Explore Like Amundsen: Wonders of the Northwest Passage
If you’ve ever longed to feel like one of history’s legendary explorers setting out into the unknown, ready to encounter elusive Arctic wildlife and breathe in spectacular landscapes, a trip through the Northwest Passage via expedition ship is for you! Some of us haven’t yet added the High Arctic to our bucket lists, so I’m here to share just how extraordinary a voyage of this magnitude can truly be.
What does it mean to travel the Northwest Passage and why was it important to the great explorers? Roald Amundsen was the first to travel from Greenland across Canada to the Pacific Ocean between 1903 and 1906. Amundsen and his crew spent three years enduring countless challenges along the way including severe weather and the constant threat of being trapped in ice. In spite of grueling circumstances, Amundsen was able to navigate the intricate waterways high above Canada and make his way through. He didn’t find an easy shipping route yet he did prove that traversing the top of the world can be done.
Today’s explorers travel in more comfortable conditions on stunning luxury ships such as the National Geographic Endurance and L’Austral. Still, a lovely stateroom and delicious cuisine doesn’t begin to erase the sense of adventure you’ll feel hoping to avoid ice during a big ice year, or coming across walrus, musk ox, arctic fox, or mighty polar bears in this wide-open, breathtaking region.
The beauty and amenities of your comfortable ship will only add to your elation when you and your fellow passengers emerge from icy channels into the wide open Pacific Ocean.
The most treacherous section of the Northwest Passage is thought to be the Bellot Strait located in the far north of Canada. This slim, winding channel is known for strong currents, shifting icebergs, and navigational difficulties. The ice-strengthened expedition ships which travel this route most often make it through the Bellot channel and on to the other side. Still, there are no guarantees, and occasionally in a big ice year, a ship does not make it through and has to turn back. To date, only 351 ships have traveled all the way through the Northwest Passage so when you’re on a ship that achieves the Pacific Ocean, it’s a giant cause to celebrate and you’ll know yourself to be among a very privileged few.
One of the most fascinating aspects of this adventure is the opportunity to visit indigenous people in tiny Arctic villages. These communities are descendants of ancestral cultures that migrated from Asia and North America over thousands of years. These people have a powerful connection to the landscape and the animals of this region and offer moving stories and spiritual beliefs that reflect the preciousness of life in these challenging climes. On this trip, you’ll be welcomed into their homes, you'll try their food, you'll experience their traditions and stories, and you'll marvel at their resourcefulness.
Another unforgettable aspect of this experience is the wildlife viewing. Some travelers through the Northwest Passage have already seen polar bears in other regions, yet finding them along this route where hardly anyone travels feels like your own private encounter. The Canadian Arctic is home to approximately 16,000 of the existing 25,000 polar bears on earth, so you’re bound to see a fair number of them on this adventure. Walrus, musk ox, Arctic fox, beluga whales, and multitudes of seabirds all await you on this epic trip.
If you have the time and the resources to join the National Geographic Endurance or L’Austral on a Northwest Passage adventure, contact us. Bragging rights, spectacular photos, and moments of powerful aliveness await you on this once in a lifetime trip.