2018 Arctic Tundra Photography Safari for Musk-Ox, Polar Bear, Migratory Birds, Fall Colours and Northern Lights

Far in Northern Canada there is a beautiful, remote and little-explored wilderness known as ‘Nunavik’ – a region that is rich with wildlife and spectacular scenery where one of the last remaining animals from the last ice age still exists today... Musk-oxen. Musk Ox herds, now in full winter pelage while gathering for the mating season, often range, relax & graze upon the forever-reaching & remote landscape as they have for thousands of years.

In the peripherials of the Musk Ox herds are Polar Bear. Polar Bears spend the summer fishing, hunting for seals, resting, sleeping and waiting for the winter sea ice to return along the shores of Ungava Bay.

Wolves and fox can occasionally be seen in the area looking for something to prey upon in order to prepare for the upcoming winter.

Waterfowl, beginning their long flight south will seemingly fill the sky, and often flock together on the local tundra ponds in order to rest and feed en-route.

Rock & Willow ptarmigan cackle in the bushes while gathering into their winter flocks as they change to their winter plumage.

The crimson and gold autumn colours on the tundra landscape, while beautiful and photogenic unto itself, serve as a background to the spectacular wildlife we will be photographing ... And often on clear nights the aurora borealis will dance & weave intricate patterns across the skies.

The clarity of the atmosphere here offers a rare glimpse of raw wilderness afforded only to very few each year - and the time of season that offers special & unique displays of raw nature that are truly magical...

Join us at a remote wildlife photo camp situated on the ‘barren grounds’ of Nunavik in Northern Canada: One of the most isolated wilderness regions remaining on mainland North America, containing one of few animals that have remained since the last ice age!

A female Musk Oxen on the fall colours of the Tundra

A female Musk Oxen on the fall colours of the Tundra

Photo Workshop Details

Join me, along with seasoned naturalists, on a unique interpretive wildlife trip designed to offer high quality wildlife viewing and present in-depth knowledge of the fascinating area’s history, wildlife, birdlife, and particularly about the resident musk-ox herds, Polar Bear and Caribou herds that could be in the area closer to the shorelines.

This is a story many thousands of years old and one intricately bound up with the relationship between the musk-ox, Polar Bear, the caribou, and the indigenous inhabitants of this starkly beautiful land, the Inuit. This special catered trip offers an excellent chance for quality viewing opportunities of musk- oxen and other animals in their natural habitat. Watercraft and mobile tent camps allow flexibility to move to where the animals are.

There are few places left on earth that are unaltered by man. One such place is the remote barrenlands of northern Canada. Few have ever seen this strange land, and wild plants exist undisturbed in a state of natural balance. Harsh winters dominate this remote northern country, sculpting the landscape at whim into graceful and delicate patterns. An abundance of natural activity, animal life and great peace prevails. Woven into the landscape is the vast sense of time unchanged... It is a little known fact that the remote mainland ‘barrenlands’ of Northern Canada is one of the most remote regions on the North American continent. The barrens are distinctly different than the tundra regions of the high Arctic or Alaska: the barrens lie in the vast Precambrian shield, a landscape of ancient bedrock-glaciated hills covered with lichens, wildflowers and in protected places, sometimes a variety of shrubs and dwarf trees.

Workshop Details

Dates of the Workshop: Seven days from August 23, 2018 to August 29, 2018.

Workshop Instructors: Kevin Pepper

Maximum number of attendees: 6, minimum 4 in attendance

Price of Workshop: $5995USD

Deposit Information: A deposit of $1500USD with the balance due on or before May 15, 2018

Inclusions: Night prior to flight to Kuujjuaq, Quebec at Montreal hotel near airport, the boat charter and/or aircraft flight from Kuujjuaq, Quebec to and from the wildlife camp; all quality fresh meals prepared and served daily at the wildlife camp; shared tent camp comfortable sleeping accommodations for five nights (one night may be spent in the Inuit community depending on weather and tidal schedules). Boats and motors and a variety of quality expedition equipment are available for your use. We have satellite telephone communication available at the camp. Each day we will offer an escorted educational wildlife photography photo safari and natural history programs by boat and overland hiking led by qualified naturalists and Inuit trip leaders. Also included is the return boat or air charter from our camp back to Kuujjuaq at the end of the tour.

