• Arctic Canada Northwest Passage

Itinerary Summary

Duration
17 Days
Price
£14195
When
Jul - Aug 2023
Destination
Arctic Canada
Type
Small Group Safari
Duration Price When Destination Type
17 Days £14195 Jul - Aug 2023 Arctic Canada Small Group Safari
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The Northwest Passage

Explore a part of the Arctic which very few people ever get to see on the beautiful Greg Mortimer. Sail the fabled Northwest Passage and get a glimpse into the world that captivated legendary Arctic explorers such as Franklin and Amundsen. Witness immense tabular icebergs calving, sail past magnificent tabular icebergs, and keep watch for polar bears, beluga whales, walrus and maybe even narwhal. 

 

What makes this trip extraordinary?

  • Journey through the legendary Northwest Passage in the wake of early Arctic explorers
  • Hike on Devon Island with it's stunning geology, fjords and glacial valleys to explore, and visit Bylot Island, a nesting habitat for over 200,000 birds
  • Stand in awe of Ilulissat Icefjord, a UNESCO World Heritage Site
  • Keep watch for iconic Arctic wildlife including musk ox, polar bears, beluga whales, walrus and perhaps narwhal

Embedded Video Overview

A 17-day expedition

from $16,324 per person, excluding international flights.

Day by day

Day by day

Day 1

Calgary

Arrive in Calgary and transfer to your hotel before enjoying a welcome drink and meeting fellow expeditioners.

Day 2

Cambridge Bay

Board the charter flight to Cambridge Bay, a hub of the Canadian Arctic, and transfer to the harbour, where zodiacs shuttle you aboard for embarkation. After boarding, there’s time to settle into your cabin before the important safety briefings. This evening meet your expedition team and crew at the Captain’s Welcome Dinner.

Days 3-6

Expedition cruising

In true expeditionary style, the itinerary for the following days is entirely dependent on unpredictable sea ice. The following are places we hope to visit.

King William Island

In 1859, a Franklin expedition tent camp was discovered at Cape Felix. Remains attributed to the Franklin expedition have been found at 35 different locations on King William Island and on nearby Adelaide Peninsula. South of Cape Felix, in Victoria Strait, we hope to visit Victory Point and get close to where the HMS Erebus and HMS Terror were abandoned in 1848.

Coningham Bay

Across from Victoria Strait, Coningham Bay lies on the shores of Prince of Wales Island. This is a polar bear hotspot where the majestic creatures come to feast on beluga whales that are often trapped 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!

Bellot Strait

A deep and windy waterway bordered by steep cliffs, Bellot Strait is characterised by strong, swirling, tidal currents that require navigation to be undertaken close to times of slack water (four times a day). Point Zenith, the most northern continental point of the Americas is located in the strait. NOTE: Due to swirling currents up to 10 knots, Bellot Strait is better transited during eastbound voyages because if it is blocked, there is the alternative to continue north through Peel Sound. On a westbound voyage, it would be necessary to make a long detour back north through Prince Regent Inlet

Prince Leopold Island, Port Leopold

On the southern side of Lancaster Sound opposite Beechey Island lie the towering bird cliffs of Prince Leopold Island— the most important bird sanctuary in the Canadian Arctic, with approximately 500,000 birds nesting pairs here in summer. Ringed seals are often spotted on the sea ice. Nearby Port Leopold is a historic site where British explorer James Clark Ross wintered in 1848 while searching for the missing Franklin expedition. The ruin of a century old Hudson’s Bay trading post can be found there, and polar bear often lurk nearby. The shallow gravel beds attract beluga whales, which come to moult in this part of the Arctic each summer.

Prince Regent Inlet, Fort Ross

Sailing down the east coast of Somerset Island, you might spot beluga whales and narwhals as they feed on the large numbers of arctic char that enter Creswell Bay in late summer. An important bird area, the bay also attracts such species as black-bellied plovers, king eiders and white-rumped sandpipers. At Fort Ross, see an abandoned Hudson’s Bay Company trading outpost founded in 1937, which closed in 1949 because supply ships could not get through the thick sea ice. Enjoy guided walks on the tundra.

Cunningham Inlet

On the north coast of Somerset Island, when factors such as weather and whale behaviour align, you might see the amazing spectacle of hundreds of beluga whales shedding their skin on shallow sandy banks. The local scenery makes for excellent guided walks, where waterway trails lead to waterfalls and higher ground.

Day 7

Beechey Island, Lancaster Sound

At a latitude almost 75° degrees north, we are now truly in the High Arctic. Here, nutrient-rich waters support an abundance of wildlife, giving the area the moniker ‘wildlife super highway’ of the Arctic.

At the western end of Devon Island lies Beechey Island. Named after Frederick William Beechey, the island has many of Canada’s most important Arctic relics and is a designated Canadian National Historic Site. Sir John Franklin’ first winter, 1845-46, was spent here during his attempted to sail through the Northwest Passage aboard HMS Erebus and HMS Terror, with perilous results – the first three of his men died here. Roald Amundsen landed at Beechey Island in 1903, during the first successful voyage to fully transit the Northwest Passage from the Atlantic Ocean to the Pacific Ocean.

Day 8

Devon Island, Lancaster Sound

Devon Island is the largest uninhabited island on Earth and features stunning geology, with flat-topped mountains and glacial valleys giving Devon Island its unique character. We may explore Croker Bay or Maxwell Bay, both offering great opportunities for Zodiac cruising. Dundas Harbour offers walks on undulating tundra and the area is great for birdwatching. A dilapidated Royal Canadian Mounted Police outpost and remnants of a former Hudson’s Bay Company trading post and ancient semi-subterranean Thule dwellings can be found here. In the bay, walruses are often present.

