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The Northwest Passage is a long fabled sea route from the Atlantic to the Pacific Oceans going through the Arctic Ocean. There are a number of Arctic expeditions up to the Northwest Passage that one can choose from. These expeditions also normally offer the chance to discover some incredible insights into the Inuit ways of life.

Another way to get all the way up the High Canadian Arctic is to drive up there. One of the very few roads running all the way to the Arctic is the Dempster Highway running through the Yukon and Northwest Territories of Canada. The far north is much more than just a frozen waste, and an expedition to it reveals a whole new world that few people get to see. Taking an expedition up through the Arctic places one on top of the world.

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The Near Mythical Northwest Passage

Before the Panama Canal was finally built, the only way past the Americas from the Atlantic to the Pacific Oceans was down around Argentina and Chile. It was long the dream to find a "Northwest Passage" through the High Canadian Arctic and pass Alaska and down through the Bering Strait.

While there was never a viable Northwest Passage in the past, it is becoming possible to sail through the Canadian Arctic Archipelago. It is becoming more and more feasible thanks to global warming and the further retreat of the sea ice in the summer months.

  • Northeast Passage: The Eastern Route Along The Arctic Coasts Of Norway and Siberia

It wasn't until 2009 that the Arctic pack ice had retreated enough to permit regular marine shipping.

Related: Visiting Nordkapp: The Frozen Northernmost Point Of Norway Deep In The Arctic

12-Day Northwest Passage to Ellesmere And Axel Heiberg Islands

Today people can discover the Northwest Passage on Arctic Ocean expeditions. The expedition of the Northwest Passage to Canada's Ellesmere and Axel Heiberg Islands, where one will discover the region's cultural, historical, and geographic attractions. See dramatic waterways and spectacular glacial formations.

The adventure includes helicopter flightseeing and more. Keep one's eyes peeled for polar bears, muskox, and possibly even the elusive arctic wolf.

The tour begins in the largest Canadian city of Toronto. The following morning board the charter flight to Resolute and then transfer to the expedition ship by a Zodiac or a helicopter (the method depends on the weather conditions and the location of the ship).

Spend the next few days on the ship exploring the High Canadian Arctic on the exploration ship the Ultramarine (the newest ship in the company's fleet).

  • Meals: Included (Breakfasts, Lunches, Dinners)
  • Ship: The Ultramarine
  • Destinations: Axel Heiberg Island, Ellesmere Island

The Ultramarine has its own onboard helicopters, so passengers can enjoy the ultimate polar expedition experience. One can see what the polar landscapes look like from above as well as from the sea. The helicopters offer short sightseeing flights and transport for shore excursions.

The tours are further enhanced by Inuit guides both onboard 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 5,000 years.

  • Cost: From $10,495
  • Duration: 12 Days
  • Sailing Times: 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 (on the southern end of Somerset Island).

Related: 13 Incredible Facts About Canada's Arctic Nunavut Territory

17-Day Ultimate Northwest Passage Expedition

For those with a little more time and some deeper pockets, consider a longer 17-day expedition also onboard the Ultramarine. This tour is similar to the one discussed above. Passengers will also discover the intrepid (and ill-fated) Franklin Expedition. The expedition left the shores of England back in 1845 but became icebound and was not rediscovered until a century and a half later.

The Ultramarine:

  • Helicopters: Two Twin Engine Helicopters
  • Zodiacs: 20 Quick-Launching Zodiacs

This tour goes beyond Canada's High Arctic and explores some colorful Greenlandic villages and more. If possible, go in the 2022 Arctic season as the prices are rising significantly for the 2023 season.

  • Duration: 17 Days
  • Cost 2022 Season: $17,000
  • Cost 2023 Season: $19,500

The tour beings in Toronto with a transfer flight to Kangerlussuaq, Greenland, and Embark. The tour then explores parts of west Greenland (including the capital of Nuuk), and then the expedition heads over to Baffin Island, and from there, it goes up to the High Canadian Arctic.