Discover the Kuril Islands:

Expedition Cruising Russia's Extraordinary Kuril Islands

Discover the Kuril Islands: Expedition Cruising Russia's Extraordinary Kuril Islands

DAYS 8 / SHIP Heritage Adventurer

DEPARTURES 18 Sep 2022

PLACES VISITED Sakhalin Island / Kuril Islands

PRICES FROM $5,095 USD (More Rates)

Comprising a dramatic chain of volcanoes spanning 1,200 kilometres from Kamchatka to Japan, the Kuril Islands offer an otherworldly experience combining stunning scenery with unparalled wildlife and rich human history. The chain consists of 22 main islands, most of which are volcanically active. There are at least 160 volcanoes amongst the islands, 40 of which can be described as currently active. The islands which form part of the 'Pacific Ring of Fire' provide the perfect backdrop for this Russian Far East cruise.

The Kuril Islands are a result of the Pacific plate subducting under the North American plate, the resulting volcanic and geothermal activity has built a unique landscape and one of the richest in the world in terms of the number of species. For many, the undoubted highlight is the auks, and during this voyage it is possible to see up to 14 species including Tufted and Horned Puffins, Parakeets, Whiskered and Rhinoceros Auklets. For those keen on cetaceans we can reasonably expect to see Fin, Sperm, Humpback Whales as well as Orca, Baird’s BeakedWhale and Dall’s Porpoise.

The region’s human history is equally interesting. Artefacts recovered from recent excavations suggest that the original inhabitants may well date to the Epi-Jomon period (2250-1300 year BP). The Kuril Islands were settled by both Russians and Japanese in the 18th century. In 1875 Japan ceded to Russia the nearby island of Sakhalin in exchange for full Japanese possession of the Kurils. The islands were returned to the USSR by an agreement reached by the Allied powers at the Yalta Conference during World War ll. Japan however continues to claim the Southern Kurils.

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. The onset of autumn paints vibrant colours on the tundra-cloaked hillsides creates the perfect postcard landscape. Join us on this 8 day cruise of the Kuril Islands as we go in search of those people, plants, wildlife and birds that make this part of the Pacific Ring of Fire so special.

Comprising a dramatic chain of volcanoes spanning 1,200 kilometres from Kamchatka to Japan, the Kuril Islands offer an otherworldly experience combining stunning scenery with unparalled wildlife and rich human history. The chain consists of 22 main islands, most of which are volcanically active. There are at least 160 volcanoes amongst the islands, 40 of which can be described as currently active. The islands which form part of the 'Pacific Ring of Fire' provide the perfect backdrop for this Russian Far East cruise.

The Kuril Islands are a result of the Pacific plate subducting under the North American plate, the resulting volcanic and geothermal activity has built a unique landscape and one of the richest in the world in terms of the number of species. For many, the undoubted highlight is the auks, and during this voyage it is possible to see up to 14 species including Tufted and Horned Puffins, Parakeets, Whiskered and Rhinoceros Auklets. For those keen on cetaceans we can reasonably expect to see Fin, Sperm, Humpback Whales as well as Orca, Baird’s BeakedWhale and Dall’s Porpoise.

The region’s human history is equally interesting. Artefacts recovered from recent excavations suggest that the original inhabitants may well date to the Epi-Jomon period (2250-1300 year BP). The Kuril Islands were settled by both Russians and Japanese in the 18th century. In 1875 Japan ceded to Russia the nearby island of Sakhalin in exchange for full Japanese possession of the Kurils. The islands were returned to the USSR by an agreement reached by the Allied powers at the Yalta Conference during World War ll. Japan however continues to claim the Southern Kurils.

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. The onset of autumn paints vibrant colours on the tundra-cloaked hillsides creates the perfect postcard landscape. Join us on this 8 day cruise of the Kuril Islands as we go in search of those people, plants, wildlife and birds that make this part of the Pacific Ring of Fire so special.

