Out of the Northwest Passage: West to East

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Download Out of the Northwest Passage: West to East Detailed Itinerary

Day 1: Kugluktuk (Coppermine)

Located at the mouth of the Coppermine River, southwest of Victoria Island on the Coronation Gulf, Kugluktuk is the westernmost community in Nunavut. Coppermine reverted to its original Inuinnaqtun name—Kugluktuk, meaning “place of moving waters”—on January 1st, 1996. The Coppermine River itself is designated a Canadian Heritage River for the important role it played as an exploration and fur trade route. Copper deposits along the river attracted the first explorers to the area.

Upon arrival on our charter flight to Kugluktuk, we embark the Ocean Endeavour.

 

Days 2 - 4: Kitikmeot Region

The Kitikmeot Region consists of parts of Victoria Island, the adjacent part of the mainland as far as the Boothia Peninsula, King William Island, and the southern portion of Prince of Wales Island. Its regional seat is Iqaluktuuttiaq (Cambridge Bay), though it also contains five other hamlets (including Uqsuqtuuq and Kugluktuk).

Recently, the Kitikmeot Region has been in the news since the finding of the lost ships of the Franklin Expedition in its waters. It is Nunavut’s least-populated region, though wildlife abounds here both in the sea and on land.

 

Days 5 - 7: Peel Sound and Parry Channel

Peel Sound was the Franklin expedition’s route south. It presents numerous wildlife and expedition opportunities. The setting is optimal for hiking and exploring the geological diversity of the area.

The ‘obvious’ route through the Northwest Passage, Parry Channel seldom provides a full transit because of ice. It is named after Arctic explorer William Edward Parry, who got as far as Melville Island in 1819 before being blocked by ice at McClure Strait.

 

Day 8: Beechey Island

In 1845, Sir John Franklin set out from England with HMS Erebus and Terror, attempting to sail through the Northwest Passage. Franklin’s party overwintered at Beechey Island where three of his men died.

Numerous search parties later used Beechey as a depot and rendezvous. Amundsen, Bernier, and Larsen visited Beechey. Thomas Morgan of HMS Investigator was buried there in 1854 alongside Franklin’s men. The graves and the ruins of Northumberland House are a haunting memorial.

 

Day 9: Tallurutiup Imanga (Lancaster Sound)

We will spend the day exploring the ocean wilderness of Tallurutiup Imanga (Lancaster Sound). In August of 2017, this enormous body of water was declared a National Marine Conservation Area.

Large populations of marine mammals, including narwhal, beluga and bowhead whales transit and feed in this area. There is a great selection of landing sites available, depending on weather, wildlife, and sea conditions.

 

Day 10: Aujuittuq (Grise Fiord)

Aujuittuq means ‘place that never thaws.’ 1,150 kilometres above the Arctic Circle, Canada’s northernmost “civilian” community originated in the Cold War; in 1953, residents were relocated to Aujuittuq to boost Canadian sovereignty. In 2016, the census placed the population at 129.

Our activities will centre in the village where we will have a chance to meet members of the community, learn about their way of life, and hear their poignant stories.

 

Day 11: Smith Sound

Smith Sound served as the main route for explorers and adventurers searching for the North Pole. Adolphus Greely, Sir George Nares, and Elisha Kent Kane all travelled these waters with varying degrees of success.

Between forty-eight and seventy-two kilometres wide and eighty-eight kilometres long, Smith Sound divides Ellesmere Island from Greenland. Here, the sea ice provided an ancient Inuit travel route. Optimal sea ice conditions in Smith Sound can also make for excellent wildlife viewing.

 

Days 12 - 14: Northwest Greenland

We will explore the stunning fjords that line the coast. Glaciers and icebergs abound here. In true expedition style, we will seek opportunities to hike, explore, and view wildlife as conditions allow.

 

Day 15: Ilulissat

Ilulissat translates literally into “iceberg”, an apt name for this site at the mouth of the Ilulissat Icefjord—a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The icefjord is the outlet of the Sermeq Kujalleq Glacier, source of many of the icebergs in the north Atlantic.

Here, we will cruise in our fleet of Zodiacs to appreciate the icebergs. And we’ll visit the bustling town of Ilulissat, with its museums, cafes, craft shops, and busy fishing harbour.

 

Day 15: Ilulissat

Ilulissat translates literally into “iceberg”, and there couldn’t be a more fitting name for this stunning coastal community, with its museums, cafes and craft studios. Our visit will include time in the colourful town and a chance to hike out along a boardwalk to an elevated viewpoint where we can observe the great fields of ice. We will also cruise in our fleet of Zodiacs through the UNESCO World Heritage Site of the Ilulissat Icefjord. The Icefjord is home to the Sermeq Kujalleq Glacier, the most active and fastest moving glacier in the world at nineteen metres per day, calving more than thirty-five square kilometers of ice annually. The glacier has been the object of scientific attention for 250 years.

 

Day 15: Ilulissat

Ilulissat translates literally into “iceberg”, and there couldn’t be a more fitting name for this stunning coastal community, with its museums, cafes and craft studios. Our visit will include time in the colourful town and a chance to hike out along a boardwalk to an elevated viewpoint where we can observe the great fields of ice. We will also cruise in our fleet of Zodiacs through the UNESCO World Heritage Site of the Ilulissat Icefjord. The Icefjord is home to the Sermeq Kujalleq Glacier, the most active and fastest moving glacier in the world at nineteen metres per day, calving more than thirty-five square kilometers of ice annually. The glacier has been the object of scientific attention for 250 years.

 

Day 16: Itilleq Fjord

The west Greenland coastline is a rich mixture of fishing communities, many islands and complex coastal waterways. The waters are relatively warm here, due to the West Greenland current and the more southerly location. This makes for lusher vegetation.

As we enter the Arctic autumn, the tundra foliage will be in gorgeous colour. We will be making an expedition stop here to explore the landscape of wild Greenland.

 

Day 17: Kangerlussuaq, Greenland

We will make our journey down spectacular Sondre Stromfjord, and early risers will have a chance to experience its beauty. Sondre Stromfjord is one of the longest fjords in the world and boasts 168 kilometres of superb scenery! Kangerlussuaq, the town at its eastern head, means ‘the big fjord.’

We will disembark the Ocean Endeavour and make our way to the airport to meet our charter flights home.

 
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