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Iceland, Greenland, and Baffin Island: Arctic Circle Traverse

18 days

This 18-day arctic adventure is an in-depth exploration of historic, remote regions of Iceland, Greenland and Canada, venturing to some of the most picturesque places on the planet. These are untamed lands of glaciers and icebergs, where majestic ice-clad mountains and soaring fjords open dramatically into the sea. We’ll be awed by massive bird cliffs, mingle with locals, wander abandoned settlements, soak in spectacular hot springs, and experience rare opportunities to get up close to arctic wildlife such as whales, polar bears and puffins.

Day-by-Day Expedition in Brief

  • Explore the Kekerten Island Whaling Station, a National Historic Site of Canada
  • Encounter wildlife such as whales, walrus, puffins and possibly polar bears
  • Cruise in a Zodiac
  • Experience an authentic arctic ghost town
  • Visit traditional settlements and meet Greenlandic and Inuit locals

Day 1 — Reykjavik, Iceland

Arrive in the capital city of Iceland and make your way to your included hotel. You will have the day to explore the city on your own. In the evening, join us at your hotel for a welcome reception and orientation.

Day 2 — Embarkation Day in Akureyri

After breakfast, you’ll board a charter flight to the northern Icelandic town of Akureyri, where your arctic adventure begins. As our ship sets sail, enjoy some time out on deck, taking in your new surroundings. Have your binoculars and camera ready—you may spot birdlife and whales at sea!

Day 3 — Hornvík, Iceland

Sailing into the peaceful bay of Hornvík, you’ll reach the northernmost point of Iceland. This area is encircled by two of the largest bird cliffs in Europe. You can hike an old path, once used by fowlers, out to the majestic Hornbjarg cliffs, which are dominated by millions of seabirds, such as Brünnich’s guillemots, kittiwakes and puffins. Encounters with arctic fox are common here.

Day 4 — At Sea

While we cross the Denmark Strait, your Expedition Team will keep you informed and entertained with educational presentations about the wildlife, history and geography of Greenland, your next stop.

Days 5 and 6 — East Greenland

Now we sail south, dipping beneath the Arctic Circle. We’ll attempt our first Greenlandic shore landing, on the island of Ammassalik, one of the most isolated inhabited regions on Earth. This is an ideal area to explore by Zodiac, offering opportunities to take some stunning photographs. As you venture deep into the spectacular Sermilik Fjord, behold the breathtaking vistas of massive icebergs set against a backdrop of soaring snow-clad mountains.

Days 7 to 10 — South Greenland

Ships rarely venture into Lindenow Fjord, the least-occupied fjord in Greenland. With your Expedition Team in tow, you’ll cruise by Zodiac in an arm of the fjord, as our staff use their years of arctic experience to search for bearded seals lying on the pack ice. You may also spot waterfalls along the sheer rock face.

Day 11 — West Greenland

As you sail toward Paamiut, you’ll be struck by the beauty of the surrounding dark blue mountains. Known for its mysterious fog and pleasing blend of old and new culture, the town has its own guardian: the white-tailed eagle. Inhabitants feel a strong connection with the king of the birds, and legend has it that good luck will come to those who spot it (easy to do, as they’re seen in large numbers here).

Day 12 — At Sea

Today, we sail across the Davis Strait, a major summer feeding ground for walrus and narwhals. Our informative presentations will prepare you for your Baffin Island adventures.

Day 13 — Baffin Island, Nunavut, Canada

We’ll trace the southeastern coast of Baffin Island, the largest island in Canada and the fifth largest in the world. In this land of glacial lakes, an abundance of vibrant wildflowers such as yellow arctic poppies and purple saxifrage are scattered across the fertile landscape. Your time here will be spent going on wildlife excursions by Zodiac, hiking the tundra and visiting fishing villages and traditional Inuit settlements, learning about the local history and culture.

Day 14 — Pangnirtung and Kekerten Island

Dubbed the Switzerland of the Arctic, the Inuit hamlet of Pangnirtung is nestled beneath the jagged, frosty peaks of Mount Duval, at the mouth of the picturesque Pangnirtung Fjord, which merges with the Cumberland Sound. Artists in Pang, as locals call it, are renowned for their traditional Inuit arts and crafts, especially intricate woven tapestries and lithographs.

Day 15 — Monumental Island

Expect more wildlife sightings at Monumental Island, located off the southern coast of Baffin Island. Though uninhabited by people, the island is a well-known habitat of some of the Arctic’s most magnificent animals. As you cruise in a Zodiac along the rocky shores, keep your eyes peeled for hauled-out walrus and prowling polar bears.

Day 16 — Lower Savage Islands

Cruising in a Zodiac through the narrow channels separating the three rocky islands of this uninhabited archipelago, there’s a possibility of seeing polar bears meandering the rugged coast.

Day 17 — Iqaluit

Before disembarking in Iqaluit, you’ll have a chance to bid farewell to your Expedition Team and shipmates. After, board your direct charter flight to Ottawa, where you’ll spend the night at your included hotel.

Day 18 — Ottawa, Ontario, Canada

Today, you can make your way to the Ottawa airport to connect with your homeward flight, or spend more time exploring Canada’s capital if you have booked additional accommodation.
View complete itinerary »

Adventure Options Add an Extra Rush of Adrenaline to Your Expedition

Every Quark Arctic voyage includes great daily outdoor activities including Zodiac cruises, hiking and some also offer snowshoeing. The more discerning adrenaline junkie can also choose from a range of optional adventure activities, with varying exertion levels, to experience the 7th continent in a more personal way. Contact a Quark Polar Travel Adviser to learn more about adventure options, including physical requirements.

Kayaking in the Arctic is probably one of the most intimate and inspiring ways you can explore the rugged coastlines and calm bays of the regions we visit.

Kayaking in the Polar Regions is highly weather-dependent, however we guarantee at least one outing throughout your voyage, but your kayak guides will take you out as many times as possible throughout your voyage.

Offered on most Arctic voyages, spaces are limited and require some kayaking experience. All equipment, guides and instructions are provided by Quark.

Pricing subject to change based on season. Please proceed to checkout or contact a Polar Travel Adviser for more details.