READ LESS

Send a message to an
Expedition Specialist:

DOWNLOAD
Expedition Brochure
ITINERARY
Discover the Kuril Islands: Expedition Cruising Russia's Extraordinary Kuril Islands
Expand All

Day 1: Petropavlovsk-Kamchatskiy
Our expedition begins in Petropavlovsk-Kamchatskiy, the capital and administrative centre of the Kamchatka Region. Make your way to the designated meeting point for your transfer to Heritage Adventurer (times and meeting point will be confirmed with your voyage documents) where the captain and team will be waiting to welcome you aboard. Today you will have the opportunity to explore the town, which was founded in the 1700s by Commander Vitus Bering during the Second Kamchatka Expedition. All through the Cold War it was home to a significant part of Russia’s Pacific Fleet which included a large submarine base. The city and region was ‘closed’ to all foreign visitors until 1992. There is the option to join our inclusive tour, or upgrade to join a tour to the Valley of Geysers – the second largest geyser field in the world – via helicopter.

Day 2: Bukhta Russkaya, Kamchatka
If the weather is fine, fantastic views of the many snow-covered volcanoes that dominate the southern part of the peninsula will greet us as we sail up Bukhta Russkaya. Near the entrance of this isolated fiord, roughly 150 miles north of the southern tip of Kamchatka, there have been sightings of both the Long-billed Murrelet and the endangered Kittlitz’s Murrelet. There is also an excellent chance of seeing Sea Otters, Largha Seals, Steller Sea Lions and Orcas. We plan to make a landing at the head of the fiord where brown bears are not uncommon. During the night our vessel will enter Avacha Bay, one of the greatest natural harbours in the world.

Day 3: Ptich’i Rocks and Atlasova Island
Early this morning we will arrive at the wildlife rich Ptich’i or Bird Rocks. The plan is to Zodiac cruise these fascinating formations where an abundance of birds, seals and Sea Otters reside. Sea Otters were hunted to almost extinction in Russia, but now number back to almost two-thirds of their historical range. Harbour and Largha Seals are often seen here as well as a healthy population of Tufted Puffins. We then plan to sail through the Second Kuril Strait between Shumshu and Paramushir Islands on route to Altasova Island where Alaid, the tallest volcano in the archipelago with an elevation of 2,340 metres, can be found.

Day 4: Onekotan Island
Today we plan to make a landing at Onekotan Island, an uninhabited island comprising two stratovolcanos connected by a flat stretch of land and part of the Kuril Islands chain. Exploring the island you will find extensive evidence of fortifications built by the Japanese during World War II.

Day 5: Simushir and Yankicha Islands
After an early breakfast we plan to board the Zodiacs and cruise into a vast flooded caldera at the northern end of Simushir Island. Only a quarter of a century ago this was the location of a top secret Soviet submarine station where hundreds of mariners were based. This haunting reminder of the Cold War has now been completely abandoned and we can wander around what remains of the base, which is steadily being reclaimed by nature. Within the stunning setting of this huge caldera, we can expect to find a good range of species with one of the most common birds likely to be the spectacular Siberian Rubythroat which can often be seen singing from the tops of scrubby bushes. Over lunch we plan to cruise to Yankicha Island, the summit of a submerged volcano. Invariably this is one of the highpoints of the entire voyage as the number of alcids breeding here is truly incredible. Subject to weather and sea conditions, we will use the Zodiacs to circumnavigate part of the coastline and then enter the flooded caldera. The concentrations of Crested and Whiskered Auklets here are simply spectacular and we can also expect to get great views of Brunnich’s and Common Guillemots and both Tufted and Horned Puffins. We also stand an excellent chance of seeing Arctic Foxes that can be pretty inquisitive as they patrol the auk colonies looking for their next meal. As we return to the ship in the late evening many of the alcids will be returning to their colonies. Being surrounded by clouds of birds darkening the sky is an experience you will never forget.

Day 6: Chirpoy and Urup Islands
This morning we plan to anchor off Chirpoy Island where there are some dramatic headlands covered in breeding seabirds. Blacklegged Kittiwakes and Brunnich’s Guillemots are among the more numerous species that we are likely to find here. As we continue south towards Urup there is an excellent chance of observing Sperm Whale and Orca from the ship. Laysan Albatross, Ancient and Long-billed Murrelets, Brunnich’s Guillemot, Crested and Rhinoceros Auklets and Tufted Puffins are often seen in good numbers on this crossing. On an extended walk on Urup Island we will explore the scrubby woodland. Beachcombing and walking can be very rewarding here as there is the possibility of seeing both Largha and Harbour Seals, as well as Pacific Sea Otters.

