High Arctic Explorer
A remote journey into the heart of the Canadian Arctic
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Vacation Style Holiday Type
Activity Level Leisurely
The great appeal of this voyage is the immediate immersion into the Arctic wilderness from the very first day. We achieve this by commencing in Resolute, one of the most northern outposts in the Canadian Arctic.This stunning 10-day journey is the perfect blend of wildlife, history, culture and scenery. The long hours of daylight give us maximum time to explore known wildlife hot spots including one of the largest migratory bird sanctuaries in the world, at Prince Leopold Island.History is a key focus and we plan on visiting numerous Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) outposts such as Grise Fjord, Craig Harbour and Dundas Harbour. A highlight for many will be a visit to remote Beechey Island, the final resting place of several men from Sir John Franklin’s ill-fated expedition in the 1840s. Along the ice floe edge we encounter Beluga and Bowhead whales and hope to encounter the mythical Narwhal. Sightings of Polar bear can be expected at numerous locations throughout the voyage.This exceptional journey takes us to the highest latitudes all season at Ellesmere Island – just 500 nautical miles from the North Pole. If you are looking for the ultimate in remote expedition cruising, this is the voyage.
* All meals while on the ship
* All accommodation
* All transport and listed activities
* Tour leader throughout and qualified Expedition Staff
* Flights from London (if booking incl. flights)
Fly Edmonton, Alberta to Resolute, Nunavut and embark
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 meet the Expedition Team and get to know our fellow guests over a welcome cocktail. We weigh anchor and depart Resolute in the early evening.
Maxwell Bay, Devon Island
A large bay on the south coast of Devon Island, Maxwell Bay offers some wonderful hiking opportunities ashore and great wildlife watching from the water. Musk ox and caribou can be found here as well as Polar bears. Harp seals, Ringed seals, Bearded seals and even walruses have been spotted in the various coves and inlets of the bay.
Croker Bay & Dundas Harbour
Our voyage continues east through Lancaster Sound along the southern coastline of Devon Island. Lancaster Sound, which separates Devon and Baffin Island, has been likened to the wildlife ‘super highway’ of the Arctic. Massive volumes of water from the Atlantic to the east and Arctic Ocean 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, which live both above and below the water.Croker Bay is home to healthy and sizable population of Musk ox and we will look for these prehistoric looking creatures as we hike ashore. This location features dramatic scenery with deep blue icebergs set against a backdrop of richly coloured peaks. The immense Croker Glacier descends into the steely waters and is a great location for a zodiac cruise. This afternoon, we plan on visiting the abandoned Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) outpost at Dundas Harbour. It was established in 1924 and operated for about a decade. It re-opened again in the 1940s for about 10 years, when the RCMP established a regular patrol presence in the region. The old buildings make great photography subjects in this wild and remote location.
Coburg Island National Wildlife Area
Nirjutiqavvik National Wildlife Area is home to almost 400,000 seabirds including 11% of Canada’s population of Thick-billed murres and 16% of Northern fulmars. We zodiac cruise along the bird cliffs and will be awestruck by the sheer number of birds in the skies above. We often encounter marine mammals when exploring these waters, including Beluga whales
Grise Fjord & Craig Harbour
Grise Fjord is the northernmost community in Canada and one of the most isolated communities in the world. Settled in 1953 by the Canadian government as a sovereignty exercise during the Cold war, the less than 100 people living in Grise Fiord are mostly descended from the eight Inuit families relocated there from Northern Quebec. The scenery is stunning, the wildlife is abundant and we are warmly welcomed by the community. Nearby Craig Harbour is the site of an abandoned RCMP outpost, established in 1922 as the RCMP sought to patrol the North and provide services to the Inuit. Staffed with RCMP officers and a few special constables and their families, Craig Harbour operated for approximately 10 years before closing. It was reopened in the early 1950s during the Cold War. We will visit this historic site and learn about its important history as we hike and explore the bay and hillsides of Craig Harbour.
Cape Hay, Bylot Island Bird Sanctuary
Located on the northern coast of Bylot Island and within the boundary of Sirmilik National Park, the bird cliffs of Cape Hay are home to Thick-billed murres and Black guillemots, along with Black-legged kittiwakes. This superb location is a prime nesting spot for several hundred thousand birds. The scenery here will take your breath away as your eyes gaze beyond the tundra, towards the soaring mountain ranges in the distance.
Elwin Inlet & Cape Charles Yorke
We navigate the ship into nearby Elwin Inlet, a breathtaking fjord which is well protected and great for a zodiac cruise or hike onshore. Cape Charles Yorke offers several great walking opportunities. We will keep our eyes peeled for Polar bears, which are plentiful along this coastline.
Port Leopold & Prince Leopold Island
Having crossed Prince Regent Inlet overnight, we approach the towering bird cliffs of Prince Leopold Island in the morning. This is an important Migratory Bird Sanctuary, home to Thick-billed murres, Black guillemots, Northern fulmars and Black-legged kittiwakes. 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 an 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 come here to moult in each Arctic Summer.
Beechey Island holds great historic importance in the story of the Northwest Passage. It is here that Sir John Franklin’s ill-fated expedition spent its last ‘comfortable’ winter in 1845 before disappearing into the icy vastness, sparking an incredible series of search expeditions that lasted almost three decades.The mystery of what happened to Franklin was partially solved in September 2014, when a joint Parks Canada and Royal Canadian Geographical 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 is a thrilling location for history buffs and for many, it will be the defining moment of our expedition. We return to the ship and this evening enjoy a special dinner attended by the Captain. It’s a great time to reflect on the wildlife, history and dramatic scenery of this pristine Arctic wilderness.
Disembark Resolute, Nunavut and fly to Edmonton, Alberta
By morning, we are at anchor in Resolute – from where we commenced our expedition over a week ago. 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.