Northwest Passage

Travel Idea:

Northwest Passage

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Length of trip:

13 days

Approximate price of this trip per person:

from $ 4200 to $ 8400

Best travel dates to go:

Aug 25, 2008 to Sep 06, 2008; Sep 06, 2008 to Sep 18, 2008;


Detailed Description of this trip:

The Northwest Passage – a route almost across the top of the world – was long sought by the traders, explorers, and military strategists of Europe, Russian Asia, and the American North. Now in the comfortable “Akademik Ioffe” you can repeat the journey completed by the world’s most successful polar explorer, Roald Amundson. Navigating a course through the Arctic that few people have achieved, this year’s expeditions each promise to be an exciting journey of discovery. Starting at the eastern end of the Northwest Passage, you will sail southwards through the Arctic Archipelago, looking for the mainland of Canada and a channel heading west. These waterways are renowned for tricky navigation, rapidly changing ice conditions supporting a diverse population of wildlife, ranging from ducks to whales. Here you’ll find evidence of the European legends of discovery, including the most notorious of all, the ill-fated Franklin expedition of 1845. The journey begins in the small community of Resolute and takes you south through Prince Regent Inlet to Bellot Strait, where Point Zenith on Boothia Peninsula marks the most northerly point of Canada’s mainland. After arrival at Bellot Strait, you’ll continue south to King William Island, navigating around it and through Simpson Strait to Coronation Gulf. Then you will sail west between Victoria Island and the mainland and up into the Beaufort Sea, hopefully visiting a community on the west coast of Victoria Island before heading south to land on the mainland Northwest Territories. We will turn our ship eastward and head towards Cambridge Bay. Here you end your journey, paying tribute to all of the Arctic explorers that shared the spirit of adventure before us.



Trip Itinerary:

  • Day 1 - Resolute

    Ottawa to Resolute.
    Hotel

    Your expedition begins early this morning at the meeting point at the Hotel Crowne Plaza in Ottawa.

    Ocean Cruise

    A local representative will meet you upon landing, and in the afternoon you’ll begin Zodiac embarkation to the Akademik Ioffe, your ship and home for the next 12 nights.
    You’ll set sail in the evening, heading east towards Lancaster Sound. Once on board, you’ll be introduced to the expedition team and have your first briefing on the adventures to come. A critical factor on your journey will be the state of the ice. Your expedition leader and ice pilot will bring you up to date on the prevailing conditions and explain how you'll best make your way through the Passage. Ice and weather conditions may make it necessary for us to make changes to your itinerary, but this unpredictability is all part of the exploratory nature of this remarkable adventure.
    Meals: Dinner

  • Day 2 - At Sea

    Beechey Island and Prince Leopold Island.
    Sightseeing

    You will wake up in Erebus and Terror Bay, overlooking the beach at Beechey Island, the last known wintering site of the Franklin Expedition. Many of the expeditions sent to discover the fate of the Franklin Expedition stopped at Beechey Island, and the remains of these expeditions are visible in the outlines of Northumberland House and the cross made from the tin supplies left behind. There are also four graves, three of which are from the Franklin Expedition. Despite its bleakness, this site nevertheless commemorates the steadfast determination of the British to explore and open up the Arctic. It stands as a reminder of all the courageous people that died exploring this vast land. It’s also a fitting place to start your voyage of exploration.

    Ocean Cruise

    From Beechey, you'll head southeast for Prince Leopold Island, just off the northeastern tip of Somerset Island.

    Sightseeing

    Prince Leopold Island is home to hundreds of thousands of seabirds during the peak of the breeding season. Although it's late in the season, you may still catch a glimpse of Thick-billed murres, Black guillemots and Black-legged kittiwakes. You should also keep on the lookout for polar bears, who often make this their summer home. Leaving Prince Leopold Island, you will sail south into Prince Regent Inlet, watching for sea life as you go. This waterway is known to be a summering ground for belugas, narwhal, and occasionally, bowhead whales.
    Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

  • Day 3 - At Sea

    Fort Ross and Bellot Strait.
    Ocean Cruise

    As you near the southern end of Somerset Island, you'll turn west and approach what appears to be a narrow inlet. This is the entrance to Bellot Strait, a narrow channel separating the North American mainland from Somerset Island. Point Zenith, located halfway through the strait, marks the northernmost point of mainland North America.

    Sightseeing

    Before entering Bellot Strait, you will stop at Depot Bay and visit the abandoned Hudson’s Bay Company trading post established at Fort Ross. The shoreline and hills around Fort Ross bear signs of Dorset and Thule habitation, attesting to centuries and perhaps thousands of years of seasonal habitation - obviously a good place to trade. You will explore the site before returning to the ship for the transit of Bellot Strait.

