Kangerlussuaq to Nome, USA

Kangerlussuaq to Nome, USA

Date: Aug 09 2014
Ship: Silver Explorer
Duration: 23 days
Voyage Code: 7418

 

"The Fabled Northwest Passage"

 

Expedition Highlights:

• Be one of few people to follow in the footsteps of Roald Amundsen – the first person to successfully sail through the legendary Northwest Passage
• Discover the cultures of remote Greenlandic towns
• Meet a sled dog team and their owners
• Cruise alongside spectacular icebergs and see one of the world’s fastest moving glaciers
• See the winter camp and final resting place of the Franklin Expedition
• Learn about the native Inuit and Pre-Dorset peoples
• Look for polar bears, musk ox, caribou and bears, as well as lemmings and Arctic hares.
• Observe large colonies of nesting seabirds and hopefully sight snowy owls, rough-legged hawks, gyrfalcons, and Peregrine falcons
• Search the seas for whales and the shore for walrus haul-outs
• Hunt for million-year-old fossils
• Hike across barren tundra landscapes

Day 1 — Kangerlussuaq, Greenland
Enjoy your first Zodiac ride to the Silver Explorer, waiting at anchor. Once all guests have embarked, we will depart on our exciting 23-day Silversea Expedition – “The Fabled Northwest Passage”. This evening, you will be introduced to your Expedition Leaders and attend a Zodiac briefing.

Day 2 — Sisimiut, Greenland
Located just north of the Arctic Circle, Sisimiut is the northernmost town in Greenland where the port remains free of ice in the winter. Yet it is also the southernmost town where there exists enough snow and ice to drive a dogsled in winter and spring. In Sisimiut, travelling by sled has been the primary means of winter transportation for centuries. Today we will meet a sled dog team and their owners, who will tell us all about sledding and how the Greenlandic sled dog has been bred to be amongst the strongest working dogs in the world.

Day 3 — Ilulissat, Greenland
Just after sunrise, be out on deck to see the northern hemisphere’s most active glacier – Jakobshavn – often surrounded by icebergs in all shapes and sizes and in varying shades of white and turquoise. Known as the birthplace of icebergs, the Ilulissat Icefjord produces nearly 20 million tons of ice each day. The town of Ilulissat is known for its long periods of calm and settled weather, but the climate is a bit colder due to its proximity to the fjord. While here, we may have the opportunity to see a demonstration of ancient fishing methods and enjoy some locally caught and prepared fish. During our guided walking tour of Ilulissat, we will visit the local history museum. The afternoon tour continues via fishing boat, as we navigate among the many icebergs at the fjord’s entrance. Alternatively, guests have the option to purchase an exciting helicopter excursion to see the magnificent Jakobshavn Icefjord by air.

Day 4 — Uummannaq, Greenland
In the iceberg-laden waters surrounding the remote community of Uummannaq it is common to see whales, so be sure to join the Expedition Team out on deck during our approach. This area of Greenland is known for its huge basalt mountains, and this small hunting and fishing village rests at the foot of a heart-shaped Uummannaq Mountain, a name that translates to mean “in the shape of a seal’s heart”. Together we will take a guided walking tour of Uummannaq to see the granite church and learn how village life revolves around the halibut/fish-processing factory. The more energetic will have the opportunity to hike to the “summer residence of Santa Claus”.

Day 5 — At Sea Crossing the Davis Strait
Gather in The Theatre to hear fascinating tales of adventure or to learn about the region’s endemic wildlife and remarkable nature. Our knowledgeable Lecture Staff members are experts in a variety of scientific fields. Other onboard diversions include spa treatments, a workout in the Fitness Centre, and, of course, exquisite dining experiences.

Day 6 — Pond Inlet, Nunavut, Canada
Located on the northeastern shore of Baffin Island, across from Bylot Island, the hamlet of Pond Inlet is known as Mittimatalik to the locals. This region was inhabited long ago by the Thule who left behind numerous archaeological artefacts, little vestiges of the past. After completing local immigration formalities we will go ashore to explore the Nattinnak Centre, Pond Inlet’s visitors’ centre, or maybe visit the Toonoonik Sahoonik Co-op where we can find carvings made from local red and green soapstone, beautiful wall hangings, and other unique items.

Day 7 — Dundas Harbour, Devon Island, Nunavut, Canada
Croker Bay, Devon Island, Nunavut, Canada

Excitement mounts as today we officially begin our journey across the Northwest Passage. Our first landing for the day takes us ashore to the abandoned settlement of Dundas Harbour, called Talluruti in Inuktitut. Together we will explore the quiet expanses of barren tundra while our onboard historian describes the various attempts to settle the area over the years. We hope to see the rough-legged hawks that nest on the cliffs and catch a glimpse of grazing muskoxen.

Our plan for the afternoon is to cruise along the tidewater glacier at Croker Bay and observe the sedimentary rock formations behind it. Watch for walrus, polar bear and caribou – all of which have been spotted here in the past.

