Caribou Migration: Arctic Haven Wilderness Lodge

Caribou Migration: Arctic Haven Wilderness Lodge

8 Days/7 Nights Roundtrip from Yellowknife

Price from$7,715

• 5-star Arctic lodge • Views of the vast and brightly coloured tundra • Sit amongst the autumn tundra colours and photograph caribou • Northern lights on clear nights • Travel by aluminum boat on Barrenland lakes and rivers • Caribou with fully grown racks swimming and on land • Fishing for lake trout, northern pike, grayling • Arctic wolves • Other wildlife includes wolverine, bears, wolves

Arctic Haven is located on Ennadai Lake, one of the great northern lakes in the Canadian Barren Lands. Flying from Yellowknife in the lodge's private plane, you will land outside the lodge on Ennadai Lake. The lodge sits on a peninsula overlooking the lake.

Each fall and spring parts of the Qamanirjuaq caribou herd of 350,000 animals travels across Ennadai Lake. As spectators, we see many groups of six to twenty animals, sometimes up to a hundred animals and occasionally thousands. Amongst these caribou are often animals that are injured or less fit. Sometimes caribou become separated from their herds. When this happens they appear to be a bit lost, aimlessly walking around often in the wrong direction. On the Barrens, there are healthy populations of wolves, grizzly bears and wolverines. These predators and scavengers depend on the caribou that pass through and particularly on the more vulnerable, injured or lost individuals.

In early May, the Qamanirjuaq caribou herd begins to gather together and the call to reach their calving grounds 300 miles to the north drives them northward. The Qamanirjuaq caribou number in the hundreds of thousands and are one of the healthiest herds in Canada. Big lakes such as Ennadai are natural corridors for the migration. Large numbers of Caribou walk up the lake past the lodge.

Day 1: Yellowknife > Arctic Haven Lodge In the morning, at the airport in Yellowknife, Arctic Haven guests meet the private charter plane that will fly them the 500 miles to Arctic Haven Wilderness Lodge. Your wallet is no longer of any use, your worries from the south are behind you, this is the start of your arctic adventure. The plane is a modern and comfortable aircraft; you will pass from trees, across the tree line and over the Barrens; it's time to sit back and relax. Flying to Arctic Haven, you'll see the Barrens from the air; the endless lakes and caribou paths forged into tundra, the sparse trees dotting the tree line amidst a fall backdrop of crimson reds, bright oranges and dark greens.

The plane lands on the private strip beside Arctic Haven Wilderness Lodge. Nestled on the tree line, Arctic Haven is situated on the shores of one of the largest expanses of water on the Barrens, a one hundred mile lake called Ennadai. Guests are welcomed into the lodge, and a short introduction is given while guests are given the opportunity to settle into their private rooms. Prior to dinner, a short excursion by foot into the tree line is lead by polar-guide Richard Weber. We begin to scout for the caribou following the natural eskers; paths worn into well-defined trails from centuries of migratory travel.

Day 2: Arctic Haven Lodge Breakfast is served at 8:30. Guests are given a short introduction prior to heading out onto the waters of Ennadai Lake by boat. Arctic Haven has eighteen beautifully crafted custom aluminium boats designed for travelling on the lake. Travelling by boat is an excellent chance to take in the surrounding landscapes, shifting from trees to barren hills as we travel along the shoreline, away from the tree line towards the local Islands. Migratory birds including eagles, tundra swans falcons and over 25 species of ducks call the water's edge home.

The local islands, some only a few hundred feet wide, are used by the Qamanirjuaq caribou to cross the lake. Often seen swimming in herds of two to twenty, the caribou "island hop" on their migration south. Other wildlife also uses these islands. Arctic wolves follow the caribou herds across the islands while martins, black bears and arctic hares also call the protected berry rich island coves home during the summer and fall months.

Stopping at our local cabin for lunch, a nutritious lunch is served outdoors. The buffet includes hot, freshly made soups such as French-Canadian pea, leek, smoked tomato, potato and cream of corn; freshly baked sourdough and rye breads, specialty meats and cheeses, fresh vegetables and homemade desserts.

Historically, the local Inuit and indian tribes hunted caribou in this area. Many of the island hill tops have remnants of blinds and telescope rests for looking for caribou.

Slowly trolling back towards the lodge, guests are given the opportunity to try their luck at catch-and-release fishing for Arctic lake trout and northern pike.

