The Northwest Passage is a legendary long sea route from the Atlantic to the Pacific Ocean via the Arctic Ocean. There are a number of Arctic expeditions up to the Northwest Passage to choose from. These expeditions also normally offer the chance to discover incredible insights into Inuit ways of life.
Another way to travel up the Canadian High Arctic is to drive there. One of the few roads that leads to the Arctic is the Dempster Highway which crosses the Yukon and the Northwest Territories of Canada. The Far North is much more than just a frozen wasteland, and an expedition there reveals a whole new world that few get to see. Going on an Arctic expedition puts you on top of the world.
The almost mythical Northwest Passage
Before the Panama Canal was finally built, the only way to cross the Americas, from the Atlantic to the Pacific, was through Argentina and Chile. He had long dreamed of finding a “Northwest Passage” through the Canadian High Arctic, passing Alaska and descending through the Bering Strait.
Although there has never been a viable Northwest Passage in the past, it is becoming possible to navigate through the Canadian Arctic Archipelago. This is becoming increasingly feasible with global warming and the continued retreat of sea ice during the summer months.
- Northeast Passage: The eastern route along the arctic coasts of Norway and Siberia
It was not until 2009 that the Arctic sea ice retreated enough to allow regular maritime navigation.
12-Day Northwest Passage to Ellesmere and Axel Heiberg Islands
Today, people can experience the Northwest Passage on Arctic Ocean expeditions. The Northwest Passage expedition to the Canadian islands of Ellesmere and Axel Heiberg, where you will discover the cultural, historical and geographical attractions of the region. Discover spectacular waterways and dramatic ice formations.
The adventure includes a helicopter flight and more. Keep your eyes peeled for polar bears, musk oxen 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 then transfer to the expedition ship by Zodiac or helicopter (method depends on weather conditions and ship’s location).
Spend the next few days on the ship exploring the Canadian High Arctic aboard the Exploration Vessel the Overseas (the newest ship in the company’s fleet).
- Meal: Included (Breakfasts, Lunches, Dinners)
- Boat: The Overseas
- Destination : Axel Heiberg Island, Ellesmere Island
The Overseas has its own helicopters on board, so passengers can enjoy the ultimate polar expedition experience. You can see what the polar landscapes look like from above as well as from the sea. Helicopters offer short sightseeing flights and transport for shore excursions.
Tours are further enhanced by Inuit guides on board and ashore. We will be able to see how this region is much more than a simple “passage” but also their ancestral home for nearly 5,000 years.
- Cost: From $10,495
- Duration: 12 days
- Sailing hours: Days 3-10
Another attraction on the way is a chance to visit the long-abandoned Hudson’s Bay Company trading post at Fort Ross (at the southern tip of Somerset Island).
17-Day Ultimate Northwest Passage Expedition
For those with a bit more time and deeper pockets, consider a longer 17-day expedition also aboard the Overseas. This tour is similar to the one described above. Passengers will also learn about the intrepid (and ill-fated) Franklin Expedition. The expedition left the coast of England in 1845 but got stuck in the ice and was not rediscovered until a century and a half later.
- Helicopters: Two twin-engine helicopters
- Zodiacs: 20 rapid-launch Zodiacs
This tour goes beyond the Canadian High Arctic and explores colorful Greenlandic villages and more. If possible, go for the 2022 arctic season as prices increase significantly for the 2023 season.
- Duration: 17 days
- Cost season 2022: $17,000
- 2023 season cost: $19,500
The tour begins in Toronto with a transfer flight to Kangerlussuaq, Greenland and Embark. The tour then explores parts of West Greenland (including the capital city of Nuuk), then the expedition heads to Baffin Island, and from there it ascends into the Canadian High Arctic.