AUGUST/SEPTEMBER 2024: AXEL HEIBERG AND ELLESMERE, SEARCHING THE NORTH WEST PASSAGE

 

23 August – 04 September 2024

Spectacular expedition cruise aboard a luxurious and modern ice class ship equipped with helicopters, in the maze of islands that make up the Canadian High Arctic, in an area between the 72nd and 80th degrees of latitude north. This area of the Arctic, particularly remote and wild, has been visited in history by a very small number of vessels, therefore, it is a real exploratory journey. The objectives of this expedition are the most northern and remote islands of Nunavut: Axel Heiberg and Ellesmere. We will go in search of the magnificent fauna that inhabits these extreme regions, including Polar Bears, Whales, Seals, Walruses, Caribou and Musk Ox, and if we are very lucky even the Arctic Wolf. We will get closer to the rich Inuit culture admiring high cliffs, spectacular glacial formations and horizonless panoramas. Our group size is limited to a maximum of 8 people.

PROGRAM

23  August
Flight to Calgary (not included).
Overnight at Hotel.

24  August
Flight Calgary – Resolute Bay (not included).
Once we arrive at our destination we will be transferred aboard the Ultramarine, Quark Expeditions’ latest ship equipped with two twin-engine helicopters and 20 zodiacs, thus allowing us to explore this breathtaking environment from completely new perspectives. Only 4 double cabins are available to our group.
* A SHORT HELICOPTER FLIGHT IS INCLUDED IN THE PRICE, OTHERS WILL BE OFFERED AND BOOKABLE ON BOARD IF WEATHER CONDITIONS WILL ALLOW IT.
Upon arrival, before being transferred to the ship by zodiac or helicopter, depending on the location of the ship and the weather conditions, there may be the possibility of visiting this small and remote Inuit settlement on foot. One of Canada’s northernmost settlements, Resolute Bay was founded by the Canadian government’s forced relocation of Inuit from northern Quebec in 1953, during the Cold War. About 200 people live here.
Once settled on board we will begin the expedition cruise.
Overnight stay on board.

25 August – 02 September
Sailing in these remote waters, among inlets, straits and frozen bays as legendary explorers did will certainly be exciting. Designed to offer unprecedented exploration to the most difficult areas of the planet and to reach the northernmost islands of Canada: Axel Heiberg Island and Ellesmere Island, this adventure is one of a kind. This voyage does not have a fixed itinerary, our objective will be to visit the area in as much depth as possible, given the weather conditions and ice situation at the moment. Every day we will offer zodiac excursions, shore excursions, a visit to some Inuit communities and the best wildlife observation opportunities. A real plus is represented by the 2 helicopters on board, which will allow us to observe the spectacular polar landscapes from the sky.
Although these waters are known to European cultures as the Northwest Passage, this area has nourished and supported the Inuit for nearly 5,000 years. As we move through these remote landscapes we will also travel through this ancient culture, accompanied by Inuit guides on board and on land.
We will follow in the footsteps of the few lucky polar adventurers who passed through the famous Hell’s Gate to reach the top of the world, the spectacular Ellesmere Island. Known as the gateway to the mysterious North Pole, this narrow waterway sits between two of Canada’s most beautiful islands: Ellesmere Island and Devon Island. Transiting the canal is a myth for any High Arctic explorer, as crossing it takes you to one of the most spectacular and least visited parts of our planet. A natural convergence, channeling currents, drifting ice and marine life between its shores, Hell Gate is home to a large concentration of fauna. If conditions allow us, we will reach the high and threatening snow-capped peaks of this polar desert that exceed 2500 meters, one of the most remote places on the planet, a land of deep fjords, jagged mountains and enormous ice floes.

