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Arctic Rafting Adventure on Burnside River in Nunavut | CA-NRA1201

Paddle down the Burnside River in search of rare wildlife in the Arctic tundra


Burnside River, known as “the Wildlife River,” is home to an abundance of diverse wildlife species throughout the year. Seek out Arctic flora and fauna on the banks of Burnside river in this epic multi-day adventure.


  • Lake Kathawachaga
  • Nadlock Island
  • Bellanca Rapids
  • Fishing Creek
  • Burnside Falls and Canyon
  • Yellowknife


On this 12-day rafting expedition, we’ll explore the Burnside River and surrounding areas, both by raft and on foot. The river is rated as Class I and II whitewater, so it is suitable for all adventurers. The Burnside River is home to arctic wolf, barren-ground caribou, grizzly bear, muskox and an abundance of wild birds, including the golden eagles, rough-legged hawks, peregrine falcons and gyrfalcon. While paddling down the Burnside, we’ll have a chance to observe wildlife in its natural habitat and photograph the many unique birds that nest here. Musk oxen and caribou are the two most commonly seen animals along the river. The Bathurst caribou herd, which numbers over 300,000 animals, crosses the river on its way to and from its calving grounds along the east side of Bathurst Inlet around the Elise River. Huge numbers of caribou often follow along the Burnside River in late June or early July. Wolves, which follow the herds, may be seen along the river and there are many good denning sites in the area. Musk oxen can be seen along the length of the river, appearing individually or in groups of 30 or more.

Passionate botanists will have a chance to photograph amazing wildflowers that thrive here on the arctic tundra. Explore the horizonless landscapes of this pristine Arctic wildlife habitat that is well off the tourist radar.  This journey is perfect if you’re looking to combine rafting, Arctic wildlife viewing and outdoor exploration. While the difficulty level is moderate on this tour, beginners with no paddling experience are welcome!

  • Personal Experience
  • Trusted Tour Operator
  • Expert guides
  • Small group
Availability Jun - Jul
Duration 12 days
Departs From Yellowknife, NT
Difficulty Moderate
Group maximum 12
Minimum age No limit
Meet on Location Yes
Pick Up No


8 532
  • Best Price Guarantee
  • Toll Free number in N. America: +1 888 285 1676
  • International number: +1 780 414 1676

2023 dates are pending, please contact us for dates and prices by filling the form below.

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What's Included


  • Rafts
  • Equipment
  • Tents
  • Group camping equipment

What to bring

  • Sleeping bag and pad
  • Sunglasses
  • Sunscreen
  • Day pack
  • Insect repellent
  • Water bottle
  • Pocketknife, matches, whistle
  • Warm clothing

Not Included

  • 5.00% GST

Contact us for more Information about this tour


You can also send an email to info@adventures.com, or use the contact form here below.

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Find out more details about the tour and its highlights


wolf in nunavut area in canada

We’ll start our expedition in Yellowknife, Northwest Territories, with a pre-trip orientation dinner at 8pm (20:00) at the Explorer Hotel. Early the next day, we’ll fly to Lake Kathawachaga and begin our adventure. Over the course of the next 12 days, we’ll paddle and hike towards the Burnside Canyon discovering arctic tundras, rare wildflowers, and natural riverlands filled with a vast array of wildlife.

This expedition transports you far from the chaos of the modern world, so you can enjoy the majestic nature of the Arctic on an adrenaline-pumping adventure.

plane landing on burnside river in nunavut

The first day of the tour will start after breakfast at the Explorer Hotel, in Yellowknife. We’ll meet up in the lobby and get ready for our flight to Lake Kathawachaga in Nunavut.

Lake Kathawachaga is located in the western region of the territory and is bordered by the Willingham Hills to the West, the Peacock Hills to the South, and the Cree River to the East. Once there, we’ll set up our camp and have lunch, after which there’ll be plenty of time for us to go on an exploration hike in the surrounding areas, to discover the wildlife and wildflowers.

campsite near burnside river in nunavut canada

After a hearty breakfast at camp, we’ll inflate and load our rafts. Once everyone’s assembled, we’ll start paddling down the river. Not too far from Lake Kathawachaga is the small Inuit island of Nadlock. Nadlock is one of the few remaining Inuit campsites left in Nunavut, located on the shoals of the Burnside where migrating caribou come to swim and wade to the other side of the river.

