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Pathways to Franklin

Canadian Arctic Cruise Information

Summary : Trace the routes of the early explorers who sailed through the fabled Northwest Passage on an expedition with mythical narwhals and polar bear encounters! Filled with wildlife and early polar exploration history, this epic journey includes a visit to one of the largest migratory bird sanctuaries in the world and a detailed retelling of Sir John Franklin's ill-fated Northwest Passage expedition.

Activities : Birding, Child-Friendly, Culture, Hiking, Kayaking, Photography, Triple/Quad Cabins

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Itinerary
Day 1
Edmonton, Alberta / Resolute, Nunavut

Meet at the Fairmont Hotel MacDonald in the morning for an included group transfer to your charter flight. Enjoy an included charter flight from Edmonton to Resolute, a remote outpost above the Arctic Circle. Located on the southern shores of Cornwallis Island, the town is named after the British ship HMS Resolute, which was trapped in ice and abandoned here in 1850 while searching for the lost Franklin Expedition. A weather station and airstrip made it a strategic outpost during the Cold War. On arrival, you will meet your expedition team and prepare for your Zodiac ride to the ship. After a welcome cocktail, you will weigh anchor and depart Resolute in the early evening.

Day 2
Beechey Island

Beechey Island holds great historic importance in the story of 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. 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 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 location for history buffs. Through the afternoon you will sail across Barrow Strait and approach the towering bird cliffs of Prince Leopold Island. This is an important migratory bird sanctuary, home to thick-billed murres, black guillemots, northern fulmars and black-legged kittiwakes. Numbering several hundred thousand birds, Prince Leopold Island is one of the most significant bird sanctuaries in the whole of the Canadian Arctic and makes for fantastic zodiac cruising. The sea ice around Prince Leopold Island is a great place for spotting ringed seals - and wherever you find ringed seals, you usually find polar bears.

Day 3 – 4
Somerset Island

Sail south overnight into Prince Regent Inlet and wake up along the southeastern shore of Somerset Island. Your objective is to go ashore at Fury Beach, named after the HMS Fury, a Royal Navy sloop used in two Arctic expeditions by Commander Edward Parry. During her second expedition, she was damaged in the ice while overwintering and abandoned here in 1825. Her stores were unloaded on the beach and left as a future supply depot for future Royal Navy expeditions into the Arctic.

Continuing to the southern end of Prince Regent Inlet, you will find the historic site of Fort Ross on Somerset Island. 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. A transit of Bellot Strait is a thrilling experience as the currents roar through this narrow channel. You are now in the heart of the Northwest Passage. The mixing of waters in this strait provides an abundant food source for numerous marine mammal species including harp seals, bearded seals and even polar bears. The skill of the captain and officers and capabilities of the ship becomes apparent during this exciting day of Arctic navigation.

Day 5
Conningham Bay

Cross the Franklin Strait and arrive at Conningham Bay on the shore of Prince Of Wales Island. This is a known hot spot for polar bears who come here to feast on beluga whales, often caught in the rocky shallows at the entrance to the bay. It is not unusual to find the shoreline littered with whale skeletons – and very healthy looking polar bears!

Day 6
Victoria Strait

Pushing further to the south, 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. On Victory Point a lifeboat left abandoned, bits and pieces of metal, cutlery, buttons and a skeleton here and there, tell a story of a desperate race south in the hope of a rescue that never came. Plan to travel very near the location of the wreck of HMS Erebus.

Day 7
Pasely Bar

Today you will travel to Pasely Bay on the Boothia Peninsula – another fascinating historic location. The RCMP vessel St. Roch spent a winter here in 1942 frozen into the sea ice. The ship was the first Canadian vessel to ever transit the Northwest Passage. One of the ship’s crew passed away while in this location and was buried by shipmates along the shoreline.

Day 8
Franklin Strait / Peel Sound

Track northwards through the Franklin Strait and into Peel Sound. The area is known for its heavy sea ice concentrations, and is only open to vessel navigation for a short period each year. The high ice-rating of our expedition ship means we are well equipped to take on the challenges of this route through the heart of the Northwest Passage. We now know that Franklin sailed his two expedition ships through Peel Sound in the summer of 1846, before becoming beset in the ice.

Day 9
Aston Bay / Peel Sound

Enjoy an exciting last day planned in Aston Bay. A deep inlet of Peel Sound, this location often features heavy concentrations of ice and is a known hot spot for wildlife activity. Explore in the Zodiacs and aim to make a shore landing searching for wildlife. This evening, enjoy a special dinner attended by the captain of the ship and the chance to reflect on a what has been a superb 10 days of exploration in this pristine Arctic wilderness.

Day 10
Resolute, Nunavut / Edmonton, Alberta

By morning you will be at anchor in Resolute. Make your way ashore by Zodiac and bid farewell to your crew. Enjoy your included charter flight back to Edmonton. In Edmonton, meet your included transfer to the Fairmont Hotel MacDonald.

Notes

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.

Mandatory Insurance:
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.

Medical Documentation: 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.

Arrival/Departure Logistics:
Please arrive Edmonton 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.

Sea Kayaking:
$695 per person; pre-booking required
Participants will be accompanied by 3 kayak guides. This optional activity requires previous experience and must be booked in advanced. Limited to 16 passengers. Please contact ExpeditionTrips for details.

Included:

Pre- and post-expedition group transfers between the Fairmont Hotel MacDonald and charter flights; pre- and post-expedition group transfer between the charter flights and the ship in Resolute; cabin accommodations and meals aboard the ship; transfers between the designated meeting points and the ship; luggage transfer from designated locations to/from cabin; complimentary tea and coffee 24 hours per day; shore excursions; services of guides and naturalist staff; access to multimedia room and download stations; gear on loan (windproof/waterproof jacket, bib pants, rubber boots, water-resistant binoculars, waterproof backpack, and trekking poles). Subject to change without notice.

Not Included:

International airfare; charter airfare where applicable; pre- and post-cruise hotel nights; passport and visa fees; excess baggage charges; airport taxes; travel insurance; all gratuities; extra meals; items of a personal nature such as laundry, drinks; medical expenses; optional activities and trips; kayaking supplement; fuel surcharge may apply.

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