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  • Photograph of Walrus

    A magnificent Walrus by Coke & Som Smith.

    BAFFIN ISLAND

    Best Wildlife on Baffin Island

    Mammals
    Narwhal and Ringed Seal. Also a chance of Polar Bear (mostly Sep-Oct), Beluga and Bowhead Whales, Arctic Fox, Arctic Hare, and Bearded and Harp Seals. (Walrus is highly unlikely to be seen at the floe edge but can be seen quite easily elsewhere on the island).

    Birds
    Canada and (Greater) Snow Geese, Common and King Eiders, Long-tailed Duck, Red-throated Diver (Loon), (Northern) Fulmar, Gyr (including white morphs) and Peregrine Falcons, Glaucous, Great Black-backed, Iceland, Sabine’s and Thayer’s Gulls, (Black-legged) Kittiwake, Arctic Tern, Arctic, Long-tailed and Pomarine Skuas (Jaegers), Black Guillemot, Brunnich’s Guillemot (Thick-billed Murre), (Common) Raven, Shore (Horned) Lark, (American) Buff-bellied Pipit, Lapland Bunting (Longspur) and Snow Bunting. Also a chance of (Black) Brant, American Golden Plover, (Common) Ringed and Semipalmated Plovers, Baird’s and White-rumped Sandpipers, Grey (Red) Phalarope, Ivory Gull, Little Auk (Dovekie) and (Northern) Wheatear.

    Other Natural Wonders of Baffin Island

    Mount Thor This granite peak has a west face with a vertical drop of 1250 m (4101 ft), the greatest vertical drop on Earth.

    Best Sites for Wildlife on Baffin Island

    Best Times for Wildlife on Baffin Island

    June is usually the best time to be on Baffin Island but it is still very cold with temperatures probably between -10°C and +5°C, even lower at times taking into account the wind-chill factor, and it could snow, so warm layered clothing, waterproof boots and a warm outer suit are recommended. It is normally sunny though and the sun is up 24 hours, so sunscreen is essential.

    Recommended Books etc. for Baffin Island

    The Arctic Guide: Wildlife of the Far North by S Chester. PUP, 2016.

    A Complete Guide to Arctic Wildlife by R Sale. Helm, 2006.

    Mammals of North America by R W Kays and D E Wilson. PUP, 2009 (Second Edition).

    Mammals of North America by F A Reid. Peterson North American Field Guides, 2006 (Fourth Edition).

    Peterson Field Guide to Finding Mammals in North America by V Dinets. Houghton Mifflin, 2015.

    Field Guide to the Birds of North America edited by J Dunn and J Alderfer. NGS, 2011 (Sixth Edition).

    Kaufman Field Guide to Birds of North America by K Kaufman. Houghton Mifflin, 2005.

    The North American Bird Guide by D Sibley. Helm, 2014 (Second Edition).

    Collins Bird Guide by L Svensson et al. Collins, 2010 (Second Edition).


    Apps etc.


    National Geographic Birds: Field Guide to North America.

    The Sibley eGuide to the Birds of North America.

    Peterson Birds of North America.

    Audubon Birds - A Field Guide to North American Birds.

    iBird Ultimate Guide to Birds.

    Trip Reports for Baffin Island

    Many trip reports, some for Baffin Island, are posted on the websites listed here. On some of these websites some reports are independent and some are posted by tour companies who organize tours to Baffin Island. These tour companies and others also post their own reports on their websites, which are listed under 'Some Organized Tours to Baffin Island' below.

    Local Guides and Tours on Baffin Island

    The costs of organized tours partly reflect the quality of the tour leaders. Some leaders are certainly better than others and many companies claim their leaders are the best but even the best rely at least to some extent on the exceptional skills of the local guides they employ. If you are travelling independently, employing such local guides will greatly increase your chances of seeing the wildlife you wish to see.

    Accommodation on Baffin Island

    Some Organized Tours to Baffin Island

    There are many tour companies who organize tours to see mammals, birds, other wildlife and other natural wonders. The cost of these tours vary considerably according to such variables as the airlines used, the number of days the tours last, the number of sites visited, the number of people in the group (an important consideration if you wish to see such wildlife as rainforest mammals and birds), the number of tour leaders, the standard of accommodation and transport, and the percentage profit the company hopes to make. Generally, where the number of days tours last and the number of sites visited are similar, the cheapest tours are those that use the cheapest airlines, accommodation and local transport, that have the largest groups with the least number of leaders, and that make the least amount of profit. The most expensive tours tend to be those which are exceptionally long, use the most expensive accommodation (ridiculously lavish in some cases, even for single nights) and which make the most profit. Some tour costs partly reflect the quality of the tour leaders. Some leaders are certainly better than others and many companies claim their leaders are the best but even the best rely at least to some extent on the exceptional skills of the local guides they employ.

    While tour companies organize tours with set itineraries many also organize custom tours for individuals and private groups who instead of taking a tour with a set itinerary want to follow their own itinerary to suit their own personal tastes, whether it be mammals, birds, other wildlife, other natural wonders or even man-made attractions, or a mixture of them all. Many organized tours with set itineraries are also fast-paced and target as many species as possible, whether they are mammals, birds or other wildlife or everything, which usually leaves little time to enjoy the best sites and individual species, but on a custom tour those taking part can specify the pace and the sites and species they wish to concentrate on. Custom tours also suit people who like to travel with people they already know, rather than with a group of strangers, and people with partners with different interests. Individuals and small groups will almost certainly have to pay more than the price of an organized tour with a set itinerary but a large group of friends may be able to travel for less than the price quoted for a set tour.

    The most expensive cruises to the Arctic tend to be those on the largest and most lavish vessels, where every cabin has private facilities, but it is the smaller vessels, with much lower passenger numbers and mostly shared facilities, which usually enable greater and easier access to certain areas, and sometimes longer periods ashore.

    Tour companies who run organized tours or can arrange custom tours to Baffin Island include the following.