Best of the Western Arctic: Canada and Greenland
Venture far above the Arctic Circle, in a land where the sun never sets and
Polar bears roam
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Vacation Style Holiday Type
Activity Level Leisurely
Explore the northerly shores of Canada’s Baffin Island and the western coast of Greenland, searching for the wildlife and visiting the communities that call this mysterious realm home. Zodiac cruising gives you an awe-inspiring perspective of impressive icebergs, glaciers and fjords, while visits to communities immerse you in their traditional and modern way of life. The rugged beauty of these pristine places will have you marveling at the soaring cliffs of Sam Ford Fjord and the dazzling icebergs dotting the Ilulissat Icefjord. In this remote, wildlife-rich region, you may spot whales in their natural surroundings or get a glimpse of one of the Arctic’s most iconic animals: the Polar bear.
* All meals while on the ship
* Beer and house wine during dinner
* All accommodation (17 nights on the ship, 2 nights hotel in Reykjavik)
* All transport and listed activities
* Tour leader throughout and qualified Expedition Staff
- Mandatory transfer package (including return charter flights Reykjavik to Kangerlussuaq) approx USD$1,900 (inquire for cost at time of booking) paid on booking)
- Room upgrades and extra nights at selected hotels (inquire for prices and details)
- Single Supplement (available on request – inquire for supplement)
- Search for iconic Arctic wildlife, such as Polar bears, Musk ox, walrus and whales
- Explore Canadian wildlife sanctuaries and the Ilulissat Icefjord, a UNESCO World Heritage Site
- Visit traditional settlements and meet Inuit and Greenlandic locals
- Travel in a small expedition vessel
- Accompanied by extremely qualified Expedition Staff
Arrive in Reykjavik, Iceland
Your Arctic expedition begins in Reykjavik. Explore Iceland’s capital city on your own before spending the night at your included hotel.
Embarkation day in Kangerlussuaq, Greenland
In the morning, the group will transfer to the airport and board our private charter flight to Kangerlussuaq, a small town at the eastern head of Sondre Stromfjord, one of the longest fjords in the world. After embarking the ship in the afternoon, enjoy time out on deck, taking in your new surroundings as you set sail on your Arctic expedition.
As we cruise across the Davis Strait, the Expedition Team will prepare you for the adventures that await. Learn about the storied history and politics of the Arctic, its fascinating wildlife, geology, ecology and climate, and the incredible sights you will soon explore. Staff will also keep a lookout for seabirds soaring above your ship, as well as whales that frequent the waters here.
Exploring Baffin Bay Island, Canada
Baffin Island is the fifth-largest island in the world, it was named for English navigator William Baffin, who ventured to the area in the early 17th century in search of the fabled Northwest Passage. Our days sailing along the island’s eastern coast will be guided by weather and ice conditions, with each day and each landing presenting new adventures. Some of our favourite destinations include Qikiqtarjuaq, Isabella Bay and Sam Ford Fjord. Towering mountains, deep fjords, colourful tundra, and Inuit settlements await!The Inuit community of Qikiqtarjuaq (which means “the big island” in Inuktitut) is located just north of the Arctic Circle, on Broughton Island. Fondly called Qik by locals, the welcoming hamlet offers a superb vantage point of the Davis Strait. You’ll also have a chance to support local Inuit artisans here by purchasing unique artwork, crafts and jewellery.The rarely explored Sam Ford Fjord is one of the most isolated places on the planet. It is a spectacular big-wall playground, attracting adventurous climbers eager to scale the dozens of towering vertical granite cliffs that erupt from the sea. Have your camera handy as you cruise along this impressive coastline carved by ancient glaciers—the towering formations, stacked side by side, are simply majestic.
As our ship sails farther north, take in a presentation by our on-board experts, sip an icy cocktail in the bar, watch a movie or join the Expedition Team on the bridge as they scan for wildlife—there is no shortage of activities while at sea.