The uniqueness of Axel Heiberg Island, the second northernmost island in Canada, covered by more than a third of ice and home to the most spectacular and impressive foothill glaciers in the world, will be another important objective. Most famous for its mummified forest dating back over 30 million years, the island is home to several species of birds, with Snow Buntings, Ptarmigans, Skuas and Arctic Terns, among others, nesting here.
Wildlife sightings are almost guaranteed as many of the areas we hope to explore are home to surprising numbers of birds and mammals that live in this harsh environment. Among others, Polar Bears, Musk Oxen and various species of birds, such as Gyrifalcons and Little Auks. If we’re lucky, even the elusive Narwhal or Arctic Wolf, although sightings of these iconic creatures in the wild are rare.
Coburg Island, for example, is a nature reserve for birds such as the Snowy Owl and the Peregrine Falcon, while the impressive vertical cliffs of Prince Leopold Island are dotted with over 300,000 nesting seabirds such as the Fulmar, Black Guillemot and Brünnich’s Guillemot.
The sheltered shores and steep cliffs of Arctic Bay, a picturesque village located off Admiralty Inlet, provide an ideal nesting habitat for various High Arctic birds, such as Snow Geese, Brünnich’s Guillemots and Kittiwakes, as well as the rare Ivory Gulls and Ross’s Gulls.
Seals, Narwhals and Bowhead Whales live in these waters. The region has been inhabited by Inuit and Thule cultures for almost 5,000 years, making it the ideal place to sample local cuisine and socialize with artists, perhaps collecting sculptures or other handcrafted products as a souvenir of our polar adventure.
Devon Island is another possible location for wildlife encounters, as Walruses, Polar Bears and Musk Oxen inhabit the area, which is also where the remains of a Royal Canadian Mounted Police outpost, founded in Dundas Harbor in 1924 to curb whaling and other activities by foreigners. Nearby there is a small cemetery, one of the northernmost in Canada, still managed by the RCMP today. Another exciting excursion that may be offered on board, weather permitting, will be the opportunity to explore the Devon Ice Sheet, one of the largest in the Canadian Arctic, by helicopter. This is the largest uninhabited island in the world and is so cold and dry that NASA and other organizations conduct research here for future Mars missions.
History buffs will also be intrigued by the chance to visit an abandoned Hudson’s Bay Company trading post at Fort Ross, at the southern tip of Somerset Island, and pay their respects to the ill-fated Franklin Expedition of 1845-46 at the grave of three crew members on Beechey Island, one of Canada’s most important historic Arctic exploration sites.
We may also have the opportunity to explore a very active glacier near Croker Bay by zodiac and perhaps even witness an iceberg calving, or encounter the walruses that are often seen in the area.
There is no shortage of natural beauty, wildlife and history in the Canadian High Arctic. Every day we will discover something new and inspiring, whether it is admiring tundra flora, a rare species of bird, a Polar Bear or the ancient remains of a Thule dwelling.

03  September
After breakfast we will disembark and reach the airport for our flight back to Calgary.
Flight Resolute Bay – Calgary (not included).
Overnight at Hotel

* EMBRACING ADVENTURE AND UNKNOWN IS PART OF THE HERITAGE AND ENTHUSIASM OF EXPEDITION TRAVEL. WHEN TRAVELING TO EXTREMELY REMOTE REGIONS, THE SEA, ICE AND WEATHER DICTATE ROUTE AND TIMES OF THE ITINERARY. THIS PROGRAM REPRESENTS A TEMPORARY SCHEDULE, IT IS NOT POSSIBLE TO GUARANTEE ANY SPECIFIC ITINERARY. LIKEWISE, ENCOUNTERS WITH WILDLIFE ARE VERY LIKELY, BUT NOT GUARANTEED.

Included in the price:

–   Full board cruise.
–   All excursion during the cruise by zodiac, 1 short helicopter flight is also included.
–   Parka.

Not included:

–  Meals not on the ship.
–  Flights.
–  GST (Goods and Services Tax).      
–  Transfers and hotel in Calgary.
–  Any unexpected additional costs due to delays and/or forced stops due to flight connections, including flight changes, hotels and additional meals.

Voyage Map

PRICE PER PERSON
Explorer Suite (26,5 mq window) Euro 11000,00
Balcony Suite (21  +  5 mq  balcony)  Euro 11800,00

*A package including the hotel in Calgary and the charter flight Calgary – Resolute Bay is available at 1900,00 Euro.
THIS PRICE IS ALREADY DISCOUNTED 40% FROM THE REGULAR PRICE

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