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Pathways to Franklin

This outstanding expedition showcases the breathtaking wilderness of Canada's High Arctic. Wildlife is another major draw card and throughout the voyage we visit one of the largest migratory bird sanctuaries in Canada and a number of locations where encounters with polar bears are frequent. Sightings of seals, whales and narwhal are also common.Follow in the footsteps of Arctic ExplorersThe principal focus of our expedition is the history of Arctic exploration and early quest for the Northwest Passage. The story of Sir John Franklin's expedition from the mid 18th century and the enduring mystery of their fate has gripped the imagination and intrigue of Canadian's - and history lovers - for more than 170 years. A new chapter in this tale was written when in September 2014, a joint government / private expedition located the final resting place of one of two of Franklin's 'lost ships' - HMS Erebus, in the frigid waters of the Victoria Strait.Canada's High ArcticWe navigate our modern expedition vessel through these very same waters and wonder about the fate of these early Arctic explorers. Throughout the journey, we enjoy onboard presentations by polar experts and fascinating shore excursions to many key historic sites.Everything included!
We include the use of an expedition gear package free of charge. Containing around $US900 worth of essential equipment, this kit includes a quality waterproof/windproof jacket and bib-pants plus insulated rubber boots designed for extended walking. We also include a set of binoculars and a trekking pole for use when on shore. A waterproof backpack completes your package. This kit saves you buying expensive clothing and equipment you may only ever use once, and means more weight allowance for your main luggage.

Inclusions

We include the use of an expedition gear package free of charge. Containing around $US900 worth of essential equipment, this kit includes a quality waterproof/windproof jacket and bib-pants plus insulated rubber boots designed for extended walking. We also include a set of binoculars and a trekking pole for use when on shore. A waterproof backpack completes your package. This kit saves you buying expensive clothing and equipment you may only ever use once, and means more weight allowance for your main luggage.

Travel

  • All cruising on board the Akademik Ioffe

Accommodation & Meals

  • 9 nights on board the Akademik Ioffe
  • Cost based on twin-semi private cabin (one bathroom shared between 2 cabins)
  • 9 breakfasts, 8 lunches and 9 dinners

Inclusions

  • Arctic gear hire package including waterproof/windproof jacket, bib-pants, insulated comfortable rubber boots, binoculars, trekking pole and waterproof backpack for use on shore
  • Comprehensive pre-voyage information package including details to help you prepare for your trip in the Canadian Arctic
  • Transfers from the airport to your hotel upon arrival.
  • Transfers to the ship on embarkation day and from the ship to the airport or local hotel on disembarkation
  • Shipboard accommodation in your selected cabin category with daily housekeeping. Cabins feature outside views with windows or portholes that open on each deck
  • High quality, eco friendly, Canadian made natural amenities in every cabin
  • All breakfasts, lunches and dinners on board throughout your voyage with daily afternoon tea
  • 24 hour tea, coffee, hot chocolate in bar lounge plus in cabin tea, coffee, hot chocolate replenished daily
  • Experienced Expedition Leader and professional expedition team of marine biologists, naturalists, historians, adventure guides and photographers
  • Daily off-ship excursions by Zodiac boat breaking into small groups for shore landings
  • Guided hikes and walks on shore of various durations for guests of all abilities
  • Visits to wildlife colonies, historic sites, places of outstanding natural beauty and community visits
  • Educational presentations and talks by polar experts in their field (ie. marine biologists, naturalists, historians etc). Onboard or on shore
  • Resident photography guide available to assist all guests
  • Access to computers in the multimedia lab for image downloads, file back up and management
  • An emergency trained Physician on board every voyage
  • Dedicated hospitality team including Hotel Manager, four chefs, professional bar staff and Adventure Concierge staff
  • On board sauna, plunge pool, Jacuzzi and fitness centre including personal trainer and massage options (charge applies for massage and spa treatments)
  • Access to well stocked library full of polar reference books
  • End of voyage video, photos and take home USB
  • Port fees and all permits to access visited areas

Not Included

  • Any international or local airfares unless otherwise specified in the voyage itinerary. Note: Charter flights are not included and will be added to your booking at US$1995.00pp
  • Canadian GST of 5% is not included, and will be added to this itinerary (cruise cabin, charter flights, optional sea kayaking, pre and / or post tour accommodation) at time of confirmation.
  • Visa and passport expenses. Note: Most nationalities will be required to have an Electronic Travel Authorization (known as an eTA) to enter Canada (except US citizens). This is easily obtained online prior to travel and a fee of $CAD7.00 is payable at the time you lodge your application. The eTA is valid for a period of five years from date of issue. Speak to your travel consultant for more information or contact your local Canadian consular authorities for further details.
  • Pre or post-cruise hotel accommodation unless otherwise specified in the itinerary (or pre-arranged)
  • Pre or post-cruise transfers unless otherwise specified in the itinerary (or pre-arranged)
  • Personal expenses on board such as alcoholic beverages, bar charges or laundry expenses
  • Telecommunication charges (ie. email, satellite phone)
  • Baggage, cancellation or medical travel insurance related expenses (travel insurance is mandatory on all voyages)
  • Tipping payable locally, suggested amounts are approx. $12-$15pp US per day
Tour Provider Bunnik Tours
Number of Days
10
Price From
AUD $7,095
Start Location
Canada
End Location
Canada
Age Range
Avg. 50+
Group Size
20
Tour Style
Comfort
Tour Themes
Cycling/Trekking, Polar, Private, Small Marine/Cruise, Walking
Physical Rating
Moderate
Tour departure dates
StartEndAvailabilityPrice
11 Aug 201920 Aug 2019Fully BookedAUD $7,095 
ItineraryExpand
Pathways to Franklin

