Russia's Ring of Fire:

Kamchatka and Kuril Islands

Russia's Ring of Fire: Kamchatka and Kuril Islands

DAYS 13 / SHIP Spirit of Enderby

DEPARTURES 27 MAY 2020

PLACES VISITED Commander Islands / Kamchatka / Kuril Islands

PRICES FROM $8,925 USD (More Rates)

KAMCHATKA, THE COMMANDER AND KURIL ISLANDS
(Incorporating our Popular ‘Birding The Russian Far East' Expedition)

The Pacific Ring of Fire manifests itself in numerous places on the rim of the Pacific Ocean - but nowhere more dramatically than in Russia's Far East. Along one of the world's most active plate boundaries, the Pacific plate subducts under the North American plate and the resulting volcanic and geothermal activity has built a unique and amazing landscape. Upwelling from the deep trenches formed by this action and currents around the many islands creates perfect conditions for seabirds and cetaceans. Consequently the area is one of the richest in the world, both in terms of the number of species, which can be seen, and their sheer abundance. For many birders, the undoubted highlight is the auks and during our voyage it is possible to see up to fourteen species including Tufted and Horned Puffins, Parakeet, Whiskered and Rhinoceros Auklets, as well as Spectacled and Pigeon Guillemots.

Other seabirds we regularly encounter include Laysan Albatross, Mottled Petrel, Fork-tailed Storm-Petrel, Red-faced Cormorant, Red-legged Kittiwake and Aleutian Tern. For those keen on cetaceans we can reasonably expect to see Fin, Sperm, Humpback Whales as well as Orca (Killer Whale), Baird's Beaked-Whale and Dall's Porpoise.

The region's human history is equally interesting and fascinating. The original settlers were the Ainu and Itelmen. They were displaced with the arrival of the Cossacks in the 18th century after the Explorer Vitus Bering had put the region on the map. The Soviet empire encompassed the region and at the height of the Cold War, Russia's formidable Pacific Fleet was based here. The secrecy surrounding the fleet resulted in the region being ‘closed' even to Russians who had to get special permits to travel to and within the area. It is only now, two decades since Perestroika, that people can travel relatively freely here, although there is still very little in the way of infrastructure for visitors.

The region we explore on this expedition falls into three quite distinct and unique geographical regions: the Kamchatka Peninsula; the Commander Islands (the western extremity of the Aleutian chain of islands) and the Kuril Islands. Each region is very different. Each has its own story and in many cases localised plants and birds. Join us as we go in search of those people, plants, animals and birds that make this part of the Pacific Ring of Fire so special.

A message for the keen birders and cetacean watchers reading this. Space doesn't allow us to list all species on a day-by-day basis in this itinerary. Please ask for an expedition dossier or a bird and mammal list from previous expeditions.

 

KAMCHATKA, THE COMMANDER AND KURIL ISLANDS
(Incorporating our Popular ‘Birding The Russian Far East' Expedition)

The Pacific Ring of Fire manifests itself in numerous places on the rim of the Pacific Ocean - but nowhere more dramatically than in Russia's Far East. Along one of the world's most active plate boundaries, the Pacific plate subducts under the North American plate and the resulting volcanic and geothermal activity has built a unique and amazing landscape. Upwelling from the deep trenches formed by this action and currents around the many islands creates perfect conditions for seabirds and cetaceans. Consequently the area is one of the richest in the world, both in terms of the number of species, which can be seen, and their sheer abundance. For many birders, the undoubted highlight is the auks and during our voyage it is possible to see up to fourteen species including Tufted and Horned Puffins, Parakeet, Whiskered and Rhinoceros Auklets, as well as Spectacled and Pigeon Guillemots.

Other seabirds we regularly encounter include Laysan Albatross, Mottled Petrel, Fork-tailed Storm-Petrel, Red-faced Cormorant, Red-legged Kittiwake and Aleutian Tern. For those keen on cetaceans we can reasonably expect to see Fin, Sperm, Humpback Whales as well as Orca (Killer Whale), Baird's Beaked-Whale and Dall's Porpoise.

