Out of the Northwest Passage: West to East

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Download Out of the 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.

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 musk ox, caribou, foxes, and wolves.


Day 2: Ikaluktuutiak (Cambridge Bay)

The eighth largest island in the world, Victoria Island is found on the border between Nunavut and the Northwest Territories. The main community to be found here is Cambridge Bay, with a population of just over 1,000. Depending on conditions, we may stop at the community or make an outdoor expedition stop.


Day 3: Queen Maud Gulf

The Queen Maud 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 we may also find bald eagles, musk oxen, and grizzly bears.


Day 4: Usqsuqtuuq (Gjøa 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 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. Usqsuqtuuq offers a lot to its visitors, like the Northwest Passage Territorial Historic Park, where visitors can experience the voyages of explorers such as Frobisher, Ross, and Franklin. Also, there is a 9-hole golf course, known to be Canada’s most northerly course. Although Usqsuqtuuq is becoming more modern, many traditional Inuit activities are still being enjoyed, including throat singing, drum dancing, and hunting.


Days 5 - 7: Peel Sound and Parry Channel

As we head north up Peel Sound, we get into serious polar bear country and will be on the lookout for good spotting opportunities. Parry Channel is named after Arctic explorer William Edward Parry who got as far as Melville Island in 1819 before being blocked by ice at McClure Strait. We will be making expedition stops along the way among the spectacular landscapes, a perfect setting for hiking and exploring the geological diversity of the area.


Days 8 - 9: Lancaster Sound

We will explore Lancaster Sound, famous for its marine mammals, including beluga whales. Somerset, Devon and Bylot Islands offer potential opportunities to spot Peary caribou, polar bear, walrus, and musk oxen—and visits to ghostly RCMP and Hudson’s Bay Company posts. The graves of the Franklin Expedition at Beechey Island remind us of the price of Arctic exploration. Weather, wildlife, and sea conditions will influence our choice of landings during these days of exploration.


Day 10: Mittimatalik (Pond Inlet)

Mittimatalik (Pond Inlet) is a bustling Arctic community surrounded by one of the most beautiful landscapes in the eastern Arctic. We will have a chance to explore the town, including its excellent library and other facilities, and meet many local citizens who will gladly share their culture. We will be treated to a cultural presentation at the Community Hall—arts and crafts may be available here. Mittimatalik is a famously excellent region for viewing marine mammals, including the elusive narwhal. After our time in the community we will cruise through the stunning Milne Inlet as we continue our journey.


Days 11 - 14: Northeast Baffin Fjords

These days will be expeditions in the truest sense as we navigate the fjords of northeast Baffin Island. Baffin’s fjords are striking, affording stunning perspectives on geological processes. The Ocean Endeavour is the perfect vessel for exploring these hidden treasures of the north, as her manoeuvrability and shallow draft allows her to access regions that would be impassable to larger vessels. We will be on alert for changing weather and ice conditions and use our judgement as to which route along the coast will be the most spectacular. As ever, our team will be on deck for the duration, searching for wildlife and contextualizing the mighty landscape through which we travel.


Day 15: Ilulissat

Ilulissat translates literally into “iceberg”, and there couldn’t be a more fitting name for this stunning coastal community.
Our visit will include time in the colourful town and a chance to hike out along a boardwalk to an elevated viewpoint where we can observe the great fields of ice. We will also cruise in our fleet of Zodiacs through the UNESCO World Heritage Site of the Ilulissat Icefjord.

The Icefjord is home to the Sermeq Kujalleq Glacier, one of the most active and fastest moving in the world at nineteen metres per day and calving more than thirty-five square kilometers of ice annually. The glacier has been the object of scientific attention for 250 years.


Day 16: Itilleq Fjord

The west Greenland coastline is a rich mixture of fishing communities, many islands and complex coastal waterways. We will be making an expedition stop here to explore the Greenlandic landscape.


Day 17: 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 head, means ‘the big fjord.’

We will disembark the Ocean Endeavour and make our way to the airport to meet our charter flights home.

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