Exclusions: Flight to / from Kuujjuaq, Quebec from Montreal ($1180USD), Items of a personal nature. Alcoholic beverages. Gratuities for local guides. Trip and cancellation insurance. Anything not listed as included. We will be scheduling everyone on that regional flight to/from Kuujjuag that will take us 1,500km north to our remote camp that is just south of Baffin Island on the edge of the Hudson Strait.

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Incredible Wildlife!

The Nunavik tundra is home to diverse populations of wildlife & birdlife constantly on the move.

Large populations of musk-oxen herds can often be observed during the autumn mating period. That means male Musk Ox vying for the right to mate and challenging the Patriarch(s) on the tundra. Butting heads, females protecting young born in the previous spring from predators, and we may even see one of those iconic herd circles if predators come to close for the herds liking

Polar Bears spend the summer fishing, hunting for seals, resting, sleeping and waiting for the winter sea ice to return along the shores of Ungava Bay and Hudson Strait.

The region is also on the fringe of the migratory route for the Leaf River caribou herd – the largest caribou herd remaining in Canada.

Wolves use caribou routes as hunting trails, and follow the caribou herds. In the late summer, the cow & calves rejoin the bulls, then relax, spread out & graze the remote countryside in order to build up winter fat and to prepare for the on-coming mating season.

This region is also home to ptarmigan, wolf, fox and black bear. Active musk-oxen grazing grounds & water-crossings, beautiful Arctic sunsets, waterfowl migrating south across the skies; incredible autumn colours and awesome displays of the aurora borealis make these special trips truly a experience in a genuine naturalists’ paradise!

Not to be forgotten are the inquisitive Arctic Fox that roam the tundra in search of their own food.

The Camps & Facilities

The ‘Musk-ox, Autumn Colours & Aurora’ trips are being operated from a remote cabin or tent camp located in the Nunavik region of northern Quebec. The camp will be situated along a remote tundra lake surrounded by beautiful rolling tundra in autumn colours. Our remote camps offer electricity by generators enhanced by solar panels. The kitchen turns out quality ‘northern style’ and gourmet meals prepared and served daily.

Also featured is our northern library with local area lore, plus an emergency communications center with satellite telephone and battery charging station. Sleeping accommodations are in good quality expedition style tents or cabins complete with beds, heaters & rugs, and are set up –depending on the camp used in order to accommodate our group as comfortably as possible.

In the Land of Ancient Aboriginals

The expedition is in the heart of the territory of the Ungava Inuit: one of the more isolated mainland regional groups. This region of special spiritual importance to the indigenous Inuit people of Canada’s Nunavik region in Northern Quebec.

Ungava Inuit (originally called New Québec Inuit) live along the shores of Ungava Bay, on the south shore of Hudson Strait and on the eastern coast of Hudson Bay. They utilize the resources of the vast area north of the tree line, especially sea mammals in the coastal waters, inland they hunt caribou and at times penetrate the traditional Cree and Montagnais-Naskapi lands south of the tree-line.

The term Ungava, meaning "towards the open water," was used to designate the Inuit band established at the mouth of the Arnaud (Payne) River. The Moravian Brothers, who established missions among Labrador Inuit, called the Inuit lands located to the west "Ungava"; the Hudson’s Bay Company used the name widely in the 19th century, and the federal government then created the federal district of Ungava in 1895.

Ungava Bay, a large, U-shaped body of water along the north coast of Québec is the traditional territory of the Ungava Inuit. The Ungava Peninsula is approximately 350 000 square kilometres surrounding Ungava Bay. The Inuit in this area had no generic terms for themselves.

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Our Field Ethics:

We strive to find and maintain a balance between providing world-class wildlife viewing opportunities for our clients, while at the same time maintaining a highly ethical and non-disturbing approach to wild animals. We practice daily environmentally-conscious field ethics that are intended to leave as little impact as possible to our surrounding environs. This attitude is particularly important in sensitive Arctic and sub-Arctic regions where even just walking over the wrong area at the wrong time may scar the land for hundreds of years. Our camps, equipment & field techniques are operated as minimum-impact.

