What to Expect:
There are no name brand hotels, no condos, and no time share resorts boasting swimming pools in Nunavik. Instead, a handful of small hotels conveniently outfitted with modern amenities that make it ideal for both short and long-term stays. In the shared guest areas, travelers mix freely where swapping travel stories is not uncommon. Outside of the villages, rustic cabins or camping is the norm in most places.
Food and Drink:
At a time when the most famous Michelin-star restaurants in the world are singing the praises of foraging for wild food, the Inuit of Nunavik have already been doing this for centuries. Mussels are harvested year-round, even from underneath the ice in winter, and in the summer, you will taste some of the freshest fish you have ever eaten. Summer also brings cloudberries, blueberries, and other wild fruits, enjoyed at the peak of their ripeness.
Food in Nunavik is prepared simple and fresh, with little spice or seasoning – just the pure flavors of the food itself. Because there is no farming in this Arctic region, fresh vegetables and other fruits are flown in from points south (like Montreal, two hours away), along with other goods. Alcohol is not served or sold in most Nunavik communities and only available in a few places.
Nunavik’s “highways” are built by nature: In winter, the frozen tundra provides easy passage for dog-sleds and snowmobiles. In summer, an extensive system of lakes, rivers, and bays provide open waterways to explore Nunavik by boat, kayak, and canoe. Light aircraft transfers link the 14 villages, with regularly scheduled short flights making travel easy between small airports.
To get to Nunavik, you generally fly north from your departure point, via Montreal (or Quebec City), to either Kuujjuaq (YVP) or Puvirnituq (YPX), approximately a two hour flight to either gateway community. Kuujjuaq and Puvirnituq are small, modern airports and each have a gift shop, as well as connecting flights to all of the other villages in Nunavik. Nunavik is served by Air Inuit and First Air, our local regional air carriers.
Whatever the time of year, weather in Nunavik is always variable. The winter brings temperatures well below freezing, in the summer, temperatures of 20°C (70° F) or higher are not uncommon during the day in July and August, dipping lower during the long twilight hours that make up the night. In some areas, temperatures near freezing can be expected at night. The most important thing to remember is to be prepared for all kinds of weather – bright, warm sunshine, wind, rain, and snow.
Like much of the rest of the Northern Hemisphere, during July and August, mosquitoes can flourish when the wind is soft or still. Likewise, a strong breeze can help keep them away. Bug repellant works just fine, and for those who prefer not to use insect repellant, locals in Nunavik often wear a light mesh jacket or a head net which prevents mosquitoes from biting.
What to Bring:
The happy traveler is the one who travels lightest. Choose the clothing you bring based on what is lightweight, comfortable, and washable and in season. Being able to add and remove layers is especially important in the variable weather conditions you can expect to find. Along with comfortable, causal wear, be sure to bring long underwear, a fleece jacket, a knit hat and gloves, and a waterproof windbreaker or jacket. Polarized sunglasses and sunscreen are also important, especially in spring, with its long days of sun bouncing off the bright snow.
In addition, you will want to pack a few handy snacks, and an ample supply of any prescription medications, along with copies of the prescriptions. Because baggage may occasionally be lost or arrive late, keep an extra set of clothes in your flight bag and make sure you keep your valuables (passport, money, camera, prescription drugs, etc.) with you.
Health and Safety:
There are health clinics in all the villages in Nunavik, and local hospitals for any emergencies in Kuujjuaq and Puvirnituq. Since there are daily two-hour flights to Montreal, any emergency requiring advanced medical care will fly to Montreal. Emergency air evacuation services are on standby throughout the region.
Nunavik benefits from Canada’s modern telecommunications system and in the villages, WiFi, and landlines are all commonly used and available.
[Note: Text adapted with permission from the Kativik Regional Government, ‘What To Expect’ brochure]