The full day excursion is complemented by a gourmet meal that awaits guests upon arrival. Arctic Haven's chefs focus on local flares to the evening dishes, including fresh arctic lake trout gravlax. The Arctic Haven wine list offers some of Canada's best wines, paired to match the local dishes. That evening, guests are given free time to wander - calm, clear and cool evenings are perfect for unspoiled aurora borealis viewings during the fall season at Arctic Haven.

Day 3: Arctic Haven Lodge Breakfast, served at 8:30, typically includes fresh espresso coffee, home-baked pastries, muffins, cinnamon rolls, fresh fruit, yogurt, muesli, French toast or pancakes with Quebec maple syrup, eggs, organic double-smoked bacon and sausages. Today's excursion is off towards the local wolf dens. A short boat ride north of Arctic Haven, we head towards the rapids on the west arm of Ennadai Lake. The shallow waters of the rapids spilling into the lake and the adjacent height of land make for the perfect location for a convergence of wildlife. A relaxed walk from the rapids to a local wolf den that has an unspoiled view of the surroundings. The den is used in conjunction with several other dens in the area - the wolves alternate with the seasons and availability of food.

Another fabulous outdoor lunch is served by Arctic Haven's guides upon the return to the boats. Guests who wish to try their hand at fishing for Arctic Grayling, either on a fly or spinning, have the opportunity to do so. No prior experience is required, some love the way a winged Arctic Grayling will treat a well-presented fly. Others are fascinated by it's rarity and appearance. Either way, this fish provides ample action for a great light tackle experience. For the photographer at heart - bald and golden eagles frequently choose the location as a summer retreat. The caribou often pass by here too.

The full day of adventure stirs up appetite. Our chef greets guests from a day of adventure on the Barren Lands tundra with a Canadian gourmet meal. Flavours include AAA Alberta prime rib glazed with a Dijon, garlic and rosemary rub; radicchio, prosciutto and reduced maple-balsamic appetizers rolls, fresh aragula and blueberry salads with desserts such as maple creme brulée. That evening, Richard Weber, internationally recognized polar explorer and owner of Arctic Watch, offers an informal lecture on his North Pole adventures. His historic 1995 unassisted journey to the North Pole and back-a feat that has never been repeated-is highlighted.

Day 4: Arctic Haven Lodge Another hearty breakfast begins the day at 8:30. Guests head north to Halfway Bluff. Suitably named by early explorers for the iconic hillside protruding well above the shoreline, the area is part of the migratory route of the caribou and a perch for eagles. We spend the afternoon exploring the migratory caribou trails. Lunch is served on the tundra and on the edge of the trail - we watch caribou passing through while guides serve another gourmet lunch outdoors. Richly coloured tundra and small trees make for the perfect observation posts as caribou pass through, generally unaware.

Across the lake is an abandoned prospectors's cabin complete with abandoned racks of stone core samples.

That evening, after another truly spectacular meal, photographer Nansen Weber, offers an informal lecture on his photographic experiences on the Barren Lands. The principal photographer at Arctic Haven and Arctic Watch Wilderness Lodge, Nansen has spent the past 10 years photographing some of the most important and dramatic wildlife events in the arctic. He highlights his presentation with local photography - both of wolves and caribou.

Day 5: Arctic Haven Lodge Today's breakfast begins with espresso, tea or juice, arctic blue berry and lingonberry waffles topped with fresh cream, French Canadian maple syrup, fresh fruit and organic Alberta breakfast sausages.

The full day excursion focuses on the history of the Ennadai Lake region. A great boat ride north and a two-kilometer walk through the trees and across the tundra brings us to "Blind Hill" on the edge of the tree line. Here, we can look south to the tree and north to the treeless tundra. The tundra is ripe with fall colours during this period. Lingondon berries, blue berries and arctic cranberries provide essential nutrients for the barren lands grizzly and black bears getting ready to hibernate for the winter.

Farley Mowat's book 'People of the Deer" famously portrays the Barrens and the nomadic Inuit who once lived in thsi area during the infamous starvation. Several thousand Inuit lived along the shores of Ennadai lake and the surrounding area, a population that was reduced to forty-five people by the mid-1950's; a result of starvation and disease. Several historical sites remain from these nomadic tribesmen. A century old caribou blind, used to spear caribou, stands atop the appropriately named hill overlooking the Barrens, directly on one of the largest caribou migratory routes still used by the Qamanirjuaq caribou.

After dinner guests are welcome to join Arctic Haven guides for catch-and-release arctic lake trout fishing. The shallow beach on the shoreline in front of Arctic Haven is excellent for lake trout at sunset. For the photographer, get your cameras ready: fiery skies make for majestic sunsets prior to evening's northern lights.

