Majestic Fjords And More: Pangnirtung
First Air, and Canadian North, provide air service into Pangnirtung (pronounced Pang-ner-toung, or Pang as most Nunavummiut call it) daily with an 18-seater turbo prop plane. The approach into Pang, depending on which direction the wind is blowing, can be rather thrilling and the airport is located in the middle of town! The moment you step off the plane you will know that you are in a particularly exceptional place – the view down the Pangnirtung Fiord is extraordinary!
Be sure to arrange your accommodations ahead of time, at the Auyuittuq Lodge (Inns North) or Pangnirtung Fjordview Bed and Breakfast. If you’re planning to hike and have the gear, Piskutinu Tunngavik Territorial Campground is an excellent alternative. The campground is nestled at the edge of town beneath the mountains and features tent platforms, picnic facilities, outhouses and campfire rings.
Don’t miss the Uqqurmiut Centre for Arts & Crafts (pronounced oo-koo-me-oot), where Pangnirtung’s Inuit artists showcase their extraordinary talents in this unique and enchanting facility. View ornate tapestries woven by skilled weavers in the circular “weave shop”; observe prints celebrating the land and traditional ways come alive through stencils, lithographs, etchings, drawings and more in the adjacent workshop. Browse or buy from the archived print collection concealed in the loft or invest in a famous crocheted ‘Pang Hat’ or woven scarf.
Across the road is the Angmarlik Visitor Centre which features displays depicting the lifestyle of Thule and modern Inuit. Ask the friendly staff to show you how to write your name in Inuktitut, the Inuit language — or enjoy an impromptu tour of the centre.
Next door is the Parks Canada Office and Visitor Centre where you will participate in a mandatory three hour orientation and registration session (Parks Canada recommends you book this 2-3 hour session two weeks in advance. Phone 867-473-2500 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.) Learn more about Auyuittuq National Park here.
Investigate the historic Hudson’s Bay buildings and the story behind the canon perched on the rock cliff; keys for the buildings generally rest with the Angmarlik Visitor Centre, if you want to peek inside before heading to the Arctic Co-op store or the Northern Store to stock up on supplies for your next day’s adventure.
Sweeping glaciers and polar sea ice meet jagged granite mountains in Auyuittuq National Park. Established in 1976, Auyuittuq — an Inuktitut word meaning “land that never melts” — comprises the highest peaks of the Canadian Shield, the Penny Ice Cap, marine shorelines along coastal fiords, and Akshayuk Pass, a traditional travel corridor used by the Inuit for thousands of years.
Meet your outfitter at the boat harbour; Peter-owner/operator of Peter’s Expediting and Outfitting or Joavie owner/operator of Alivaktuk Outfitting. The journey to Mount Overlord, at the southern entrance of the park will take about an hour by boat, through the stunning Pangnirtung Fiord (the boat trip to Overlord is offered as a half day sightseeing tour as well).
Travel and hike above the Arctic Circle — hikes in the Akshayuk Pass can be day trips or multi-day trips with wilderness camping. Aksayuk Pass is the place to view towering mountains and glaciers. The sharp mountain ridges and peaks lining the pass were created by small mountain glaciers called cirque or alpine glaciers. One such mountain is the majestic peak of Overlord. Another spectacular mountain is Mount Thor where the peak soars 1500 metres up out of the valley floor. At the summit of the pass is Mount Asgard which stands amongst surrounding glaciers like a scene out of Norse mythology and has been the goal of climbing expeditions from around the world. You can also view Crater Lake which is a beautiful, circular blue lake that got its features from the latest advance of glaciers over just over 100 years ago! Travel from the North or South side of the pass to witness the breathtaking scenery of the land and animals in a place where the sun does not set during the summer months.
Take a moment along the way to leave or read a note from past hikers in the guest books located in the cabins. Be sure to take a picture with Parks Canada’s Red Chair at the first cabin, Ulu cabin — and send it to Parks when you arrive back home.
Hike back to your drop off location to meet with your outfitter at the predetermined time, which you would have arranged prior to departure.
A boat ride to the historical whaling station in the Kekerten Territorial Park will let you immerse yourself in the history of the area and the ride is offered by both outfitters, ask about details during the planning stages of your trip. The park is about 3 hours away from Pang by boat. While there you can explore the historical remains of this bygone era, which is detailed with signage along an interpretive trail in the park. Keep an eye out for whales in the Arctic waters; Bowhead, Beluga and Narwhal.
The chef and manager of the Auyuittuq Lodge feature a tasty and diverse set menu that can include Arctic char from the Pangnirtung Fishery which is located just down the road. Notify the lodge early in the day if you would like to attend the supper hour. The Lodge also offers showers for a small fee, if you plan to make your way back to the campground for the night.
Before catching your flight back to Iqaluit, call on the Pangnirtung Fish Plant for a quick tour and pick up a few fillets of Arctic Char or Turbot to take home and share with your friends and family. On your way to the plant stop by the giant Turbot carving on the pier of the harbour.
Hiking in Auyuittuq National Park requires proper planning and preparation. Please educate yourself by visiting their website here.