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
Meet at the Fairmont Chateau Laurier for a group transfer to your charter flight. Depart Ottawa this morning on an included charter flight bound for Kangerlussuaq, on the west coast of Greenland. Excitement is in the air as you cast off and enjoy a welcome cocktail while cruising along Sondre Stromfjord, en route to the fabled Northwest Passage.
Today you will explore the fjord behind the town of Sisimiut by Zodiac before going ashore to explore this beautiful location. Characterized by colorful local houses, the town features a towering granite peak as a backdrop. You will hopefully meet a few of the traditional Greenlandic kayakers as they show you their incredible skills in their small watercraft.
Truly one of the wonders of the world, the Jacobshavn Icefjord releases gigantic tabular icebergs out into Disko Bay. The glacier that creates these stunning monoliths advances up to 40 meters per day, creating around 50 cubic kilometers of ice annually. Your Captain and officers are skilled ice navigators and your ship has one of the highest ice ratings of any vessel exploring Arctic waters, making for safe and comfortable travel through the iceberg-laden waters.
Leaving the rugged coastline of Greenland, your crossing of Baffin Bay is highly dependent on the extent of the so-called ‘middle ice’. Probe northwards seeking out the edges of the middle ice and plan to follow the line of ice until you reach the coast of Baffin Island. As you transit Baffin Bay you are always on the lookout for fin, sperm, sei and humpback whales as well as the numerous species of Arctic seals and seabirds that inhabit these waters.
Nearing the far north of Baffin Island you will arrive at Mittimatalik (Pond Inlet). The Natinnak Center features a fascinating cultural exhibit showcasing aspects of daily life, culture and history of the people of the north. Inuit carvings, jewelry and other traditional crafts will be on display.
Crossing Lancaster Sound to Devon Island, you are now at almost 75° degrees north of latitude. Water from the Atlantic to the east, Pacific to the west, and the archipelago of islands to the north all mixes 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, situated on the southern shores of Devon Island. Musk ox and Arctic hare are sometimes sighted in the vicinity and there are some great hiking options in the area.
Beechey Island holds great historic importance on our journey through 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 that would span decades. A trip ashore at Beechey Island to visit the grave markers on a remote windswept beach is a thrilling moment for history buffs. Prince Leopold Island is an important migratory bird sanctuary, home to thick-billed murres, black guillemots, northern fulmars and black-legged kittiwakes. Several hundred thousand birds fill the skies above – it’s an unbelievable sight. Given the abundance of food in this vicinity you often sight beluga, narwhal and bowhead whales here, as well as several species of seal and polar bear.
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. Having explored Fort Ross, you will attempt a transit through the narrows of Bellot Strait. The skill of the Captain and Officers and capabilities of the ship becomes apparent during this exciting day of Arctic navigation.
Crossing the Victoria Strait you will arrive at Coningham Bay on the shore of Prince Edward Island. Here, in the heart of the Northwest Passage, hope to encounter one of the most remarkable wildlife sites in the Arctic. This is a known hot spot for polar bears. They come here to feast on beluga whales often caught in the rocky shallows at the entrance to the bay. It is an astonishing sight to see these incredible hunters in their natural environment.
Heading further into the Northwest Passage, 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 archeological team and the recent Victoria Strait Expedition. You will hopefully get to visit Victory Point and the Victoria Strait, traveling very near the actual location of the wreck of HMS Erebus & HMS Terror, found in Terror Bay in 2016.
Cambridge Bay is a remote outpost on the southern shores of Victoria Island and a center for hunting, trapping and fishing in the region. Amundsen spent two winters in this area, learning how to master dog-sledding from the locals prior to his attempt on the South Pole. Your voyage through the Northwest Passage comes to an end as you transfer to the airport for your charter flight to Edmonton and included group transfer in Edmonton to the Fairmont Hotel MacDonald.
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. Other conditions may apply based on pre-existing conditions. ExpeditionTrips can assist U.S. residents with travel protection options.
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 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.
The photographer in residence provides presentations, critiques, informal instruction, and a photographer zodiac to assist with each passenger's photographic goals.
Kayaking: pre-booking required
Limited to 16 participants. Kayakers will be accompanied by three kayak guides. This optional activity requires previous experience and must be booked in advanced. 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 Kangerlussuaq; 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; 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; 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, 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.
PHOTOS: © David McEown, © Mark Robinson, © Nate Small, © Carolyn Monastra