    Ocean Cruise

    Upon exiting the western end of Bellot Strait and entering Franklin Strait, you will turn south and head towards King William Island.
    Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

  • Day 4 - At Sea

    King William Island.
    Historical and Educational Tours

    Today you will hopefully stop on an island that will undoubtedly be one of the historical highlights of your trip, in a place where the mystery surrounding the notorious Franklin expedition still prevails. Here, within 25 km of King William Island, Franklin’s HMS Erebus and Terror remained trapped in ice for two winters. The ships were abandoned on April 22nd, 1848, north-northwest of Victory Point. The only written record ever recovered from the expedition was found 10 years after its disappearance. Francis McClintock’s expedition discovered the evidence buried in a cairn at Victory Point. Other traces have been found scattered along the coast of the island, but no trace of the ships has ever been discovered.

    Sightseeing

    In contrast to Franklin’s disastrous expedition, Roald Amundsen sailed down the west coast of King William Island with very little trouble in 1903 and 1904. He set up scientific instrumentation in several locations and then located the magnetic North Pole, which at that time was very near King William Island.
    Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

  • Day 5 - Gjoa Haven

    Gjoa Haven.
    Sailing

    Sailing down the east coast of King William Island, you will stop at the village of Gjoa Haven.

    Sightseeing

    A small village with less than 1,000 inhabitants, Gjoa Haven is named after Amundsen’s ship, the Gjoa (pronounced Joe). The Inuit name for the town is Usqsuqtuuq, which means “a place of plenty of fat," referring to the excellent hunting and fishing grounds close to town. Home to the Northwest Passage Territorial Park interpretation center, you will learn much about the European exploration of the region as well as the Inuit culture still present in the community.

    Ocean Cruise

    You will leave Gjoa Haven in time to sail through Simpson Strait during the daylight. This shallow waterway has challenged many ships over the years, and your transit will depend on wind and ice conditions.
    Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

  • Day 6-7 - At Sea

    Jenny Lind Island and Coronation Gulf.
    Ocean Cruise

    Today you'll voyage west with North America on your port side and the Arctic archipelago on your starboard. Ice and wind will dictate your activities as we search for small bays with good landing beaches to explore.

    Sightseeing

    Many of the waterways in this part of the Arctic are shallow and poorly charted. Coupled with moving sea ice, our sailing route is often determined at the last minute, which only adds to the sense of adventure. The channels that you follow have been charted by the Canadian Coast Guard/Canadian Hydrographic Service for the supply vessels that support the isolated communities in the Arctic. In addition, some of the charting was done for the Distance Early Warning Line (DEW Line), established from Alaska to Labrador in the 1950’s as a line of missile detection radars providing complete coverage across the top of North America.

    Sailing

    You will sail past a number of these sites as you travel west.
    Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

  • Day 8 - At Sea

    Holman, Northwest Territories.
    Sailing

    Sailing up the coast of Victoria Island throughout the morning, you will hopefully arrive in Holman just after lunch.

    Arts, Crafts and Antiques

    This small community will be the western-most community that you visit and is well known for its print shop and local artwork. You may be able to visit the print shop and meet some of the local artists while in town.

    Sailing

    You will sail southwest in the early evening, heading for mainland Canada.
    Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

  • Day 9 - At Sea

    Smoking Hills, Northwest Territories.
    Sightseeing

    With good visibility, you should see the Smoking Hills from miles away as you approach the coastline.

    Hiking

    The plan is to disembark by Zodiac and hike up into the hills to look at this phenomenon. The bituminous shale of these hills have been spontaneously burning for centuries, affecting the local tundra vegetation and the acidity of the tundra ponds nearby.
    Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

  • Day 10-12 - At Sea

    Amundsen Gulf to Queen Maud Gulf.
    Sailing

    As you turn back to the east and begin your journey towards Cambridge Bay, you will sail closer to the North American coastline.

    Sightseeing

    You'll stop to visit a few abandoned outposts and villages along the way. At Pearce Point, you will learn about the Royal Canadian Mounted Police and their sovereignty outposts in the Arctic.

    Sightseeing

    Your last excursion will most likely be on Victoria Island, visiting the mouth of the Lachlan River in Byron Bay. This is a great place to hike and view the tundra. This harsh landscape is also frequented by musk oxen, the shaggy haired, great horned member of the goat family. The musk oxen were hunted down to very low numbers, in part because of a defensive strategy they have adopted to protect themselves from Arctic wolves. Backing themselves into a defensive circle with the young in the middle and the great horned ‘bosses’ facing out is very effective against most predators, except humans. Their numbers are slowly recovering, and musk oxen have learned to be wary of humans. Our guides, however, have great experience in finding and approaching musk oxen without scaring them off.
    Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

  • Day 13 - Edmonton

    Cambridge Bay - Edmonton.
    Commercial Flight

    Upon your arrival in Cambridge Bay, you’ll disembark from the ship via Zodiac and transfer to the airport for your flight to Edmonton.

    Upon arrival in Edmonton this evening, you’ll be transferred to the Crowne Plaza Lacombe Hotel.
    Meals: Breakfast

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