Rarely is the Canadian Arctic thought of as a prime destination for travel. Its cold and barren landscape often gives the impression that it's an uninteresting place; however, in reality, it actually has several great sights and experiences to offer.
Those looking for a life-changing experience should consider a trip to the Canadian Arctic. Polar Cruises, an Arctic travel company, offers a unique exhibition called Baffin Island - Jewel of the High Arctic, which takes explorers on a 13-day epic tour of Canada's northern islands on the Akademik Ioffe research vessel. The tour is rapidly gaining popularity, and has even been featured in Travel + Leisure's article of 20 Life Changing Trips.
To give you an idea of what the trip entails, here's a brief itinerary:
Day 1 - Ottawa to Iqaluit (Baffin Island)
Your adventure begins in Ottawa, where you will board a flight to Iqaluit. Upon arrival in Iqaluit, you'll be treated to a walking tour of the town, and then board the Akademik Ioffe where you can get settled in to your cabin. The vessel will depart for Baffin Island soon after.
Day 2 - Lower Savage Islands
The Ioffe will make its first stop at the Lower Savage Islands, near the mouth of Frobisher Bay on the southeast tip of Baffin Island. The islands are a perfect spot for watching various types of marine life, including arctic whales and polar bears.
Day 3 - Monumental Island
Next, you'll head over to Monumental Island, which is a well-known location for spotting walruses. If you're lucky, you might even be able to see some of them hunting in action.
Day 4 - Pangnirtung
Pangnirtung, the western gateway to Auyuittuq National Park, is a village situated between mountains and the sea. The village is known for producing amazing Inuit arts and crafts, from carvings, prints and textiles.
Day 5 - Sunshine Fjord
The Sunshine Fjord offers many amazing opportunities for scenic hikes and exploration. Adventurers could also go sea kayaking, as the sheltered waters of the fjord make it perfect for a calming paddle.
Day 6 - Auyittuq National Park
Auyittuq National Park is one of the most spectacular parks in Canada, with its breathtaking mountains, glaciers and rivers. Local tour guides will take you to the most beautiful spots in the park, where you'll see a diversity of wildlife and landscapes.
Day 7 - Isabella Fjord
The Isabella Fjord is a perfect location for spotting the endangered bowhead whales, since it is a feeding ground for them. The whales are unique for their ability to break sea ice with the crown of their head. You'll also be able to spot polar bears, ringed seals, Canadian geese, snow geese and narwhals here.
Day 8 - Gibb Fjord
The Gibb Fjord is characterized by towering cliffs with ice-capped peaks. Some have said that the Gibb Fjord reminds them of something out of Lord of the Rings... When you see it, you'll understand why!
Day 9 - Pond Inlet and Sirmilik National Park
Pond Inlet is a community in the northern portion of Baffin Island. The Natinnak Center in the town often puts on special Inuit cultural exhibits and showcases of traditional jewelry, art and other crafts. The location also offers a spectacular view of Sirmilik National Park's stunning mountains and ice fields.
Day 10 - Navy Board Inlet and Sirmilik National Park
Navy Board Inlet, a spot within Sirmilik National Park, offers the unique opportunity to see Beluga whales, harp seals, walruses and narwhals. A professional photographer will be onboard to help you take amazing photos while you're there.
Day 11 - Dundas Harbour and Croker Bay
Dundas Harbour and Croker Bay is within the vicinity of a broad channel of water known as the "super highway" of the Arctic. Here, you'll have the opportunity to see one of the most substantial glacial systems in Canada.
Day 12 - Prince Leopold Island and Beechey Island
Prince Leopold Island is a sanctuary for many migratory birds, so you'll have the opportunity to see thick-billed murres, black guillemots, northern fulmars and black-legged kittiwakes. The Ioffe will also stop at Beechey Island, which is where Sir John Franklin spent his last winter in the HMS Erebus in 1845 before disappearing.
Day 13 - Resolute, Nunavut to Edmonton, Alberta
Resolute, a historic town, is the last stop on the trip. It was named after the British ship HMS Resolute, which was trapped in ice and abandoned in 1850. After exploring Resolute, you will say your final goodbyes to the Ioffe, and a flight will take you to Edmonton in Alberta.
The trip can be rather pricey - most travel companies that offer the trip list it at $6,245. But for 13-day, all-inclusive vacation complete with accommodations, it may be worth the adventurer's while.
For more information, visit PolarCruises.com.
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