Iqalukuuttiaq, meaning “A good place to fish,” or Cambridge Bay is the largest settlement on Victoria Island with the hamlet’s population as of 2021 being just under 1,800 residents. We had the luxury of spending the entire day in this thriving but remote and often isolated community. Serving as a major “port” of call for passenger and research vessels transiting the Northwest Passage, this community welcomed us with open arms. National Geographic Resolution is the first passenger vessel to visit this season. We spent the morning taking walks through the community. The local guides, all of whom were under twenty years old, were eager to share their community with us. One of the highlights was visiting C.H.A.R.S. (Canadian High Arctic Research Station), a world-class facility for all types of research conducted in the area. Nearby, community elders served us fresh caught Arctic char and homemade bannock, or quick bread. The cultural center and museum were also big points of interest with the morning’s outing culminating at the Artisan Center, where a magnificent selection of local delicacies was served for all to partake. Our hotel director, captain, and expedition leader invited our wonderful local guides and a few other folks from the community to join us for lunch and a tour of the ship.
Our morning was quite full, and we spent the afternoon in Cambridge Bay as well. Most people opted to explore the hamlet on their own, visiting some of the morning locations more thoroughly and seeing the community at their own pace. Another group of guests, nineteen in total, opted to join naturalist Eric Guth and myself for a more focused activity, searching for as many bird species as we could find on the outskirts of the community. A downpour fell during lunch and a bit after, threatening to put a damper on the afternoon. I was concerned we would have little interest in an extended walk to look for birds. Fortunately, the spirits of “The Bird Maniacs” were not quelled by the weather in the least. As the rain subsided, our rewards came bird by bird. We tallied up eighteen different species, not an easy task in the High Arctic. All in all, the day was a remarkable, rewarding, and enriching experience of taking in the culture and sharing the joy of travel.