We recommend extra nights pre/post tour

This trip commences in Edmonton - Alberta's provincial capital city. We recommend you arrive in Edmonton at least one day prior to the scheduled voyage departure date. This gives you a buffer in the event of any unexpected travel delays between home and trip departure time. From Edmonton we fly to Resolute via a charter flight. We transfer to the ship for embarkation via zodiac. At the conclusion of the trip, we fly from Cambridge Bay back to Edmonton via a charter flight. Upon arrival in Edmonton, a transfer is provided from the airport to a central downtown location. This flight arrives in the early evening and we advise staying the night in Edmonton and making your onward travel plans for the following day. Full joining instructions are provided in your final travel documentation. If you have questions before this time, please ask us.

Abbreviation: [B,L,D] Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

DAY 1. Edmonton, Alberta to Resolute (Nunavut) - Embark Cruise

We depart Edmonton this morning on our special charter flight to Resolute, a remote outpost above the Arctic Circle. Located on the southern shores of Cornwallis Island, the town is named after the British ship HMS Resolute which became trapped in ice and abandoned here in 1850 while searching for the lost Franklin Expedition. A weather station and airstrip here made it a strategic outpost during the time of the Cold War. On arrival, we are transferred to the beach where our expedition team will meet us and prepare us for our zodiac ride to the ship. Onboard, we will have time to explore the ship and get to know our cabins before a welcome cocktail. We weigh anchor and depart Resolute in the early evening. [D]

DAY 2. Beechey Island & Radstock Bay

Beechey Island is a site of great historical importance. It is here that Sir John Franklin's ill-fated expedition spent its last 'comfortable' winter in 1845-1846 before disappearing into the icy vastness to the south, as they probed for a route through the Northwest Passage. The enduring mystery of what happened to the Franklin party and two ships, was partially solved in September 2014, when a joint Parks Canada and Royal Canadian Geographic Society expedition, found the long lost Franklin shipwreck, HMS Erebus in the Victoria Strait. One Ocean Expeditions played a vital role in the search by carrying underwater search equipment on our ship as well as scientists, historians, researchers, dignitaries and sponsors of this history defining mission. A trip ashore at Beechey Island to visit the grave markers on a remote windswept beach, gives one pause to wonder on the bravery (or foolhardiness) of these pioneering explorers, as they sought a way through the barren, frozen landscape. Over the coming days you will learn about this enduring Arctic tale from our onboard historians and polar experts. An afternoon visit to Radstock Bay brings us to the imposing Caswell Tower - a huge rock headland and known archaeological site. Remains of Thule 'qarmat' homes, made of rocks, whale bones, rock and sod walls and skins for roofs can be found in the vicinity telling a story of over 800 years of human habitation. [B,L,D]

DAY 3. Cape Charles Yorke & Elwin Inlet

We cross the broad expanse of Lancaster Sound, spending time on the ship's bridge, or outer decks looking for wildlife. The sound has been likened to the wildlife 'super highway' of the Arctic. A massive confluence of water from the Atlantic to the east and Pacific to the west, and from the archipelago of islands to the north all mix here, combining to make a rich source of nutrients and food for an abundance of Arctic wildlife. Approaching northern Baffin Island we are in awe of the spectacular Arctic landscape that seemingly stretches on forever. Cape Charles Yorke offers several great walking opportunities and we may enjoy some sightings of polar bears along this coast. We navigate the ship into nearby Elwin Inlet, a breathtaking fjord which is well protected and great for a zodiac cruise or hike onshore. [B,L,D]

DAY 4. Prince Leopold Island

Having crossed Prince Regent Inlet overnight, we approach the towering bird cliffs of Prince Leopold Island in the morning. The island is home to thick-billed murres, black guillemots, northern fulmars and black-legged kittiwakes. Numbering in the order of several hundred thousand birds, Prince Leopold Island is one of the most significant Migratory Bird Sanctuaries in the whole of the Canadian Arctic and makes for fantastic zodiac cruising. The sea ice around Prince Leopold Island is a great place for spotting ringed seals and wherever we find ringed seals - we usually find polar bears. Nearby Port Leopold is a historic site where in 1848, English explorer James Clark Ross wintered here during the search for the missing Franklin expedition. In addition to Port Leopold's historical attraction, the shallow gravel beds along the shoreline are attractive to the beluga whales who tend to moult in this part of the Arctic each summer. [B,L,D]

