An Epic 17 Day Adventure through the Northwest Passage
The legendary ice-clogged waterways of the Northwest Passage have enthralled explorers ever since John Cabot first attempted the transit in 1497. The combination of ice-capped scenery, wildlife, history and culture all combine to build an Arctic experience like no other. This is one of the few regions where you can see the Arctic ‘Big Five’ on the same trip – although nothing can be guaranteed. This 17 day voyage through the Northwest Passage is one example of the kind of extraordinary polar expeditions we can arrange. Are you ready to explore these icy channels?
Day 1 – Arrive in Calgary
Having made your way to Calgary, check in to your chosen hotel for an overnight stay. There will be a welcome briefing for your Northwest Passage voyage this evening, including a chance to enjoy a drink and meet fellow expeditioners. You will be briefed on important biosecurity information and your charter flight to Cambridge Bay tomorrow.
Day 2 – Embarkation, Cambridge Bay
After breakfast at the hotel, board our charter flight to Cambridge Bay, where your expedition vessel, the Sylvia Earle awaits. After boarding, there is time to settle into your cabin before some important safety briefings. in the evening you will meet your expedition team and crew at the Captain’s Welcome Dinner.
Launching on her maiden voyage in November 2022, we are delighted to offer this floating ambassador for conservation to our clients. The Sylvia Earle is certified 100% Carbon Neutral, with a fully equipped Citizen Science Centre, expert lectures and participative Citizen science programs, to enrich your knowledge and connection to the places it sails to.Jonathan Goldmith, Head of Product
Days 3-6 – Expedition Cruising
In true expeditionary style, the itinerary for the following days is heavily dependent on unpredictable sea ice. The following places are where we hope you will visit.
- Prince Leopold Island – The most important bird sanctuary in the Canadian Arctic, with approximately 500,000 birds nesting here in summer.
- Cunningham Inlet – An opportunity to see the amazing spectacle of hundreds of beluga whales shedding their skin on shallow sandy banks. The local scenery makes for excellent guided walks.
- Prince Regent Inlet, Fort Ross – Sailing down the coast of Somerset Island, Spot whales and narwhals. Visit an abandoned Hudson Bay Company trading outpost & enjoy guided walks on the tundra.
- Bellot Strait – A deep and windy waterway bordered by steep slopes
- Coningham Bay – A polar bear hotspot where the majestic creatures come to feast on beluga whales often trapped in the rocky shallows at the entrance to the bay.
- King William Island – Visit Victory Point and get close to where the HMS Erebus and HMS Terror were abandoned in 1848.
Day 7 – Lancaster Sound, Beechey Island
At a latitude almost 75° degrees north, you are now truly in the High Arctic. Here, nutrient-rich waters support an abundance of wildlife, giving the area the moniker ‘wildlife super highway’ of the Arctic. At the western end of Devon Island lies Beechey Island. Named after Frederick William Beechey, the island is one of Canada’s most important arctic sites and is a designated Canadian National Historic Site. During the Franklin expedition of 1845–46, Franklin attempted to sail through the Northwest Passage with HMS Erebus and HMS Terror, with perilous results – three of his men died here. Roald Amundsen landed at Beechey Island in 1903, during the first successful voyage by ship to fully transit the Northwest Passage from the Atlantic Ocean to the Pacific Ocean
Day 8 – Devon Island, Lancaster Sound
Devon Island is the largest uninhabited island on earth and features stunning geology, with flat-topped mountains and glacial valleys giving Devon Island its unique character. We may explore Croker Bay or Maxwell Bay, both offering great opportunities for Zodiac cruising. Dundas Harbour offers walks on undulating tundra and the area is great for birdwatching. A dilapidated Royal Canadian Mounted Police outpost and remnants of a Hudson’s Bay Company trading post can be found here. In the bay, walruses are often present.
