Exploring Baffin Island
The biggest island in Canada (and fifth largest in the world), Baffin Island is a grand wild landscape, the spectacular homeland of the Inuit and an accessible Arctic playground for the adventurous.
It’s Baffin Island that draws the most visitors to Nunavut every year, and it isn’t hard to see why.
Steep fjords, miles-high mountains and coastal islands all offer different views and adventures in the great wild.
Rock climb Clyde River’s fjord walls or grab your skis, set out to follow the Inuksuk — Inuit stone markers that dot the landscape. You can ski amid the peaks of Auyuittuq National Park where Mount Thor’s sheer face is the world’s highest vertical cliff at 4,100 feet. Or, join Polar Sea Adventures for a skiing expedition through Sirmilik National Park, the “Yosemite of the North,” spotting snowy owls, narwhal and polar bears along the way.
For a closer look at this incredible wildlife, head to the floe ice on a snowmobile and spot narwhal, beluga and bears during an Arctic Safari. The water provides another great view of these and other mythical animals, so join Adventure Canada to cruise the fabled Northwest Passage.
And when it’s all over, lie down and relax, looking up at the Northern Lights.
Arts, culture and festivals
To appreciate modern Inuit culture, begin by exploring where it all started. Daytrip by boat, sled or dog team to the rocky island of Qaummaarviit, a territorial park rich with historic Thule archeological artifacts. This includes 3,000 tools, 20,000 bones, and 11 sod houses that really illustrate the living conditions of the region’s ancestral peoples.
Then, head back to Iqaluit and pay a visit to the Nunatta Sunakkutaangit Museum, home to traveling exhibits, Inuit art and artifacts. There’s also a gift shop in the museum, where you can pick up an original work of art as a souvenir.
You can actually watch Inuit art being created before your eyes in Cape Dorset, home to the highest number of artists per capita in Canada. There, at the famed Kinngait Co-operative, Inuit carvers, tapestry makers, and artists practice their trades with such skill that their work has been gifted to presidents, kings and popes.
In terms of festivals and events, the annual spring Toonik Tyme Festival might just be the best party on Baffin Island. Build an igloo, play pond hockey, kite-ski, dog-sled, bite into steaming hot bannock bread and caribou stew, and then swallow your shyness and give Inuit throat-singing a try.
For a uniquely northern experience, celebrate under the midnight sun during the Alianait Arts Festival, a 10-day (and night!) multi-cultural arts festival featuring film, circus acts, theater, music and storytelling.
Music fans will also want to pay a visit to Igloolik’s Rockin’ Walrus Festival. This all-Northern music festival also features local Inuit films and performances by ArtCirq, the world-renowned Igloolik-based Arctic circus.
If you like the idea of catching your own meal, Baffin Island is home to incredible fishing and hunting opportunities. Even if you don’t manage to track down your next meal, local hosts will be more than willing to show you a true Baffin Island dining experience.
Enjoy a dinner of Northern surf-n-turf — freshly caught Arctic char and tender medallions of caribou. Sample caribou jerky, muskox sausages and nibbles of muktuk (whale skin and blubber). Bite into bannock bread warm from a skillet, garnish it with tundra blueberry jam and sip tea with people around a table.
Ready to start planning your trip to Baffin Island? Visit the Nunavut Tourism website for more information.