Chukotka, Wrangel Island and Bering Strait

Expedition cruise: Chukotka, Wrangel Island and Bering Strait – August 21st to September 4th, 2017

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

Size of the group: 48 expeditioners maximum

Duration: 14 nights/15 days

The ship in details…

Expedition cruise basics…

The voyage journeys through the narrow Bering Strait, which separates Russia from the United States of America, and then travels west along the Chukotka coastline before crossing the De Long Strait to Wrangel Island. There you will spend four to five days under the guidance of local rangers on the nature reserve. Untouched by glaciers during the last ice age, this island is a treasure trove of Arctic biodiversity and is perhaps best known for the multitude of Polar Bears that breed here. The island also boasts the world’s largest population of Pacific Walrus and lies near major feeding grounds for the Gray Whales that migrate thousands of kilometres north from their breeding grounds in Baja, Mexico. Reindeer, Musk Ox and Snow Geese can normally be seen further inland. A visit to massive bird cliffs on nearby Herald Island is also planned. The “mammoth steppe” vegetation complex, a rich and diverse relic from the Pleistocene epoch nurtures over 400 plant species and never fails to astound visitors with its sublime beauty. The number and type of endemic plant species, the diversity within plant communities, the presence of relatively recent mammoth tusks and skulls, a range of terrain types and geological formations in the small geographical space are all visible evidence of Wrangel’s rich natural history and its unique evolutionary status within the Arctic.


PROGRAM AND ITINERARY:

About the program and itinerary…

Day 1: Anadyr
All expedition members will arrive in Anadyr; depending on your time of arrival you may have the opportunity to explore Anadyr, before getting to know your fellow voyagers and expedition team on board the Spirit of Enderby.

Day 2: Anadyrskiy Bay
At sea today, there will be some briefings and lectures it is also a chance for some “birding” cetacean watching and settling into ship life. Late in the afternoon, depending on the conditions, the plan is to Zodiac cruise some spectacular bird cliffs in Preobrazheniya Bay.

Day 3: Yttygran, Nuneangan and Arakamchechen Islands
Yttygran Island is home to the monumental ancient aboriginal site known as Whale Bone Alley. Whalebones stretch along the beach for nearly half a kilometre. Gray Whales are frequently seen around the island, we will also cruise by Nuneangan and Arakamchechen Islands where seabirds nest and walrus can be found.

Day 4: Cape Dezhnev and Uelen Village
Sea conditions permitting, you will land at Cape Dezhnev, the north-eastern most point of the Eurasian continent. Form there it is sometimes possible to see the coast of America. A few nautical miles to the west of Cape Dezhnev you will visit Uelen Village the most north-eastern village in Russia. The population is predominantly Chukchi and the village is one of the largest centres for traditional Chukchi and Inuit art in the world. You’ll be entertained by villagers and visit the bone-carving workshop during your visit.

Day 5: Kolyuchin Island
This small island was once an important Russian Polar Research Station and one of a number dotted across the Arctic. Near the derelict buildings are some of the most spectacular bird cliffs in the Arctic where puffins, guillemots and gulls can be observed and photographed up close.

Days 6 to 10: Wrangel and Herald Islands
Ice and weather conditions permitting, you will spend the next few days on Wrangel Island and will also attempt to include a visit to nearby Herald Island. There are many landings that you can make to search out wildlife, wild flowers and Arctic landscapes. Polar Bears will be high on our list of animals to see and with a little patience you should be rewarded with a number of encounters. Musk Ox and reindeer were introduced to the island in 1975 and 1948 though reindeer numbers are low. You will also have a chance to visit Dragi Harbour where the survivors of the Karluk which was crushed by ice in 1914 scrambled ashore and lived until they were rescued. Wrangel Island is a Russian Federal Nature Reserve of international significance and importance particularly as it is a major Polar Bear denning area. Also each summer thousands of birds migrate here to breed, including Snow Geese, Snowy Owls, skuas, Arctic Terns, Ross’s, Sabine and Ivory Gulls.

Day 11: North Siberian Coast
Bounded by narrow sand ridges with numerous lagoons and inlets, this area offers plenty of places to land and explore this extensive coastline. You will be on the lookout for whales, walrus and other wildldife. You will see Chukchi villages whose residents survive in an unforgiving climate, hunting seals and whales just as their ancestors did.

Day 12: Kolyuchin Inlet
So huge that it is visible from satellite photos, this inlet contains vast numbers of waterfowl and migratory waders. You concentrate your visit on the Belaka Spit near the mouth of the inlet. It is a wild, desolate landscape that is strangely beautiful. You search the dunes and tidal areas for birdlife including Emperor Geese and Spoon-billed Sandpipers. Gray Whales frequent the area and are sometimes spotted feeding only metres offshore.

Day 13: Bering Strait and Chukotka Coast
In the morning you will pass the Diomede Islands, sometimes called Tomorrow Island and Yesterday Isle because they straddle the International Date Line. Here Russia and America are separated by only 2 nautical miles of ocean. You will remain in Russian territory as you cruise south past the islands. Later this afternoon an expedition landing is schedule on the Chukotka coast, your last chance to enjoy the wildlife and tundra landscape.

Day 14: at sea
Sailing across Anadyrskiy Bay towards Anadyr, time for wildlife watching and lectures.

Day 15: Anadyr
After breakfast, complimentary transfer to the airport or to a central downtown hotel.

Map of the itinerary of the voyage and expedition cruise to Wrangel Island and Chukotka


PRICES (per person):

– Main deck: $11200 USD
– Superior: $11700 USD
– Superior Plus: $12500 USD
– Mini suite: $13000 USD
– Heritage Suite: $13800

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. Private charter flight Nome to Anadyr to Nome $2000 pp

The ship in details…


OUR OPINION ON THIS VOYAGE:

This unique expedition crosses the Arctic Circle and includes the isolated and pristine Wrangel and Herald Islands and a significant section of the wild North Eastern Siberian coastline. It is a journey only made possible in recent years by the thawing in the politics of the region and the retreat of summer pack ice in the Chukchi Sea. The very small distance between Russia and the USA along this border area was known as the Ice Curtain, behind which then and now lies one of the last great undiscovered wilderness areas in the world.

☞ Interest of this trip: sea birds, marine mammals, polar bear, walrus, fox, muskox, historical sites, landscapes, flora, sea ice (depending on the season), indigenous people…