From August 10 - 27, travelers set out to explore high above the Arctic Circle, visiting the shores of Greenland, Baffin Island, and Ellesmere Island aboard the powerful icebreaker, Kapitan Khlebnikov. We thought you’d enjoy knowing a few of the highlights from this unique voyage.
- At Lady Franklin Island, off the eastern coast of Baffin, the weather was as perfect as is possible anywhere in the world. The clarity of the air, the blue sky, and the flat sea bode well for our morning’s adventure, a Zodiac cruise around the main island and among the many islets that surround it. Almost immediately two polar bears were sighted on a small island, a mother and a young cub, and both seemed to be in excellent condition.
- Off the mountainous east coast of Baffin, we headed north towards the famous “Minarets” a series of pinnacles rising from a lofty cliff face. These are bird cliffs par excellence and were able to enjoy a Zodiac cruise to get up close. Several species were observed, notably kittiwakes and Brunnich’s guillemot (thick billed murre) and fulmars.
- In Greenland we landed at the little town of Uummannaq situated on a small island adjacent to an impressive, almost conical, mountain. In town, we visited a splendid Danish Lutheran Church, several shops, and a small, but impressive, museum.
- At Inglefield Gulf we went ashore to explore the tidewater Savage Glacier. Ascending the moraine, we enjoyed magnificent views of the top of the glacier including a number of large crevasses.
- Through Hells Gate and Norwegian Bay, we spent the morning at sea in a series of narrow waterways amid stunning scenery. Just after breakfast we spotted a mother polar bear with two cubs on an ice floe, with the remnants of a seal that the mother had captured.
- A flightseeing excursion by helicopter gave us superb views of our good ship laboring her way through the ice of Eureka Sound, Canada.
- A brilliant Arctic morning—blue skies, bright sunshine and calm waters—greeted us at the head of Tanquary Fjord. Our helicopter flightseeing excursion revealed wildlife, superb mountainous scenery, and glaciers descending from the ice caps. The glaciers covered with the first of the winter snow were pristine and the glacial outwash fans even had some wildlife that could be observed from aloft in the form of startled Arctic hares.
- As we proceeded southwards in Tanquary Fjord in brilliant sunshine, we made an exciting expedition stop and spotted seven musk oxen, including some calves, along with pure white Arctic hares.
- At Beechey Island, one of the most important historical sites in the Arctic and the place where Franklin’s ships had wintered in 1845–1846, we visited the four graves and a range of other monuments, dating back to the period of the Franklin search. The poignancy of the scene was mitigated by three polar bears that obligingly presented themselves and by five extremely tame Arctic hares—a suitable wildlife sighting for our trip’s finale.