On the island, you can find traces of ancient campsites, where rings of boulders indicate shelters for Inuit people who used to hunt and hide there.The island is a protected conservation site, and we’ll be one of the lucky few to visit it today.

The island is also home to a unique collection of birds, such as Arctic terns, yellow-billed loons, red poles, Canadian geese and many others who come to nest.

After a walk on Nadlock Island, we’ll continue down the river towards the Bellanca Rapids. Our camp for the day will be set up there and we’ll spend the rest of the day exploring the flora and fauna of the surrounding area.

resting hikers near burnside river in nunavut canada

Our third day of the tour will be spent hiking and exploring the hills around the Bellanca Rapids closely. In the summer, herds of caribou and muskoxen are frequently seen wading the river. There is also an active wolf’s den in the region.  

caribou roaming in nunavut canada in autumn

We’ll wind our way down the river, taking in the awe-inspiring Arctic tundra that stretches on both river banks. Bird lovers will be able to feast their eyes on rare gyrfalcons and peregrines, golden eagles and many species of ducks. Terrestrial animals will visit us too, offering unique photo opportunities to all nature lovers.

We’ll explore the endless horizons and wildlife in more depth, by stepping off the raft either for few short daily hikes or camp overnight and go on a half-day wilderness hike.

On day 6, we’ll camp at  Fishing Creek where you’ll have a chance to hike or try your hand at fishing.

people in two rafts watching caribou in nunavut

On day 7, we’ll be arriving at the confluence of the Mara River, which flows into the Arctic Ocean. Here we leave the tundra behind and paddle into the deep, mountainous canyon that towers over the river. We’ll step off the raft to set up a camp and go for a hike up the valley. On these two days, our cooking will be done with propane stoves as wood is scarce here. Nevertheless, we’ll leave the valley in pristine condition, just as we found it.

fishing in the burnside river in canada

As we wind down the Mara River, we reach Burnside Falls. The river here is squeezed between cliffs 600-700 feet (180-215 metres) high. The current of the river starts to speed up, and carry us closer and deeper into the Arctic Circle, where we’ll be greeted by the never-ending sunlight. Muskoxen, grizzly bears, and wolves will spy on us as we rush down the river, so make sure you spy on them too!

We’ll set up camp in the area around the Burnside Falls and hike out to explore the nature, wildlife and surrounding landscapes.

caribou near a burnside river in nunavut

We’ll spend a few days at the Burnside falls, exploring the valleys, and canyons - replete with  luscious landscapes, an abundance of wildlife, and unforgettable adventures. You’ll have a chance to wander the tundra, photograph the rich selection of wildlife, and go down a steep, rugged 4-mile (6.5-kilometer) canyon. The river here is extremely fertile, providing perfect conditions for fishing. We’ll hike up the river banks, where views of Bathurst Inlet, our farewell point, unfold before our eyes.

small campsite set up near a river in nunavut

Our rendezvous with the Twin Otter for the homeward charter is unique and exciting. Two Inuit men cross Bathurst Inlet in a boat and then travel overland by all-terrain vehicle to meet us. They tow a komatik (traditional sled) behind the ATV. With this, they haul our gear about 2 kilometers to the top of a nearby esker. Here it’s possible to land a Twin Otter on wheels. We follow on foot and explore the region of the esker until the aircraft arrives.

Weather permitting, we’ll be picked up by our chartered Twin Otter and flown back to Yellowknife. We suggest that you don’t make any travel plans for this day as the weather can be unpredictable. It’s best to book your flight back home for the next day. Arrangements can be made to stay in one of the local hotels. This will allow you time to visit Yellowknife.

Payment Details

Deposit and Taxes

  • Pricing does not include: 5.00% GST. 4.00% PST.
  • A 30% deposit is required to hold your reservation.
  • Balance of payment is due 90 days before trip commencement.



Your deposit is refundable less a $100 administration fee until 90 days prior to your trip departure date - then your final payment will be due, and all deposits become non-refundable.

Trip Cancellation & Medical Evacuation Insurance is available, and highly recommended.

Insurance is refundable until the 90 day non-refundable period.