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Descend from western Greenland’s fjords and the ice floes of Baffin Island to the historic fishing villages of the Canadian Maritimes. In the High Arctic, watch for polar bears and walruses in their natural habitat, and approach towering icebergs and massive glaciers in a Zodiac. Then trace the historic coast of Labrador, where missionaries, fishermen, and whalers settled amid the Inuit. Explore the fortress at Louisbourg, visit past and present Inuit villages, and follow in the footsteps of the Vikings in an ancient Norse settlement.
Watch the Greenland ice cap calve immense icebergs at the breathtaking Ilulissat Icefjord, a UNESCO World Heritage site.
Wander amid the ruins of the Viking village of L’Anse aux Meadows.
Meet Inuit artisans and learn about their carving and weaving traditions.
Search for polar bears and caribou on the tundra, and humpback and minke whales out at sea.
Itinerary - 15 Days
Day 1 — U.S./Ottawa, Canada
Arrive in Ottawa and check into the Fairmont Château Laurier hotel. (D)
Day 2 — Ottawa/Kangerlussuaq, Greenland
Arrive by chartered aircraft in western Greenland, and embark the National Geographic Explorer at the head of the picturesque Kangerlussuaq fjord. (L,D)
Day 3 — Greenland’s West Coast and Sisimut
The massive ice cap that blankets much of Greenland feeds the countless fjords and glaciers of the dramatic western coast. Glide into these fjords, on the lookout for caribou on the tundra and humpback or minke whales. Stop at the former whaling port of Sisimiut to visit the museum and stroll among its 18th- and 19th-century wooden buildings. (B,L,D)
Day 4 — Ilulissat, Disko Bay
Sail into Disko Bay to explore the Ilulissat Icefjord, a tongue of the Greenland ice sheet that extends to the bay. The glacier calves huge amounts of ice at an astonishing rate, releasing icebergs that can soar up to 300 feet. A cruise among these gigantic sculptures of ice is a highlight of our journey. Take a walk to the historic Inuit fishing village at Sermermiut to take in spectacular views of the glacier. (B,L,D)
Day 5 — Davis Strait
Explore Davis Strait as we sail past massive icebergs on our way to Baffin Island. Join us on deck or on the bridge to search for the whales that spend the summer feeding in the rich waters. Hear talks about Arctic wildlife and peoples, and keep a lookout for polar bears roaming the ice floes. (B,L,D)
Day 6 — Cumberland Peninsula, Baffin Island
Our landfall on Baffin Island is the tiny town of Pangnirtung, the home of the Inuit for more than 1,000 years, and still a thriving community of artists. Visit a craft center to see soapstone carvings, weavings, and prints depicting Arctic life. A hike along a riverside trail offers wonderful views of Auyuittuq National Park, the "land that never melts.” On Kekerten Island, once an important whaling station, examine the remains of a bygone era as we wander among cast-iron pots once used to render oil from the blubber of the mighty bowhead whale. (B,L,D)
Day 7 — Hall Peninsula
Spend today in true expedition style, exploring the unspoiled landscapes of Baffin Island’s Hall Peninsula. Hike the tundra in search of caribou, arctic fox, and perhaps walrus hauling out on the rocky shores. (B,L,D)
Day 8 — South Baffin Island
The southeastern tip of Baffin Island is dotted with small islands. As the pack ice retreats during the summer, polar bears are often stranded on Lower Savage and Resolution Islands. We’ll keep our plans flexible today so that we can make the most of wildlife sightings. (B,L,D)
Day 9 — Button Islands, Nunavut
Scattered across the entrance to Hudson Strait between Baffin Island and Labrador, the stark Button Islands attract thousands of seabirds and marine mammals. Spend today exploring these tiny islands and their wildlife. (B,L,D)
Days 10, 11, & 12 — Exploring the Labrador Coast
The Hebron Mission-- National Historic Site of Canada-- was established by Moravians in the 1830’s to minister to the Inuit. See the original buildings, an excellent example of Germanic mission architecture. Then pass through Mugford Tickle, a dramatic channel surrounded by the Kaumajet Mountains, which rise more than 34,000 feet straight from the sea. Spend a day on the island of Quaker Hat--shaped like a broad-brimmed hat-- exploring the fishing settlement of Indian Harbour and observing vast colonies of common murres. Continue to Battle Harbour. Set amid beautiful scenery, the town was once the economic and social hub of the southeastern Labrador coast. Visit restored 18th- and 19th-century fishing and whaling buildings and learn about the early settlers of Newfoundland and Labrador. (B,L,D)
Day 13 — L’Anse aux Meadows
In 1960, the remains of a Viking village established in the 11th century were discovered at L’Anse aux Meadows, now a World Heritage site. See the Norse ruins and reconstructed sod huts-- and learn the saga of the Vikings in North America— nearly 500 years before Columbus arrived. (B,L,D)
Day 14 — Exploring Northern Newfoundland
Northern Newfoundland is graced by cliffs and fjords, sweeping tablelands and beaches, and brightly painted fishing villages. We’ll look for opportunities to hike, kayak and cruise by Zodiac amid beautiful scenery and observe the wildlife of the far north. (B,L,D)
Day 15 — St. John’s/U.S.
Disembark in St. John’s today and transfer to the airport for your flight home. (B)