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Why Qamutiiks Are the Best Way to See the Arctic

October 29, 2021

The thing that is so unique about the Arctic is the vastness of its unique terrain. It is one of the last untouched landscapes on Earth and that means travelling across it requires adjusting to that environment.

For centuries the Inuit have been adapting to the snowy realm of the north and developed genius way of travelling over the snow and ice. The early European explores realized that you didn’t need expensive gear and their old methods wouldn’t work here but the local Inuit understood what was best.

So, inventive techniques and simple adaptations would lead to the qamutiik we can see today. Come and find out more about this Arctic icon.


What Is A Qamutiik

A qamutiik (Inuktitut: ᖃᒧᑏᒃ) is a sled specially designed for the Arctic using traditional Inuit techniques. The defining feature of this sled is the fact that it does not have any nails but is lashed together using leather straps that bind the runners to the body of the qamutiik.

The reason it is unique to the Arctic is that when you travel across sea-ice there can be vibrating that eventually eject a nail but the shifting that straps allow means that it can absorb the movement.

The runners on the bottom mean that there is less surface area than a flat bottom so there is less drag when you are pulling a sled. To increase speed and slide you can freeze the underside of the runners or attach moss.

Mobility has always been important to Inuit culture from hunting to visiting family. When the ancestors of the modern Inuit originally migrated from the Alaskan peninsula, they had to bring their whole life with them so the use of sleds were vital. Travelling over the rolling hillsides and frozen sea-ice meant that they had to develop new techniques and the qamutiik is a remarkable example of this ingenuity. Early explorers like Roald Amundsen were quick to learn from the Inuit appreciating the fact that they knew this terrain better than anyone.

To this day the qamutiik has changed little except that it is generally pulled by snowmobiles instead of dog teams. Often, it is used for carrying equipment and food on the flat body but when the qamutiik is used for transporting people there can be a seat and cover added to block the wind.


Why Their So Fun On An Arctic Safari

Our Arctic Safaris are meant to provide an all-encompassing Arctic experience, so we want to expose our guests to authentic Inuit methods but also an unobstructed view. When you are exploring panoramic landscapes and witnessing the beauty of the North you want a front row seat and that is what a qamutiik offers.

Sit back and watch granite rock faces more spectacular than Yosemite National Park and see towering icebergs frozen in place that look like ancient castles. Spot gigantic glaciers glistening across mountainsides.

An Arctic safari is your chance to visit some of the most breathtaking and untouched wildernesses with the opportunity to see iconic animals like polar bears and narwhal.

Wake up in our heated Arctic tents or deluxe yurts and enjoy a delicious breakfast from our gourmet culinary team. Then, hop in your qamutiik pulled by an expert Inuit guide and visit notorious wildlife hubs. You’ll have the opportunity to observe and photograph these stunning creatures in their natural habitat.


The Best Guides Around

These are some of the most elusive wildlife and this is your chance to see them in the wild, but it takes the best guides to find them. We are incredibly grateful that we have some of the most friendly and experienced guides that come directly from local communities.

These Inuit guides grew up exploring the terrain and live harmoniously with the amazing animals. Nobody knows the land and seasonal shifts like people who live there so we rely on their expertise in navigating this dynamic environment. Having local guides means that you’ll see the most beautiful locations but also that you’re in safe hands.

The seasonal migrations of animals and the free roaming nature of local wildlife is a big part of Inuit communities. Hunting is a big part of daily life in the north and that means interacting with wildlife in an intimate way. Understanding the movements and patterns of these animals means that you can have a safe and exciting interaction with them.

Beyond their knowledge, our guests always tell us how much they enjoyed talking and laughing with their guide. It’s a great chance to talk with people from a part of the world that you may not often hear their perspective and opinions. We are reminded that no matter how far away you may come from that we are all people with unique insights.

Come Experience the Arctic In Style

Have you dreamed of riding through breathtaking unique landscapes only to stop when you notice a polar bear roaming ahead? Is it on your bucket list to ride to an Arctic floe edge and watch as migrating narwhal and beluga whales swim past bursting above the water’s surface?

Then, you need to experience an Arctic Safari. This is an unforgettable adventure that stands out from all the rest because we bring comfort to the last real wilderness frontier. Between the gourmet meals and expert staff, it is no wonder that Arctic Kingdom is the world premier Arctic Safari operator. After 20 years of Arctic adventures, we found that there are two types of people, those who have not yet been to the Arctic and those who can’t wait to come back.

By: Mat Whitelaw