Summary : Baffin Island is one of the last great wilderness regions on the planet and the focus of this outstanding expedition. From Iqaluit, situated at the head of Frobisher Bay, explore the wild east coast of Baffin Island and discover deep fjords, soaring mountains, and immense glacial systems. Be on constant 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 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'll see on an excursion ashore. Reach the remote town of Resolute where the adventure concludes. Experience the joyous thrill 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, enjoy a walking tour of the town and board the 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.
*See Additional Costs under Rate Notes for charter flight details.
Situated in the Davis Strait, the rocky dome of Monumental Island can be seen from a distance. Explore by Zodiac along the rocky shoreline and hope to encounter polar bears in this vicinity. In good weather a complete circumnavigation of the island is possible. You should see your first large icebergs drifting southward towards Labrador and Newfoundland on the currents of the Davis Strait. Throughout the coming days and the rest of the voyage, your onboard guides educate you with a series of presentations about the environment, wildlife, the history of Baffin Island and the Canadian Arctic, and the locations you plan to visit.
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 Centre 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 Zodiacs, 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 can 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 to hike on shore and cruise the rocky shorelines looking for wildlife. Also planned is 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 (Niginganiq) 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 giant peaks and snowy glaciers as you cruise slowly along 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 Mittimatalik (Pond Inlet). A highlight is a visit to the Natinnak Centre, where a fascinating cultural exhibit showcases aspects of daily life, culture and the history of the people of the north. Inuit carvings, jewelry and other traditional crafts are on display and purchasing such items from the local artisans is a great way to support the community. Mittimatalik 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, the 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 Harbor. 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, or 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, especially for history buffs, and for many it will be a highlight of the expedition. Return to the ship in the evening and 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.
Read this itinerary as a guide only; the exact route and program varies according to ice and weather conditions – and the wildlife you encounter. Flexibility is the key to the success of this expedition. ExpeditionTrips is not responsible for itinerary changes.
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. ExpeditionTrips can assist U.S. residents with travel protection options.
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.
Please arrive in Ottawa by 2 p.m. 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.
Kayaking: pre-booking required
Limited to 16 guests. If you have experience sea kayaking and are interested in this activity during the expedition, please book this option prior to departure from home. You cannot book this activity once onboard. All intending kayakers must complete a questionnaire outlining their prior paddling experience and attend several compulsory onboard meetings prior to the first kayak excursion. Provided equipment includes full Gore-Tex drysuits, kayak specific PFDs, neoprene booties, a waterproof deck bag, pogies, and a single or double kayak. Please contact ExpeditionTrips for details.
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; shipboard accommodations; guided hikes; educational presentations and talks; access to computers in the multimedia lab for image downloads, file back up, and management; assistance of resident photography guide; emergency-trained physician onboard every voyage; onboard sauna, plunge pool, Jacuzzi, and fitness center; well-stocked library with polar reference books; end of voyage video, photos and take-home USB; gear on loan (waterproof/windproof jacket, bib pants, insulated rubber boots, binoculars, and trekking poles); all meals onboard the ship; daily housekeeping; daily afternoon tea; 24-hour tea, coffee, and hot chocolate in the lounge and in all cabins (replenished daily); port fees and permits to access visited areas. Subject to change without notice.
Additional Inclusions for Suites:
Welcome package (wine, fruit basket, natural snacks); early morning adventure concierge coffee service; in-room mini bar, single brew coffee machine, mini-stereo, and iPad with reference and fictional content; complimentary field guide to polar region visited. Inclusions subject to change without notice.
Charter flights; any international or local airfare unless otherwise specified in the voyage itinerary; airport taxes; visa and passport expenses; pre- and post-cruise hotel accommodations unless otherwise specified in the itinerary (or pre-arranged); personal expenses on board such as alcoholic beverages, bar charges, extra meals, massage, spa treatments or laundry expenses; telecommunication charges (i.e. email, satellite phone); baggage, cancellation, or medical travel insurance-related expenses; travel insurance (mandatory on all trips); optional activities (i.e. kayaking); a voluntary gratuity at the end of the voyage for expedition staff and ship crew; fuel surcharge may apply.
PHOTOS: © David McEown; © Graham Charles; © Ira Meyer; © Mark Robinson; © Nate Small