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.
|Tour Provider||Bunnik Tours|
|Number of Days||
Cycling/Trekking, Polar, Private, Small Marine/Cruise, Walking
|11 Aug 2019||20 Aug 2019||Fully Booked||AUD $7,095|
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
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]
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]
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]
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]
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]
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]
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]
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]
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]
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.