Expedition Cruise

Torngat Mountain National Park Reserve, Labrador

Jul 4, 2008
Outside Magazine
The Lookout

Here's hoping U.S. Secretary of the Interior Dirk Kempthorne keeps up with Canadian news. While the DOI tries to squeeze more snowmobiles into our national parks—and more oil out of BLM–run wildernesses—our northern neighbors keep expanding their parks system. In April the government announced the latest, 2,934-square-mile Naats'ihch'oh National Park Reserve, near the Mackenzie Mountains in the Northwest Territories.

With their otherworldly terrain, rampant wildlife, and end-of-the-earth location—the only way in is by sea or air—Labrador's Torngat Mountains are Canada's version of Patagonia. And thanks to a harp seal resurgence, Torngat, named a national park in 2005, is also home to one of the highest concentrations of polar bears in the eastern Arctic. "To use an old Labrador expression, it's maggoty with polar bears," says Canadian explorer Jerry Kobalenko, who sea-kayaked the length of the park in 2006. Explore the park aboard the small ship Lyubov Orlova with Cruise North Expeditions (from $4,000, including return airfare from Kuujjuaq, June 22–July 3; cruisenorthexpeditions.com) or with Adventure Canada (from $2,960, September 24–October 4; adventurecanada.com). From the capital of St. John's, Inuit-owned Cruise North follows the ragged Labrador coastline, stopping at historic Viking sites before entering the true wilderness of Inuit waters, while Adventure Canada's Ghost Coast voyage tackles the route in reverse, traveling south from Iqaluit. Sea ice, polar bears (130 at last count), humpback whales, and seals are plentiful along the Torngat coast, and daily forays via Zodiac give you a front-row view of the action.