The gateway to the Northwest Passage, Lancaster Sound is one of the richest marine habitats in the Arctic. With open-water areas staying ice-free all year, it is an important summer feeding area for whales and other marine wildlife. Our days here will be spent exploring several of the sound’s beautiful bays and inlets, discovering historical sites, enjoying Zodiac cruises and searching for such iconic wildlife as walrus, seals and, of course, whales. Polar bear sightings are possible too, as Lancaster Sound is known for polar bear sightings. If you’re fortunate, you may even spot the elusive Narwhal.There may be a possibility for a shore visit at Radstock Bay, the location of one of the most impressive ancient Thule sites in the Arctic. Exploring the well-preserved remains of the subterranean houses, including the whale bones used as supports for the dwellings, will give you an understanding of how these pre-Inuit people thrived in the Far North.We will attempt to land at Beechey Island, a Canadian National Historic Site. Named after explorer Frederick William Beechey, the island is the final resting place of members of Sir John Franklin’s 1845–46 expedition to find the Northwest Passage. The graves, on a desolate rocky beach, were discovered in 1850 by a team searching for signs of the ill-fated expedition.Predominantly covered in glaciers and ice fields, Coburg Island and its surrounding waters comprise the Nirjutiqavvik National Wildlife Area. The island’s steep coastal cliffs are an ideal habitat for hundreds of thousands of nesting seabirds like Brünnich’s guillemots (Thick-billed murres), Black-legged kittiwakes, Northern fulmars and Black guillemots.
Before saying goodbye to Canada, we’ll push as far north as possible, exploring both sides of Smith Sound, the uninhabited passage between Ellesmere Island and Greenland. Experience a true expedition as weather and ice determine how far north we explore.
Exploring Northwest Greenland
Return to Greenland and sail along the remote northwest coast, a land of impressive icebergs and massive glaciers. Qaanaaq, formerly known as Thule, is one of the northernmost towns in the world. Here, local Inuit share their culture and traditions, while the museum sheds more light on life near the top of the worldWe hope to explore Melville Bay, a significant whaling site until the early 1900s. Opening up to Baffin Bay, the area is a major egress for the Greenland ice cap and is home to spectacular icebergs in all shapes and sizes, making it an ideal spot for Zodiac cruising.
As we continue sailing south along the west coast of Greenland, presentations by our on-board experts will prepare you for the adventures that lie ahead.
Exploring West Greenland
Boasting spectacular glaciers, mountainous landscapes, dramatic fjords and vibrant communities, the west coast of Greenland will leave you breathless. Some areas we hope to explore here are Uummannaq, Itilleq and the impressive Ilulissat Icefjord.Quite possibly the most picturesque place in Greenland, the traditional Inuit town of Uummannaq (which means “heart-like”) takes its name from the red heart-shaped mountain that rises up a staggering 3,840 feet (1,170 metres) behind it. You’ll want to be positioned on deck as your ship approaches the shore, with your camera ready to capture the inspiring vistas of the twin peaks soaring high above the colorful houses dotting the rugged coastline.Another beautiful locale is the Ilulissat Icefjord, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Home to Jakobshavn, one of the most active glaciers in the world, this is a great spot to enjoy a Zodiac excursion past towering icebergs. Venturing ashore in the town of Ilulissat (which means “iceberg”) will allow you to visit the icefjord on foot and gaze at this unforgettable river of ice from the rocky shore.Surrounded by sea and mountains, Itilleq (meaning “crossing place”) is situated about a mile (2 km) above the Arctic Circle, in a scenic hollow on a small island. It is the southern limit of the Greenlandic sled dog. To keep the breed pure, the dogs are not permitted south of this community and all other dog breeds are prohibited this far north. Explore the town’s traditional wooden houses painted in a rainbow of colours, chat with the locals, whose main trade is fishing, and maybe challenge them to a game of football (soccer) — it won’t be long before you’re experiencing Itilleq’s famous friendly vibe.
Disembark in Kangerlussuaq and fly to Reykjavik
Enjoy one more Zodiac ride to shore, where you’ll board your charter flight back to Reykjavik, Iceland. Upon arrival in Reykjavik, we will transfer you to your included hotel.
