Explore arctic Canada on this canoeing expedition on the Soper River in Nunavut. The Soper River winds through the tundra covered hills of southern Baffin Island. Its valley, sheltered from harsh winds, supports a ‘forest’ of willows and a lush profusion of arctic wildflowers. Caribou, ptarmigan and arctic hare make the valley their home, and you can find arctic char in the river. The Inuit have used the Soper River as a vital source of food and travel for thousands of years.
Also called ‘Kuujuak’ (Great River), The Soper has been designated a Canadian Heritage River. This trip covers 60 km of current, Class 1 and occasional Class 2 whitewater, and will take place in SOAR inflatable canoes. This is a fabulous arctic adventure.
The 100 km long Soper River, known as the Kuujuaq by the Inuit, winds its way from the highlands of Baffin Island’s Meta Incognita Peninsula to the salt waters of Pleasant Inlet on the island’s south coast. The entire area surrounding the Soper River is protected through the formation of the Katannilik Territorial Park Reserve (1,500 square km) and the river itself has been chosen as an outstanding river and designated as a Canadian Heritage Waterway. Waterfalls splash down the steep valley walls; flowers, lichens, mushrooms and berries abound on the tundra. Animal and bird life is plentiful in the valley and includes caribou, Arctic and red foxes, wolves, Arctic hares, lemmings, peregrine and gyre falcons, rough legged hawks, snow buntings, horned larks and plovers, guillemots, turns, murres and ptarmigans.
For many centuries, Inuit people have hunted caribou in the Soper River valley for use as food, clothing and shelter. Traditionally, the Inuit from Lake Harbour have travelled north through the valley by foot or dogsled to rendezvous with Inuit families living in the caribou calving grounds to the north. As a result, the area is rich with Inuit lore and artifacts.
The trip also offers opportunities to experience modern Inuit life. In Iqaluit, “the place of fish”, there is an Anglican church with a Narwhal tusk cross and sealskin covered pews. After seven days on the river, you will arrive in the village of Lake Harbour (Kimmirut), home to an estimated 365 people and famous for the soapstone carvings that are created here. Your hosts will arrange a dinner of Arctic char, caribou stew, bannock and salad with some of the local residents. Weather permitting there is also an optional ad on of a boat trip out into the fjord where one can hopefully view icebergs, seals, perhaps even whales.
The Soper River offers fast current with many easy swifts and class 1 rapids and several larger Class II rapids. There is only 1 easy portage. Days on the water will be short, leaving plenty of time for hiking and relaxing at the campsite.