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Northwest Passage: Epic High Arctic

17 days

For centuries, intrepid explorers were determined to find the Northwest Passage, the fabled and often fatal route of icy channels connecting Europe with Asia. None of their stories is as enduring as that of Sir John Franklin and his crew, who never returned from their fateful 1845–46 expedition. The tragic tale has captured the imagination of history lovers ever since. On this new, 17-day voyage, journey back in time to the height of arctic exploration. As a modern-day adventurer, navigate the same waters and visit the same sites that played an important role in the discovery of the sea route—all from the comfort of your small expedition vessel, of course!

Though Franklin’s legend will be our focus, spectacular scenery and unique wildlife abound on this active expedition, which also has you exploring the deep fjords, ancient glaciers and innumerable icebergs of Greenland’s west coast. Zodiac cruises and hiking excursions bring you closer to the raw beauty of lands few have set foot on and waters few have sailed.

The Northwest Passage: Three Weeks in the High Arctic

Special Interests

Engage With The Locals

Fascination with Indigenous cultures and the chronicles of early polar exploration pique the curiosity of many. If you're gripped by people and history—from busy, modern villages to untouched ancient ruins—the Northwest Passage voyage is for you.

If you're interested in learning more about this voyage and Arctic cultures it visits, talk to a Quark Polar Travel Advisor at 888.979.4073

 

Day-by-Day Expedition in Brief

  • Experience highlights of the Canadian Arctic and Greenland
  • Visit traditional Inuit and Greenlandic communities
  • View arctic wildlife, such as whales, walrus and muskoxen
  • Explore the Ilulissat Icefjord, a UNESCO World Heritage Site
  • Cruise in a Zodiac to get up close to the spectacular scenery

Day 1 — Arrive in Ottawa, Canada

Your arctic expedition begins in Ottawa. Explore Canada’s capital city on your own before spending the night at your well-appointed hotel.

Day 2 — Fly to Resolute

This morning, board your charter flight to Resolute. Upon arrival, you’ll have a chance to walk around this small arctic town before enjoying your first of many Zodiac cruises as you’re transferred to your ship.

Days 3 to 6 — Exploring Canada’s High Arctic

Named after explorer Frederick William Beechey, of the Royal Navy, Beechey Island is a Canadian National Historic Site. It’s an important stop on our voyage, as this is the final resting place of three members of Sir John Franklin’s ill-fated 1845–46 expedition to find the Northwest Passage.

Days 7 and 8 — Exploring Smith Sound

Before saying goodbye to Canada, we’ll try to cruise as far north as possible, exploring both sides of Smith Sound, the uninhabited passage between Ellesmere Island and Greenland.

Day 9 — Qaanaaq, Greenland

Your first stop in Greenland is Qaanaaq, formerly known as Thule, one of the northernmost towns in the world (there’s a reason ancient philosophers called it Ultima Thule, or “edge of known territory”). Here, local Inuit share their culture and traditions, and the museum sheds more light on what it’s like living near the top of the world.

Day 10 — At Sea

As we sail south along the west coast of Greenland, presentations by our on-board experts will prepare you for the adventures that lie ahead.

Days 11 to 15 — Exploring West Greenland

With spectacular glaciers, soaring fjords and vibrant communities, the west coast of Greenland will leave you breathless. As your ship approaches the shore, you’ll want to be on deck to take in the incredible view of the twin peaks towering over the vibrantly painted wooden houses dotting the rocky terrain below.

Day 16 — Disembark in Kangerlussuaq

Enjoy one more Zodiac ride to shore, where you’ll board your charter flight back to Ottawa, Canada. Upon arrival in Ottawa, we will transfer you to your included hotel.

Day 17 — Depart Ottawa, Canada

Today, you can make your way home at your leisure or spend some time exploring this historic city.
View complete itinerary »

Adventure Options Add an Extra Rush of Adrenaline to Your Expedition

Hiking is a great way to appreciate the immense windswept landscapes of the Arctic.

The tundra comes alive during the brief Arctic summer, with bursts of color from shrubs and plants that eke out a living in this Polar environment.

You’ll find each hike is different — exploring communities, shorelines or glaciated landscapes, often on the lookout for wildlife. Hiking participation is optional and your Expedition Team will advise you of what you can expect prior to each excursion.

Complimentary

  • Optional on most Arctic voyages
  • All guides and instructions are provided by Quark
  • No experience is required; optional lengths and levels of hiking offered