Iqaluit Tours: 98 Europeans and Qaummaarviit Territorial Park


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Over the last month, I have had the pleasure of leading Iqaluit tours for the aptly named Tour Iqaluit company. Yes, that's right: I can talk about Iqaluit online and IRL. Here are some photos and stories from my last two Iqaluit tours.

Iqaluit Town Tour: British Invasion

Tour Iqaluit offers a town tour that features a number of Iqaluit's tourist attractions, like the igloo church, the Hudson Bay buildings, and Sylvia Grinnell Park. A pretty standard city tour on most days; however, things got a little more interesting on August 1st, when Iqaluit was treated to a visit from nearly 100 European travellers. That's right: 98 Europeans, the majority of them Brits, descended upon our tiny town to start a two-week Arctic expedition. Their presence was such a spectacle that it even made the evening news (skip to 40:00). Note that there are a few errors in the broadcast: 1) There were 98 Europeans, not two dozen; and 2) They were en route to the high Arctic, not Greenland.

Stopping on the beach for a stretch and photos...and the CBC.

Stopping on the beach for a stretch and photos...and the CBC.

You can see the yellow school bus we used for transportation in the photo above. I took the travellers on their Iqaluit tours in two sets of about 50, with each tour lasting about an hour and a half. Miraculously, no one was lost in the shuffle of jet-lagged bodies from plane to tarmac to bus to hotel, averting what could have become an international disaster (I can imagine the headlines: "British Tourists Missing in the Canadian Arctic; Local Blogger to Blame").

Oh hey, that's me!

Oh hey, that's me!

Suffice it to say that our European visitors were absolutely fascinated by the architecture, landscape, and history of Iqaluit. They peppered the guided tour with all manner of mundane and evocative questions: How much does it cost to buy or rent a house? (A lot.) How cold does it get in the winter? (Very.) Is it hard to make friends? (Nah.) What languages are spoken? (Lots! But mostly English and Inuktitut.) They took a real interest in the city, and seemed genuinely pleased that they had had a chance to see Iqaluit before boarding their ship. Add in the fact that they were here on a 25-degree, sunny day and you'll find yourself with one happy group of Brits (and Danes, and Scots, and Irish).

By golly Roger, I dare say the weather in Iqaluit is a spot nicer than in jolly old England.

By golly Roger, I dare say the weather in Iqaluit is a spot nicer than in jolly old England.

Boat Trip to Qaummaarviit Territorial Park

In addition to the town tour, I can also take tourists on a zodiac boat ride to Qaummaarviit Territorial Park. Meaning "the place that shines," Qaummaarviit is a small island 12 kilometres west of Iqaluit that was inhabited by the Thule people in the 13th century. What remains is an interesting archeological site that includes 11 semi-buried sod houses (or what's left of them). A beautiful little place, it's protected as an area of historical and cultural importance, and it makes for a great day trip from Iqaluit.

Remains of a sunken sod house at Qaummaarviit Territorial Park.

Remains of a sunken sod house at Qaummaarviit Territorial Park.

Qaummaarviit Territorial Park boardwalk.

Qaummaarviit Territorial Park boardwalk.

Freshwater basin.

Freshwater basin.

Hiking along the island.

Hiking along the island.

Boarding the zodiac back to Iqaluit.

Boarding the zodiac back to Iqaluit.

If you're interested in booking or learning more about Iqaluit tours, check out the Tour Iqaluit site. And maybe if you're lucky, I'll be at the front of your boat or bus :)