pe­ri­enced can travel on their own (www.nunavut tourism.com), while oth­ers can join South­ern Canada-based ad­ven­ture travel groups like Black Feather (www.black­feather.com).

One of these parks is Sir­mi­lik on Baf­fin Is­land’s north­ern tip near Pond In­let which is com­prised of four di­verse ar­eas in­clud­ing glacier-draped By­lot Is­land, home to tow­er­ing hoodoo rock for­ma­tions and a Mi­gra­tory Bird Sanc­tu­ary. The Oliver Sound area is famed among kayak­ers for bel­u­gas, nar­whals, seals and birdlife spot­tings (www. parkscanada.gc.ca/en/pn-np/nu/sir­mi­lik).

Ukkusik­sa­lik is a lush, sub-Arc­tic tun­dra land­scape sur­round­ing the vast in­land sea of Wa­ger Bay. It is known for its wealth of ar­chae­o­log­i­cal re­mains, Arc­tic wolves and cari­bou. In spring, lo­cal out­fit­ters from Nau­jaat and Ch­ester­field In­let snow­mo­bile in­trepid visi­tors into the park; in sum­mer, boat trips are a safe and com­fort­able way to watch for bel­u­gas and seals (www.parks canada.gc.ca/en/pn-np/nu/ukkusik­sa­lik).

One of Canada’s new­est na­tional parks, Qausuit­tuq, lies on a clus­ter of is­lands north of the North­west Pas­sage off Bathurst Is­land. It has rolling tun­dra and fea­tures the small, en­dan­gered Peary cari­bou (www. parkscanada.gc.ca/en/pn-np/nu/qausuit­tuq ).

A visit to the un­der­wa­ter wrecks of HMS Ere­bus and HMS Ter­ror Na­tional His­toric

Site pro­tect­ing the two leg­endary ships that sank in 1845 dur­ing Sir John Franklin’s quest for the North­west Pas­sage is only pos­si­ble via the oc­ca­sional North­west Pas­sage cruise ship. How­ever, a visit to nearby Gjoa Haven’s Natil­lik Her­itage Cen­tre re­veals how Inuit knowl­edge helped lo­cate the first wreck site in 2014 (www.parkscanada. gc.ca/en/lhn-nhs/nu/epaveswrecks).

WILD, RE­MOTE AND DI­VERSE

De­spite their ex­tremely re­mote lo­ca­tions, Parks Canada is of­fer­ing af­ford­able “North­ern Iconic Experiences” to two of Nunavut’s dra­matic na­tional parks, most of which can be en­joyed by the gen­eral pub­lic.

Auyuit­tuq is one of Nunavut’s most ac­ces­si­ble parks, reached from the ham­let of Pangnirtung, only 30 km away. Ev­ery Satur­day in April a snow­mo­bile ex­pe­di­tion with lo­cal Inuit and Parks Canada guides takes visi­tors into the gran­deur of fjords and glaciers with guests trav­el­ling on tra­di­tional Inuit qa­mu­tiks towed by snow ma­chines on a day trip to the Arc­tic Cir­cle. In sum­mer, a day trip trav­els the scenic route by boat and in­cludes a short hike to the foot of Ulu Peak (www.parkscanada.gc. ca/en/pn-np/nu/auyuit­tuq ).

Much fur­ther up the globe, a bush plane takes off from Res­o­lute Bay dur­ing mid­sum­mer on a sched­uled Parks Canada char­ter to Qut­tinir­paaq, Canada’s north­ern­most na­tional park, for a two-week back­coun­try ex­pe­ri­ence among tow­er­ing peaks, ice caps and rag­ing rivers at the top of Ellesmere Is­land (www.pc.gc.ca/en/pn-np/ nu/qut­tinir­paaq). Stay at spec­tac­u­lar Tan­quary Fiord for a base camp and pho­tog­ra­phy ex­pe­ri­ence with day-hikes, or gear-up for the epic 14-day Ad As­tra hike (www.black feather.com/hike/ellesmere-ad-as­tra-hike).

Can’t travel that far north? Check out Qut­tinir­paaq’s stun­ning land­scapes on Google Street View in­stead (www.google.ca/ maps/place/Qut­tinir­paaq+Na­tional+Park)!

DAY HIK­ING IN AUYUIT­TUQ NA­TIONAL PARK • PARKS CANADA/JO­VAN SIMIC

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