Chukotka, Kamchatka and the Commander Islands

Expedition cruise: Chukotka, Kamchatka and the Commander Islands – September 4th to 16th 2017

Voyage and expedition cruise to Kamchatka and Chukotka Expedition cruise on board the vessel Spirit of Enderby

Size of the group: 48 expeditioners maximum

Duration: 12 nights/13 days

The ship in details…

Expedition cruise basics…

The eastern seaboard of Russia dominates the North Pacific and yet very few people know anything about it, let alone have experienced it. This isolation has protected one of its most valuable assets – its wilderness and to some degree, its wildlife.
The area was considered an important ‘frontier zone’ during the Cold War, so it was off-limits to foreigners. Even Russians had to get special permission to travel here. These limitations were changed in 1992/93 with Perestroika but that didn’t make it more accessible. If anything it is probably less accessible now than it was, as there are fewer people living in the region and the state-subsidised transport system has collapsed. There is no money to replace the ageing fleets of aircraft and ships and few people can afford the prices that are charged to travel in this region today. This makes it the perfect destination for Expedition Cruising.
In the winter much of the shoreline is choked by ice. During spring and summer the region is a hive of activity. In September the thousands of birds that migrated here to take advantage of the phenomenal abundance of food will be preparing to leave. The reindeer and mountain sheep will be feeding in preparation for the harsh winter, while fat Kamchatka Brown Bears, which have fed extensively on berries in the early summer, then feasted on salmon in the rivers and creeks, will be dozing in the late summer sunshine. Late summer and early autumn is a beautiful time to discover this wilderness. The onset of autumn paints vibrant colours on the tundra cloaked hillsides making the landscape a picture perfect postcard.


PROGRAM AND ITINERARY:

About the program and itinerary…

Day 1: Anadyr
All expedition members will arrive in Anadyr, the administrative centre of the Chukotka region, and transfer to the Spirit of Enderby.

Day 2: Egvekinot
You will spend the day in and around the town of Egvekinot on the shores of Kresta Bay. The town was built by Gulag prisoners who were then forced to construct a road to the mine. You explore the town which has an excellent museum, the road and tundra as well as visit the Arctic circle.

Day 3: Bukhta Gavrilla
This coastline is rich in marine mammals and one creature you will be looking for, in particular, is the walrus. The bukhta (or bay) was named after Commander Vitus Bering’s ship, the St Gabriel, of the First Kamchatka Expedition. Behind the expansive beach there is a lagoon you can explore for waterfowl and waders.

Day 4: Pika River and Meinypil’gyno
You start the day with a visit to the delta of Pika River – a well known walrus haul out. Later in the day, you will visit Meinypil’gyno, a small settlement located on a 40km long shingle spit. It is a traditional village although renovated under the recent Chukotka government; you enjoy local hospitality from the village ensemble who perform some of their traditional dances for you.

Day 5: Bukhta Natalia
Along the Koryak Coast there are many beautiful fiords (bukhtas or bays) and none are more beautiful than Bukhta Natalia. This fiord has two smaller fiords that drain into it from the south. You hike from one bay to another whilst surrounded by the magnificent mountain landscapes and tundra vegetation.

Day 6: Tintikun Lagoon
Much of the southern Govena Peninsula was recently made into a state reserve. There are a number of fiords included in the reserve; one of the most spectacular is Tintikun Lagoon which is one of the most picturesque locations found anywhere in the world. A large population of brown bears inhabits this area, if you are fortunate you should see a number of them.

Day 7: Koryakskiy Reserve and Verhoturova Island
You will start the morning in Kamchatka Brown Bear country, an undisturbed habitat within the Koryakskiy Reserve, where you will go bear watching. Brown bears frequently visit this area which is completely protected and rarely visited. In the afternoon you visit Verkhoturova Island where Tufted and Horned Puffins, Pigeon, Common and Brunnich’s Guillemots and also Parakeet and Least Auklets can be seen. On nearby rocky islets there is a regular non-breeding haul out of Steller Sea Lions.

Day 8: Karaginskiy Island
A few miles to the south of Verhoturova Island is the much larger Karaginskiy Island. Here you encounter some of the first ‘forests’ of the voyage. This is a change from the tundra that you have seen, a sure sign that you are getting further south. Autumn is the best time for the wild berries and you can marvel at the richness of the local flora, as many of them should be at their best.

Days 9 and 10: Commander Islands
The wildlife-rich Commander Islands were first discovered by Commander Vitus Bering when his ship was wrecked here in 1741. He perished on the island along with many of his men. The reports from those that survived led to a ‘fur rush’ and the settlement of the islands. There are two large islands (Bering and Medny) with two smaller islands Ariy Karmen and Toporkov. The plan is to explore the islands through a combination of landings and Zodiac cruises. A stop at the village of Nikolskoye will be organised, as a visit at the fur seal rookery at North-West Cape and Zodiac cruise around the impressive bird colony at Ariy Kamen. You will also possibly visit the gravesite of Commander Vitus Bering or the remarkable Medny Island.

Day 11: Olga Bay
Olga Bay is a part of the very large Kronotskiy Reserve, which also includes the world-famous Valley of the Geysers. The habitat has lush Kamchatka forests coming right down to the beach. The area around Olga Bay is frequented by large numbers of Gray Whales that are usually quite friendly to visiting boats. The rising volcanoes in the background will provide a beautiful setting to explore real Kamchatka wilderness.

Day 12: Zhupanova River and Bukhta Bechevinskaya
This morning you make your way along the Zhupanova River by Zodiac. This journey allows you to explore a river habitat which is common in Kamchatka. Steller’s Sea Eagles are known to nest in the lower reaches of the river.

Day 13: Petropavlovsk-Kamchatskiy
During the night the Spirit of Enderby will enter Avacha Bay which is one of the greatest natural harbours in the world. There will be a complimentary transfer to the airport or to a central downtown hotel.

Map of the itinerary of the voyage and expedition cruise to Kamchatka and Chukotka


PRICES (per person):

– Main deck triple: $7200 USD
– Main deck: $7800 USD
– Superior: $8300 USD
– Superior Plus: $9000 USD
– Mini suite: $9500 USD
– Heritage Suite: $10300 USD

Additional charges: local payment $500 USD pp

Prices include: pre/post cruise transfers, all on board ship accommodation with meals and all expedition shore excursions.

Prices do not include: all items of a personal nature, laundry, drinks, gratuities. International/domestic flights, visas and travel insurance.

The ship in details…


OUR OPINION ON THIS VOYAGE:

On this journey from Anadyr to Petropavlovsk-Kamchatskiy you will make numerous landings along these remote coastlines so that you can discover for yourself this untamed and beautiful landscape. You will explore rarely visited places such as river mouths, fiords, bays and islands that offer the natural history enthusiast, the photographer, the historian and travellers the most unique of opportunities.

☞ Interest of this trip: wildlife (birds, whales, sea lions, sea otters, brown bears, foxs…), flora, historical sites of the USSR, landscapes, history…