The Northwest Passage is a long fabled sea route from the Atlantic to the Pacific Ocean that passes through the Arctic Ocean. There are a number of Arctic expeditions to the Northwest Passage that you can choose from. These expeditions usually also offer the opportunity to discover some incredible insights into Inuit ways of life.
Another way to get to the Canadian High Arctic is to drive there. One of the few roads that goes all the way to the Arctic is the Dempster Highway that runs through Canada’s Yukon and Northwest Territories. The far north is much more than just a frozen waste, and an expedition into it reveals a whole new world that few people can see. Taking an expedition across the Arctic puts one on top of the world.
Near Mythical Northwest Passage
Before the Panama Canal was finally built, the only way to cross the Americas from the Atlantic to the Pacific Ocean was around Argentina and Chile. It had long been a dream to find a “Northwest Passage” through the Canadian High Arctic and cross Alaska down through the Bering Strait.
While there has never been a viable Northwest Passage in the past, it is becoming possible to sail across the Canadian Arctic Archipelago. It is becoming increasingly feasible thanks to global warming and the further retreat of sea ice in the summer months.
- Northeast Passage: Eastern Route Along the Arctic Coasts of Norway and Siberia
It wasn’t until 2009 that the Arctic ice retreated enough to allow regular shipping.
12-day Northwest Passage to Ellesmere and Axel Heiberg Islands
Today people can explore the Northwest Passage on Arctic Ocean expeditions. Northwest Passage Expedition to Canada’s Ellesmere and Axel Heiberg Islands, where you will discover the cultural, historical and geographical attractions of the region. See dramatic waterways and spectacular glacial formations.
The adventure includes watching helicopter flights and more. Keep your eyes peeled for polar bears, moose and maybe even the elusive arctic wolf.
The tour begins in the largest Canadian city of Toronto. The next morning board the charter flight to Resolute and then transfer to the expedition ship by either a Zodiac or a helicopter (method depends on weather conditions and ship location).
Spend the next few days on board exploring the Canadian High Arctic on the explorer ship Ultramarine (the newest ship in the company’s fleet).
- Food: Included (Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner)
- Ship: of Ultramarine
- Destinations: Axel Heiberg Island, Ellesmere Island
of Ultramarine has its own helicopters on board, so passengers can enjoy the ultimate polar expedition experience. You can see what the polar landscapes look like both from above and from the sea. Helicopters offer short sightseeing flights and transportation for shore excursions.
Trips are further enhanced by Inuit guides both on board and ashore. One will be able to see how this region is much more than just a “passage” but also their ancestral home for almost 5000 years.
- Cost: From $10,495
- Duration: 12 days
- Sailing time: Days 3-10
Another attraction en route is a chance to visit the long-abandoned Hudson’s Bay Company trading post at Fort Ross (on the southern tip of Somerset Island).
The Last 17-Day Northwest Passage Expedition
For those with a little more time and a few deeper pockets, consider a longer 17-day expedition also on board Ultramarine. This tour is similar to the one discussed above. Passengers will also discover Franklin’s daring (and ill-fated) expedition. The expedition left the coast of England in 1845, but became covered in ice and was not rediscovered until a century and a half later.
- Helicopters: Two helicopters with two engines
- Zodiacs: 20 Zodiac with quick release
This tour goes beyond Canada’s High Arctic and explores some colorful Greenlandic villages and more. If possible, go for the 2022 Arctic season as prices are increasing significantly for the 2023 season.
- Duration: 17 days
- Cost of the 2022 season: $17,000
- Cost of the 2023 season: 19500 dollars
Travel takes place in Toronto with a transfer flight to Kangerlussuaq, Greenland and Embark. The tour then explores parts of western Greenland (including the capital of Nuuk), and then the expedition heads to Baffin Island, and from there, to the Canadian High Arctic.