Days
20
Price from
$13,945USD

Experience the Arctic wildlife, landscapes and indigenous cultures of the historic Northwest Passage

For centuries, fortune-seekers risked their lives to find the Northwest Passage, the fabled sea route running between Europe and Asia. The greatest geographical problem of the last three centuries, according to the New York Times of November 25, 1852.

During this 20-day active adventure, cruise through the heart of the Northwest Passage. Experience firsthand the islands, waterways and wilds - including Beechey Island, made famous by explorers such as Roald Amundsen and Sir John Franklin - that still yield a gratifying sense of achievement for all those who make the voyage.


Start
Ottawa, Canada
Finish
Edmonton, Canada
Countries
Canada, Greenland
Style
Peregrine
Code
PPNW16
Physical rating
Ages
Min 8
Group size
Min 1, Max 117

Why we love this trip

  • Experiencing the charm of remote Greenlandic communities - Itilleq, Sisimiut, Saqqaq, Pond Inlet and Cambridge Bay.

  • Zipping in Zodiacs through incredible scenery to search out wildlife; walrus, seal, whales, musk ox, caribou, birds and polar bears all roam here.

  • Seeing remnants of polar expeditions and ancient settlements that are testament to humanity's ingenuity.

  • Hiking across blossoming tundra at Bathurst Bay.

  • Getting up close to icebergs in Ilulissat Kangerlua.

Is this trip right for you?

  • As you’d expect, temperatures in the Arctic are very cold. A warm parka will be provided along with waterproof boots and unlimited hot drinks, but you should also bring base layers and lots of warm clothing. Please see the trip notes for further important information about what to bring.

  • Weather depending, you will be making regular excursions in a Zodiac boat to explore the local area and look for wildlife. It can get very cold and wet on the Zodiac, so make sure you are dressed appropriately and that you keep your camera safe and dry. Sturdy sea legs are needed as you make wet and dry landings from the boat, and on steep terrain, snow and other uneven surfaces. Some ships have a lot of stairs, so please hold on to the handrails if seas are rough.

  • The weather plays a pivotal part in this adventure and although there’s an itinerary in place, there are no guarantees that you’ll be able to do everything that is planned for. A level of flexibility and openness to embracing the unexpected are important in expedition travel, especially to such a remote area.

  • This trip takes places during the time of year that Spitsbergen enjoys 24-hour daylight. Just one of the benefits of this is that incredible wildlife can be seen at any time of the day – be prepared to be woken at any time so as to not miss out on exciting animal sightings.

  • Polar bears are one of the most incredible and appealing animals on the planet, but they are also powerful predators with little fear of humans. Therefore it’s necessary to be aware of the guidelines surrounding any contact with Polar bears. Follow your leader’s instructions and do not stray from your group – your leader carries equipment to protect you.

Itinerary

Enjoy an included night in Ottawa and meet your fellow travellers.
Included Activities
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Meals Included
There are no meals included on this day.
Special Information
ADVENTURE OPTIONS
Kayaking is available to book on all Arctic voyages. This must be booked prior to departure and incurs an additional cost. Spaces are limited. Additional trip notes and waivers will be sent when any adventure options are booked. For kayaking, previous, recent experience is essential.
Just 60 km (37 miles) north of the Arctic Circle, Kangerlussuaqsits at the head of one of the longest fjords in Greenland. Muskoxand Arctic foxes inhabit the tundra-covered plain that surrounds the town. We will arrive by way of our group charter flight and thentransfer to the Sea Adventurer. Tonight, enjoy views of the fjord as the evening turns to twilight.

The following Optional Activities are available to participate in, on some or all of the departures of this itinerary. These must be booked in advance (additional costs apply) and space is limited.

KAYAKING – Our kayaking adventures are the best way to feel at one with the sea. Taken in small groups of maximum 16 people, multiple times per voyage, kayaking adventures are only conducted during calm weather conditions. Kayaking is open to all levels of experience, however kayaking in the polar waters is not suitable for novice kayakers. Beginners interested in kayaking should first take an introductory course prior to the voyage which includes how to do a wet exit. In addition regardless of your experience, we recommend you take part in some kayaking practise prior to the voyage to ensure that you are comfortable on the water in the icy conditions.


INCLUDED OPTIONAL ACTIVITIES offered on some or all departures of this itinerary
SNOWSHOEING - A novel way to experience the beauty of the polar landscape, and discover remote alcoves and hidden valleys. The rewards of walking atop the snow are well worth the effort, as we’ll be able to visit new places that may be inaccessible on foot. This traditional means of transport across the snow comes from the indigenous people of North America. While you can appreciate a connection with the past, the snowshoes we use today are much lighter and more forgiving than the old wood-weave snowshoes used during the days of the North American fur trade.

