The Northwest Passage, a route almost across the roof of the world linking the Pacific and Atlantic Oceans, was long sought by the traders, explorers and military strategists of Europe, Russian Asia and America and is one of the world's great historical sea journeys.
It's now possible to undertake a similar journey to that first completed by Roald Amundsen, navigating a course through the Arctic that very few people manage to achieve. These waterways are renowned for tricky navigation, rapidly changing ice conditions and for supporting a diverse population of wildlife, as well as vestiges of former expeditions, including the most notorious of all, the ill-fated Franklin expedition of 1845.
This voyage begins in Cambridge Bay in the Coronation Gulf heading east, stopping at Victory Point before navigating the treacherous Bellot, Fury & Hecla Straits. Steeped in history the region also offers the opportunity to visit many small and isolated communities along with a good chance of wildlife sightings.
24 August - 05 September
26 August - 11 September09 - 25 September
Please note that these prices are a guide only and are subject to exchange rate fluctuations and fuel surcharges.
For a more detailed itinerary with great ideas on what to do and where to stay, please get in touch with our experts.
what is included
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PLEASE NOTE THE ABOVE FLIGHT COST IS A SUGGESTED FROM PRICE. FLIGHT COSTS WILL BE CONFIRMED AT TIME OF BOOKING. ALL FLIGHTS ARE ATOL PROTECTED.
Fly London to Ottawa
You will be staying at Novotel Ottawa
Ottawa to Sondre StromfjordSondre Stromfjord is one of the world's longest fjords cutting into the interior of Greenland. Take the charter flight from Ottawa, Canada into Greenland landing at a former American Airbase (Bluie West Eight and Camp Lloyd), located just miles north of the Arctic Circle. Board the expedition vessel by zodiac and weigh anchor. Throughout the evening and the night sail down this incredible fjord, crossing the Arctic Circle, before reaching the ocean and Davis Strait. Turn north out of Sondre Stromfjord and cross the Arctic Circle yet again, remaining north of this point for the rest of the voyage.
SisimiutExplore the fjord behind the town of Sisimiut before visiting the town in the afternoon hopefully to meet a few of the traditional Greenlandic kayakers and perhaps see a demonstration of "Eskimo Rolling" by one of the former champions of the Greenland Kayaking Championships.
Ilulissat and Jacobshavn IcefjordOne of the wonders of the world, the Jacobshavn Icefjord spews massive tabular icebergs out into Disko Bay. The approach to Ilulissat will be dependent upon the amount of ice in and around the mouth of the icefjord. Ilulissat was the hometown of Knud Rasmussen, one of Greenland's most famous explorers and anthropologists, born here in 1879.
Baffin BayThe crossing of Baffin Bay will depend on the extent of the so-called 'middle ice'. The goal will be to find the edge of this and then follow it around and to the coast of Baffin Island. The time at sea will be determined by the extent of the ice and amount of wildlife. While crossing Baffin Bay keep a look out for fin, sperm, sei and humpback whales as well as the numerous species of Arctic seals and seabirds that abound in the Bay.
Pond InletVisit the town of Pond Inlet and the Natinnak Centre, where a spectacular cultural exhibit will be the background of a display put by the Elders and youth of Pond Inlet. Inuit carvings, jewellery and other local craft will be available to purchase from the local artisans. Take time to meet the children of Pond Inlet and marvel at their athletic abilities as they demonstrate the challenges of the Inuit Games.
Lancaster Sound and Devon IslandLancaster Sound is in many ways the wildlife 'super-highway' of the Arctic. A massive outlet for water from the high Arctic Archipelago, there is a mixing of water here that is rich in nutrients. Coupled with areas of open water for much of the year, Lancaster Sound is home to a diverse concentration of wildlife that can be staggering, especially given the sparseness of the region. The stops along the shore of Lancaster Sound will depend very much on ice conditions and weather.
Beechey Island and Prince Leopold IslandBeechey Island holds great importance in the quest to complete the Northwest Passage. It is here that Franklin's ill-fated expedition spent its last 'comfortable' winter in 1845 before disappearing into the icy vastness, sparking an incredible series of search expeditions that finished the charting of Canada's northern archipelago. Almost sixty years later, Roald Amundsen stopped at Beechey Island during the first successful complete transit of the Northwest Passage. Following the visit to Beechey Island, sail south toward Prince Regent Inlet, stopping for a view of the bird cliffs at Prince Leopold Island. A migratory bird sanctuary, Prince Leopold Island is home to thick-billed murres, black guillemots, northern fulmars and black-legged kittiwakes. Totalling several hundred thousand birds, Prince Leopold Island is one of the most important bird sanctuaries in the Canadian Arctic. Encounters with polar bear, beluga, narwhal and the occasional bowhead whale have also been known in the summering grounds around Prince Regent Inlet.
Fort Ross and Bellot StraitIf ice conditions permit, sail south through Prince Regent Inlet and approach the eastern end of the Bellot Strait. Fort Ross, located at the southern end of Somerset Island, is a former Hudson's Bay Company fur trading outpost. Ancient archaeological sites nearby tell a story of more than a thousand years of habitation by the Inuit and their predecessors. Upon leaving Fort Ross, 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 ample food source for marine mammals so keep your eyes peeled for harp seals, bearded seals and even polar bears. Upon exiting Bellot Strait turn south in Victoria Strait, taking a bearing for King William Island.
Conningham BayHaving emerged from the transit of Bellot Strait, cross the broad Victoria Strait and arrive at Conningham Bay on the eastern shore of Prince Edward Island. Here, in the heart of the Northwest Passage is perhaps one of the most remarkable wildlife sites in the Arctic and a known hotspot for polar bears. Beluga whales come to the shallow inlet to rub their white skins against the gravel bottom - an annual ritual. Often when the tide recedes, the whales become trapped in the shallows making them easy prey for the polar bear. It's common to find mothers and their cubs here in sizeable numbers and the skeletons of beluga whales litter the shore - grim testament to the ebb and flow of life in the Arctic.
Victory Point, King William IslandLittle is known of how the remainders of 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 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.
Cambridge Bay - EdmontonVisit the community of Cambridge Bay, on the southern shores of Victoria Island. Cambridge Bay, also known as Ikaluktutiak or "good fishing place", is a centre for hunting, trapping, and fishing. The 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 dogsledding from the locals. Prior to this, McClintock found solid evidence of the Franklin Expedition here in 1859, including naval artefacts, sledges, graves and letters. Drop anchor in the harbour and make your way ashore by zodiac. Board the charter flight to Edmonton.
Fly Edmonton to London overnight
Phone: +44(0) 1285 885 333
+44(0) 1285 885 333
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