This Arctic adventure transits CanadaÂ’s Northwest Passage from Kugluktuk to Iqaluit. Along the 14-day journey, you will have the opportunity to explore by ship, Zodiac and by foot on hiking excursions. From relaxed wanders on the beach to strenuous hikes inland, you will see the intriguing landscape up-close. There will be visits to local communities, such as the scenic town of Kimmirut, where renowned artists shape soapstone into works of art. Cruising through the places like Bellot Strait allows opportunities to glimpse harp seals, bearded seals and polar bears. Keep a watch for birds such as Peregrine Falcons at Monumental Island.
Special Guest Lecturer: Dave Williams is an Emergency Medicine specialist, as well as one of CanadaÂ’s most acclaimed astronauts and aquanauts. He has won numerous awards, conducted innovative research and continues as a renowned international lecturer.
Day 1: Kugluktuk (Coppermine), Nunavut
The journey of discovery begins in Edmonton as you board the charter flight to Kugluktuk Bay and the Arctic. You will board the flight at 54Â°34Â’N and disembark north of the Arctic Circle. From the airport in Kugluktuk, you will transfer to the beach and prepare to embark your Zodiac inflatable boats for the shuttle out to the ship.
Day 2: Bernard Harbour
The Canadian Arctic Expedition of 1913-1918 was divided into two parties. The Southern Party, under the leadership of Dr. R.M. Anderson was based from 1913 until 1916 at Bernard Harbour and used this base to chart the coast of the Beaufort Sea and to conduct ethnographic surveys of the people of the Coppermine Region. Ethnographer and anthropologist, Diamond Jennies was part of this expedition and you will learn about his work as you explore the partyÂ’s former base camp. In addition, those interested in hiking will head inland looking for signs of the elusive barren ground grizzly bear (or signs of it) at the northernmost extent of its range.
Day 3: Johannsen Bay, Coronation Gulf
An anvil-shaped bay on the south coast of Victoria Island, Johanssen Bay is a wonderful place for a variety of hiking and water-based activities. Hike onto the ridge on the north shore, kayak up a small river at the east end of the bay or follow the shore on a zodiac cruise. The fast-paced hike will head for an abandoned DEW line site (Distance Early Warning Radar base) to learn a little about the Cold War exploration of the Arctic. Johanssen Bay is also a great place to spot musk ox and you will spend some time looking for them before continuing west.
Day 4: Cambridge Bay, Victoria Island
Weather conditions permitting, you will visit the small community of Cambridge Bay, on the southern shores of Victoria Island. Cambridge Bay, also known as Ikaluktutiak or "good fishing place'," is a center for hunting, trapping and fishing. Local Inuit have had summer camps in the locality for hundreds of years. Today ships visit the region annually bringing supplies. Amundsen spent two winters in this area learning how to master dog sledding from the locals. Previous to this, McClintock found solid evidence of the Franklin Expedition here in 1859, including naval artifacts, sledges, graves and letters.
Day 5: Victory Point, King William Island
Little is known of how the Franklin Expedition spent its last months in the frozen Arctic. The vessels, abandoned in the ice of Victoria Strait, have left no trace. An abandoned lifeboat, bits and pieces of copper and iron, cutlery and buttons and a skeleton here and there all tell a story of a desperate race south in search of rescue - a rescue that never occurred. Visit Victory Point and continue to reflect on the quest for exploration that opened up the Arctic, while sacrificing some of its bravest explorers.
Day 6: Bellot Strait and Fort Ross
You will attempt the passage of the Bellot Strait entering at slack water, if possible, in order to avoid a current that can be more than seven knots during the peak flow. The mixing of waters in this strait provides an ample food source for marine mammals. Keep your eyes peeled for harp seals, bearded seals and even polar bears as you sail through. On the exit of the strait, you will stop at Fort Ross, on the southern tip of Somerset Island. Fort Ross is a former HudsonÂ’s Bay Company fur trading outpost. Ancient archaeological sites nearby tell a story of more than a thousand years of habitation at this site by the Inuit and their predecessors.
Day 7: Fury and Hecla Strait, South of Baffin Island
Long thought to be the entrance to the fabled Northwest Passage, Fury and Hecla Strait is a narrow and treacherous waterway that separates the Melville Peninsula from Baffin Island. Many an expedition sailed north from Hudson Bay into Foxe Basin, looking for a navigable waterway to the west, only to run into impenetrable ice at the southern end of Fury and Hecla Strait. Given optimal ice conditions, you will cruise through this waterway without the trouble encountered by many an expedition during the 19th century.
Day 8: Igloolik, Nunavut
Very few ships visit Igloolik, a community located just south of Fury and Hecla Strait. In fact, you may be the only expedition cruise vessel to pass the strait and visit Igloolik during the summer season.
Day 9: Cape Dorchester, Foxe Peninsula, Baffin Island
There will be many opportunities to hike during the voyage and Cape Dorchester will provide one such option. Whether you are interested in a wander along the beach or a strenuous hike inland, options will be provided to ensure that your interests are met on this southwestern point of Baffin Island.
Day 10: At Sea
You will transit Foxe Channel and enter into Hudson Strait. Your onboard team of Arctic experts will take advantage of a day aboard the vessel to continue the educational program, bringing more light to places already visited and preparing for the excursions during your last few days onboard.
Day 11: Kimmirut (Lake Harbour), Nunavut
You will delight in visiting this small town on the south coast of Baffin Island. At the head of a narrow inlet, Kimmirut is a beautiful town with a rich history. In addition, the artists of Kimmirut are renowned for their carvings and you will have the opportunity to watch a carver shaping the soapstone into a work of art.
Day 12: Lower Savage Islands
A group of small islands bisected by narrow channels, the Lower Savage Islands are an incredible place to Zodiac cruise, kayak and hike. Located at the southeastern end of Baffin Island, this region is in the center of a biologically important mixing of water from Davis and Hudson Straits. As such, it is a region of high marine biodiversity and you will be on the lookout for the various Arctic seals known to frequent these waters.
Day 13: Monumental Island
A cliff towering from the ocean, Monumental Island is host to numerous bird species and is known to be an excellent place to spot both the gyrfalcon and the Peregrine falcon. From time to time, walrus have been known to haul out here in great numbers and you will keep your eyes peeled as you approach in the hope to experience the sight and smell of a large haul out.
Day 14: Iqaluit, Nunavut
Drop anchor off the beach in Iqaluit and make your way ashore by zodiac. Depending on flight times, you may have a chance to explore the capital of Nunavut before making your way to the airport.