Kangerlussuaq which means 'The Big Fjord' in Greenlandic, is appropriately named, covering 168km in length. It lies at the head of the longest fjord in western Greenland, and has one of the most stable climates in the region though temperatures can range from -50C in the winter to as high as 28C in summer. 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. For the first 2,000 years, the people of the Saqqaq culture occupied the area. Approximately 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. The 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.
Our adventure builds as we explore by ship and Zodiac along the west coast of Greenland. Here we find spectacular fjords, where we will be watching for marine life in majestic and inspiring landscapes dotted with icebergs. We have numerous options for expedition stops, to make the most of weather and wildlife conditions. Departing Greenland, we cross Baffin Bay toward Nunavut. Our onboard presentation schedule will have us learning as we go.
Qikiqtarjuaq, a community located on Broughton Island in Nunavut, is known for wildlife, art, and Aujuittuq National Park. "Qik" was home to a NORAD military station that formed part of the Distant Early Warning (DEW) line in the 1950s. Qikiqtarjuaq boasts a burgeoning craft industry, and local artisans are eager to share their wares. Talented local artists have a focus on intricate ivory work and jewellry. The community is famously warm and welcoming to visitors.
These days will be expedition days in the truest sense as we navigate the fjords of eastern Baffin Island. The Ocean Endeavour is a perfect mobile observation platform, while our fleet of Zodiacs allows us to quickly scramble for a closer look when opportunities arise. Moving through waters known to harbour polar bears, belugas, narwhals, and other marine mammals, we will be monitoring from the deck and bridge to maximize chances of seeing wildlife.
The largest uninhabited island in the world supports significant concentrations of wildlife, including 26 species of seabirds and 11 species of marine mammals. At Dundas Harbour we find the lonely remains of an RCMP station dating from the 1920s. We have also spotted walrus, polar bear, muskox and caribou here. At nearby Croker Bay, we have a chance to Zodiac cruise though this scenic bay and marvel at icebergs, freshly calved from the glacier at the head of the bay.
In 1845 Sir John Franklin took his expedition of 129 men in two ships into the Wellington Channel. Not a soul returned from the fateful expedition. It was two years before search parties were launched. Aside from the bodies of three souls buried here, only relics were found as clues to the disappearance. Until recently, the three graves had left no indication as to the fate of the rest of the British party. Such is the interest in this story, the Canadian government recently announced a new initiative to locate the missing Franklin vessels.
Sailing Peel Sound, we get into serious polar bear country and will be on the lookout for good spotting opportunities. Parry Channel 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. Depending on ice conditions, we may make expedition stops along the way among the spectacular landscapes, a perfect setting for hiking and exploring the geological diversity of the area.
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. 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.
Located at the mouth of the Coppermine River, Kugluktuk is the westernmost community in Nunavut. Known for many years as Coppermine, the community reverted to its original Inuinnaqtun name meaning "place of moving waters" on January 1st, 1996. The Coppermine River is designated a Canadian Heritage River for the important role it played as an exploration and fur trade route. Today we will disembark the Ocean Endeavour and make our way to the airport to meet our charter flights to Calgary. If you choose to take the optional charter flights the flight departs Kugluktuk bound for Calgary (Alberta) a few hours after disembarking the ship. Overnight accommodation in Calgary is recommended.