DAY 12-13: Ellesmere Island
Heading ever northward, we make our way up the beautiful and remote east coast of Ellesmere Island, where the Explorer first ventured a few seasons ago. Cruise along scenic Smith Bay (a.k.a. Skog Inlet) bordered by a steep wall of mountains, with a glacial ice tongue which pours down the mountains on either side. Be up on the bridge as we search for a patch of "polar bear ice," the mixture of first-year and multi-year sea ice that is the preferred habitat of the ice bears. Our binoculars seek out any small ivory-colored dot on an otherwise white ice surface. We strain to see the dot move. Yes, it is a bear, spotted at a considerable distance. We approach, ever so slowly, stalking the polar bear much as the bear stalks seals on the ice. At the end of the bay we go ashore to hike or kayak in picturesque surroundings. Ice is always present here.
Our flexible itinerary stops may include a stop at any number of inlets along the southeastern coastline, or we might go for a Zodiac cruise in Makinson Inlet, where tidewater glaciers tumble down to the sea. (B,L,D)