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Canadian Arctic and Greenland – Ultimate Thule

Arctic Greenland Cruise

Summary : Enjoy outings and shore visits in Zodiac inflatables with a team of experienced naturalist guides. Visit traditional villages and encounter the Inuit people. Visit Disko Bay, listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, to see the Northern Hemisphere’s largest icebergs. Discover the area of Ultima Thule, the mythical northern kingdom, in the footsteps of the Vikings. Scout for wildlife: polar bears, humpback whales, Arctic terns, belugas, bearded seals, orcas, narwhals.

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

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Itinerary
Day 1
Paris, Fance / Kangerlussuaq, Greenland

Fly from Paris to Kangerlussuaq, transfer to the ship and embark the vessel. Settle in to life on board as your voyage begins.

Day 2
Sissimut, Greenland

During your cruise, we invite you to discover Sisimiut, founded in 1756 and the second largest town in Greenland. This small town is typical of Greenland, boasting bewitching panoramas: here and there, colorful stilt houses dot the undulating landscape, and the small fishing port stands as the gateway to an icy realm. As for the town center, it is home to a number of historic buildings, a small church and a museum which retraces the history of the Inuit people, as well as many craft shops. When your ship drops anchor here, you will set out to meet the locals in a typically arctic atmosphere.

Day 3
Qikiqtarjuaq / Kivitoo, Nunavut, Canada

The small hamlet of Qikiqtarjuaq is on the east coast of Baffin Island, in the heart of Nunavut territory. Bounded by the Davis Strait, the island of Qikiqtarjuaq, formerly known as Broughton Island, is marked by the history of whale hunting. During the 19th century, European whalers traveled around the region and began trading with the Inuits. Later on, the installation of a military post and a landing strip facilitated access to this part of the world. Located very close to the Auyuittuq National Park, Qikiqtarjuaq has very beautiful landscapes of mountains, hills and ice, and is home to many emblematic Arctic animals: whales, seals, walruses, narwhals, and polar bears.

Located on the east coast of Baffin Island, in Nunavut, Kivitoo is a simultaneously calm and unsettling place that you will explore with your naturalist-guides. This former Inuit camp lying in the heart of a heathland landscape was abandoned in 1923. Here you will pass before a broken-down cabin surrounded by metal tanks that stored whale oil at the time when cetacean hunting was in full swing. You will see walrus skulls and the graves of Inuits, revealing their past presence. Kivitoo had its days of technological glory in the 1950s, with the installation of an American radar station on top of the mountain overlooking the area.

Day 4
Arctic Harbor / Isabella Bay, Niginganiq

Arctic Harbor is on the small island of Aulitiving at the entrance to Isabella Bay. A major whale hunting site, this small natural harbor still has remnants from those times, notably some whaler graves. This port of call will be the opportunity to go for a lovely hike in the heart of the Arctic tundra, and perhaps to reach the highest point of the island.

Welcome to the kingdom of the cetaceans! Here, those who love the giants of the Arctic won’t know where to look. Isabella Bay is in fact part of the Ninginganiq National Wildlife Area, one of the finest places to observe bowhead whales. From your ship, watch the sumptuous ballet performed by these impressive mammals. With undersea faults, Isabella Bay, located on the northeast coast of Baffin Island, attracts cetaceans which come here to feed. In addition to the bowhead whales, the uncontested stars of these parts, the Ninginganiq Wildlife Area is also home to ringed seals, narwhals, polar bears, king eiders, little auks, and northern fulmars.

Day 5
Sam Ford Fjord

All around you is a raw landscape of spectacular beauty. Nothing seems to want to disturb the silence. You are in the Sam Ford Fjord, on the east coast of Baffin Island. Located near the Inuit community of Clyde River, this fjord has the kind of world’s end appearance that only the Arctic lands can offer. From your ship, allow yourself to be dazzled by the series of vertiginous cliffs plunging into the waters of the fjord. These impressively high walls of rock, known worldwide to climbing enthusiasts, are reflected in the waters of the fjord, as though to completely shift perspectives and blur the lines between land and sea.

