Baffin Island & Greenland Explorer
Experience two unique locations in the Arctic on this exciting journey
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Vacation Style Holiday Type
Activity Level Leisurely
This outstanding voyage explores the the stunning fjords and soaring peaks of Baffin Island before crossing the Davis Strait to witness the glaciated landscapes and colourful fishing villages of western Greenland.We commence our expedition in Iqaluit and explore the south east corner of the Baffin island’s Monumental Island and the small hamlet of Pangnirtung. Throughout our journey we are constantly on the lookout for wildlife – including a variety of bird and marine life and of course, the icon of the North – the elusive polar bear who roams the ice floe edge. The Inuit communities of both Canada and Greenland are home to rich and unique cultures that have survived in this harsh landscape for centuries. Visits to these small towns and villages are a highlight for many and provide a fascinating glimpse into the daily life of the people who call this remote wilderness their home.Every day we venture off the ship to explore in our zodiac boats, enjoy guided hikes to places of outstanding natural beauty, and observe and photograph the wildlife, landscape and the delicate Arctic flora. In Greenland, we experience the ice-choked Jacobshavn Iceford at Illulisat – a natural wonder of the Arctic, visit several pretty Greenlandic towns and cruise along one of the longest fjords in the world – Sondre Stromfjord. One final highlight awaits – a visit to the very edge of the Greenland icecap – the second largest ice sheet on the planet, after Antarctica. We conclude in Kangerlussuaq where our Arctic adventure comes to an end.
* All meals while on the ship
* All accommodation
* All transport and listed activities
* Full complement of qualified Expedition Staff
* Flights from London (if booking incl. flights)
Fly from Ottawa, Ontario to Iqualuit, Nunavut and embark
We depart Ottawa this morning on our scheduled flight to Iqaluit, the provincial capital of Nunavut, situated on the southeastern coast of Baffin Island. Upon arrival we enjoy a walking tour of this historic settlement before boarding our expedition ship, RCGS Resolute, in the afternoon. After settling into our cabins and exploring the ship, we meet our expedition team and fellow passengers. Excitement is in the air as we enjoy a welcome cocktail and cast off to explore one of the most remote regions on Earth.
Monumental Island, Frobisher Bay
Located in the Davis Strait, the rocky dome of Monumental Island can be clearly seen as we approach. We travel by zodiac to explore the rocky shoreline and hope to encounter Polar bears in this vicinity. In good weather a complete circumnavigation of the island is possible, and we should see our first large icebergs as they drift south towards Labrador and Newfoundland on the currents of the Davis Strait. Walruses have also been encountered in this area, so we keep a close look out on the shoreline for this iconic species. Over the next few days, and throughout the voyage, our onboard experts educate and entertain us with a series of presentations about Inuit culture and traditions, as well as the environment, wildlife and history of Baffin Island.
Nestled in the heart of Cumberland Sound and the western gateway to Auyuittuq National Park, the village of Pangnirtung is beautifully situated between the mountains and the sea. This remote community is a well-known centre for traditional and contemporary arts and crafts – including carvings, prints and colourful textiles. In addition, the Angmarlik Visitor Centre has a wonderful interpretive display featuring the lifestyle and history of the Thule and of the modern Inuit.
Marking the northern headland of Cumberland Sound are the dramatic cliffs of Cape Mercy. As the Baffin Bay middle ice recedes throughout the summer, the stretch of Baffin coast from Cape Mercy to Cape Dyer is a great place to find Polar bears coming ashore. We explore this region planning to hike the shoreline ridges, paddling the bays and zodiac cruising through the ice on the lookout for Arctic wildlife.
Sunshine Fjord straddles the Arctic Circle at 66 degrees, 33 minutes north of latitude. Depending on the weather, we might cruise across the Circle on the ship, cross it in the zodiac boats or the more active option maybe to cross the circle on foot! Whichever way, it’s a thrill to be above the Arctic Circle at last. Sunshine Fjord offers terrific hiking opportunities and we have a few great routes in mind. You may wish to take the extended hike, gaining elevation and offering wonderful views of our surroundings. Or choose to take the less strenuous option along the shoreline.
Ice conditions along the Baffin coastline will dictate our navigation today. This is a fascinating transition zone to explore due to the rich and varied wildlife species we expect to encounter along the edges of the ice. We keep our eyes peeled for Bearded, Hooded and Ringed seals and walruses. Not surprisingly, Polar bears are often found in this vicinity, with such a rich abundance of food sources in close proximity, these are rich hunting grounds. It’s also not uncommon to see Bowhead whales cruising along the edges of the ice. If conditions allow, we launch the zodiacs and explore through the ice floes hoping to view the wildlife. Eventually we push out into the broad expanse of the Davis Strait making our way towards Greenland. From this point onwards, huge icebergs will be present, making for incredible photographic subjects in the soft Arctic twilight.
Qeqertarsuaq (Disko Island)
Qeqertarsuaq is situated at the head of Disko Bay. The Inuit name for this location translates literally, as ‘large island’. After the main landmass of Greenland, this is the territory’s second largest island – and one of the 10 largest islands on Earth. This is a place of great historic and geological interest. Eric the Red, the 9th century Norse Viking, is believed to have visited here using the location as a base for hunting, fishing and exploration. Mineral deposits containing native iron and hot springs are another feature of the area. We explore the southern coast and visit the island’s principal settlement of Qeqertarsuaq. Home to a small, hardy community. There is time to wander the town, stopping to chat to the locals and soaking up the atmosphere.
Ilulissat & the Jacobshavn Icefjord
If one word could sum up today’s experience it would be ‘ice’. Even our expedition team members, with years spent exploring both the Arctic and Antarctica, will take a moment to reflect on the awesome ice formations found here. Truly one of the wonders of the world, the Jacobshavn Icefjord – a UNESCO World Heritage site – projects gigantic icebergs out into Disko Bay. The glacier that creates these stunning monoliths advances at over 40 metres per day, creating an estimated 50 cubic kilometres of ice annually! Our approach to Ilulissat is always dependent on the amount of ice in and around the mouth of the fjord. A cruise by zodiac along the face of the massed icebergs is a memorable experience which for many, will be a highlight of the trip. There’s also a great hike through the town to a viewpoint, high above the ice field. This place will take your breathe away.
We will explore the fjord behind the town of Sisimiut before going ashore for further exploration. Characterised by colourful local houses, the town features a towering granite peak as a backdrop. We hope to meet a few of the traditional Greenlandic kayakers and to see a demonstration of ‘kayak rolling’ by one of the former Greenland kayak champions. The town’s church and a small museum are other points of interest. The restored historic houses and old Greenlandic fishing boats make for great photographic subjects.
Kangerlussuaq & Sondre Stromfjord
Today we sail into one of the longest fjords on the planet. Overlooking the fjord sits the town of Kangerlussuaq – a key outpost on the west coast of Greenland. The waters change colour the further we venture into the fjord, from deep blue, to grey and eventually silt-laden waters surround the ship. This water flows straight off the huge Greenand ice cap, into rivers and eventually the fjord. Depending on our arrival time, we may visit the small town or check out the surrounding tundra, looking for muskox and birds of prey. Tonight our chefs have prepared a special farewell dinner attended by the Captain of the ship. It’s a wonderful time to celebrate and reflect on a remarkable journey through the heart of the Arctic.
Disembark Kangerlussuaq, Greenland and fly to Ottawa
This morning we find ourselves anchored off Iqaluit. We say goodbye to our crew, make our way ashore in zodiacs and are then transferred to the airport for our scheduled flight to Ottawa. On arrival in Ottawa our journey comes to an end. A transfer is provided to a downtown location.