Sirmilik National Park of Canada

How to Get There

Arctic seasons and your trip

A Note about Time and Place

Access to Sirmilik National Park is from either Pond Inlet or Arctic Bay. Local outfitters may be hired in either community to provide boat or snowmachine transportation to the park. Iqaluit is the hub for air traffic in Nunavut.

To Iqaluit, Nunavut

First Air Ltd. and Canadian North fly direct to Iqaluit from Montreal, Ottawa & Yellowknife

Travel from Iqaluit to Pond Inlet or Arctic Bay (via Nanisivik)

First Air offers scheduled flights from Iqaluit to both Pond Inlet and Arctic Bay (via Nanisivik). Kenn Borek Air offers scheduled flights to Pond Inlet.

To Sirmilik National Park

Travel to and from Sirmilik, from either Pond Inlet or Arctic Bay, can be arranged with local outfitters. Outfitters will take you to and from the park by either boat or snowmachine, depending on the season. In Pond Inlet, staff of the Nattinnak Visitor Centre can help you make the necessary arrangements with local outfitters, call (867) 899-8226. Outfitter charges vary and should be discussed with the outfitter being hired. For more information on Arctic Bay, call (867) 439-8483.

Arctic seasons and your trip

The polar marine climate means long cold winters and short cool summers. Although you will be treated to endless daylight from May to August, the sun is absent from the sky December and January. July is the warmest month, with an average high of 11° C. In January the average high is a chilly -30° C. Spring brings strong winds and, although the park receives very little precipitation, late summer is often cloudy. In winter, loss of daylight and the presence of sea ice can make for extremely cold weather.

Ice, wind, tide and weather conditions may also affect your access plans.

  • Boat travel is only possible when the ocean is ice-free, normally between mid-July and mid-October. Wind conditions can be very treacherous and unpredictable. Boaters and kayakers may have to wait out the rough water, sometimes for several days.
  • During ice break up (late June - early July) and freeze up (late October - early November), travel to the park is impossible. 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 web site.

A Note about Time and Place

For thousands of years the ancestors of 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, and continued 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 storm. 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.