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The Canadian High Arctic has some of the largest islands in the world, and by far, the largest of these frozen islands is Baffin Island. Baffin Island is largely unknown to the outside world despite being massive. One can see some of the best landscapes of the High Arctic as well as some of the best of the Inuit people's way of life, where one can see traditions and lifestyles from ancient times.

The most common way to explore Baffin Island and the rest of the High Arctic is with an Arctic cruise. Arctic cruises are the most common (and easiest) way to visit the island; they are not the only way. But there are other adventurous tours to choose from to discover Baffin Island.

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Baffin Island - Canada's Giant High Arctic Island

Baffin Island is part of the Canadian territory of Nunavut and is the fifth-largest island in the world. At some 507,451 km2 or 195,928 sq miles, the island is massive - larger than Spain and significantly larger than the state of California (although smaller than Texas).

  • Size: 507,451 km2 or 195,928 sq mi
  • Fifth: Largest Island In The World

Baffin Island is almost devoid of human life, with only a population of around 13,000 and around 7,500 of that living in the main settlement of Iqaluit. Around three-quarters of the population is native Inuit.

  • Iqaluit: Capital of Nunavut & Main Settlement on Baffin Island

Baffin Island is separated from Greenland by the Davis Strait and from mainland Canada by the Hudson Strait. It is likely on Baffin Island that the prehistoric ice sheets originated and grew and covered most of Canada 18,000 years ago. It wasn't until around 1,500 years ago that the last of the ice disappeared.

The island is full of dramatic landmarks - including Admiralty Inlet, that's said to be one of the largest fjords in the world.

The island is home to cold-loving wildlife. Baffin Bay is the wintering ground for narwhal, walrus, beluga, and bowhead whales. Millions of birds nest on the island - like murres, kittiwakes, and fulmars. Mammals on the island include the Arctic fox, caribou, polar bears, the Arctic hare, and others. Baffin Island is home to much of the wildlife that one can see in Canada's High Arctic.

Related: Visiting Nordkapp: The Frozen Northernmost Point Of Norway Deep In The Arctic

Polar Bears & Glacier Tour Of Baffin Island

Explore Baffin Island with the adventurous 7-day Polar Bear & Glacier Tour of Baffin Island. The tour journeys to just outside of the Auyuittuq National Park on the glacier-capped iceberg-studded southeastern part of the island.

The tour stays in an Arctic safari-style camp. On tour, guests search for bowhead whales, stay in a safari base camp, visit the Auyuittuq National Park, and visit ancient Thule dwelling sites.

The tour starts in Ottawa and flies to Iqaluit, and then gets another plane to fly into Qikiqtarjuag. Keep an eye out for Mount Thor - the world's tallest uninterrupted vertical cliff with a sheer face of 5,000 feet.

The base camp is located near lakes with a river running through.

  • Duration: 7-Day Tour
  • Includes: Meals (5 Breakfasts, Lunches, Dinners)
  • Cost: From $13,063

Once there, the daily itinerary is determined by current events (like the weather or the presence of wildlife). Activities include hiking, day trips by boat, fishing for Arctic char, kayaking, and more. Polar bears are often seen on the islands in the area, while bowhead whales are known to be in waters only a 30-minute boat ride away. Sometimes over 20 polar bears can be seen on a boat ride.

Related: Remote: Exploring The Northernmost National Park In The U.S.

Baffin Island Dive Safari

For another, more unusual tour, consider a Baffin Island Dive Safari. This is another 7-day tour that stays at the safari-style ice camp (the ice camp is the only one of its kind). Imagine being in the High Arctic surrounded by icebergs, drifting pack ice, seal holes, and ice floe cracks.

The tour travels to Bylot Island by snowmobile and by a traditional Inuit sled called qamutik. On tour, visitors may be able to see narwhals, bowhead whales, polar bears, and seals.

  • Duration: 7-Day Tour
  • Includes: Meals (5 Breakfasts, Lunches, Dinners)
  • Cost: From $18,042

Visitors have days of diving (some of the best one will ever experience). Explore the Arctic seafloor of starfish, glittering jellyfish, urchins, and more see the surreal juxtaposition of the blue and turquoise world above with the black depths below.