Summary : This iconic voyage explores the remote Northwest Passage and stunning fjords of the Baffin Island coastline before crossing to Greenland and its mindblowing icebergs. Following the paths of the legendary early Arctic explorers, journey through the archipelago of islands and channels of Canada’s high Arctic. Wildlife abounds here – from the polar, to muskox, caribou, and walrus. History buffs with love the strong historical element: learn more about the ill-fate expedition by Sire John Franklin nearly 170 years ago.
Activities : Birding, Culture, Hiking, Kayaking, Photography, Triple/Quad Cabins
$999,999,999 to $0
Depart Edmonton on a charter flight to Cambridge Bay, a remote outpost above the Arctic Circle. Located on the southern shores of Victoria Island, today it is a center for hunting, trapping and fishing. Enjoy a walking tour of the town and then board your expedition ship, the Akademik Ioffe. Excitement is in the air as you enjoy a welcome cocktail and cast off, bound for the fabled Northwest Passage.
As you chart a course into the Northwest Passage, your on board presentation series begins and you delve into the tale of the Franklin expedition. The mystery of what happened 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.
You will aim to visit Victory Point, traveling very near the actual location of the wreck of HMS Erebus, while learning about the quest for exploration that eventually opened up the Arctic. Experts all agree that the second of Franklin’s lost ships, HMS Terror, is likely to be in this vicinity.
This morning you will arrive at Conningham Bay on the shore of Prince of Wales. This is one of the most remarkable wildlife sites in the Arctic. A hot spot for polar bears who come here to feast on Beluga whales, it is not unusual to find the shoreline littered with whale skeletons and very healthy looking polar bears!
Today you will transit the narrow passage of Bellot Strait. The mixing of waters in this strait provides an abundant food source for marine mammals, and you will keep your eyes peeled for harp seals, bearded seals and even polar bears. The skill of the captain and officers and the capabilities of the ship become apparent during this exciting day of Arctic navigation. The historic site of 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.
Beechey Island is of great historic importance. It is here that Sir John Franklin’s ill-fated expedition spent its last ‘comfortable’ winter in 1845 before disappearing into the icy vastness. A trip ashore at Beechey Island to visit the grave markers on a remote windswept beach gives one pause to wonder on the bravery (or foolhardiness) of these pioneering explorers, as they sought a way through the barren, frozen landscape.
Cruising the coastline of Devon Island, you are now in the waters of Lancaster Sound – a rich, bio-diverse region often referred to as the wildlife ‘super highway’ of the Arctic. Massive volumes of water from Baffin Bay to the east, Beaufort Sea to the west, and the archipelago of islands to the north combine here to make a rich cocktail of nutrients supporting an abundance of Arctic wildlife. You will plan to visit the old Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) outpost at Dundas Harbor. Muskox and Arctic hare are sometimes seen around here, and there are great hiking options in the area.
In the morning, you will catch a first glimpse of the wild north coast of Baffin Island and navigate through Navy Board Inlet. The vast landscapes of Sirmilik National Park surround you as you approach the remote Inuit community of Mittimatalik (Pond Inlet). A highlight will be a visit to the Natinnak Centre, where a fascinating cultural exhibit showcases daily life, culture and history of the people of the north. You will also enjoy meeting the local children of Mittimatalik and marveling at their athletic abilities as they demonstrate traditional Inuit games.
This morning you will enter the spectacular Gibbs Fjord. Your expedition ship will be dwarfed by the giant peaks and snowy glaciers as we cruise along the dark waters.
Leaving the rugged coastline of Baffin Island, your crossing of Baffin Bay allows you time to slow down and reflect on the beauty and experiences you have shared. Your team of on board experts will continue to educate you on the history and wildlife of the region while your naturalists keep watch looking for fulmars and dovekies, pilot whales and perhaps even orca. As you approach Greenland, you will also increase your likelihood of spotting some of the big baleen whales like the fin and sei whales.
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 meters per day, creating around 50 cubic kilometers of ice annually. Your approach to Ilulissat is dependent on the amount of ice in and around the mouth of the fjord. Your captain and officers are skilled ice navigators and your ship has one of the highest ice ratings of any vessel exploring Arctic waters.
You will explore the fjord behind the town of Sisimiut before going ashore to explore this beautiful location. Characterized by colorful local houses, the town features a towering granite peak as a backdrop. Hopefully you will have a chance to 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.
One of the world’s longest fjords, Sondre Stromfjord towers above the ship as you approach. The plan is to venture into some of the small side fjords that you can Zodiac into and explore on foot or by kayak. Major geologic and geomorphologic features will surround you and you will hopefully be able to find muskox along the shores of the fjord as well. Soaring high above you will be the white-tailed sea eagle, riding the thermals off the ridges. There are fantastic opportunities for hiking.
Your journey through the Arctic is all but complete as you disembark the ship in Kangerlussuaq and make your way to the airport and a charter flight returns you to Ottawa. A transfer will be provided from the airport to a central location downtown.
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.
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.
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 Ottawa and scheduling your onward travel plans for the following day.
A range of guided hiking options are available for passengers, from contemplative, relaxing shore walks to two-to-three hour treks with challenging terrain.
The photographer in residence provides presentations, critiques, informal instruction, and a photographer zodiac to assist with each passenger's photographic goals.
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.
Transfer from the Fairmont Hotel MacDonald to the charter flight in Edmonton; transfer from the airport to the ship in Cambridge Bay; transfer from the ship to the airport in Kangerlussuaq; transfer from the airport to the Fairmont Chateau Laurier in Ottawa; 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.
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; fuel surcharge may apply.
PHOTOS: © David McEown, © Mark Robinson, © Nate Small, © Carolyn Monastra