Across the Top of the World: Wrangel Island

“It was a real pleasure to experience this magical place”

““Clearly and wholeheartedly I have to say that I LOVE Wrangel Island. It was not a love at first sight, as first sight of Wrangel Island was cold, foggy, and rather deserted from wildlife. We did not just do the tour around the island with several landings, but had the pleasure to stay on the island for 10 days. When you are ON THE ISLAND, meaning on the overland trips, which are additional building blocks Heritage Expedition offers …… the weather conditions change dramatically, the arctic is a desert, and then on land the micro climate provided for us sunny and warm days, with cool nights. And the island wildlife experience just exploded …… abundant snowy owls, jaegers, sandpipers, snow geese and other birds ( from all species always adults and chicks to see ), especially I loved the arctic foxes, we saw on each day dens, sometimes with up to 14 curious and for us photographers very cooperative and playful pups ! In addition there were a few rare reindeer to see and lots of muskoxen, plus lots of polar bears. Including females with cubs, however I preferred to see the polar bears and walruses on sea / pack ice while circling the island on the Spirit of Enderby and on zodiac as on land they look sort off displaced from their preferred habitat and they were normally rather shy. Not to be forgotten are the lemmings, which provide the necessary food for my beloved arctic foxes and snowy owls  Next to the animal life, there was also obvious the – for arctic regions - rich and colourful plant life. On the trip from Anadyr to Wrangel and back (10 days), plus on the two time 4 days circling Wrangel Island I took ca. 4000 images ( in combined 18 days ) and on the 10 days on Wrangel I took 12 000 images alone ! This clearly shows the beauty and power of this place. For this reason I definitely plan to return to Wrangel in one of the next years again with Heritage Expeditions, again with a dedicated group of nature wildlife photographer friends ! It was a real pleasure to experience this magical place, I had thanked Rodney Russ, the owner of Heritage Expeditions and our mega capable expedition leader on this trip plus Alexander Gruzdev, the Wrangel Island Nature Reserve Director, several times, for working so hard together to make this trip possible for our group ! All of our group was clearly aware of the multiyear ( !!! ) efforts by Heritage Expeditions which were needed to put this trip finally in place and that we were mega mega mega fortunate to be the first group to experience this arctic gem so closely and so extensively. I realize each day more, since I am back, how special this trip was / is !!! One of my friends has been on trips to the high arctic 8 times and already after 1 day on Wrangel Island he said to me that this trip is his best ever. It is logic that for this region you need a long lens or a camera with good digital tele zoom. When we spotted polar bears on the ice, the ship stopped and zodiacs were within 10 minutes in the water for all passengers to have a chance to get as close as possible to the wildlife. One evening the ship manouevered itself near to a relaxed polar bear on ice and stopped there for several hours ( over dinner ). After dinner the bear actually was curious enough to come maybe close than 50 m to the ship and passengers were making full frame images of the bear in beautiful sunset colours with their smartphones !!! This is nature expedition at its best, always come prepared properly with proper gear ( as mentioned above ) and then also always a bit of luck is required for finding cooperative wildlife ! The Heritage Expedition trip itself: all logistics, food, accommodation, support on- and off-board the ship, professionalism and sympathy of the complete staff, from room service via the kitchen crew to expedition guides and leaders, not to forget the NZ based office crew, just was flawless, as usual, as experienced so many times on trips to both subantarctic / antarctic and arctic regions before, one cannot return from one Heritage Expeditions trip without immediately booking one for the coming year  The latter is actually the only downside I know about Heritage Expeditions … but hey, this is an absolute deluxe problem, of which I would LOVE to have more. :-) ”


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