Summary : Baffin Island is one of the last great wilderness regions on the planet and the focus of this outstanding expedition. From Iqaluit, on Frobisher Bay, explore up the wild east coast of Baffin Island discovering the deep fjords, soaring mountains and immense glacial systems. You are constantly on the lookout for varied birdlife and marine wildlife, including polar bear—the icon of the north. Visits to remote Inuit villages provide a fascinating glimpse into the daily life of the people who call this remote wilderness their home. The history of early exploration is ever present: visit former Hudson's Bay Company locations and Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) outposts. A highlight will be a visit to Beechey Island, the final resting place for some of the men of the ill-fated Franklin Expedition in 1845-46. This remote and desolate place is home to several small grave markers which you see on an excursion ashore. Reach the remote town of Resolute where the adventure concludes. Experience the thrill and joy of remote, small ship expedition cruising on this Arctic adventure.
Activities : Birding, Child-Friendly, Culture, Hiking, Kayaking, Photography, Triple/Quad Cabins
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Depart Ottawa this morning on your scheduled charter flight to Iqaluit, situated on Baffin Island. Upon arrival into Iqaluit, enjoy a walking tour of the town and board your expedition ship in the afternoon. After settling in to your cabin and exploring the ship, meet your expedition team and fellow passengers. Excitement is in the air as you enjoy a welcome cocktail and cast off to explore one of the most remote places on earth—Baffin Island.
Situated in the Davis Strait, Monumental Island is a well-known location for walrus. Explore by Zodiac along the shoreline and look for these fascinating creatures. Watchful eyes may locate smaller pups within the masses. You may encounter polar bears in this vicinity and during their hunting forays, they have been known to chase walrus off their haul out and into the water. Throughout the coming days and the rest of the voyage, your on-board experts will educate you with a series of presentations about the environment, wildlife and history of Baffin Island and the Canadian Arctic.
Nestled in the heart of Cumberland Sound and the western gateway to Auyuittuq National Park, the village of Pangniqtuuq is beautifully situated between the mountains and the sea. This remote community is a well-known center for traditional and contemporary arts and crafts – including carvings, prints, and textiles. In addition, the Angmarlik Visitor Center has a wonderful interpretive display featuring the lifestyle and history of the Thule and of the modern Inuit.
Sunshine Fjord straddles the Arctic Circle at 66 degrees, 33 minutes north of latitude. Depending on the weather, cruise across the Circle onboard the ship, cross it in Zodiac boats, or possibly cross the Circle on foot. Whichever way, it’s a thrill to be above the Arctic Circle at last!
Sunshine Fjord offers terrific hiking opportunities and your guides have a number of great routes in mind. You may wish to take the extended hike, gaining elevation and offering wonderful views of your surroundings. Or choose to take the less strenuous option along the shoreline. For sea kayakers, the sheltered waters of the fjord provide great conditions for paddling.
On the eastern coast of Baffin Island lies one of Canada’s most spectacular National Parks—Auyittuq. The landscape is dominated by steep and rugged mountain scenery, extensive glacial systems and powerful rivers. In partnership with Parks Canada, venture into the park with skilled local guides who are able to interpret the flora, fauna, geological and glacial systems which can be found here. It’s a fascinating place experienced by only a few fortunate visitors every season. Plan on hiking on shore and cruising the rocky shorelines looking for wildlife. Plan a visit to Qikiqtarjuaq, a small settlement which is home to several Inuit families. After an inspiring day of exploration, continue north along the coastline of Baffin Island, venturing deeper into the Arctic wilderness.
Isabella Bay (Niginaniq) is an important summer habitat and feeding area for endangered bowhead whales. These remarkable marine mammals are able to break sea ice with the crown of their head. Polar bears, ringed seals, Canada geese, snow geese and narwhal are also commonly sighted in this vicinity.
This morning enter the spectacular Gibbs Fjord, where towering cliffs surround you. Your expedition ship will seem dwarfed by the giant peaks and snowy glaciers as you cruise slowly along the dark waters. One past guest commented that Gibbs Fjord was like "something out of Lord of the Rings."
Nearing the far north of Baffin Island, enter a broad channel which is home to the remote Inuit community of Pond Inlet. A highlight is a visit to the Natinnak Center, where a fascinating cultural exhibit showcases aspects of daily life, culture and history of the people of the north. Inuit carvings, jewelery and other traditional craft is on display and purchasing such items from the local artisans is a great way to support the community. Pond Inlet is also the main access point to the pristine wilderness of Sirmilik National Park. This jewel in the crown of Canada's Arctic Park system features spectacular scenery consisting of rugged mountains, ice fields and glaciers, coastal lowlands and sizable seabird colonies.
Leaving the wild landscapes of Baffin Island, cross Lancaster Sound to Devon Island. This broad channel of water has been likened to the wildlife ‘super highway’ of the Arctic. Massive volumes of water from the Atlantic to the east and Pacific to the west, and from the archipelago of islands to the north all mix here, combining to make a rich source of nutrients and food for an abundance of Arctic wildlife. Plan to visit the old Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) outpost at Dundas Harbour. In the afternoon the ship will reposition into Crocker Bay, home to a substantial glacial system.