The region's human history is equally interesting and fascinating. The original settlers were the Ainu and Itelmen. They were displaced with the arrival of the Cossacks in the 18th century after the Explorer Vitus Bering had put the region on the map. The Soviet empire encompassed the region and at the height of the Cold War, Russia's formidable Pacific Fleet was based here. The secrecy surrounding the fleet resulted in the region being ‘closed' even to Russians who had to get special permits to travel to and within the area. It is only now, two decades since Perestroika, that people can travel relatively freely here, although there is still very little in the way of infrastructure for visitors.

The region we explore on this expedition falls into three quite distinct and unique geographical regions: the Kamchatka Peninsula; the Commander Islands (the western extremity of the Aleutian chain of islands) and the Kuril Islands. Each region is very different. Each has its own story and in many cases localised plants and birds. Join us as we go in search of those people, plants, animals and birds that make this part of the Pacific Ring of Fire so special.

A message for the keen birders and cetacean watchers reading this. Space doesn't allow us to list all species on a day-by-day basis in this itinerary. Please ask for an expedition dossier or a bird and mammal list from previous expeditions.

 

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2019 ITINERARY
Russia's Ring of Fire: Kamchatka and Kuril Islands
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Day 1: Petropavlovsk-Kamchatskiy
You will be transferred to the vessel and we will depart for the Commander Islands. You are welcome on the bridge as we sail from what some people consider the best natural harbour in the world. There is also some good birding as we leave the shoreline behind.

Day 2: At Sea
A day at sea as we cruise towards the Commander Islands. Enjoy several lectures and briefings as we prepare for the days ahead. It is also a good time to be on deck as the birding is good with Fork-tailed Storm-Petrel and Red-legged Kittiwake amongst the likely sightings.

Days 3 to 4: Commander Islands
There are two main islands in the Commander group, Bering and Medny, and during our two days we will explore several sites combining the best of the natural and cultural history. There is an excellent chance of finding Rock Sandpiper, Mongolian Plover, Pechora Pipit and Grey-crowned Rosy-Finch, as well as the endemic subspecies of Arctic Fox. Zodiac cruising can be extremely rewarding here with several species of auklets as well as the Red-legged Kittiwake. The area is also extremely rich in marine mammals. Potential species include Sperm, Humpback, Northern Minke and Baird’s Beaked-Whales, as well as Orcas, Steller Sea Lions, Northern Fur Seals and Pacific Sea Otters. We include a visit to the small settlement of Nikolskoye and the local museum.

Day 5: Zhupanova River, Kamchatka
We will spend several hours in the Zodiacs cruising on the scenic Zhupanova River where we should get great looks at Steller’s Sea Eagles as the birds often nest in the trees adjacent to the river. Other highlights could include Far Eastern Curlew, Long-toed Stint, Kamchatka Gull and Aleutian Tern. There is also a major salmon fishery on the river which we can visit.

Day 6: Bukta Russkaya, Kamchatka
In this deep fiord on the Kamchatka Peninsula we will look for the endangered Kittlitz’s Murrelet as well as Long-billed Murrelet. We plan a short excursion at the head of the fiord where there is a chance of seeing brown bears. At the entrance to the fiord where we can Zodiac cruise there are almost always Orcas and Steller Sea Lions.

Day 7: Second Kuril Strait, Atlasova and Onekotan Islands
Very early in the morning we will pass through Second Kuril Strait which has one of the highest densities of Sea Otters in the Kuril Islands. Our landing on Atlasova Island is great for birders and non birders alike. There are the remains of a Gulag to explore and numerous species to see. This evening on Onekotan Island we can stretch our legs through an amazing field of wild flowers as we walk to Black Lake.