Day 7: Iturup Island
This morning we make our way to the community of Kurilsk, where local buses will take us into the volcanic highlands of Iturup. Passing through some spectacular scenery as we steadily climb up towards the Baranskiy volcano, there may be an opportunity to soak in the thermal pools. The higher altitude and different vegetation provides a great contrast to recent days. On our return to Kurilsk there should be an opportunity to explore the village on a nature walk with our expedition guides or do some further birding. This evening enjoy a farewell dinner and recap of our adventure.

Day 8: Sakhalin Island
We arrive at the Port of Korsakov on Sakhalin Island. After breakfast say your farewells and join a complimentary transfer to a central hotel or the airport in the town of Yuzhno-Sakhalinsk. In case of unexpected delays we ask you not to book any onward travel until after midday today. Note: During our voyage, circumstances may make it necessary or desirable to deviate from the proposed itinerary. This can include poor weather and/or opportunities for making unplanned excursions. Your Expedition Leader will keep you fully informed.

Our ship: Heritage Adventurer

Heritage Adventurer is a true pioneering expedition vessel of exceptional pedigree. Often referred to as the 'Grande Dame of Polar Exploration' due to her celebrated history and refined design, she was purposebuilt for adventure in 1991 at Finland's Rauma shipyard and specifically designed for Polar exploration. Setting a peerless standard in authentic expedition travel, Heritage Adventurer (f...

VIEW SHIP PROFILE

Pricing

Discover the Kuril Islands - 18 Sep 2022 to 25 Sep 2022 - Heritage Adventurer

Cabin Category Price USD Description Availablity
Main Deck Triple image Main Deck Triple $5,095 Main Deck Triple Cabins on Deck 3 are a spacious 22m2 and feature two porthole windows, two single beds and one Pullman bed which folds down from the wall, comfortable lounge, writing desk, private en-suite with shower, ample storage and a flat screen entertainment system. Available
Superior Triple image Superior Triple $5,475 Superior Triple Cabins on Deck 5 are a spacious 22m2 and feature large panoramic windows, two single beds and one Pullman bed which folds down from the wall, comfortable lounge, writing desk, private en-suite with shower, ample storage and a flat screen entertainment system. Available
Deck 4 Superior image Deck 4 Superior $6,975 Superior Cabins on Deck 4 are a spacious 22m2 and feature large panoramic windows, king or two single beds, comfortable lounge, writing desk, private en-suite with shower, ample storage and a flat screen entertainment system. Available
Deck 5 Superior image Deck 5 Superior $7,295 Superior Cabins on Deck 5 are a spacious 22m2 and feature large panoramic windows, king or two single beds, comfortable lounge, writing desk, private en-suite with shower, ample storage and a flat screen entertainment system. Available
Main Deck Single image Main Deck Single $7,750 Main Deck Single Cabins on Deck 3 are a spacious 22m2 and feature two porthole windows, king bed, comfortable lounge, writing desk, private en-suite with shower, ample storage and a flat screen entertainment system. Available
Superior Single image Superior Single $8,475 Superior Single Cabins on Deck 5 are a spacious 22m2 and feature large panoramic windows, king bed, comfortable lounge, writing desk, private en-suite with shower, ample storage and a flat screen entertainment system. Available
Worsley Suite image Worsley Suite $8,750 Located on Deck 6, Worsley Suites are a spacious 22m2 and feature large panoramic windows, king or two single beds, comfortable chaise-style lounge suite, writing desk, private en-suite with shower, ample storage and a flat screen entertainment system. Available
Heritage Suite image Heritage Suite $12,375 Located on Deck 6, Heritage Suites are an expansive 44m2 and feature large double panoramic windows, king bed, large living area with a sofa, coffee table and chairs and grand marble bathroom with a double basin, bathtub and shower, large writing desk, floor to ceiling cabinetry for storage and a flat screen entertainment system. Available
Additional fees

Local Payment: $500.00pp

Includes:

Pre/post cruise transfers, all on board ship accommodation with meals and all expedition shore excursions. Pricing per person in US$.

Excludes:

All items of a personal nature, laundry, drinks, gratuities. International/domestic flights, visas, travel insurance and Valley of Geysers tour.

21 May 2019
Following a two week makeover in the Philippines, Heritage Expeditions trusty expedition vessel Spirit of Enderby (Professor Khromov) is cruising...READ MORE
Send Message
Call Us
Receive e-News
Download Brochure