Arctic Explorer 2014
Summer north of the Arctic Circle: endless days among rugged mountains, sweeping tundra, vast glaciers and pristine water. And in every Arctic community, visitors will find a warm welcome.
On Beechey Island, the graves of Franklin expedition explorers testify to the lure of the high Arctic—and to its unforgiving terms. Yet at summer’s peak, the top of the world is rich with life. On Prince Leopold Island, seabirds swoop in vast flocks: Thick-billed Murres, Northern Fulmars and Black-legged Kittiwakes skim over the teeming waters of the Arctic Ocean. Isabella Bay (or Nigingnaniq), a National Wildlife Area, is a pristine feeding ground for threatened bowhead whales. The fjords of Baffin Island are an ideal place to seek out whales, walrus and seals.
At Mittimatalik (Pond Inlet), visitors awestruck by the beauty of nearby Bylot Island meet local hosts who proudly showcase their culture, with Inuit games and throat singing. In Kanngiqtugaapik (Clyde River), locals share ‘country food’ with travellers touring the town. In Greenland, soaring mountains, epic icefields, and seemingly endless Kangerlussuaq Fjord surround cozy communities of cheerfully painted houses—a fitting coda to the symphony of summer, north of sixty degrees!
Day 1: Resolute
Day 2: Beechey Island & Prince Leopold Island
Day 3: Mittimatalik (Pond Inlet)
Day 4: Exploring Northeast Baffin
Day 5: Kanngiqtugaapik, (Clyde River)
Day 6: Nigingnaniq (Isabella Bay)
Day 7: Karrat Fjord
Day 8: Uummannaq
Day 9: Ilulissat
Day 10: Itilleq
Day 11: Kangerlussuaq (Sondre Stromfjord)
Arriving in Resolute this afternoon, we embark the Sea Adventurer and settle into our new home.
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.
The tall cliffs of Prince Leopold Island are one of the top bird sites in the High Arctic both during the breeding and summering seasons. It is a breeding site for Thick-Billed Murre, Black-legged Kittiwake, Northern Fulmar, Glaucous Gull, and Black Guillemot. It was beneath these tall cliffs, that Sir James Clark Ross, perhaps the greatest polar explorer of the 19th century, was based in 1848-49. Ross’s 1848-49 expedition in search of the Franklin expedition was not successful; they spent a frustrating winter locked by ice in Port Leopold on the northeast coast of Somerset Island and returned to England the following summer. It was also from this area that Sir John Ross (James’s uncle) escaped in 1833 after abandoning the Victory and spending four harrowing winters in the Arctic.
Venturing 250km north of the Arctic We will sail through Milne Inlet, a narwhal breeding ground, enroute to Pond Inlet. This bustling Arctic community is surrounded by one of the most beautiful landscapes in the Eastern Arctic. We will have a chance to explore the town, as well as take in a cultural presentation at the Nattinnak Centre.
The Arctic coastline provides numerous opportunities for landings; our program will explore the wealth and diversity of the land.
Of special interest are always the plants adding color and lushness during the brief summer.
Perched on a floodplain surrounded by soaring mountains, Clyde River offers excellent views of glacial action. Once an important trading post, the area is home to various species of seal and the polar bears that prey on them. It is known as the "Gateway to the Great Fiords", and there are 10 fiords within a 100-kilometre radius of the hamlet.
Niginganiq is a 336,000 ha marine region on Baffin Island that is a crucial feeding area for threatened bowhead whales.
The area includes two deep offshore troughs rich in copepods which area a main food source for the bowhead whale.
In Karrat Fjord we will 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 us 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.
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.
Venturing 250km north of the Arctic Circle we find the stunning coastal community of Ilulissat. Ilulissat translates literally into "iceberg", and there couldn’t be a more fitting name. Our visit will include time in the colorful town and a chance to hike out to an elevated viewpoint where we can observe the great fields of ice. We will also cruise in our fleet of zodiacs in the UNESCO World Heritage Site of the Ilulissat Icefjord. The Icefjord is where we 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 and, because of its relative ease of accessibility, has significantly added to the understanding of ice-cap glaciology, climate change and related geomorphic processes.
The west Greenland coastline is a rich mixture of fishing communities, myriad islands and complex coastal waterways. We will be making an expedition stop here to explore the Greenlandic landscape.
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 and is the start of our voyage.
* Itinerary may be subject to change
Adventurer Deck Plan