Explores the remote Northwest Passage and the stunning fjords of the Baffin Island coastline before crossing to Greenland. Wildlife is a major draw card, as we venture through the home of the polar bear, muskox, caribou and walrus. There is also a strong historical element: the stories of the ill-fated expedition by Sir John Franklin nearly 170 years ago are central to our voyage.
|Day 1||Ottawa – Kangerlussuaq||Charter flight to from Ottawa to Kangerlaussuaq, embarkation|
||Explore the fjord at Sisimiut|
|Day 3||Illulissat Icefjord||Zodiac through the tabular icebergs at Disko Bay and visit Illulissat Icefjord|
|Day 4-5||Baffin Bay||Cross Baffin Bay|
|Day 6||Mittimatalik (Pond Inlet)||Remote Inuit community of Mittimatalik|
|Day 7-8||Lancaster Sound – Devon Island||Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) outpost at Dundas Harbour, hiking options and opportunity to spot Must Ox and Arctic hare.|
|Day 9||Beechey Island and Prince Leopold Island||The site of Franklin’s last ‘comfortable’ winter|
|Day 10||Bellot Strait||Explore Fort Ross and Ballot Strait|
|Day 11||Coningham Bay||Cross the Victoria Straight to Prince Edward Island and hopefully spot some polar bears|
|Day 12||Victoria Strait||Victory Point|
|Day 13||Edmonton||Disembark at Cambridge Bay for your flight to Edmonton where your trip concludes.|
Our journey through the Arctic starts with a charter flight from Ottawa to Kangerlussuaq, on the west coast of Greenland. Excitement is in the air as you cast off and enjoy a welcome cocktail while cruising along Sondre Stromfjord, en route to the fabled Northwest Passage.
Explore the fjord behind the town of Sisimiut before going ashore to discover this beautiful location by foot. Characterised by colourful local houses, the town features a towering granite peak as a backdrop. Meet a few of the traditional Greenlandic kayakers and to see a demonstration of ‘Eskimo rolling’ by one of the former Greenland kayak champions. A small museum is another interesting diversion.
If one word could sum up today’s experience it would be ‘ice’. Truly one of the wonders of the world, the Jacobshavn Icefjord – a UNESCO World Heritage site – spews giant tabular icebergs out into Disko Bay. The glacier that creates these stunning monoliths advances at over 40 metres per day, creating around 50 cubic kilometres of ice annually. Our approach to Ilulissat is dependent on the amount of ice in and around the mouth of the fjord. Our Captain and officers are skilled ice navigators and our ship has one of the highest ice ratings of any vessel exploring Arctic waters.
Leaving the rugged coastline of Baffin Island, our crossing of Baffin Bay allows us time to slow down and reflect on the beauty and experiences we have shared. Our team of on-board experts will continue to educate us on the history and wildlife of the region while our naturalists keep watch looking for fulmars and little auks (dovekies), pilot whales and perhaps even orca. As we approach Greenland, we also increase our likelihood of spotting some of the big baleen whales like the fin and sei whales.
Nearing the far north of Baffin Island arrive at Mittimatalik (Pond Inlet). The Natinnak Centre features a fascinating cultural exhibit showcasing aspects of daily life, culture and history of the people of the north. Inuit carvings, jewellery and other traditional crafts are on display and purchasing such items from the local artisans is a great way to support the community.
Cross Lancaster Sound to Devon Island where you will be at almost 75 degrees north of latitude. Water from the Atlantic to the east, Pacific to the west, and the archipelago of islands to the north all mixes here, combining to make a rich source of nutrients and food for an abundance of Arctic wildlife. We plan to visit the old Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) outpost at Dundas Harbour, situated on the southern shores of Devon Island. Musk ox and Arctic hare are sometimes sighted in the vicinity and there are some great hiking options in the area.
Beechey Island holds great historic importance on our journey through the Northwest Passage. It is here that Sir John Franklin’s ill-fated expedition spent its last ‘comfortable’ winter in 1845 before disappearing into the icy vastness, sparking an incredible series of search expeditions that would span decades. A trip ashore at Beechey Island to visit the grave markers on a remote windswept beach is a thrilling moment for history buffs. Prince Leopold Island is an important migratory bird sanctuary, home to thick-billed murres, black guillemots, northern fulmars and black-legged kittiwakes. Several hundred thousand birds fill the skies above –it’s an unbelievable sight. Given the abundance of food in this vicinity we often sight beluga, narwhal and bowhead whales here, as well as several species of seal and polar bear.
Fort Ross, located at the southern end of Somerset Island, is a former Hudson’s Bay Company fur-trading outpost. Fascinating archaeological sites nearby tell a story of more than a thousand years of habitation by the Inuit and their predecessors. Having explored Fort Ross, we attempt a transit through the narrows of Bellot Strait. The skill of the Captain and Officers and capabilities of the ship becomes apparent during this exciting day of Arctic navigation.
After crossing the Victoria Strait arrive at Coningham Bay on the shore of Prince Edward Island. Here, in the heart of the Northwest Passage, you may encounter one of the most remarkable wildlife sites in the Arctic. This is a known hotspot for polar bears. They come here to feast on beluga whales often caught in the rocky shallows at the entrance to the bay. It is an astonishing sight to see these incredible hunters in their natural environment.
Heading further into the Northwest Passage, the mystery of Sir John Franklin and his ‘lost expedition’ is beginning to unravel. Prior to the recent discovery of the HMS Erebus in September 2014, very little was known of how the Franklin Expedition spent its last months in the frozen Arctic. The vessels, abandoned in the ice of Victoria Strait, are just coming to life thanks to the ongoing efforts of Parks Canada’s marine archaeological team and the recent Victoria Strait Expedition. We hope to visit Victory Point and the Victoria Strait, travelling very near the actual location of the wreck of HMS Erebus & HMS Terror, found in Terror Bay in 2016.
Cambridge Bay is a remote outpost on the southern shores of Victoria Island and a centre for hunting, trapping and fishing in the region. Amundsen spent two winters in this area, learning how to master dog-sledding from the locals prior to his attempt on the South Pole. Your voyage through the Northwest Passage comes to an end, as you are transferred to the airport for your flight to Edmonton and onto a downtown location.