HIKING - Hiking is a great way to appreciate the immense windswept landscapes of the Arctic. The tundra comes alive during the brief arctic summer, with bursts of color from shrubs and plants that eke out a living in this polar environment. You’ll find each hike is different - exploring communities, shorelines or glaciated landscapes, often on the lookout for wildlife. Hiking participation is optional and your Expedition Team will advise you of what levels of activity you can expect prior to each excursion.
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As we head north, the ship will reach the village of Itilleq, a typical Greenlandic village. Situated on a hollow,Itilleq is on an island without any fresh water. The village has approximately 130 inhabitants and offers charming views of colorful native houses along the tundra.

In Sisimiut, we will be treated to a traditional kayaking demonstration. Kayak is an Inuit word the English borrowed to describe a small vessel propelled by paddles, seating one or two people. There will be time to explore the town where 18th century buildings from Greenland’s colonial period still stand. Take the time to wander through the historic area by passing under the arch formed by two giant bowhead whale bones.
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Ilulissat Kangerlua is Greenlandic for the Iceberg Fjord. The glacier at the head of the fjord is the most productive in the Northern Hemisphere. The icebergs it calves float down the fjord to enter Baffin Bay. As the ship approaches Ilulissat, have your cameras ready to take photos of young icebergs. The journey of these ‘bergs’ will end years later,somewhere off the coast of Newfoundland. So significant is Ilulissat Fjord that UNESCO has designated the area a World Heritage Site. Listen to the growling of the icebergs as we cruise the fjord in Zodiacs. We'll offer a hike along the lovely boardwalk down to a stunning viewpoint of the bay, or a helicopter ride to the foot of the glacier. If you have a little time left, enjoy a local microbrew at a pub, or shop for local handicrafts.
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You’ll visit one of the best-runsmall villages in Greenland, Saqqaq. Several anthropologists have published books on the village’s original inhabitants and their hunting methods. The town gave the ancient people their name Saqqaq. We then sail to the beautiful glacier EqipSermia, tracing the massive glacier front for some distance.
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You'll want to be out on deck as the ship approaches Uummannaq regardless of the time of day. The vista is simply breathtaking. The heart-shaped mountain that gave the town its name dominates the view.

Uummannaq was founded as a Danish colony in 1758 on the Nuussuaq mainland, but in 1763 it was moved to the nearby island, as seal hunting was more plentiful there. On your walk through the town, you’ll visit the historic oil warehouse built in 1860. Look for the peat hut, behind the warehouse, which was still in use up until a few years ago.

In the afternoon we’ll visit Qilaqitsoq where five Greenland mummies were discovered in 1972. Four women and a child are thought to have drowned and remain buried in a dry and cool cave for the last 600-700 years. The mummified remains are kept in Nuuk, the capital of Greenland.
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Baffin Bay is technically a sea not a bay; it is an extension of the Arctic Ocean, the massive body of water that separates Canada from Greenland. As the ship sails westward, travelers should be on the lookout for icebergs and seabirds gliding on the wing, and whales in the water below.
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Arriving in the Canadian Arctic, the people of Pond Inlet or Mittimatalik – as it has been called by the Inuit for thousands of years – will welcome us to their town and the Artist’s Co-operative. In addition to the internationally renowned art they produce, the people of “Pond” earn their living fishing for Arctic char. We will have time to take photos, explore the hamlet and hike the nearby tundra to a local Thule site before returning back to the Sea Adventurer.
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In the Maxwell Bay region of Devon Island, you will go for hikes and cruise in Zodiacs as you visit a Thule site, where the ancestors of the Inuit lived. Watch for wildlife at Dundas Harbour as walrus and muskox inhabit the area. The abandoned settlement you'll visit was once a Royal Canadian Mounted Police depot. This depot is still considered active, as every year a detail of Mounties arrives to tend the graves of their fallen comrades.
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Just offshore at the western end of Devon Island is Beechey Island. There, on a stony beach, stand three grave markers; solemn reminders of the lives lost during Sir John Franklin’s search for the Northwest Passage. Upon approach to Beechey Island, we will be treated to presentations about Franklin and his expedition. Radstock Bay has an impressive archaeological site and is beside Caswell Towers, used as a polar bear observation point.
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We'll call on Somerset Island, in Peel Sound, located above the 74th parallel directly on the Northwest Passage (close to 800 km north of the Arctic Circle). Here we may see Peary caribou and musk ox, as well as the hundreds of thousands of birds that nest on the sheer cliffs of Prince Leopold I, off the NE tip of Somerset. The island was named by Lt W.E. Parry who discovered it in 1819, after the county in England.
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Through the night we'll be sailing in a southerly direction, following the coast of Somerset Island, just as Amundsen did. We plan to go ashore at Fort Ross, an uninhabited Hudson’s Bay Company trading post. In May 1670, King Charles II granted the lands of the Hudson Bay watershed to “the Governor and Company of Adventurers of England trading into Hudson Bay.” For nearly two hundred years, the administration of Canada’s north was the responsibility of the merchants of the Hudson’s Bay Company. We sail westward through Bellot Strait, a narrow channel separating mainland North America from Somerset Island. About mid-point through the channel is the northernmost area of the continental land mass, Zenith Point.
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In 1845, John Franklin led an expedition of 129 British naval officers and seamen to the Canadian Arctic, tasked with finding the Northwest Passage. By 1848, they were presumed missing. Rescue missions were conducted for 32 years. The first skeletal remains attributed to the crew were discovered in 1859 by Captain Francis McClintock on the western shore of King William Island. McClintock also discovered the only written remains under a cairn erected on Victory Point.