Day 9

Pond Inlet (Mittimatalik), Bylot Island

The picturesque hamlet of Pond Inlet, overlooking Eclipse Sound, is surrounded by scenic mountain ranges and numerous glaciers and fjords. Travellers come to marvel at the abundant wildlife hoping to see narwhals, beluga and orca whales, ringed and harp seals, caribou and the occasional polar bear. Explore churches and visit the Natinnak Center to see exhibits showing the culture and history of the local Inuit people. Husky dog pens are near the landing beach.

In the afternoon, we sail along the coast of nearby Bylot Island. Covered with mountains, icefields, steep cliffs, snowfields and glaciers, Bylot Island provides nesting habitat for large numbers of thick-billed murres and black-legged kittiwakes. A total of 74 distinct species of Arctic birds thrive on this island. Due to the richness of the wildlife with the beauty and diversity of the landscapes in the area, a large portion of the island was also included in the Sirmilik National Park, established in 2001.

Day 10

Sillem Island, Isabella Bay

Sail around Sillem Island, with glacial features on all sides. A slow cruise offers the chance to see many glaciers, discharging cascades as well as a variety of seals and other arctic wildlife. Farther south along the east coast of Baffin Island lies Isabella Bay, an important summer and autumn feeding ground for a large population of bowhead whales. Stacked side-by-side, numerous soaring cliffs of Sam Ford Fjord make for a majestic site as you sail by. One of the most isolated places on the planet, this big-wall playground attracts climbers eager to scale the sheer rock faces that seem to shoot straight out from the sea

Day 11

Isabella Bay

After a morning at sea and farther south along the east coast of Baffin Island, we reach Isabella Bay, an important summer and autumn feeding ground for a large population of bowhead whales. 

Day 12

Qikiqtarjuaq (Baffin Island), At sea

Explore the coast of Baffin Island farther south before crossing Baffin Bay to Greenland, when we may encounter Greenland’s famous icebergs. Keep watch for humpback, sei, sperm and fin whales, as well as various species of seals such as ring and harp seal. Our team of experts entertain us with informative talks about wildlife, geology and epic tales of early explorers such as Franklin and Amundsen.

Day 13

Qeqertarsuaq (Disko Island)

This compelling island seems to have more in common with Iceland than Greenland. While most of the interior is mountainous and glaciated, its beautiful shorelines boast black sandy beaches, unusual basalt columns, hot springs and dramatic lava formations. On a guided hike, enjoy a diversity of Arctic flora. Zodiac cruise in Disko Bay, a hotspot for marine life including humpback, fin, minke and bowhead whales. The small friendly village has a fascinating historical museum.

Day 14

Ilulissat

Known as the ‘birthplace of icebergs’, this region produces some of the most dazzling icebergs found anywhere in the Arctic. Hike past the husky sledge dogs to the UNESCO World Heritage-listed Icefjord and stand in awe of its immensity.

Sermeq Kujalleq, also known as Jakobshavn Glacier, is the most productive glacier – not only in Greenland but the entire Northern Hemisphere. It produces 20 million tonnes of ice each day, all floating into the Ilulissat Icefjord and Disko Bay. Conditions permitting, enjoy a Zodiac cruise at the mouth of the fjord and kayak through sea ice and icebergs. An optional 90-minute helicopter flight over the icefjord is a truly once-in-a-lifetime experience.

Optional helicopter flight (90 mins): this excursion is the only way you can get close to the gigantic glacier. The 12-seater helicopter departs from Ilulissat Airport and sweeps over hills, lakes and ice fjords. Land on the mountain at Kangia, in the middle of the preserved area, where you can revel in the incredible surroundings. On the return flight to Ilulissat, fly above the edge of the glacier with breathtaking views of the massive icebergs drifting in the fjord. The views of some of the largest icebergs that become stranded on a moraine underneath the water, just outside the town, offers a wonderful finale to this excursion. (Additional charge applies). Please note this excursion requires a minimum of 8 people to operate.

Day 15

Sisimiut

Greenland’s second largest town, Sisimiut is located approximately 54 kilometres (33.5 miles) north of the Arctic Circle, meaning that during summer, you can experience the midnight sun here. The town is famous for the old blue church with the gate made of whale bone. In the cosy museum next door to the church, you will find an excellent reconstruction of an Inuit turf house as well as exhibits of local history and early life in Greenland.  

Sisimiut offers hiking trails with various degrees of difficulty. The easier trails take you through the town itself, its outskirts and into the mountains, where you will find spectacular vantage points. 

Approximately 4,500 years ago, the Saqqaq culture arrived from Canada and settled in the area. They lived here for approximately 2,000 years, after which they mysteriously disappeared from the area. The Dorset culture arrived around 500 CE and stayed until the 1200s until they were replaced by the Thule culture, and today, the majority of the population of Sisimiut are descendants of the Thule culture. 

Day 16

Disembark in Kangerlussuaq. Fly to Toronto

After an overnight sailing along Søndre Strømfjord we arrive in Kangerlussuaq, where we disembark and transfer to the airport for our charter flight to Toronto. Spend the night at Westin Toronto Airport Hotel

Day 17

Depart Toronto

Check out of your room and continue your journey.

TRIP DETAILS

DATES AND PRICES

For the 2023 set departure dates, please note that the 27th July departure starts in Toronto and ends in Calgary, and the 10th August departure starts in Calgary and ends in Toronto. 

Please note that the trip price does not include the price of international flights but charter flights are included.

A discount of 10-15%, depending on cabin type, is available for new individual bookings confirmed by December 19, 2022. Subject to availability. Please contact your Destination Specialist for further details.

Trip date Prices from
Jul 27 - Sep 12 2023 £14195
Aug 10 - Aug 26 2023 £14195

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