Inuvik – Tuktoyaktuk – La fin de l’autoroute Dempster

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Dempster Highway Just Before Inuvik

Inuvik – Tuktoyaktuk – The End of the Dempster

Inuvik is in the NorthWest Territories and is where the Dempster Highway stops (for now). During the summer you can’t go further and during the winter you can drive on the Mackenzie river, the ice road to reach the village of Tuktoyaktuk.

It’s a small village of 3500 people, that provide all the facilities one could need, and there is a a strong community feeling. It’s very friendly. There is a part of the people living in Inuvik that are temporary workers, at the hospital for example.

At that time of the year, there is 24 hours of sun everyday … you get used to it.

I have had the chance to meet a friend of a friend that lives there, and that introduced me to a few other people. I joined them for the Solstice / Aboriginal Day celebration, there was some traditional drum dance and free food (fish, burgers and hot-dogs).
I also went to a meat lottery at the Legion bar, where my friend won enough meet for us to make a BBQ the same night!

I did the hike around the village called “Midnight Sun Hike”, but it was nothing but a dirt road, very muddy, and infested by mosquitoes. We stopped when we saw the lake which was almost the end of the trail, and nowhere during the trail we have had a nice view.

While I was there I took the touristic tour to Tuk, provided by Tundra North Tour (previously Up North):

  • Going there by boat on the Mackenzie river and delta (4-5h)
  • Lunch and visiting Tuk (1-2h)
  • Back to Inuvik by plane (30 min)

It’s an expensive tour, even though I do not regret having done it, I have been a bit disappointed. I was expecting more information about the local culture during the boat trip, as well as during the Tuk tour. During the boat trip we stopped about 3 times, including one at whale hunting camp, which was probably the most interesting.

What is a must so see in Tuk is the local culture, the pingos and the underground freezer.

  • The underground freezer is a cave in the permafrost used by the local to keep the food frozen, it has been closed to tourist in about March or April 2015 for liability reasons.
  • The pingos are formed by the permafrost going out of the ground, creating hills. I was a bit shocked that the guide showed us the pingo from afar and the road to go there, but did not drove there for us to see the pingo closer, and said “the government waisted their money building that road, nobody uses it!”
  • And for the local culture, we spent the whole tour seating in a van driving around town (about 3 stops) listening to the guide. Unfortunately, I was at the back of the van and couldn’t here much of what he was saying and too tired to complain about it 😉

Photos – Inuvik

Photos – Tuktoyaktuk Tour

Jérôme

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