Since 1859, many skeletal remains and artifacts from Franklin’s expedition have been found at various locations on King William Island. The most recent was in 2013 when Parks Canada gathered several bones for identification and analysis, as well as about 200 small artifacts, ranging from bits of canvas and leather to nails, rivets, cans, metal containers, cast iron and rope.
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Here, we’ll return to the site of Sir John Franklin's saga. For two winters, Franklin’s ships Erebus and Terror were beset in ice near the island. In 1848, the ships were abandoned.
A decade passed before a cairn with a terse note of explanation was discovered on Victory Point. The questions raised by that discovery have inspired search expeditions into the 21st century.
Long considered lost forever, the ships of the Franklin Expedition have been the subject of many searches over the years. In September 2014, the Victoria Strait Expedition conducted a large hunt for the two missing vessels, and on 7 September, 2014 the search team found the sunken remains of the HMS Erebus off the coast of King William Island.
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In 1821, on an earlier voyage to the Arctic, Sir John Franklin named the gulf in honor of the coronation of King George IV.

Your Expedition Team will use ice charts, weather forecasts and their years of Arctic expedition experience to make the most of time spent in Coronation Gulf. You will go ashore to hike or cruise in Zodiacs in search of wildlife. If weather conditions permit, visits will be made to historic sites. The people of Iqaluktuuttiaq, also known as Cambridge Bay and the largest community on Victoria Island, will welcome our ship and guests to their culture through dance and song. Travelers will have time to explore the community of 1,400, a commercial hub for the region.
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In the area around Bathurst Inlet, we’ll enjoy a hike on the tundra among the spectacular fall colors. Here we will fully appreciate the lush flora that flourishes briefly during the short Arctic summer. This is also the area where the first polar bear and grizzly hybrid was discovered, and we’ll be on the lookout for all three species.
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At the eastern end of the gulf is Dolphin and Union Strait, crossed in 1851 by Dr. John Rae, his two companions, two sledges and five dogs. At the completion of that expedition, Rae and his companions were only 80 km (50 miles) west of the beset ships of Sir John Franklin. Had Rae known, perhaps Franklin’s expedition would have had an entirely different ending. Our in-depth education program will provide the basis for on-going discussions over dinner or drinks in the bar.
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Our final destination is the town of Kugluktuk. We will have a chance to explore and bid the community farewell. We’ll later make our way to the airport where we board our charter flight back to Edmonton. Upon Arrival in Edmonton, we will be transferred to our nearby airport hotel.
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Today you can make you way home at your leisure or spend some more time in the Edmonton area.
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Meals

19 breakfasts, 16 lunches, 17 dinners

Transport

Expedition cruise ship, plane, Zodiac

Accommodation

Expedition Voyage, Comfortable hotel

Included Activities

  • Activity

Dates & availability

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Important notes

BOOKING CONDITIONS
Arctic and Antarctic bookings have an increased deposit requirement of A$2000pp ($6000pp on Icebreaker voyages). The balance is due 90 days before departure.
If a booking is cancelled 90 days or more before departure - the cancellation fee is the full loss of the deposit paid.
If a booking is cancelled between 89 days and departure - the cancellation fee is 100% of the total price of the voyage.
Other fees may apply for air tickets and other arrangements booked in conjunction with a Polar voyage.
ADVENTURE OPTIONS
Kayaking is available to book on all Arctic voyages (except the North Pole). This must be booked prior to departure and incurs an additional cost. Spaces are limited so please enquire at time of booking. To participate in kayaking, previous, recent experience is essential. In addition, there are other included optional activities offered on some voyages such as snow shoeing and hiking. These activities do not need to be booked in advance and no additional cost applies.

Your voyage is operated by our sister company, Quark Expeditions. All accommodation and transfer arrangements as listed in the itinerary are also operated by Quark Expeditions or their local representatives.

Strict luggage limits apply. Please see Trip Notes (What to Take) for more information.

Essential Trip Information

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