Midnight sun, marvelous creatures, and endless landscapes are part of the lure of the North. And then there are the people: for millennia, Arctic dwellers have learned to thrive in this environment. European explorers navigated the icy waters seeking whales, gold, a route to the Orient and a new home. Our classic Arctic expedition explores the North’s unique cultural, historical and natural legacy.
From Kangerlussuaq, Greenland we sail down the country’s longest Fjord, crossing the Arctic Circle to call in at the splendid town of Ilulissat, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. A Zodiac cruise into the ice-fjord, where icebergs calve from the massive icecap, will leave you humbled. Crossing Davis Strait, to Baffin Island, with its winding fjords, we’ll encounter one of the world’s most dramatic coastlines. We’ll visit the sheer bird cliffs of Bylot and Prince Leopold Island and watch for whales in the ocean trench along Isabella Bay.
New friends await in the vibrant Inuit community of Mittimatalik (Pond Inlet). Our local hosts—elders, school kids, and community leaders eagerly showcase their home. We’ll learn firsthand how communities are striking a balance between modernity, and centuries of tradition.
Day 1: Kangerlussuaq (Sondre Stromfjord)
Day 2: Sisimiut Coast
Day 3: Ilulissat
Day 4: Karrat Fjord
Day 5: Upernavik
Day 6: At Sea
Day 7: Mittimatalik (Pond Inlet)
Day 8: Devon Island
Day 9: Prince Leopold Island
Day 10: Beechey Island
Day 11: Resolute
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.
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
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.
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
Upernavik or "the spring place" is populated by 1,100 people most of whom make their living in the fishing industry this a few small fish processing plants line the harbor. Part of the population relies on polar bear hunting and sealing. Upernavik’s location on the small island facing the open sea makes Upernavik unusual in comparison with other Greenlandic towns. Its location on the side of a hill provides a fantastic view of the Davis Strait. Of particular interest in the town is the cemetery. Here permanently frozen ground has forced the villagers to bury their dead in raised graves covered with rock and concrete. Just down the hill, near the Old Town Museum and church, you’ll find the grave of Navarana Freuchen who died on the fifth Thule expedition with Knud Rasmussen.
We will have a full day of lectures and keep eyes on deck for marine life as we cross Davis Strait.
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 largest uninhabited island in the world supports significant concentrations of wildlife, including 26 species of seabirds and 11 species of marine mammals. At Dundas Harbor we find the lonely remains of an RCMP station dating from the 1920s. We have also spotted walrus, polar bear, muskox and caribou here. At nearby Croker Bay, we have a chance to Zodiac cruise though this scenic bay and marvel at icebergs, freshly calved from the glacier at the head of the bay.
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.
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.
Arriving in Resolute this afternoon, we embark the Sea Adventurer and settle into our new home.
* Itinerary may be subject to change