Join the expedition vessel, the Sea Adventurer and trace the route that became an obsession of so many explorers in the past. Now with the easing of the icepack and the opportunities it brings, the Passage is once again in the news. Now is the time to explore this remarkable region.
In the community of Mittimatalik (Pond Inlet) enjoy throat singing, Inuit games, and a view many consider the best in the North. Then head west in search of the elusive Narwhal before reaching Devon Island and the Dundas Harbour RCMP historical site. Visit Beechey Island and pay your respects at the graves of sailors from the lost Franklin expedition. Along the coast of Somerset Island, cruise the opposing tides of Bellot Strait, seeking whale and polar bear in the nutrient rich waters. Also, visit Taloyoak, where the famed John Ross expeditions pinpointed the Magnetic North Pole. Continuing west your arctic expedition cruise visits areas of significant geological, historical and biological importance.
Located at the mouth of the Coppermine river to southwest of Victoria Island on the Coronation Gulf, Kugluktuk is the western most community in Nunavut. Originally named Coppermine, it was renamed Kugluktuk according to its Inuinnaqtun name meaning "place of moving waters", on January 1st, 1996.
The Coppermine River itself is designated a Canadian Heritage River for the important role it played as an exploration and fur trade route. Copper deposits along the river attracted the first explorers to the area.
Because the tundra is close to the tree line, a variety of wildlife can be viewed in the area, including grizzly bears, wolverines and moose, as well as tundra wildlife, such as muskoxen, caribou, foxes and wolves. It is from here that your Northwest Passage expedition cruise embarks.
Day 2: Coronation Gulf
Separating Canada’s mainland the Arctic archipelago is the Coronation Gulf. Named by Sir John Franklin in honor of coronation of King George IV, the Gulf receives the Coppermine, Tree, Rae and Richardson rivers. It is host to several hundred islands and small islets.
Day 3: Kent Peninsula
Expedition day - your expert crew and team of naturalists will set the day's adventures based off of weather conditions and wildlife opportunities.
Day 4: Queen Maud Gulf
The Queen Maud Gulf Migratory Bird Sanctuary contains the largest variety of geese of any nesting area in North America. The Sanctuary is one of the few nesting areas for both the Atlantic Brant (Brant bernicla hrota) and Pacific Brant (Branta bernicla nigricans). Almost the entire population of Ross' Goose (Chen rossii) nests here.
The Gulf was named by Norwegian explorer Roald Amundsen in 1905 for Maud of Wales, the Queen of Norway. The Ahiak Caribou calve along the Queen Maud Gulf coast in Nunavut and spend the summers here. Here you may also find bald eagles, muskox and grizzly bears.
Day 5: Gjoa Haven
In 1903, explorer Roald Amundsen, while looking for the Northwest Passage, sailed through the James Ross Strait and stopped at a natural harbour on the island's south coast. Unable to proceed due to sea ice, he spent the winters of 1903-04 and 1904-05.
There he learned Arctic living skills from the local Netsilik Inuit, skills that would later prove invaluable in his Antarctic explorations. He used his ship Gjøa as a base for explorations in the summer of 1904, sledding the Boothia Peninsula and traveling to the magnetic North Pole. Amundsen finally left, after 22 months on the island, in August 1905. The harbor where he lived is now the island's only settlement, Gjøa Haven, which he called 'the finest little harbour in the world.' Today the population has blossomed from 110 in 1961 to 1,064 in 2006.
Day 6: Taloyoak, Canada
The community of Taloyoak is the northernmost community on the Canadian mainland with a population of just over 800. The word Taloyoak means "large caribou blind" in Inuktitut, and refers to a stone caribou blind traditionally used by Inuit of the area to corral and harvest caribou.
The foundation of the modern community began in 1948, when poor ice conditions forced the Hudson's Bay Co. to close its trading post at Fort Ross on the south coast of Somerset Island, some 250 kilometres north of Taloyoak. The post was relocated to its present location at Stanners Harbour, and Taloyoak - then known as Spence Bay - was born.
Day 7: Bellot Strait
Bellot Strait marks the first meeting of the Atlantic and Pacific tides north of Magellan Strait. Surprisingly, the strait was missed by John Ross and wasn't discovered until 1852 by William Kennedy, who named the strait after his second-in-command, Joseph-Rene Bellot.
Day 8: Somerset Island & Beechey Island
In 1845 Sir John Franklin took his expedition of 129 men in two ships into the Wellington Channel. Not a soul returned from the fateful expedition. It was two years before search parties were launched. Aside from the bodies of three souls buried here, only relics were found as clues to the disappearance. Until recently, the three graves had left no indication as to the fate of the rest of the British party. Such is the interest in this story, the Canadian government recently announced a new initiative to locate the missing Franklin vessels.
Day 9: Devon Island
The largest uninhabited island in the world supports significant concentrations of wildlife, including 26 species of seabirds and 11 species of marine mammals. At Dundas Harbour find the lonely remains of an RCMP station dating from the 1920s. Walrus, polar bear, muskox and caribou hae also been spotted here.
At nearby Croker Bay, have a chance to Zodiac cruise through this scenic bay and marvel at icebergs, freshly calved from the glacier at the head of the bay.
Day 10: Mittimatalik (Pond Inlet)
Sail through Milne Inlet, a narwhal breeding ground, en route to Pond Inlet. This bustling Arctic community is surrounded by one of the most beautiful landscapes in the Eastern Arctic. Have a chance to explore the town, as well as take in a cultural presentation at the Nattinnak Center.
Day 11: Karrat Fjord
In Karrat Fjord cruise one of Greenland's most spectacular fjords. During ice breakup, narwhals and seals use the long leads created by high winds in this region to hunt the rich waters of the fjord. The cliffs within the fjord should give you good opportunities to see colonies of dovekies. Time spent on deck today should result in some good wildlife sightings, not to mention unbeatable photographic opportunities.
Day 12: Uummannaq
Despite being situated in the shadow of a mountain, Uummannaq is the sunniest place in Greenland! It is an impressive and imposing 1,175-metre hunk of red gneiss called Uummannaq Mountain. This mountain serves as the town's backdrop on which colorful, single-family homes desperately cling, anchored by cables and pipes. The famous Greenlandic mummies dating from the 15th century were found on the shore opposite Ummannaq.
Day 13: Ilulissat, Greenland
Venturing 250km north of the Arctic Circle find the stunning coastal community of Ilulissat. Ilulissat translates literally into "iceberg", and there couldn't be a more fitting name.
Your visit will include time in the colorful town and a chance to hike out to an elevated viewpoint where you can observe the great fields of ice. Cruise in your fleet of zodiacs in the UNESCO World Heritage Site of the Ilulissat Icefjord. The Icefjord is where you will find the Sermeq Kujalleq Glacier, one of the most active and fastest moving in the world at 19m per day and calving more than 35 square kilometers of ice annually. The glacier has been the object of scientific attention for 250 years.
Day 14: Sisimiut Coast, Greenland
The west Greenland coastline is a rich mixture of fishing communities, myriad islands and complex coastal waterways. Make an expedition stop here to explore the Greenlandic landscape.
Day 15: Kangerlussuaq, Greenland
Lying at the head of the longest fjord in western Greenland, Kangerlussuaq has one of the most stable climates in the region though temperatures can range from -50C in the winter to as high as 28C in summer. Kangerlussuaq, which means 'The Big Fjord' in Greenlandic, is appropriately named, as it's 168km long!
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We are so glad that we chose Adventure Life. The service is top-notch. Everything is well taken care of and we just have to print the documents and go. Franny even gave us timely updates on possible airport strike.