Sail through the crux of the Northwest Passage which eluded so many explorers, visiting the sites of these ill-fated expeditions along ancient Inuit sites and the wildlife hotspots.
This outstanding short expedition showcases the breathtaking wilderness of Canada's High Arctic. With a principal focus the history of Arctic exploration and early quest for the Northwest Passage. The story of Sir John Franklin's expedition from the mid-18th century and the enduring mystery of their fate has gripped the imagination and intrigue of many for more than 150 years. A new chapter in this tale was written when in September 2014, a joint government/ private expedition located the final resting place of one of two of Franklin's 'lost ships' - HMS Erebus, in the frigid waters of the Victoria Strait. Navigate these treacherous waters aboard a modern and comfortable expedition vessel learning about the early explorers and the Inuit that have inhabited the region for over 800 years. Although the focus is on history wildlife is another major draw card and throughout the voyage visit one of the largest migratory bird sanctuaries in Canada and a number of locations where encounters with polar bears are frequent, sightings of seals, whales and beluga are also common.This short expedition is ideal for those short on time or wanting to experience the Canadian High Arctic as part of a longer trip to Canada.
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 Edmonton
You will be staying at Renaissance Edmonton Airport Hotel
Edmonton to ResoluteDepart Edmonton on the charter flight to Resolute, a remote outpost above the Arctic Circle. Located on the southern shores of Cornwallis Island, the town is named after the British ship HMS Resolute which became trapped in ice and abandoned here in 1850 while searching for the lost Franklin Expedition. A weather station and airstrip here made it a strategic outpost during the time of the Cold War. On arrival transfer to the beach and then by zodiac to the ship. Weigh anchor and depart Resolute in the early evening.
You will be staying at Akademik Ioffe
Beechey Island and Prince Leopold IslandBeechey Island is a site of great historical importance. It is here that Sir John Franklin's ill-fated expedition spent its last 'comfortable' winter in 1845-1846 before disappearing into the icy vastness to the south. The enduring mystery of what happened to the Franklin party and two ships, was partially solved in September 2014, when a joint Parks Canada and Royal Canadian Geographic Society expedition, found the long lost Franklin shipwreck, HMS Erebus in the Victoria Strait. Ashore at Beechey Island visit the grave markers of three of Franklin's men. A remote windswept beach, gives one pause to wonder on the bravery (or foolhardiness) of these pioneering explorers, as they sought a way through the barren, frozen landscape. Through the afternoon sail across Barrow Strait and approach the towering bird cliffs of Prince Leopold Island. This is an important Migratory Bird Sanctuary, home to thick-billed murres, black guillemots, northern fulmars and black-legged kittiwakes. Numbering in the order of several hundred thousand birds, Prince Leopold Island is one of the most significant bird sanctuaries in the whole of the Canadian Arctic and makes for fantastic zodiac cruising. The sea ice around Prince Leopold Island is a great place for spotting ringed seals and with these polar bears are frequently sighted.
Fury Beach, Somerset IslandOvernight sail south through Prince Regent Inlet and wake up in the morning along the south-eastern shore of Somerset Island. The goal is to get ashore at Fury Beach, named after the HMS Fury, a Royal Navy sloop used in two Arctic expeditions by Commander Edward Parry. During her second expedition, she was damaged in the ice while overwintering and was abandoned in August of 1825 on a beach on Somerset Island, now known as Fury Beach. Her stores were unloaded on the beach as a depot of supplies and the location shared around to other Royal Navy expeditions. John Ross, another Royal Navy explorer relied on these stores to save the lives of his men after he lost his ship to the ice in 1829.
Fort Ross and Bellot StraitContinuing to the southern end of Prince Regent Inlet, approach the eastern end of the Bellot Strait. The historic site of Fort Ross, located at the southern end of Somerset Island, is a former Hudson's Bay Company fur trading outpost. Fascinating archaeological sites nearby tell a story of more than a thousand years of habitation by the Inuit and their predecessors. Having explored Fort Ross, attempt a transit through the narrows of Bellot Strait. The aim is to enter at slack tide if possible, in order to avoid a current that roars through the passage at more than seven knots during the peak flow. The mixing of waters in this strait provides an abundant food source for marine mammals so keep eyes peeled for harp seals, bearded seals and even polar bears. The skill of the Captain and Officers and capabilities of the ship becomes apparent during this exciting day of Arctic navigation.
Conningham Bay, Prince of Wales IslandHaving emerged from Bellot Strait, cross Franklin Strait and arrive at Conningham Bay on the shore of Prince of Wales Island. Here, in the heart of the Northwest Passage it is hoped to encounter one of the most remarkable wildlife sites in the Arctic. This is a known hotspot for polar bears who come here to feast on beluga whales, often caught in the rocky shallows at the entrance to the bay. It is not unusual to find the shoreline littered with whale skeletons - and very healthy looking polar bears!
Victory Point, King William IslandHeading further south, the mystery of Sir John Franklin and his 'lost expedition' is beginning to unravel. Prior to the recent discovery of the HMS Erebus in September 2014, very little was known of how the Franklin Expedition spent its last months in the frozen Arctic. The vessels, abandoned in the ice of Victoria Strait are just coming to life thanks to the ongoing efforts of Parks Canada's marine archaeological team and the recent Victoria Strait Expedition. On Victory Point a lifeboat left abandoned, 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 came. Visit Victory Point during the transit of Victoria Strait, travelling very near the actual location of the wreck of HMS Erebus, all the while, learning about the quest for exploration that eventually opened up the Arctic. One can only imagine the last desperate days of Franklin's men as another frigid Arctic winter approached, supplies dwindling and health failing
Pasely Bay, Boothia PeninsulaWorking north, stop in Pasely Bay, on the Boothia Peninsula. The RCMP vessel St. Roch, during her transit of the Northwest Passage in 1942 was frozen in Pasely Bay and in February of 1942, one of the sailors onboard died. He was buried along the shores of Pasely Bay in the spring before the ship broke out of the ice and continued north through the passage. Explore the shore of Pasely Bay, searching for wildlife and enjoying the isolated beautify of the Boothia Peninsula.
Peel SoundSail through Franklin Strait and into Peel Sound, between Somerset Island and Prince of Wales Island. Peel Sound is known for its often heavy sea ice concentrations and is only open to vessel navigation for a short period each year. The ice plug in the top of Peel Sound frustrated many explorers as they tried to pass through this body of water in order to complete the Northwest Passage. This stretch of water from Victoria Strait through Franklin Strait and into Peel Sound is considered the crux of the Northwest Passage and it is now known that Franklin sailed his two ships, the HMS Erebus and HMS Terror through Peel Sound in the summer of 1846, before becoming beset in the ice '5 leagues NE of [Victory Point]'.
Aston BayOn the last day of excursions before returning to Resolute Bay visit the northern end of Peel Sound and on the southern shore of Barrow Strait. Aston Bay is an arm of Peel Sound and with the heavy concentrations of ice in the area should be a hotspot for wildlife activity. Head out into the zodiacs and possibly ashore in search of wildlife.
Fly Edmonton to London overnight
Phone: +44(0) 1285 885 333
+44(0) 1285 885 333
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