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Walrus and her pup

Epic 80°N: Exploring Greenland, Baffin & Ellesmere Islands

Example 23 Day Cruise aboard National Geographic Explorer
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Join this 23-day voyage on the National Geographic Explorer and journey deep into the far reaches of the Arctic, a land where polar bears roam and hardy Inuit communities maintain their traditional way of life. Canada’s Ellesmere Island stretches farther north than any other land in the world, save for Greenland—explore both on this epic Arctic expedition. This is a region of ancient ice, where tidewater glaciers of exceptional beauty dominate the landscape. Few humans have ever been here. It is home to hunting polar bears, muskox, and extremely rare wildlife, including narwhal. Glide between soaring icebergs at the mouth of Greenland’s Ilulissat Icefjord, a UNESCO World Heritage site. Trace the coast into parts largely unknown, where the only assurance is great wonder, beauty, and genuine exploration.

Day-by-Day Summary

Day 1 : Reykjavík
Day 2 : Fly to Kangerlussuaq, Greenland | Embark Ship
Day 3 : Greenland’s West Coast | Sisimiut
Days 4-9 : Baffin Island
Day 10 : Devon Island
Days 11-12 : Ellesmere Island
Days 13-14 : Farther North
Days 15-18 : Exploring Northwest Greenland
Day 19 : Qilakitsoq
Day 20 : Disko Bay | Ilulissat
Day 21 : Greenland's West Coast
Day 22 : Kangerlussuaq | Disembark | Reykjavík, Iceland
Day 23 : Reykjavík | Keflavík | Return Home

Highlights

  • Venture to new frontiers, Zodiac cruise, kayak, and hike the tundra
  • Trace fjords of rarely-explored northwest Greenland to the massive ice cap
  • Encounter the legacy of the ancient Inuit, Thule, and Dorset cultures
  • Explore the geologic phenomena of Iceland’s capital, Reykjavík
  • Follow in the wake of legendary explorers and hear their dramatic stories
  • Observe polar bears, arctic foxes, caribou, seals, and humpback whales

Ship

National Geographic Explorer

Places Visited

Activities

Trip Type

  • Small Ship

Activity Level

Relaxed

Trip Snapshots

Walrus and her pup Taking a zodiac tour to see icebergs in the arctic. A polar bear and her playful cub. Arctic Birds Hiking through the Antarctic landscape.

Day 1 Reykjavík

  • 1 Dinner
Arrive in Reykjavík, located just south of the Arctic Circle. Check-in to your Reykjavik Hotel. Take a guided overview of the old town, including Hallgrímskirkja Cathedral. Or choose to explore the Blue Lagoon and soak in the geothermal waters.

Day 2 Fly to Kangerlussuaq, Greenland | Embark Ship

  • Ship
  • 1 Breakfast, 1 Lunch, 1 Dinner
Fly by chartered aircraft to Greenland. Embark National Geographic Explorer at the head of Kangerlussuaq Fjord, a picturesque waterway that stretches 100 miles.

Day 3 Greenland’s West Coast | Sisimiut

  • Ship
  • 1 Breakfast, 1 Lunch, 1 Dinner
Dozens of deep fjords carve into Greenland’s west coast, many with glaciers fed by the ice cap that covers 80% of the country. Trace this ragged coastline, and search for humpback and minke whales. At Sisimiut, a former whaling port, visit the museum and wander amid a jumble of wooden 18th-century buildings.

Day 4-9 Baffin Island

  • Ship
  • 3 Breakfasts, 3 Lunches, 3 Dinners
Begin your exploration of the Canadian High Arctic with a visit to the small Inuit community of Pond Inlet, Nunavut. Explore some of the beautiful bays and inlets along Baffin Island's northern coast and Lancaster Sound. Search for ringed seals, arctic foxes, and polar bears, as well as beluga and bowhead whales. Perhaps even see the elusive narwhal, known for the long, spiraling tooth that projects up to ten feet. Possible stops include exploring Beechey Island and the remains of the Franklin expedition’s winter quarters and Lancaster Sound for polar bears on ice.

