Arctic Adventures

Posted on: 26 March 2008 by Gareth Hargreaves

Travel the famous Northwest Passage in search of mythical whales.

As holidays with a difference go, this one will take some beating, but for wildlife fans it will undoubtedly be a once in a lifetime experience. Travelling the Northwest Passage - a route almost across the top of the world – long sought by traders, explorers and military strategists of Europe, Russian Asia and the American north, the two week Wild Ocean voyage from travel operator Wild Wings, will travel during the Arctic's brief summer, when the ice conditions are most forgiving.

The comfortable ice-strengthened expedition ship will not only retrace the paths of early explorers, achieving in just a few days that which defied decades of effort, but will also go in search of the imperial polar bear, Arctic whales and other wildlife of this icy paradise north of the Arctic Circle.

Embarking in Resolute, just 900 miles from the geographic North Pole, the expedition will explore the sheltered bays and fjords of Baffin Island, Lancaster Sound and nearby Beechey, Cornwallis and Devon Islands – all familiar names since the days of the famous English explorer, Franklin.

Visits to remote Inuit settlements provide the opportunity to learn about the culture and existence in these harsh lands dating back many hundreds of years and, at Pond Inlet on Baffin Island, there are visible remains of Thule houses built by ancient indigenous peoples with rafters of whalebone.

The journey from the east coast of Baffin Island across to the west coast of Greenland regularly produces spectacular wildlife sightings and in 2004 the WildOceans group saw no fewer than 37 polar bears including several cubs, as well as a large group of bowhead whales, scores of ringed and beaded seals and literally thousands of harp seals.

"After just 20 minutes on deck I struck gold and, just as the main course was being served in the dining room below, my call of ‘whales blowing’ quickly emptied the tables! A group of 10-12 bowheads were seen along the ice edge ahead and two, in particular, came within 200 metres to give us outstanding views of tail flukes, blowholes and jaw lines," said Dick Filby, leader of the first WildOceans Arctic expedition in 2004, before adding "the equally outstanding catering team in the dining room understood completely."

Accompanied by experts from WildOceans, the expedition in search of Arctic whales - 22nd August to 5th September 2005 - costs from £3,899 per person including scheduled flights from Heathrow, private charter flights, pre and post-voyage hotel accommodation in Ottawa, all voyage activities and meals aboard the ship (using only ingredients from sustainable sources). A discount of £300 per person is currently being offered for bookings on the Arctic expedition.

Reservations 0117 9658 333, E-mail: wildinfo@wildwings.co.uk website: www.wildwings.co.uk

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