Day 6: Arctic Haven Lodge Today's adventure necessitates a gourmet breakfast to start, served at 8:30. Heading south into the tree line, today's excursion starts with a short boat ride up the Kazan River - one of the largest rivers on the Barrens. Here, the tundra begins to turn into forest - birch, spruce and tamarack trees lay claim to the territory, with caribou trails weaving amongst the sparse yet impressive arctic forest. This location is also excellent for tundra swans; the majestic Arctic swans nest on the edge of the river bank, in small grassy openings.

A short walk amongst the forested eskers bring us to the final paths of the Qamanirjuaq caribou - only a few miles south from here they overwinter. Have your camera ready! Wolves have been seen here in the past and a den is strategically placed near one of the eskers.

After lunch, guests are given the opportunity to try a final hand at fishing for Arctic grayling. The swift current of the Kazan is an excellent location for the species. Near-to world record grayling has been caught in these waters! The same location is also excellent for ducks and other birds.

That evening, for the foodie at heart, Josée Auclair, co owner of Arctic Watch, provides an informal chefs cuisine class on european bread making. Josée has spent the past twenty years perfecting her bread recipes, including european sourdoughs, rye breads, proper french baguettes, Portuguese mountain rye and more. All breads at Arctic Haven and sister lodge Arctic Watch are made fresh from scratch.

Another evening of northern lights takes place - nearly every cool and clear evening sky is filled with northern lights.

Day 7: Arctic Haven Lodge Another day of adventure begins with breakfast at 8:30. Guests are invited to join guides for one of the most scenic excursions of the week long adventure. Thirty minutes north by boat, one of the highest points of land surrounding Ennadai Lake is aptly named "Critter Hill". An easy three kilometer walk north towards the summit brings us to one of the best locations for wildlife on the tree line. The convergence of the tree line ending on the caribou paths combined with the high top views makes the location excellent for spotting wolves, grizzly bears and grazing caribou. The location is also used by migrating snow geese. Migrating south in groups of several thousand at a time, snow geese rest on the blue berry rich tundra, replenishing their energy stores before the long flight south. In the past, we've seen entire hillsides covered with the white blanket of snow geese, their cackles filling the skies.

As guests have the opportunity to take in the vast untamed expanses of rolling tundra, Lunch is served atop Critter Hill. The full day excursion returns to Arctic Haven in time for another gourmet meal, served by Arctic Haven chefs.

Day 8: Arctic Haven Lodge > Yellowknife By their last day in the Barren Lands Arctic, guests are familiar with the area of Ennadai Lake and Arctic Haven Lodge. If there is an activity that was missed during the week or one that a guest particularly enjoyed and wants to repeat, there is time today to do these things. In the late afternoon, the plane will arrive to take guests back to Yellowknife. Guests can choose to spend some time visiting Yellowknife or catch a flight south.

A suggested itinerary: Keep in mind that any itinerary is subject to weather, the availability of certain wildlife, and the wishes, desires, concerns and abilities of our individual guests. All activities are lead by a guide.

• 7 nights' accommodation at Arctic Haven Wilderness Lodge • Fully guided daily activities (by snowmobile in May; by boat in September) • Charter flights to/from Yellowknife • Equipment for each excursion • Gourmet meals

Pricing (per person) $AUD


10 May

19 Aug - 9 Sep






2016 Departures May 10
August 19, 26
September 2, 9

Booking conditions

• A 20% deposit is required upon booking • Full payment required 180 days prior to travel

At Arctic Haven we do everything possible to ensure that you have an enjoyable holiday. Using our own charter planes from Yellowknife allows you to spend less time travelling and more time enjoying the Arctic. It is important to note, however, that travel in the Arctic is weather dependent. Delays do happen.

The baggage allowance for the charter flight from Yellowknife to Arctic Haven is 44 lbs (20 kg) per person which includes a carry-on. Please let us know if you will have additional gear, such as photographic equipment.

The duration of your stay at Arctic Haven can be either shortened or lengthened due to weather. If a layover is required in Yellowknife neither Canadian Arctic Holidays nor Summit Air is responsible for covering the costs of lodging or meals. However, if a layover is required due to a mechanical or maintenance problem with an aircraft, then the airline will be responsible for your stay. There is no extra charge in the event that weather delays lengthen your stay at Arctic Haven.

Please refer to World Journeys terms & conditions.

Not included

• Wine • Gratuities