DAY 5. Fort Ross & Bellot Strait

Continuing to navigate the ship south into Prince Regent Inlet, we approach the eastern end of the Bellot Strait. The historic site of Fort Ross, located at the southern end of Somerset Island, is a former Hudson's Bay Company fur trading outpost. Fascinating archaeological sites nearby tell a story of more than a thousand years of habitation by the Inuit and their predecessors. Having explored Fort Ross, we attempt a transit through the narrows of Bellot Strait. The aim is to enter at slack tide if possible, in order to avoid a current that roars through the passage at more than seven knots during the peak flow. The mixing of waters in this strait provides an abundant food source for marine mammals and we keep our eyes peeled for harp seals, bearded seals and even polar bears. The skill of the Captain and Officers and capabilities of the ship becomes apparent during this exciting day of Arctic navigation. [B,L,D]

DAY 6. Coningham Bay

Having emerged from Bellot Strait, we cross Franklin Strait and arrive at Coningham Bay on the shore of Prince Of Wales Island. Here, in the heart of the Northwest Passage we hope to encounter one of the most remarkable wildlife sites in the Arctic. This is a known hotspot for polar bears who come here to feast on beluga whales, often caught in the rocky shallows at the entrance to the bay. It is not unusual to find the shoreline littered with whale skeletons and very healthy looking polar bears! [B,L,D]

DAY 7. Victory Point, King William Island & Vicinity

Heading further south, the mystery of Sir John Franklin and his 'lost expedition' is beginning to unravel. Prior to the recent discovery of the HMS Erebus in September 2014, very little was known of how the Franklin Expedition spent its last months in the frozen Arctic. The vessels, abandoned in the ice of Victoria Strait are just coming to life thanks to the ongoing efforts of Parks Canada's marine archaeological team and the recent Victoria Strait Expedition.
On Victory Point a lifeboat left abandoned, bits and pieces of copper and iron, cutlery and buttons and a skeleton here and there - all tell a story of a desperate race south in search of rescue that never came. We hope to visit Victory Point as we transit Victoria Strait, travelling very near the actual location of the wreck of HMS Erebus, all the while, learning about the quest for exploration that eventually opened up the Arctic. One can only imagine the last desperate days of Franklin's men as another frigid Arctic winter approached, supplies dwindling and health failing. [B,L,D]

DAY 8. Royal Geographical Society Islands

This small non-descript group of islands is of tremendous historic importance. In this vicinity the wreck of HMS Erebus was found in September 2014. To end this remarkable find, the sister ship - HMS Terror was discovered nearby in the Summer of 2016. It is profoundly moving to be in the location where Franklin and his men abandoned their ships knowing hope of rescue was virtually nonexistent. We plan a shore landing on the islands to stretch our legs as we cross islands that may have felt the doomed footsteps of Franklin's men. [B,L,D]

DAY 9. Exploration of Victoria Island or King William Island

We are in a very historic part of the Northwest Passage as we explore the waters of southern Victoria Strait and into the top of Queen Maud Gulf. Our itinerary today will be driven by the weather and ice conditions as we surround ourselves in history and search for wildlife. This area was travelled on foot (on the sea ice) as well as by small boat before it was ever navigated by sailing or motor vessel. As we wrap up our last excursion we will marvel at the sense of adventure that each explorer must have had. Returning to the ship, we meet in the presentation room and enjoy a memorable voyage recap by our expedition leader. We celebrate with a special dinner, attended by the Captain of the ship reflecting on a wonderful expedition. [B,L,D]

DAY 10. Disembark - Cambridge Bay (Nunavut) to Edmonton, Alberta

By morning, we are at anchor in Cambridge Bay our final destination. Today, this remote outpost on the southern shores of Victoria Island is a centre for hunting, trapping and fishing. We make our way ashore by zodiac and bid farewell to our crew. A charter flight returns us to Edmonton where our journey comes to an end. [B]

Please Note: Polar exploration can be unpredictable, which regularly causes variations to our itineraries. Specific sites visited will depend on prevailing weather and ice conditions at the time of sailing. The above itinerary should be read as a 'guide only' and may change. The ship's Captain in conjunction with the Expedition Leader continually review the sailing plan throughout the voyage, making adjustments to the itinerary along the way to take advantage of optimal weather and ice conditions or to maximize our encounters with wildlife. Decades of experience spent exploring these waterways mean we have a large number of outstanding landing sites and zodiac cruising locations to consider, even when the weather conditions may not be ideal or when heavy ice may block out a planned route. A flexible approach is something we encourage you to bring to the ship. Please ask us if you have any questions about this program.