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Download Northwest Passage West to East Detailed Itinerary
Day 1: Kugluktuk (Coppermine)
Located at the mouth of the Coppermine River, southwest of Victoria Island on the Coronation Gulf, Kugluktuk is the westernmost community in Nunavut. Coppermine reverted to its original Inuinnaqtun name—Kugluktuk, 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.
Day 2: Coronation Gulf
Separating Canada’s mainland from the Arctic Archipelago is the Coronation Gulf. Named by Sir John Franklin in honour 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: Usqsuqtuuq (Gjøa Haven)
In 1903, explorer Roald Amundsen, while looking for the Northwest Passage, sailed through the James Ross Strait and stopped at an uninhabited 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 at Usqsuqtuuq (Gjøa Haven), While 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 travelling to the magnetic North Pole.
Day 4: Prince of Wales Island
Prince of Wales Strait is part of the Arctic Ocean, extending northeastward for 275 kilometres from the Amundsen Gulf to Viscount Melville Sound and separating Banks and Victoria Islands. It was discovered in 1850 by Irish explorer Robert McClure, who came within sight of Viscount Melville Sound before heavy ice forced him to turn back.
Day 5: Bellot Strait / Fort Ross
Fort Ross was the last trading post built by the Hudson's Bay Company in Canada's Arctic. Established in 1937 it was meant to bridge the eastern and western Arctic fur trading districts through Bellot Strait, a narrow thirty-two-kilometre passage separating the northernmost tip of North America from Somerset Island. Rising out of the vast Arctic wilderness, Fort Ross had two buildings — a manager's house and a store — and was also home to a number of Inuit families. It was operated for some eleven years, but eventually abandoned because ice constantly choked the strait. When Fort Ross was finally closed in 1948, everything was moved some 250 kilometres south to Stanners Harbour, establishing the town of Spence Bay, now known as Taloyoak.
Day 6: Prince Leopold / Beechey Island
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 murres, black-legged kittiwakes, northern fulmars, glaucous gulls, 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.
Day 7: Devon Island
The largest uninhabited island in the world—comprising over fifty thousand square kilometres—supports significant concentrations of wildlife, including twenty-six species of seabirds and eleven species of marine mammals. We follow the route of nineteenth-century explorers into Lancaster Sound, and on to the island.
Day 8: Aujuittuq (Grise Fiord)
Aujuittuq means 'the place that never thaws.' It is an apt name for this peaceful hamlet, 1,150 kilometres above the Arctic Circle—Canada's northernmost civilian community. We'll be welcomed by the population of about 165.
Day 9: Smith Sound
We will spend a day exploring north into this fabled body of water that served as the main route for explorers and adventurers searching for the North Pole. Adolphus Greely, Sir George Nares and Elisha Kent Kane all travelled these waters with varying degrees of success. The sound was named by William Baffin after Sir Thomas Smythe, promoter of voyages to find a Northwest Passage.
Day 10: Qaanaaq
Artistic talent runs high in this most northern community, and visitors are often in search of the distinct art pieces that are created here. One of the hardest places to reach in the Arctic, it is easiest to visit by ship. Not only is it the northernmost civilian habitation on Earth, Qaanaaq is also the most northern palindrome on the planet. A well-appointed store offers outstanding hand-carved jewellery and art pieces.
Day 11: Kap York
The rugged coastal environment at Kap York is rich in wildlife and is part of an extensive network of traditional hunting grounds. During the spring and summer months the skies and cliffs are dotted with millions of birds, primarily auks and murres. This district boasts the largest seabird population in northwest Greenland.
Day 12: Upernavik Region
Just over a thousand people, most of whom make their living in the fishing industry, populate Upernavik (or “the spring place”). 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. This will be a new exploratory landing for Adventure Canada in a location well known for its deep and dramatic fjords. We can hope to experience the raw beauty of the Greenlandic coast and the possibility of getting out on the land for a day of hiking.
Day 13: Karrat Fjord
Today we will cruise one of Greenland's most spectacular fjords, known for plentiful marine life and inspiring landscapes. Seals use the long leads created by high winds in this region to hunt the rich waters of the fjord. The cliffs and talus slopes 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 of the majestic rock faces.
Day 14: Ilulissat
Ilulissat translates literally into "iceberg", and there couldn't be a more fitting name for this stunning coastal community.
Day 15: Sisimiut Coast
The west Greenland coastline is a rich mixture of fishing communities, various islands and complex coastal waterways.
Day 16: Kangerlussuaq
We will make our journey down spectacular Sondre Stromfjord, and early risers will have a chance to experience its beauty. Sondre Stromfjord is one of the longest fjords in the world and boasts 168 kilometres of superb scenery! Kangerlussuaq, the town at its eastern mouth, means 'the big fjord.' Although the fjord crosses the Arctic Circle, like the oceans here, it does not freeze. Locals can thank ocean currents for this, making this part of Greenland a centre for whaling and fishing all year. The United States built an air base at Kangerlussuaq in WWII due to the relatively mild weather and strategic proximity to Europe. Although the military base closed in 1992, the strip is now Greenland's main international and domestic airport.
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