Labrador’s ‘place of spirits’: Camp, hike, kayak and cruise this special region.
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Jagged peaks soar above vast sweeping valleys where caribou graze the tundra and polar bears prowl the shores. Minke whales swim iceberg-strewn waters alongside fjords carved by ancient glaciers. The remains of ancient sod houses and 5,000-year-old stone burial sites blend into a grand and powerful landscape that the native Inuit called Torngait, an Inuktitut word meaning “place of spirits”. Today 9,700-sq-km (3,745-sq-miles) of the Torngat Mountains that run the length of Northern Labrador are protected as one of Canada’s newest national parks.
Remote and wild, the region is not easily accessible.One of the best ways to seethe Torngats in comfort is from the deck of Cruise North’s Clipper Adventurer, sailing in luxury along the Labrador coast from Greenland en route to Newfoundland. Or step aboard Arctic Kingdom’s M/V Cape Race travelling from Nunavut to Nain, Labrador. A 10-passenger deep-sea trawler converted to an expedition yacht in the style of old-time tramp steamers, it cruises alongside 900-metre (3,000-foot) cliff walls like Nature’s Cathedral plummeting into the ocean.
The more adventurous can start at Parks Canada’s summertime visitor’s centre base on Sagalek Fjord at the southern boundary of the park. Though sub-Arctic summers are brief, days are long, perfect for wilderness hikers – in the company of polar bear guards – mountain climbers and kayakers. Explore the Torngats on foot during Adventure Canada’s five-day, 60-km (37-mile) heli-hiking expedition led by Canadian adventurer and photographer Mike Beedell.
For a deeper immersion into this last frontier and Inuit homeland, join a small, exclusive group for a rare educational adventure at the Torngat Mountains Base Camp and Research Station where the effects of climate change on the Canadian Arctic are being studied. Hike amid tundra wildflowers to waterfalls with Parks Canada guides and polar bear guards. Hop a helicopter to soar over the dramatic fjord landscape on the lookout for caribou, Arctic foxes and polar bears or sail alongside vast sweeping fjord walls on the deck of a fishing boat. In the evenings, international researchers give presentations on everything from the region’s marine ecology to archaeology. The outpost is also an Inuit base camp where you meet and mingle with elders; learn about their traditional lifestyle. Listen to their stories around a beach campfire and feel in their voices the mysterious spirit of the North.
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