Day 6
Icy Arm Fjord / Feachem Bay

The east coast of Baffin Island is a real lacework of fjords. Among them, in the north, is the spectacular Icy Arm fjord. As you sail these parts, you’ll be dazzled by the immense cliffs. During your stop here, you will have the opportunity to hike at the feet of these mountains and within the glacial valleys. Keep your eyes open when you get back on your boat: you’ll probably get the chance to observe marine mammals such as whales, orcas, and even narwhals.

After sailing the Buchan Gulf, where you may well be joined by orcas and narwhals, you will disembark in Feachem Bay. From a small beach, home to the ruins of sod houses, set off on a hike into the heart of very beautiful landscapes. The main part of the walk will be along magnificent tundra, fairly humid, full of colorful lichens, minuscule Arctic willows, Arctic poppies, cotton-grass and soft mosses. Arriving at the top of a ridge, enjoy this very beautiful viewpoint over the glacier below. Frequented by polar bears, Feachem Bay also provides refuge for a great many birds.

Day 7
Coburg Island / Beatrice Point

A real paradise for ornithologists lies to the north of Baffin Bay, very close to Ellesmere Island. Indeed, the small Coburg Island is one of the most important sea bird nesting areas in the Canadian Arctic; Tridactyl gulls, thick-billed murres and northern fulmars have all made it their favorite spot. 60% of the island is covered with ice fields and glaciers, giving a very rugged mountainous relief. In addition to the birds, it is also home to polar bears, walruses, beluga whales, narwhals, ringed seals, and bearded seals. The Nirjutiqavvik National Wildlife Area, created in 1995 with the goal of preserving these species, entirely encompasses Coburg as well as its surrounding waters.

Located at the entrance to the Canadian High Arctic, completely to the east of Devon Island, this surprising peninsula will provide an opportunity to discover a specific ecosystem and observe the glaciers coming from the Devon ice cap. During your port of call in these parts, you will perhaps also have the chance to encounter the ice floes descending directly from the North Pole, as well as the wildlife often found here.

Day 8 – 10
Kane Bassin

The presence of many drifting icebergs calved from the glaciers of Greenland and sheets of ice floe can make sailing tricky - but spectacular - in this High Arctic region located between the north of Greenland and Ellesmere Island, in Nunavut. If you are lucky enough to be able to venture there with your ship, you will perhaps observe one of the many polar bears that roam this favorable environment. In the north, in the Nares Strait, Denmark and Canada are still fighting over the possession of the tiny and uninhabited Hans islet, which is moreover actively defended by a collective that invites everyone to declare themselves an “inhabitant” of Hans, to protect the island, from oil drilling projects.

Day 11
Etah / Siorapaluk, Greenland

To the north of the region of Thule, in Inglefield Land, there is an ancient Inuit hunting camp known for having been the departure point of many European expeditions to conquer the North Pole. Here, in Etah, you will have the possibility of discovering peat house vestiges from the Thule civilization and making your way up the valley for a gorgeous walk in Greenland’s high Arctic. Today, this region is still a favorite hunting spot for Greenlanders. It is not unusual to see musk oxen here.

Small colorful houses, a few small motorboats resting on the shore, a school, a grocery store, sled dogs: here you are in Siorapaluk, Greenland’s northernmost native settlement. With some fifty inhabitants, this tranquil village made famous by Jean Malaurie in his novel The Last Kings of Thule, lives in harmony with nature's cycles. Here, hunting, fishing and skin tanning are part of everyday life, just like in many other Inuit villages. This is an authentic and typical port of call where you will probably be greeted by a joyous group of children, who are always happy to welcome visitors.

Day 12
Savissivik / Cape York, Greenland

Some places in this world are so magical that their beauty cannot be described in words… Savissivik, a small Inuit village with less than a hundred inhabitants, is one such place. Rightly considered to be the biggest iceberg graveyard in Greenland, it is a stunning sight to behold. During your Zodiac outing, you will sail between these icy giants that have become stranded in the shallows. Once on land, you can hike to a viewpoint from which to enjoy breathtaking views over these icebergs, which come in an incredibly diverse range of shapes and colors. Photographers will love it. Savissivik Bay attracts many bears and is also known for having been the home of one of the world’s biggest meteorites, but the latter has now been moved to a museum in New York.

