How to Get There
Arctic seasons and your trip
A Note About Time & Place
To Iqaluit, Nunavut
Iqaluit is the hub for air traffic in Nunavut. First Air Ltd. and Canadian North fly direct to Iqaluit from Montreal, Ottawa, and Yellowknife.
To Pangnirtung or Qikiqtarjuaq from Iqaluit
First Air Ltd. and Canadian North offer scheduled flights and charters to both communities from Iqaluit. Air Nunavut and Unaalik Aviation offer charters only.
To Auyuittuq National Park
Auyuittuq National Park is located on Baffin Island, Nunavut. Access to Auyuittuq is either from Pangnirtung, located 28 km south of the park boundary along Pangnirtung Fiord, or from Qikiqtarjuaq, located on Broughton Island, 34 km northeast of the park boundary along North Pangnirtung Fiord. Local operators will take you to the park from these communities by either boat or snowmachine, depending on the season. Contact the park office in Pangnirtung (ph.867-473-2500) for a list of operators who provide transportation and/or guiding services.
Arctic seasons and your trip
© Christian Kimber
Auyuittuq is accessed either by Pangnirtung Fiord (from Pangnirtung) or North Pangnirtung Fiord (from Qikiqtarjuaq on Broughton Island). Access is by oversnow travel (snowmachine, dogteam, or skis) when the fiords are frozen, or by boat when the ice has melted. During break-up and freeze-up the park is inaccessible. Following are approximate dates when the park is accessible. Please check in advance with the park office in Pangnirtung (ph. 867-473-2500) for this year's situation.
March/April/early May (spring)
At this time the fiords are frozen, making it possible to travel from either Pangnirtung or Qikiqtarjuaq to the park boundary by oversnow means (snow machine, dog team, or skis) to start your trip. We strongly recommend that skiers beginning in Qikiqtarjuaq travel with an outfitter to the park boundary to reduce their risk of encountering polar bears.
Break-up usually occurs near the end of June in Pangnirtung, and by the middle of July in Qikiqtarjuaq. During this time oversnow or boat travel is not possible on the fiords.
Late July, August, September (summer)
The fiords are normally ice-free. At this time it is possible to travel by boat to the head of the fiords. Contact the park office in Pangnirtung (ph. 867-473-2500) for a list of operators who provide transportation and/or guiding services.
October - February (winter)
Travel to Auyuittuq National Park is not advisable at this time. Cold temperatures, near-constant darkness and access difficulties in early winter make winter travel unpleasant, dangerous and, often, impossible.
The above are approximate dates for travel, but they will vary from year to year. If you arrive between June and September you must be prepared for whatever conditions you find.
Ice, wind, tide and weather conditions may also affect your access plans.
- Boat travel is only possible when the fiord is ice-free, normally between July and early October.
- Wind can be very localised. The head of the fiord can be calm while high winds are blowing at Pangnirtung. Under these circumstances, outfitters will not go out in boats.
- Due to the large tides experienced in the Pangnirtung region, boats can only arrive and depart from Pangnirtung within two hours either side of high tide. There are two high tides every 24 hours.
- During ice break up, you cannot travel to the park by boat or snowmachine. If your plans include travel to the park around these times, please phone to check ice conditions. Or, check the Canadian Ice Service page of the Environment Canada website.
- It may be possible to hike the 30 km from Pangnirtung to the park at break-up (mid-to-late June).
- Break up is later in Qikiqtarjuaq (mid-July to early August). You cannot hike from Qikiqtarjuaq to the trailhead at North Pangnirtung Fiord during this time.
A Note About Time & Place
For thousands of years the ancestors of the Inuit traveled in this place. They knew that their survival depended on their obedience to the dictates of the land and its weather. If the wind blew and the temperature plummeted, they stopped and found shelter, continuing when the land became kinder again. Inuit travelers to this day let the weather, the seasons, and the rhythms of the land set their travel schedules.
This is a harsh land. Travelers may find that their personal itineraries are in conflict with the schedule dictated by wind, cold, and storms. Wise northern travelers will learn from Inuit and adjust their travel to the natural rhythms of the land they are visiting.
These travelers will leave time in their itineraries in case they need to sit for days in a tent waiting for winds to abate. They will have extra food, and reserves of patience. They will plan an extra day or three in their trips in case storms and poor visibility prevent connecting aircraft from flying. They understand the unpredictable nature of Arctic weather, and even revel in the chance to let nature set their schedule instead of a clock.
Most of all, wise northern travelers take the unparalleled opportunity to experience the life of a small northern community. They consider the extra time they have allowed for their northern adventure to be not only a safety buffer, but an essential and exciting part of their northern experience.
If you come north with an inflexible schedule, you run the risk of remembering your once-in-a-lifetime trip only for its frustrations. But come prepared to accept the Arctic on its own terms, and it will open its heart to you.