Day 10 Devon Island

  • Ship
  • 1 Breakfast, 1 Lunch, 1 Dinner
On this day, your ship ploughs the Arctic waters at the entrance to the Northwest Passage, now heading towards the most easterly part of the south coast of Devon Island to Dundas Harbor. This location is where the Canadian government established a RCMP (Royal Mounted Police) post in the 1920s. Later, reach Croker Bay. Just last year, the crew discovered several very well-preserved winter-house ruins from the Thule culture. From the 1200s and until late in the 1800s, Inuit were living in these regions hunting caribou and muskoxen—which you can hope to spot along with polar bears.

Continue to Philpots Island, a geological structure consisting of ancient red granite that is part of the Ellesmere-North Greenland geological complex. It has been dated to 1.6 billion years in age! The plan is to go ashore on rocky Philpots Island for a chance to hike on the tundra and search for interesting flora and fauna, including extensive moss beds with interspersed flowering vascular plants, various bird species, arctic hares, and perhaps even musk oxen—an impressive beast covered with an incredibly thick coat of long hairs overlying a dense layer of underfur known as qiviut (very valuable wool used in producing the lightest, finest knitted products available today). Be on deck as you head out into the open waters offshore, where there are plenty of impressive icebergs calved from a huge glacier.

Day 11-12 Ellesmere Island

  • Ship
  • 2 Breakfasts, 2 Lunches, 2 Dinners
Heading ever northward, make your way up the beautiful and remote east coast of Ellesmere Island, where the Explorer first ventured last season. Cruise along scenic Smith Bay (a.k.a. Skog Inlet) bordered by a steep wall of mountains, with a glacial ice tongue which pours down the mountains on either side. Be up on the bridge and search for a patch of "polar bear ice," the mixture of first-year and multi-year sea ice that is the preferred habitat of the ice bears. Use binoculars to seek out any small ivory-colored dot on an otherwise white ice surface. Strain to see the dot move. Yes, it is a bear, spotted at a considerable distance. Approach, ever so slowly, stalking the polar bear much as the bear stalks seals on the ice. At the end of the bay go ashore to hike or kayak in picturesque surroundings. Ice is always present here. Your flexible itinerary stops may include Skraeling Island (“Skraeling” is the word that the Norse settlers of Greenland used for the Inuit), an archaeological find that shows the Norse once traded with the native Inuit here at Ellesmere, or perhaps go for a Zodiac cruise in Makinson Inlet, where tidewater glaciers tumble down to the sea. 

Day 13-14 Farther North

  • Ship
  • 2 Breakfasts, 2 Lunches, 2 Dinners
During these two days, explore 80ºN and hopefully beyond, if the ice allows. Take full advantage of the crew's “human resources”— including the experienced captain, expedition leader and naturalists—as well as the ship's technological resources. Chart where the ice is impenetrable and where there are leads guiding travelers to exciting discoveries.

Day 15-18 Exploring Northwest Greenland

  • Ship
  • 4 Breakfasts, 4 Lunches, 4 Dinners
The remote and rarely explored coast of Northwest Greenland is the next destination on this Arctic adventure—going places the Explorer has never been. The area north of Qaanaaq has the most interesting exploration history of Greenland, with many expeditions based here; timbers from Hall’s ship, the Polaris, may still exist on the beaches. Cape York is also historically significant with a monument to Admiral Peary. Visit the small community of Etah, the north-most habitation in West Greenland, where you can interact and learn about the people of the Far North.

The Explorer is in true expedition mode every turn of the way. The former Prime Minister of Greenland, Kuupik Kleist, told the crew this region was one of the most beautiful and unexplored parts of all of Greenland: glaciers, fjords, inlets, and islands. Wildlife galore, unlike parts of the south where it is more actively hunted. In addition, connect with National Geographic's very own Dr. Henning Thing, one of the more experienced scientists working in Greenland, who can suggest new frontiers to explore.