Day 8: karma and Toporkovy Islands
During an early morning Zodiac cruise at Ekarma Island we should see various alcids, with close looks at Tufted Puffin and Whiskered Auklet. This afternoon at Toporkovy Island in the shadow of the active Matua Island volcano we can expect to find Harlequin Ducks, Red-faced Cormorants, Tufted Puffins and Brunnich’s Guillemots. Ashore we could encounter Grey-tailed Tattler, Middendorff’s Grasshopper Warbler and Black-faced Bunting.

Day 9: Simushir and Yankicha Islands
We will enter a flooded caldera at the northern end of Simushir Island where a once top secret Soviet submarine base lies abandoned. In the surrounding area look for Siberian Rubythroat, Eurasian Nutcracker, Pine Grosbeak and Japanese Grey Bunting. Our visit to Yankicha Island is likely to be one of the highlights of the voyage as the number of alcids which breed here is incredible, with spectacular concentrations of Crested and Whiskered Auklets.

Day 10: Chirpoy and Urup Islands
This morning depending on weather we will either Zodiac cruise or land on Chirpoy Island where there are some dramatic volcanic landscapes and headlands covered in breeding seabirds. This afternoon’s landing on Urup Island is a chance to stretch your legs on an extended walk, beachcomb and look for Sea Otters or birds in the forest behind the beach.

Day 11: Iturup Island
This morning we land at the small settlement of Kurilsk from where local buses/trucks will take us into the volcanic highlands to thermal hot pools where you can enjoy a soak or go birding. Possible species include Kamchatka Leaf-warbler, Japanese Robin, Siberian Accentor, Pine Grosbeak and Japanese Bush-warbler.

Day 12: Kunashir Island
Kunashir is the largest island in the Kuril chain. We plan a landing in the Kurilsky Reserve and will explore an extensive area of woodland, where there are some good walks and birding. This afternoon while we are at sea there is a chance for birding and an opportunity to recap and pack.

Day 13: Sakhalin Island
Arrive at the Port of Korskov on Sakhalin Island. There will be transport to a central hotel and the airport in the town of Yuzhno-Sakhalinsk. Enquire for a full itinerary and/or Bird and Mammal List.

Our ship: Spirit of Enderby

The Spirit of Enderby (Professor Khromov) is a fully ice-strengthened expedition vessel, built in 1984 for polar and oceanographic research and is perfect for Expedition Travel. She carries just 50 passengers and was refurbished in May 2019 to provide comfortable accommodation in twin share cabins approximately half of which have private facilities. All cabins have outside windows o...

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Pricing

Russia's Ring of Fire - 27 May 2020 - Spirit of Enderby

Cabin Category Price USD Description Availablity
Main Deck Triple $7,650 One bunk (one upper and one lower) and one additional lower berth, writing desk, wardrobe, and drawers. Private washbasin. Shared shower and toilet facilities nearby with other Main Deck cabins. These cabins have a porthole. Waitlisted
Main Deck $8,925 Two lower berths, writing desk, wardrobe, and drawers. Private washbasin. Shared shower and toilet facilities nearby with other Main Deck cabins. These cabins have a porthole. Available
Superior $9,660 One bunk (one upper and one lower berth), writing desk, wardrobe, and drawers. Private bathroom with shower, toilet and washbasin. These cabins have windows. Available
Superior Plus $10,290 Two lower berths, writing desk, wardrobe, and drawers. Private bathroom with shower, toilet and washbasin. These cabins have windows. Limited
Mini Suite $10,700 Separate bedroom with a double bed and a single bed or sofa in the lounge, writing desk, wardrobe and drawers. Private bathroom with shower, toilet and washbasin. Mini Suites have windows. Waitlisted
Heritage Suite $11,550 Large lounge area, separate bedroom with double bed, single bed in the lounge, writing desk, wardrobe, drawers, and fridge. There is a private bathroom with shower, toilet and washbasin. Large forward and side facing windows with great views. Waitlisted
Additional fees

Local Payment: $500.00pp

Includes:

Pre/Post cruise transfers, all on board ship accommodation, meals and all expedition shore excursions.