Depart Reykjavik, Iceland
Today, you can make your way home at your leisure or spend time exploring this vibrant city.
The Best of the Western Arctic: Canada and Greenland voyage is offered on the Ocean Adventurer which is a Polar Adventure Ship. One night in a standard hotel in Oslo is included. Full board accommodation on the ship, generally on a twin share basis in a variety of cabin types, all with en suite facilities. Please visit the Polar Fleet page (www.exodus.co.uk/polar-holidays/polar-fleet) for Ship Information and Deck Plans.
Polar Adventure Ships
These are small ice rated vessels well qualified for Polar waters. Intimate adventures are always more enjoyable with like-minded passengers and staff, so these voyages are for people who like flexible itineraries and plenty to keep them busy. Activities include frequent Zodiac excursions, trekking, kayaking and many hours on deck in areas that other ships only dream about accessing. Food and staff are superb and every guest benefits from the technical advances of this superb fleet. Rest assured our Polar Adventure Ships enable any traveler to maximize their experience sensitively in the Poles.
All meals while on the ship included.
The ships galley offers good quality service and cuisine throughout, with excellent chefs preparing international menus including vegetarian dishes, accompanied by a wide variety of drinks from around the world on sale.
Breakfast: Buffet style – unlimited tea and coffee, a selection of fruit juices, hot options including bacon and eggs or omelettes, a selection of bread and toast and jam/honey/marmalade, fruit and cereal.
Lunch: Three course set meal, or the occasional buffet or BBQ.
Dinner: Three courses with a starter of soup, salad or anti-pasto, a choice of three mains with at least one vegetarian and one seafood option and a dessert of sweet pudding or ice cream or fruit, tea and coffee.
The voyages are designed to be as flexible as possible, taking advantage of circumstances and events as they occur, as well as passengers’ wishes and particular interests wherever possible. The atmosphere on board is relaxed and friendly with expedition staff, including naturalists and Polar experts, on hand and the opportunity to mingle with people from all over the world. The ship is kept warm, clean and comfortable with a wet/mud room in which to hang gear and store boots ready for the next adventure.
On the Zodiac cruises you are sitting still for most of the time with the potential for some sea spray and a cold headwind – if you are not dressed appropriately you will get cold. On the shore excursions, the majority of landings are wet which means that the Zodiacs beach and you are helped to slide into the ankle deep shore break before walking up onto dry land (wellington boots are issued to all passengers). There are, of course, no paths, so be prepared for slippery, rough terrain and sometimes fairly deep snow. Back on board the cozy ship after each adventure, you can have a sauna and/or a hot shower and then relax with a tea, coffee, hot chocolate or something stronger from the bar.
Sea kayaking option:
Kayaking in the Arctic is probably one of the most intimate and inspiring ways you can explore the rugged coastlines and calm bays of the regions we visit.
Kayaking in the Polar Regions is highly weather-dependent, however we guarantee at least one outing throughout your voyage, but your kayak guides will take you out as many times as possible throughout your voyage.
Offered on most Arctic voyages, spaces are limited and require some kayaking experience. All equipment, guides and instructions are provided by Quark.
Explore the ocean from a more intimate vantage point on a sit-on-top kayak. No experience is required to manuevre these very stable kayaks, allowing you to enjoy an unforgettable experience on the water, taking in breathtaking landscapes and wildlife. Whether it’s your first time in a kayak or you want greater flexibility to try other Adventure options, this shorter excursion is for you.
Paddling in the Polar Regions is highly weather-dependent and a one-time experience. Your kayak guides will attempt to take you out on the water for 1-1.5 hours of paddling. Offered on most voyages, spaces are limited. All equipment, guides and instructions are provided by Quark.
Following a review of all our trips we have categorised this trip as generally not suitable for persons of reduced mobility. However if you are a regular traveler on such trips, please contact customer services to discuss the trip and your personal condition.