The second High Arctic Explorer Cruise (August 11- August 22, 2020) follows the itinerary below.
The first High Arctic Explorer (July 31- August 11, 2020 will run in reverse.
Day 1: Qausuittuq (Resolute Bay)
Qausuittuq, or “place with no dawn,” is named for its dark winters. But in summer, the sun persists constantly from about April 29 to August 13 each year. The community’s English name, Resolute Bay, honours the HMS Resolute.
“Resolute” also describes local Inuit who were relocated, in 1953, from Inukjuak, Québec, and Mittimatalik by the Canadian government. Our early morning charter flight will bring us to Qausuittuq, where we will embark the Ocean Endeavour.
Day 2: Beechey Island
In 1845, Sir John Franklin set out from England with HMS Erebus and Terror, attempting to sail through the Northwest Passage. Franklin’s party overwintered at Beechey Island where three of his men died.
Numerous search parties later used Beechey as a depot and rendezvous. Amundsen, Bernier, and Larsen all visited Beechey. Thomas Morgan of HMS Investigator was buried there in 1854 alongside Franklin’s men. The graves and the ruins of Northumberland House are a haunting memorial.
Day 3: Devon Island
Devon Island is the largest uninhabited island on Earth at over fifty thousand square kilometres. The island's geology is stunning, and very visible as we sail the coast. Flat topped mountains, glacial valleys, and a substantial ice cap give Devon Island its unique character.
Devon Island has a rich human history, and boasts historical and archeological features. We’ll also be on the watch for wildlife.
Day 4: Tallurutiup Imanga (Lancaster Sound)
We will spend the day exploring the ocean wilderness of Tallurutiup Imanga (Lancaster Sound). In August of 2017, this enormous body of water was declared a National Marine Conservation Area.
Large populations of marine mammals, including narwhal, beluga, and bowhead whales transit and feed in this area. There is a great selection of landing sites available to choose from, depending on weather, wildlife, and sea conditions.
Day 5: North Baffin Island
Today will be an expedition day in the truest sense as we explore Northern Baffin Island’s mountainous fjords. Weather, ice, and opportunity will determine our route among the spectacular geology. Expert spotters will be on deck, searching for seabirds, including thick-billed murres and kittiwakes. We’ll also watch for marine mammals and scan the shores for muskoxen, caribou, and bears.
Day 6: Mittimatalik (Pond Inlet)
Mittimatalik is a bustling Arctic community in a beautiful setting. The views of nearby Bylot Island are stunning. We will have a chance to explore the town, including its excellent library and other facilities.
A cultural presentation at the Community Hall is not to be missed—arts and crafts may be available here, too. The Northern and Co-op stores offer a unique perspective on life in the Arctic, and sometimes have carvings as well.
Day 7: At Sea — Davis Strait
Our onboard presentation series will continue as we steam across Davis Strait towards Greenland. Our expedition team will deepen your understanding of the Arctic as we go! This is an excellent time to enjoy workshops and group learning, watch a documentary, or dive into our library.
While out on deck, keep your binoculars ready for minke and humpback whales amid potential pack ice, as well as the seabirds that are sure to mark our passage.
Day 8: Western Greenland
Greenland’s west coast is simply stunning. An expedition stop in this area will offer many outstanding features of interest. Hikers, walkers, photographers, and contemplators will all be equally delighted. From mighty mountains to the tiniest tundra flowers, we will have much to explore.
Day 9: Uummannaq Fjord
Uummannaq Fjord in northwest Greenland is the country’s second-largest system of fjords. It is considered Greenland’s sunniest place. A favourable climate—coupled with proximity to coastal travel routes—has made the fjord system a popular destination for Greenlandic Inuit.
The region has been settled for thousands of years. The famous ‘Greenland mummies’ dating to the 1400s were found in Qilakitsoq, near the town of Uummannaq, perched on the slopes of a heart-shaped mountain.
Day 10: Ilulissat
Ilulissat translates literally into “iceberg”, an apt name for this site at the mouth of the Ilulissat Icefjord—a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The icefjord is the outlet of the Sermeq Kujalleq Glacier, source of many of the icebergs in the North Atlantic.
Here, we will cruise in our fleet of Zodiacs to appreciate the icebergs. We will also visit the bustling town of Ilulissat, with its museums, cafes, craft shops, and busy fishing harbour.
Day 11: Sisimiut Coast
People have lived in the Sisimiut area for 4,500 years. For the first 2,000 years, the people of the Saqqaq culture occupied the area. Approx. 2,500 years ago, new people brought the Dorset culture to the Sisimiut area. They lived here for 1,500 years and were followed by the people of the Thule culture—the ancestors of the current population. All these cultures came from Canada. The people primarily lived on fish, birds and mammals such as whales and seals. The ice-free conditions in the sea around Sisimiut, including some of Greenland’s deepest fjords, allow us to sail in waters that are home to many whales and seals.
Day 12: Kangerlussuaq
Sondre Stromfjord is one of the longest fjords in the world and boasts 168 kilometres of superb scenery. We end our adventure by sailing up this dramatic fjord as the sun rises to greet us.
Kangerlussuaq, the town at its eastern head, is a former US Air Force base and Greenland’s primary flight hub. Here, we will disembark the Ocean Endeavour and transfer to the airport for our return charter flight.