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Traveling the wilds of Nunavut is a great adventure, but frankly, it isn't for everyone. It is still a young territory (established in 1999), which is apparent in the lack of infrastructure and development. The Arctic is a very expensive place to travel. Airfare is very high -- for example, flights between Ottawa and Iqaluit are usually more than C$1,500, and it will cost even more again to fly from Iqaluit to Pond Inlet in the high Arctic. While almost every little community has a serviceable hotel/restaurant, room prices are shockingly high; a hostel-style rustic room with shared facilities and full board costs as much as a decent room in Paris. Food costs are equally high (remember that food must be air-freighted in), and the quality is poor.

To reach anywhere in Nunavut, you'll need to fly on floatplanes, tiny commuter planes, and aircraft that years ago passed out of use in the rest of the world. Of course, all aircraft in the Arctic are regularly inspected and regulated for safety, but if you have phobias about flying, you may find the combination of rattling aircraft and changeable flying conditions unpleasant.

Nunavut is the homeland of the Inuit. Travelers are made welcome in nearly all Inuit villages, but it must be stressed that these communities aren't set up as holiday camps for southern visitors. Many people aren't English speakers; except for the local hotel, there may not be public areas open for visitors. You're definitely a guest here; while people are friendly and will greet you, you'll probably feel like an outsider.

The key to traveling here is flexibility. The elements -- wind, rain, snow, and ice -- alter travel plans more often than not. Mechanical breakdowns on flights occur regularly, and maintenance takes much, much longer than in the south. But most important to remember is Nunavummiut operate on "northern time," so pre-planning is difficult. Best to have a-take-things-as-they-come attitude and leave southern sensibilities (and watches) at home.

For information about travelling throughout Nunavut and for a copy of the latest travel planner, contact Nunavut Tourism (tel. 866/686-2888 or 867/979-6551; www.nunavuttourism.com). Any serious traveler should get hold of The Nunavut Handbook, an excellent government-sponsored guide loaded with information on Nunavut's land, wildlife, history, people, and culture, and practical tips for travelers. The handbook is available from local bookstores and from www.nunavuthandbook.com.


Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.