Of critical importance are field practices that minimize disturbance of wild animals and birdlife, particularly during sensitive nesting and den cycle periods. The ideal wildlife encounter to us is one where we come, watch and then leave without the animals ever knowing of our presence. We will not encourage or endorse wildlife harassment in any form, for any reason. Nor will we endorse feeding wildlife at any time to provide closer viewing during this trip. 

Packing Information 

Your equipment must be carefully chosen to be durable, weather resistant and insect-proof. Layered clothing for temperature control is best. Outer garments such as cotton or wool are advisable when approaching to observe wildlife, as they are much quieter than plastic or nylon. All clothing should be dull colour or camouflage. Bright coloured clothing or fluorescent are a NO-NO when stalking animals. Synthetic lining in the bag is a good idea. Boots should be worn in and suitable for hiking off trail over sand, rocks and wet terrain. Rubber boots or sneakers are sufficient for canoe paddling. You should have waterproof rain gear that you can comfortably hike in. A daypack suitable to carry your own camera equipment and bag lunch for shorter hikes is great. A strict 75 lb. per person gear weight is enforced on all charter fights.

Recommended Photography Equipment:

• Wide angle lens such as a14 to 24mm and an aperture of F2.8 or faster
• A medium telephoto in the range of 70-200mm
• Telephoto of at least 300mm, preferably longer like a 400 to 500mm length
• Sturdy Tripod
• Remote control for your camera for landscapes and aurora
• Two camera bodies, sufficient memory cards, chargers and batteries for each body

‘Quicklist’ of Things to Bring:

• Your own pillow
• Day pack (for camera equipment, lunches etc.)
• Personal items (towels, soap, shampoo, etc.) and sunglasses and sunscreen
• Pocketknife
• Warm jacket
• Insulated coveralls
• rubber boots (NEO Overshoes are suggested)
• hiking boots
• Water bottle
• Warm clothing that you can layer
• Quality rain gear
• Flashlight
• Hat and gloves

A more detailed list, and suggestions on how to travel with this gear will be supplied prior to the trip. 

Workshop Itinerary

Day One - You arrive in Montreal and check into our hotel near the airport. We will gather at dinner time for a pre workshop briefing to discuss our time together over the coming week.

Day Two - We depart for the airport to catch our flight to Kuujjuaq. Once there we will meet our trip leaders and spend some time exploring this small traditional Inuit village. We will have a chance to meet and talk with the local people who live here year-round. From there we will further be taken by plane for a 150km flight to the city near our remote wilderness camp on the shores of Ungava Bay.

Before the sun descends we will have a chance to check out our surroundings and prepare for the northern lights if the skies are clear. 

Day Three to Day Seven - The ‘Musk-ox, Polar Bear, icebergs & Aurora’ wildlife trip is relaxed and informal, yet professional and educational. Unique natural & aboriginal history, intriguing archaeology & wonderful Arctic scenery all lend dimension to caribou & wildlife encounters.

With input from our guides on where the wildlife is location, each day we will decide between a choice of daily field programs that are offered by easy day hiking and cruising the lake shorelines by boat, that includes wildlife viewing, native history and archaeology, all led by qualified naturalist trip leaders.

Our goal is to get you the best wildlife images we can acquire, so we go where the wildlife are. This may mean that if a significant wildlife event occurs, like a large gathering, or Polar Bears are in the area, occasionally we will set up spur-of-the-moment ‘spike camps’ in addition to staying at the main camp. These optional camps utilize quality expedition tents, or in some areas we are able make use of other existing facilities. Depending on the site we will be supplied with boats or canoes, mobile kitchen facilities and other equipment needed to provide a quality tent camp in the real wilderness close to the action we came to see. 

On Day seven we will make our journey home mid day. We will have you back in Montreal before dinner in order to catch your flight home from the Montreal airport. 

If photographing one of the last remaining animals from the last ice age is something that interests you, click on the Contact Me button below and we will get you registered to head north.