Day 19 Qilakitsoq

  • Ship
  • 1 Breakfast, 1 Lunch, 1 Dinner
Today you are back in familiar waters, stopping at Qilakitsoq, where a collection of mummies dating to 1475 was discovered in 1972 and featured on the cover of National Geographic magazine’s February 1985 issue. 

Day 20 Disko Bay | Ilulissat

  • Ship
  • 1 Breakfast, 1 Lunch, 1 Dinner
Sail into Disko Bay and set out to explore a tongue of the Greenland ice cap. Take an extraordinary cruise among towering icebergs. Take a hike to the UNESCO archaeological site at Sermermiut, and view the Jakobshavn Icefjord.

Day 21 Greenland's West Coast

  • Ship
  • 1 Breakfast, 1 Lunch, 1 Dinner
Your final day aboard is spent in the beautifully scenic fjords north of Sondre Stromfjord. Take a Zodiac cruise, kayak, or hike across the tundra. The undersea specialist may launch the ROV to see the marine life inhabiting the fjord floor.

Day 22 Kangerlussuaq | Disembark | Reykjavík, Iceland

  • 1 Breakfast, 1 Lunch, 1 Dinner
Disembark in Kangerlussuaq in the morning followed by a tour and lunch. Fly by private charter to Reykjavík, where you check in to the Island Hotel (or similar)

Day 23 Reykjavík | Keflavík | Return Home

  • 1 Breakfast
Your grand adventure takes you to Iceland’s lively capital city, Reykjavík. Have a guided tour of Reykjanes Peninsula, followed by lunch. Transfer to Keflavík for your flight home. Or you may wish to extend your stay in Iceland for further adventures. 

National Geographic Explorer

Deals

Free Gratuities
Gratuity Savings - Book now and your gratuities to the crew are included in your cruise cost.
Applies to Aug 4, 2017 departure
Per person starting at
$25,990
National Geographic Explorer's Category 1 Cabin.
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Cat 1
Main Deck with one or two portholes. #301-308
National Geographic Explorer's Category 2 Cabin.
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Cat 2
Main Deck with window. #317-320, 335-336.
National Geographic Explorer's Category 3 Cabin.
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Cat 3
Main Deck with Window #313-316, 321-328, 337-340,342, 344, 346, 348, 350.
National Geographic Explorer's Category 4 Cabin.
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Cat 4
Upper and Veranda Decks with Window. # 103-104, 107-108, 201-202, 204-207, 210, 212, 217, 226, 228.
National Geographic Explorer's Category 5 Upper Deck Cabin.
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Cat 5
Upper Deck with Balcony. #209, 211, 214, 216, 218, 220-222, 224.
National Geographic Explorer's Category 6 Cabin.
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Cat 6
Veranda Deck Suite #101-102; Upper Deck Suite with Balcony #213.
Luxurious Catagory 8 Suite
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Cat 7
Upper Deck Suite with Balcony. #215, 219, 230.
National Geographic Explorer's Category SA and SB.
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C Deck Solo - Cabins 309-312, 329-334. Single cabins with window.
National Geographic Explorer's Category SA and SB.
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Cat SB
Upper and Veranda Decks with Window. #105-106, 203, 208.

Notes

Travelers under the age of 18 save $500 per person.

Costs Include:
  • Accommodations
  • Meals indicated
  • Excursions
  • Services of Lindblad Expeditions’ Leader, Naturalist staff and expert guides
  • Use of kayaks
  • All port charges and service taxes
Not Included:
  • Air transportation
  • Personal items such as alcoholic beverages, emails, laundry, voyage DVD etc.
  • Gratuities to ship’s crew at your discretion

Included

  • 19 Breakfasts, 18 Lunches, 19 Dinners
Payment & Cancellation Policies
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Erin Correia
Erin C

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Everything was amazing! The planning with Adventure Life went smoothly. The actual trip was fantastic! One of the best trips I have experienced. The cruise staff members were knowledgeable and attentive. I will be writing more about this on the blog!
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