Day 8 — Prince Leopold Island, Nunavut, Canada
Somerset Island, Nunavut, Canada

One of the top birding sites in the Arctic, the tall cliffs of Prince Leopold Island are our morning destination today. As our Captain skilfully navigates the Silver Explorer along the coast south of Lancaster Sound, we can observe the area’s bird species including a large rookery of Thick-Billed Murre, Black-legged Kittiwake and Northern Fulmar.

In the late morning, the Silver Explorer repositions to Somerset Island where we will step ashore at Port Leopold to see the abandoned trading post where English explorer James Clark Ross wintered during his search for the missing Franklin expedition.

Day 9 — Beechey Island, Nunavut, Canada
Resolute, Cornwallis Island, Nunavut, Canada

An important landmark for vessels entering Canada’s High Arctic, Beechey Island is best known as the location where the lost Franklin expedition spent its first winter (1845-46) and, subsequently, where search parties found the gravesites of at least three of Franklin’s men. Here we will see the three weathered wooden grave markers and visit the memorial to Franklin and his men.

Late in the afternoon we land on the southern coast of Cornwallis Island where we visit Canada’s penultimate northernmost community at Resolute, named after the HMS Resolute, a British ship that had been sent to search for the lost Franklin expedition. The Inuktitut name for Resolute is Quaasuittuq, meaning “the place with no dawn”. Join the Expedition Team to search for whales in the bay and hike along an old seabed to discover fossils dating back 400 million years.

Days 10-21 — Quest for the Northwest Passage
For hundreds of years, explorers sought to find a route through Canada’s Arctic archipelago to speed travel between the Atlantic and Pacific, Europe and Asia. Succeeding at of the world’s most severe maritime challenges, Amundsen’s route takes us through deep channels north of the Arctic Circle on a journey that begins just north of Baffin Island and ends in the Beaufort Sea, north of Alaska. A flexible itinerary allows the Captain and Expedition Leader to take local conditions into account and plan the best route for our attempt through the Northwest Passage. For the next few days, we will be in true expedition mode, while, of course, allowing the maximum amount of time possible for exploring ashore. Here are some of the places we may visit:

In Peel Sound we look for polar bears, while at King William Island we could anchor in the same bay where Amundsen put his ship, the Gjoa, into the “finest little harbour in the world”, and remained here for two years.

In Queen Maud Gulf we might land on Jenny Lind Island where we could encounter musk oxen, polar bears, snow owls and reindeer.

In Cambridge Bay, we could visit with some of the 1,400 inhabitants and experience Inuit culture with a drum dance performance, while learning about the Pre-Dorset people that first occupied this area.

On Banks Island, we could visit the Aulavik National Park near Sachs Harbour. The area has the highest concentration of muskoxen on earth. Here we could also catch a glimpse of the Peary caribou or the more common barren-ground caribou. The completely treeless park is home to arctic foxes, brown and northern collared lemmings and arctic hares. Ornithologists amongst us will delight in sightings of snowy owls, rough-legged hawks, gyrfalcons, and Peregrine falcons, who feed on the lemmings.

On the east coast of Cape Bathurst we encounter the Smoking Hills, discovered by John Franklin during his 1826 expeditions. These hills contain strata of hydrocarbons (oil shales) that have been burning for centuries. The clouds of smoke have given the region its name.

At Tuktuyaaqtuuq we discover the former Port Brabant. The community was renamed in 1950 and was the first place in Canada to revert to the traditional Native name. From here we can explore the Pingo National Landmark, where many mounds of earth-covered ice can be seen including the Ibyuk pingo, Canada's highest (and the world's second-highest), at 49 m (161 ft).

On Hershell Island we join local Canadian Rangers and learn more about the former whaling station while walking on rolling tundra. If we are lucky we will spot porcupine caribou and muskox, while our ornithologist will be on the lookout for some of the 94 bird species that have been spotted on the island.

Upon reaching Barrow, Alaska we will have become some of the very few people to have ever successfully cruised through the Northwest Passage.

Days 22–23 — At Sea
Two leisurely days at sea are yours to enjoy. Binoculars and camera in hand, head out on deck to watch for seabirds and marine mammals. Peruse an array of titles and topics in the well-stocked Library, enjoy a fine cognac at the Connoisseur’s Corner or indulge in any of the other special amenities offered aboard ship. Did you know? All expedition lectures are broadcast from The Theatre so that should you prefer, you can enjoy from the comfort of your suite or stateroom.

Day 24 — Nome, Alaska, USA
We arrive in Nome in the morning. Following breakfast on board, disembark the Silver Explorer.

Expedition highlights and wildlife listed here are possible experiences only and cannot be guaranteed. Your Expedition Leader and Captain will work together to ensure opportunities for adventure and exploration are the best possible, taking into account the prevailing weather and wildlife activity. Expedition Team members scheduled for this voyage are subject to change or cancellation.