Prince Leopold Island is important migratory bird sanctuary, home to thick-billed murres, black guillemots, northern fulmars and black-legged kittiwakes. A population of several hundred thousand birds makes this one of the most significant bird sanctuaries in the entire Arctic ecosystem. Given the abundance of food found in the nutrient-rich waters here, you can often sight beluga, narwhal and bowhead whales, several species of seal as well as polar bears.
Your final shore landing – Beechey Island, is a place of great historic significance and suitable finale to your expedition. 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 lasted almost three decades. The mystery of what happened to Franklin was partially solved in September 2014, when a joint Parks Canada and Royal Canadian Geographic Society expedition found the long lost Franklin shipwreck, HMS Erebus in the Victoria Strait. A trip ashore at Beechey Island to visit the grave markers on a remote windswept beach is a thrilling experience for history buffs and for many, it will be a highlight of the expedition. Return to the ship in the evening to enjoy a special dinner attended by the captain. It’s a great time to reflect on the wildlife, history and dramatic scenery of the High Arctic.
Your expedition comes to an end as you arrive in Resolute. The town is named after the British ship HMS Resolute which became trapped in ice and abandoned here in 1850 while searching for the lost Franklin expedition. A weather station and airstrip made Resolute a strategic outpost during the time of the Cold War. After arriving in Resolute you will disembark the ship and bid farewell to your crew and fellow passengers. You will then transfer to the airport for your flight south to Edmonton. A transfer is also provided from the airport into a central downtown location.
Specific sites visited will depend on ice and weather conditions experienced and the itinerary will be updated throughout the voyage in order to take advantage of favorable conditions. ExpeditionTrips is not responsible for itinerary changes.
Once you have booked your voyage to the Polar Regions, you will be required to complete a Medical Information Form. This form must be completed, signed and returned no later than 90 days prior to departure.
All guests are required to have comprehensive travel insurance. The travel insurance must cover accidents, injury, illness and death, medical expenses, including any related to pre-existing medical conditions, emergency repatriation (including helicopter), luggage and personal effects, and personal liability. It is strongly recommended that you purchase cancellation and curtailment insurance. You must carry proof of insurance with you and produce it if requested by expedition staff. The expedition team reserves the right to cancel or suspend your participation on a trip or in certain activities that comprise part of a trip, at any time, including after the commencement of your tour, with no right of refund, if you are unable to provide proof of insurance when requested. Other conditions may apply based on pre-existing conditions.
Please arrive Ottawa by 2 PM on the day before your voyage departure date, as attendance at a very important expedition briefing about charter flights and embarkation logistics is expected that evening. At the conclusion of your voyage, the return charter flight will arrive in the early evening and a transfer will be provided from the airport to a central downtown location. We recommend staying overnight in Edmonton and scheduling your onward travel plans for the following day.
Artist-in-Residence Program: 8/3/2018
Cory Trépanier's passion for the dramatic coastline of Baffin Island, seen in his art, films, and public speaking, will inspire guests on their own quest to creatively capture impressions of polar bears and Inuit culture.
Sea Kayaking: $695 per person; pre-booking required
Limited to 16 passengers. Will be accompanied by 3 kayak guides. Requires previous experience. Must be booked in advanced, no option to book once onboard. Please contact ExpeditionTrips for details and booking information.
Transfer from the Fairmont Chateau Laurier in Ottawa to the charter flight; transfer from the charter flight to the ship in Iqaluit; transfer from the ship to the charter flight in Resolute, transfer from the charter flight to the Fairmont Hotel MacDonald in Edmonton; cabin accommodations and meals aboard the ship; daily afternoon tea; 24-hour tea, coffee, and hot chocolate in the lounge and in all cabins (replenished daily); expertise of experienced expedition leader and professional expedition team of marine biologists, naturalists, historians, adventure guides, and photographers; daily shore excursions by Zodiac boat in small groups; guided hikes and walks on shore; educational presentations and talks by polar experts; access to computers in the multimedia lab for image downloads, file back up, and management; emergency-trained physician onboard every voyage; onboard sauna, plunge pool, Jacuzzi, and fitness center with personal trainer and massage options (additional charges apply for massage and spa treatments); well-stocked library with polar reference books; end of voyage video, photos, and take home USB; port fees and permits to access visited areas; and gear on loan (waterproof/windproof jacket, bib pants, insulated rubber boots, binoculars, and trekking poles). Subject to change without notice.
Any international or local airfare unless otherwise specified in the voyage itinerary; visa and passport expenses; pre- or post-cruise transfers unless otherwise specified in the itinerary (or pre-arranged); personal expenses on board such as alcoholic beverages, bar charges, or laundry expenses; telecommunications charges (i.e. email, satellite phone); baggage, cancellation, or medical travel insurance-related expenses (travel insurance is mandatory on all voyages); a voluntary gratuity at the end of the voyage for expedition staff and ship crew (suggested amount: $12-15 per day); fuel surcharge may apply.
PHOTOS: © David McEown; © Graham Charles; © Ira Meyer; © Mark Robinson; © Nate Small