Day 9 – Pond Inlet, Bylot Island
The picturesque hamlet of Pond Inlet, overlooking Eclipse Sound, is surrounded by scenic mountain ranges and numerous glaciers and fjords. Travellers come to marvel at the abundant wildlife hoping to see narwhals, beluga and orca whales, ringed and harp seals, caribou and the occasional polar bear. Explore churches and visit the Natinnak Center to see exhibits showcasing the culture and history of the local Inuit people.
In the afternoon, sail along coastline of nearby Bylot Island. Covered with mountains, icefields, steep cliffs, snowfields and glaciers, Bylot provides nesting habitat for large numbers of thick-billed murres and black-legged kittiwakes. A total of 74 unique species of arctic bird thrive on this island. Due to the richness of the wildlife and the beauty and diversity of the landscapes in the area, a large portion of the island was also included in the Sirmilik National Park, established in 2001.
Day 10 – Sillem Island
Sail around Sillem Island, with glacial features on all sides. A slow cruise offers the chance to see many glaciers, discharging cascades as well as a variety of seals and other arctic wildlife.
Day 11 – Isabella Bay
After a morning at sea and farther south along the east coast of Baffin Island, you will reach Isabella Bay, an important summer and autumn feeding ground for a large population of bowhead whales.
Day 12 – Baffin Island, At Sea
Explore the coast of Baffin Island farther south before crossing Baffin Bay to Greenland, when you may encounter Greenland’s famous icebergs. Keep watch for humpback, sei, sperm and fin whales, as well as various species of seals such as ring and harp seal. The ships team of experts will entertain you with informative talks about wildlife, geology and epic tales of early explorers such as Franklin and Amundsen.
Day 13 – Disko Island
This compelling island seems to have more in common with Iceland than Greenland. While most of the interior is mountainous and glaciated, its beautiful shorelines boast black sandy beaches, unusual basalt columns, hot springs and dramatic lava formations. On a guided hike, enjoy a diversity of arctic flora. Zodiac cruise in Disko Bay, a hotspot for marine life including humpback, fin, minke and bowhead whales. The small friendly village has a fascinating historical museum.
Day 14 – Ilulissat
Known as the ‘birthplace of icebergs’, this region produces some of the most dazzling icebergs found anywhere on earth. Hike to the UNESCO World Heritage-listed Icefjord and stand in awe of its immensity. Sermeq Kujalleq, also known as Jakobshavn Glacier, is the most productive glacier – not only in Greenland but the entire Northern Hemisphere. It produces 20 million tonnes of ice each day, all floating into the Ilulissat Icefjord and Disko Bay. Conditions permitting, enjoy a Zodiac cruise at the mouth of the fjord and kayak through sea ice and icebergs. An optional 90-minute helicopter flight over the icefjord is a truly once-in-a-lifetime experience.
Day 15 – Sisimiut
Greenland’s second largest town, Sisimiut is located approximately 54 kilometres (33.5 miles) north of the Arctic Circle, meaning that during summer, you can experience the midnight sun here. The town is famous for the old blue church with the gate made of whale bone. In the cosy museum next door to the church, you will find an excellent reconstruction of an Inuit turf house as well as exhibits of local history and early life in Greenland.
Sisimiut offers hiking trails with various degrees of difficulty. The easier trails take you through the town itself, its outskirts and into the mountains, where you will find spectacular vantage points.
Approximately 4,500 years ago, the Saqqaq culture arrived from Canada and settled in the area. They lived here for approximately 2,000 years, after which they mysteriously disappeared from the area. The Dorset culture arrived around 500 CE and stayed until the 1200s until they were replaced by the Thule culture, and today, the majority of the population of Sisimiut are descendants of the Thule culture.
Day 16 – Disembark
After an overnight sailing along Søndre Strømfjord you will arrive in Kangerlussuaq, to disembark. You will bid farewell to the crew and expedition team, and transfer to the airport for your charter flight to Toronto with an overnight stay.
Day 17 – Depart Toronto
After breakfast you will be transferred to the airport to continue your journey or fly home.