The Parc national des Pingualuit is located in the centre of the Ungava plateau and protects a meteoritic crater filled with exceptionally clear blue water. The Inuit call the area pingualuit, which means “pimple.” This humorous descriptor refers to the rippled crater head that rises to meet the immense Arctic sky. Pingualuit crater offers panoramic views of the almost-lunar tundra. Beyond Pingualuit crater, the parc national des Pingualuit is flat and amazingly regular. The treeless expanse lends itself perfectly to nature and wildlife observation, as well as recreational activities like hiking in summer and cross-country skiing in winter.



​The Nunamiut People: Inuit from the Interior​​​

The Inuit who once survived solely on the inland resources of the Ungava peninsula were known as Nunamiut. This nomadic people followed and hunted migrating caribou herds, using an adapted version of technologies developed by their coastal cousins. In this manner, caribou fat was used to fuel lamps, antlers were carved into tools, and hides were transformed into tents and clothing. The Nunamiut way of life, which was so closely tied to the products of the hunt, seems to have disappeared with the natural decline of caribou populations in the 1920s.

The Pingualuit crater area provides evidence of camps that would have been used by the Nunamiut as they tracked their prey. Rock shelters and stone tent rings are the remnants of these rest sites, which were often set up on elevated features, like the ridges of Pingualuit crater. According to local tales, the camp fires of the Nunamiut would dot the evening landscape, revealing the different groups of hunters in this hostile region.

Host village: Kangiqsujuaq

Kangiqsujuaq, which means “big bay,” is home to approximately 700 people. This village is located on the southeastern shore of Wakeham Bay, in a valley surrounded by majestic mountains. With a rich cultural history, the Kangiqsujuaq Inuit still actively participate in hunting, fishing and gathering activities. The village also has several teams of sled dogs.



The foremost goal of the parc national des Pingualuit is to provide protection for a representative portion of the Ungava Plateau, including its exceptional geography, vegetation and wildlife – not to mention the unique Pingualuit crater!

Pingualuit Crater​​

When a meteorite struck the Earth some 1.4 million years ago, it caused a large explosion that modified the structure of certain rocks (impactites) and created the round shape of Pingualuit crater, one of the youngest and most well-preserved craters on the planet. Impactites can be found around the crater, but most of them are in the “impactite channel” on the northwest side of the crater.

Inside the crater is the limpid water of Pingualuk Lake. With no surface outflow and only rainwater as its source, this lake water is renewed just once every 330 years. Pingualuk Lake is one of the purest in the world!

Puvirnituq River

The Puvirnituq River drains the northern sector of the park before emptying into Hudson Bay. The Kangiqsujuamiut still use this landmark as a point of reference when travelling inland. Over roughly 40 kilometres, the Puvirnituq River flows through a wide canyon with walls that are sheer cliffs. Keep an eye open when you visit, as the rock walls hide nesting areas for birds of prey, such as peregrine falcons.


What Arctic wildlife lacks in diversity, it makes up for in numbers. The Leaf River caribou herd, which comprises hundreds of thousands of heads, makes the parc national des Pingualuit its home for a portion of each year, from May to July. During the fall and spring migrations, countless flocks of Canada and snow geese also bring excitement to these seasons. Other wild animals – such as wolves, foxes, snowy owls and Arctic hare – are disperse throughout the park, but they keep a low profile. Although polar bears are most often found in the natural habitat on the coast of the Hudson Strait, some can sometimes be encountered inland.

In the Arctic, predators’ reliance on a limited number of species for subsistence makes them especially vulnerable to environmental change. Lemmings, for example, are a species of prey near the bottom of the Arctic food chain. For reasons still poorly understood, the lemming population is subject to major fluctuations. Within a multi-year cycle, their numbers grow and then crash close to extinction. Whenever these rodents are scarce, snowy owl and fox populations also decline significantly.

Lake trout and Arctic char are the most common fish species in the park’s lakes. Even though they grow slowly at this latitude, it’s not uncommon to find some very sizeable fish here.


The parc national des Pingualuit lies approximately 350 kilometres north of the treeline, in a continuous permafrost zone. The Arctic tundra is characterized by a total absence of trees and discontinuous vegetation.

While Arctic flora is not overly diverse, there is more abundance than first meets the eye. Lichen, moss and sphagnum are the dominant species in the park. Herbaceous plants and a few rare shrubs are next in importance. Exposed to strong winds, intense cold and dehydration, the park’s plant life has adapted in order to survive: plants are small and short hairs protect stems and leaves.

In terms of vegetation, the Puvirnituq River corridor is a distinct zone of the park due to the richness of the vegetation that grows in its basic, rocky soil. Several rare plants may be found in the area. Among these, four species appear on the list of plants likely to be designated as threatened or vulnerable in Quebec.​