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 begin our adventure by sailing down this dramatic fjord as the sun sets before us. If you choose to take the optional charter flights the flight departs Toronto (Ontario) in the early morning so we suggest you book one night pre-trip accommodation to ensure you do not miss the flight.
People have lived in the Sisimiut area for 4,500 years. The first 2,000 years, the people of the Saqqaq culture occupied the area. Approx. 2,500 years ago, new people brought the Dorset culture to the Sisimiut area. They lived here for 1,500 years and were followed by the people of the Thule culture the ancestors of the current population. All these cultures came from Canada. The people primarily lived on fish, birds, and mammals such as whales and seals. These ice-free conditions in the sea around Sisimiut, including some of Greenland's deepest fjords, allow us to sail in waters that are home to many whales and seals.
Sailing 250km north of the Arctic Circle we find the stunning coastal community of Ilulissat. Translating literally into 'iceberg, Ilulissat could not be more appropriately named. We will include time in the colourful town and a have an opportunity to hike out to an elevated viewpoint where we can observe the great fields of ice. We will also cruise in our fleet of zodiacs in the UNESCO World Heritage Site of the Ilulissat Icefjord. The Icefjord is where we find the Sermeq Kujalleq Glacier, one of the most active and fastest moving in the world at 19m per day and calving more than 35 square kilometers of ice annually. The glacier has been the object of scientific attention for 250 years and, because of its relative ease of accessibility, has significantly added to the understanding of ice-cap glaciology, climate change and related geomorphic processes.
Uummannaq Fjord in northwest Greenland is the country's second-largest system of fjords. It empties into Baffin Bay and is characterized by its developed coastline and various bays, islands, and peninsulas. It is considered to be the sunniest spot in Greenland, and favourable weather coupled with proximity to coastal travel routes has made the fjord system a popular destination for Greenlandic Inuit. It has been settled and re-settled continually for the last 4,500 years.
Greenland's west coast is simply stunning. An expedition stop in this area will offer many outstanding features of interest. Hikers, walkers, photographers, and contemplators will all be equally delighted. From mighty mountains to the tiniest tundra flowers, we will have much to explore.
Our presentation series will continue as we steam across the Davis Strait towards Canada. While out on deck, keep your eyes peeled for minke and humpback whales amid potential pack ice, as well as the seabirds that are sure to mark our passage.
Mittimatalik or Pond Inlet is a bustling Arctic community is surrounded by one of the most beautiful landscapes in the Eastern Arctic. We will have a chance to explore the town, as well as take in a cultural presentation at the Nattinnak Centre.
Today will be an expedition day in the truest sense as we navigate the fjords of northeast Baffin Island. Baffin's fjords are striking, affording stunning perspectives on geological processes. The Ocean Endeavour is the perfect vessel for exploring these hidden treasures of the north, as her manuvrability and shallow draft allows her to access regions that would be impassable to larger vessels. We will be on alert for changing weather and ice conditions and use our judgement as to which route along the coast will be the most spectacular. As ever, our team will be on deck for the duration, searching for wildlife and contextualising the mighty landscape through which we travel.
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 to choose from, depending on weather, wildlife, and sea conditions.
Devon Island is the largest uninhabited island on earth and comprises over fifty
thousand square kilometres. It was first sighted by Europeans in 1616, though it was not settled for another three hundred years with the arrival of the Hudson's Bay Company. Because of its high elevation and extreme climate, Devon Island supports only a meager population of musk ox as well as some small birds and mammals. The Island is also known for the presence of the Haughton impact crater, created some 39 million years ago by a two-kilometre wide meteorite.
On Beechey Island we delve deep into Arctic exploration history where in 1845 an expedition of 129 men, led by Sir John Franklin, sailed two ships into the Wellington Channel. Not a soul returned from the fateful expedition and it was two years before search parties were launched. Aside from the bodies of three souls buried here, no other clues were found to explain the fate of the rest of the British party until very recently. In 2014, Canadian archaeologists discovered remnants of the HMS Erebus in the frozen waters of the Northwest Passage, reigniting interest in this fabled region.
Qausuittuq, or "place with no dawn" is truly the land of the midnight sun daylight persists constantly from about April 29 to August 13 each year. Located on the south coast of Cornwallis Island, Resolute Bay is the "jumping off place" for expeditions to the North Pole. From archaeological excavations, it has been concluded that there have been at least three stages of occupation at Resolute Bay. The Dorset culture was the first, followed by an early phase of the Thule culture, in which the artefacts found show strong Alaskan affinities. These were probably both short periods of occupation, possibly by only a few families. A late or developed phase of the Thule culture was of longer duration, with a considerably larger population. Resolute Bay was named after HMS Resolute, one of the ships in the Franklin search expedition commanded by Captain H.T. Austin. An airfield was established at Resolute Bay in 1947 during construction of a joint US-Canadian weather station. In 1953, Inuit from Inukjuak, Que bec, and Mittimatalik (Pond Inlet) were relocated to Qausuittuq (Resolute) by the Canadian government. If you choose to take the optional charter flights the flight departs Resolute bound for Ottawa (Ontario) a few hours after disembarking the ship. Overnight accommodation in Ottawa is recommended.