Best time to travel to Northwest Territories

Reindeer Herd

Witness nearly 3,000 reindeer on the barren landscapes by the Arctic Ocean

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Last updated: by Eleonora Provozin
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Every spring, Canada's only reindeer herd living in the Northwest Territories used to cross the ice route along Mackenzie River between Inuvik and Tuktoyaktuk. The reindeer migration usually occurred in late March or early April which coincided with the Muskrat Jamboree celebration in Inuvik. The animals were herded with snowmobiles from their wintering grounds near Jimmy Lake at 22 mi (35 km) from Inuvik toward their calving grounds on Richards Island at the Beaufort Sea. The final official “Reindeer Crossing” occurred in spring of 2017 before the closing of the Ice Road. Even though the reindeer still follow their seasonal patterns of moving out towards the coast, the herd is not generally accessible on your own. The best way to see the animals is via direct contact with one of the local travel operators.

The Herd appeared in the Northwest Territories in 1935. Around 2,500 reindeer, originally from Russia, were brought to Mackenzie Delta from Alaska. They were to help with a local shortage of caribou, which locals traditionally used as a source of food and fur.

How much do you know about these magnificent creatures? Have you ever heard that they are super fast, running over 40 mph (70 kph)? Their hide is designed to trap air, allowing them to bear -76 °F (-60 °C) and below! How about the fact that reindeer are the only mammals that can see ultraviolet light? This ability must be helpful for seeing things in the blinding white landscape of the Arctic.

Put this beautiful wildlife encounter on your bucket list, and bear in mind, that warm clothes are paramount since the temperatures can drop down to -22 °F (-30 °C) with accompanying strong winds.

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