To the west of Savissivik, in Greenland, your ship will pass Cape York, a place that is brimming with history and marked by the conquest of the North Pole. Indeed, it is here, at the end of the 19th century, that the American explorer Robert Peary discovered fragments of one of the biggest meteorites ever found to this day. He had them sent back to the United States and later sold them to a New York museum, where they are still on display. Despite Robert Peary’s disputed achievements and his sometimes controversial attitude towards the Inuit populations, a memorial was erected in his honor at Cape York. Constructed in the 1930s, the memorial still stands today.

Day 13
Kullorsuaq, Greenland

Well beyond the Arctic Circle, in the majestic landscapes of Greenland’s Northwest, you will find the village of Kullorsuaq, the last bastion of Greenland’s traditional hunters. Here is where you will find Greenland’s true character—vast mineral expanses, sumptuous mountains, impressive glaciers and, above all, the local population which still lives off fishing and seal or bear hunting. Hospitality and respect for nature are essential elements in the daily lives of these men, who live an austere life. When we drop anchor in this remote part of the world, set off to discover these friendly people who are also talented craftsmen, deftly sewing the furs and skins of marine mammals. This will be a unique and authentic experience.

Day 14
Nuliarfik, Greenland

This small island, lost north of Uummannaq Bay where two fjords meet, is often an opportunity for sumptuous sailing along the vertical cliffs, surrounded by drifting icebergs. Situated not far from Nugatsiaq, one of the small villages attached to the town of Uummannaq, Nuliarfik is an ancient village of the Thule civilization. When your ship calls here, you will have the opportunity to visit the vestiges of peat houses. Then, take a walk up to higher ground and, from a magnificent panoramic viewpoint, you will be able to observe this beautiful network of iceberg-filled fjords.

Day 15
Disko Bay, Greenland

To the east of Baffin Bay, discover Disko Bay, scattered with countless icebergs produced by the Ilulissat Icefjord, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. From your ship, admire the majestic ballet of these ice giants as they slowly drift across the dark waters. This site is a natural marvel of Greenland, and is also renowned as an observation point for the region’s many humpback whales. The encounters with wild fauna and stunning landscapes in the heart of this spectacular and fragile nature will be pure moments of wonder for you.

Day 16
Evighedsfjorden, Greenland

Your ship glides slowly along the water towards the west coast of Greenland, to enter Evighedsfjorden, just south of Kangerlussuaq. Evighedsfjorden means “the fjord of Eternity”, and for good reason, just when you think you’ve reached the end of this stretch of sea, it seems to go on forever, as though to bring even more pleasure to those sailing in it. The spectacular scenery ranges from glaciers to tundra with an abundant flora, and jagged cliffs where numerous bird species have taken up residence. Take the time to observe the white-tailed eagles and the colonies of seagulls and black-legged kittiwakes flying overhead in the area.

Day 17
Kangerlussuaq, Greenland / Paris, France

Disembark the vessel and transfer to the airport for your flight to Paris.

Notes

Read this itinerary as a guide only; the exact route and program varies according to weather conditions - and the wildlife you encounter. Flexibility is the key to the success of this expedition. ExpeditionTrips.com is not responsible for itinerary changes.

Bilingual Departures: All departures are French/English.

Travel Insurance:
ExpeditionTrips strongly recommends Emergency Medical/Evacuation coverage for trips which includes coverage for cancellation, trip disruption, baggage and personal property. Other conditions may apply based on pre-existing conditions. ExpeditionTrips can assist U.S. residents with travel protection options.

Included:
Round-trip charter flight Paris/Kangerlussuaq in economy class; transfers between Kangerlussuaq airport and ship; shipboard accommodations; parka; gear on loan (boots); Wi-Fi onboard ship; all meals onboard ship; 24-hour room service; most beverages onboard ship; gratuities onboard ship. Butler service is included for guests staying in Deck 6 Suites. Subject to change without notice.

Not Included:
Airfare other than listed as included; any ground services before and/or after the cruise other than the ones included; visa and passport fees; travel insurance; personal expenses such as onboard medical consultations and drug prescriptions, spa, laundry and hair salon; premium alcohol; fuel surcharge may apply.


Photos: © Servane Roy-Berton, © Nathalie Michel

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