Into the Northwest Passage

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Day 1: Kangerlussuaq

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.

 

Day 2: Sisimiut Coast

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.

 

Day 3: Ilulissat

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 colourful 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.

 

Day 4: Karrat Fjord

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.

 

Day 5: Upernavik

Upernavik means 'springtime place'. This was where people came in spring, when the ice broke up, to trade, fish and to drive the catch out to the open sea. Qaarsorsuaq Mountain, the town's landmark, can be seen up to 10km away.

 

Day 6: Mittimatalik (Pond Inlet)

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.

 

Day 7: 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 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.

 

Day 8: 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: Bellot Strait

Bellot Strait marks the first meeting of the Atlantic and Pacific tides north of Magellan Strait. Suprisingly, 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 10: Taloyoak

Taloyoak is located on the Boothia Peninsula, Kitikmeot, in Canada's Nunavut Territory. The community is served only by air and by annual supply sealift. Taloyoak may mean "large blind", referring to a stone caribou blind or a screen used for caribou hunting. The community is situated 460 km (290 mi) east of the regional centre of Cambridge Bay, 1,224 km (761 mi) northeast of Yellowknife, Northwest Territories.

 

Day 11: Rae Strait

Rae Strait, named after Arctic explorer John Rae, is a small strait in the Kitikmeot Region of Nunavut, Canada. It is located between King William Island and the Boothia Peninsula on the mainland to the east.

 

Day 12: 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. It 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 we may also find bald eagles, muskox and grizzly bears.

 

Day 13: Bathurst Inlet

Before there were any permanent buildings at Bathurst Inlet, the area was home to the Kingaunmiut, the "people of Nose Mountain". They constructed stone tent rings, meat caches, fox traps and drying racks, as well as hunting hides (taluit) and inuksuit (stone figures, "in the likeness of a man"). Few explorers reached this area - the first Franklin Expedition (1819-1821) came into Bathurst Inlet in the summer of 1821, travelling by large birchbark canoes, mapping the arctic coast and seeking the Northwest Passage. They were also seeking the local Inuit but found no one; everyone had gone inland for the summer. In 1936, the Hudson's Bay Company moved their trading post from the Western River area to Bathurst Inlet; the same year a Roman Catholic Church opened a mission. Both the trading post and mission operated until the mid 1960s.

 

Day 14: Coronation Gulf

Located between Victoria Island and the Arctic coast of mainland Canada, the Coronation Gulf is an extensive body of water that is linked to the Arctic Ocean via the Dolphin and Union Strait on the west and by the Dease Strait and Queen Maud Gulf on the east. Inside Coronation Gulf lies the Duke of York Archipelago. Rivers that flow into the gulf include the Rae, Richardson, Coppermine, and Tree. The mainland south of the gulf may have substantial diamond and uranium deposits. The small settlement of Kugluktuk lies at the mouth of the Coppermine River. The gulf was named in 1821 by John Franklin in honour of the coronation of King George IV. The environment and Native culture of the gulf was studied by Rudolph Anderson and Diamond Jenness in 1916 as part of the Canadian Arctic Expedition.

 

Day 15: Kugluktuk (Coppermine)

Here we disembark the Sea Adventurer and board our charter flight south.

 
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