Excludes:

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

Trip Reports

Looking for a taste of what you can expect on our expeditions or want to relive your voyage? Our Trip Reports offer a detailed, day-by-day account of all of our previous expeditions tracking the voyage route and highlighting the numerous wildlife and cultural encounters experienced along the way.

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What out travelers are saying:

“As I watched the trip unfold I get the feeling I’ll never see the like again”. READ MORE
BOB, NEW ZEALAND (PAST EXPEDITIONER)
Many thanks again for two truly splendid trips. It is a privilege to take part on such adventures and I appreciate the hard work (and stress!) and the team effort that goes into the organisation of such challenging trips. The Kuril Island and the Kamchatka trips were very special and I'm about to relive the experience as I sort out my hundreds of photos. READ MORE
JENNY
I just wanted to thank the Team again for such a wonderful RFE trip. It was splendid. I am only too conscious of how privileged we all were to be there and it was all due to you and Rodney and your hardworking team. It is one trip that I would love to do again. READ MORE
JENNY
Big thank you to the team for a great trip, seeing Orcas from the Zodiacs was a highlight for me and seeing a bear. READ MORE
LOUISE
We have just returned from the superb expedition on the Spirit of Enderby in Kamchatka (June/July). We cannot thank the 'on board' team enough... but hope our words have led them to realise our appreciation! However- I'm sure there's an equally great team "back at the office" - and so I'd just like to extend our thanks to you too - and to Julia in P-K (please let her know we were so glad sh... READ MORE
CHRIS AND ROGER
As I watched the trip unfold I get the feeling I’ll never see the like again. READ MORE
BOB
Many thanks again for two truly splendid trips. It is a privilege to take part on such adventures and I appreciate the hard work (and stress!) and the team effort that goes into the organisation of such challenging trips. The Kuril Island and the Kamchatka trips were very special and I'm about to relive the experience as I sort out my hundreds of photos. READ MORE
JENNY
I just wanted to thank the Team again for such a wonderful RFE trip. It was splendid. I am only too conscious of how privileged we all were to be there and it was all due to you and Rodney and your hardworking team. It is one trip that I would love to do again. READ MORE
JENNY
Big thank you to the team for a great trip, seeing Orcas from the Zodiacs was a highlight for me and seeing a bear. READ MORE
LOUISE
We have just returned from the superb expedition on the Spirit of Enderby in Kamchatka (June/July). We cannot thank the 'on board' team enough... but hope our words have led them to realise our appreciation! However- I'm sure there's an equally great team "back at the office" - and so I'd just like to extend our thanks to you too - and to Julia in P-K (please let her know we were so glad sh... READ MORE
CHRIS AND ROGER
I just arrived in Belgium but my heart,love and memories are still in Russia's Far East. What an incredible trip! This truly must be one of the last wildernesses in the world. The visit to Yankicha Island was a life changing experience. More than a million Crested Aukletsn accompanied by the truly bizar Whiskered auklets. Just amazing ... We saw 15 species of alcids (incl. the rare Kittlitz's M... READ MORE
DOMINIQUE VERBELEN
Thanks to the great staff, Russian crew and NZ staff for making this trip so fantastic. Now that i'm home it seems like a dream. I loved seeing this part of Russia and learned so much. I enjoyed my fellow participants and camaraderie. I'll always remember this trip and look forward to another Heritage adventure! READ MORE
AMY BALLARD
26 Jun 2019
The recent 'Russia's Ring of FIre' #1920 expedition aboard 'Spirit of Enderby' has concluded. The Species List for this voyage is now available ...READ MORE
12 Jul 2018
The recent 'Russia's Ring of FIre' #1821 expedition aboard 'Spirit of Enderby' has concluded. The Species List for this voyage is now available thr...READ MORE
14 Jul 2017
The recent 'Russia's Ring of FIre' #1720 expedition aboard 'Spirit of Enderby' has concluded. The Species List for this voyage is now available thr...READ MORE
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