Our trip commences today in the town of Kugluktuk. Located at the mouth of the Coppermine river to southwest of Victoria Island on the Coronation Gulf, Kugluktuk is the western most community in Nunavut. Originally named Coppermine, it was renamed Kugluktuk according to its Inuinnaqtun name 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. If you choose to take the optional charter flights the flight departs Calgary (Alberta) in the early morning so we suggest you book one night pre-trip accommodation to ensure you do not miss the flight.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Meaning 'place that never thaws,' and at 1,150km above the Arctic Circle, the town of Aujuittuq is Canada's northernmost civilian community. With a population of 165, we will be welcomed into this peaceful and warm hamlet. Our activities will center around the school where we will have a chance to meet members of the community and learn about their way of life.
Today we explore this fabled body of water, which served as the main route for early 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. The Sound was named by William Baffin after Sir Thomas Smythe, promoter of voyages to find a Northwest Passage. Only 48-72km wide and 88km long, it is often packed with ice and provides favourable conditions for wildlife viewing.
There are a number of charming fishing villages and majestic fjords along the west coast of Greenland. Depending on timing and sea conditions, we way call in at one of these communities to experience small town Greenlandic life, or explore the stunning fjords that line the coast. This is a day in the true spirit of expedition travel and we will avail ourselves of any and all opportunities that present themselves.
Located some 250km north of the Arctic Circle is 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.
The west Greenland coastline is a rich mixture of fishing communities, myriad islands and complex coastal waterways. We will be making an expedition stop here to explore the Greenlandic landscape
Our trip concludes today in Kangerlussuaq. Meaning 'The Big Fjord' in Greenlandic, the town is appropriately named, with the fjord 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 Kangerlussuaq bound for Toronto (Ontario) a few hours after disembarking the ship. Overnight accommodation in Toronto is available on request.