Jewel of the Russian Far East:

Kamchatka Coast

Jewel of the Russian Far East: Kamchatka Coast

DAYS 21 / SHIP Heritage Adventurer

DEPARTURES 4 Sep 2022

PLACES VISITED Sakhalin Island / Kamchatka / Kuril Islands / Commander Islands

PRICES FROM $13,950 USD (More Rates)

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 its most valuable assets - its wilderness and 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 1991/92 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. This makes it the perfect destination for Expedition Cruising.

In the winter much of the shoreline is choked by ice, however 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 enjoying 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 creating the perfect postcard landscape.

On this journey from Nome, United States to Otaru, Japan we will make numerous landings along these remote coastlines. We will select sites that few people visit such as river mouths, fiords, bays and islands that, in our experience, offer natural history enthusiasts, photographers, historians and travellers the most unique of opportunities. Voyage with us and discover the unrestrained beauty and jewel that is the Russian Far East.

Note: this voyage includes the option to join an exclusive tour of the world's second largest geyser field - Valley of Geysers - via helicopter

 

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 its most valuable assets - its wilderness and 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 1991/92 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. This makes it the perfect destination for Expedition Cruising.

In the winter much of the shoreline is choked by ice, however 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 enjoying 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 creating the perfect postcard landscape.

On this journey from Nome, United States to Otaru, Japan we will make numerous landings along these remote coastlines. We will select sites that few people visit such as river mouths, fiords, bays and islands that, in our experience, offer natural history enthusiasts, photographers, historians and travellers the most unique of opportunities. Voyage with us and discover the unrestrained beauty and jewel that is the Russian Far East.

Note: this voyage includes the option to join an exclusive tour of the world's second largest geyser field - Valley of Geysers - via helicopter

 

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ITINERARY
Jewel of the Russian Far East: Kamchatka Coast
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Day 1: Nome, Alaska
Our expedition begins in Nome, Alaska’s most famous gold rush town. 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 expedition team will be waiting to welcome you aboard. You will have the opportunity to settle into your accommodation and familiarise yourself on board before joining your fellow expeditioners on deck as we set sail across the Bering Sea and International Date Line for Provideniya, Russia.

Day 2: Provideniya, Russia
After clearing Russian Customs and Immigration there will be an opportunity to explore this fascinating former Soviet military port and administrative centre followed by an expedition afternoon.

Day 3: Cape Dezhnev and Lavrentiya
This morning we plan to be at Cape Dezhnev, the northeastern most point of the Eurasian continent. This cape commemorates the accomplishment of the Cossack Semyon Dezhnev who was the first European to sail through this strait in 1648 (80 years before Bering did). On the cape is a lighthouse, a monument and the remains of a Border Guard base. If the weather and sea conditions are suitable we plan to land here and give you the opportunity to explore the area. A few nautical miles south of Cape Dezhnev we visit Lavrentiya village, home to Chukchi, Yupik and Russians. While Russian development here began in the late 1920s, Lavrentiya had been an indigenous settlement long before. Explore the town square, sample local delicacies and experience traditional cultural performances with the friendly locals.

Day 4: Yttygran Island & Bukhta Penkingney
Yttygran Island is home to the monumental ancient aboriginal site known as Whale Bone Alley, where whale bones stretch along the beach for nearly half a kilometre. There are many meat pits used for storage and other remains of a busy whaling camp that united several aboriginal villages at a time. In one location, immense Bowhead Whale jawbones and ribs are placed together in a stunning arch formation. Gray and Humpback Whales are frequently seen around the island. This afternoon we plan to visit Bukhta Penkingney. This long fiord, cut into the coastline by glaciers, is a popular spot for whale watching. Exploring this scenic location we will be looking for wildlife including brown bear.

Day 5: At Sea
As we sail across Anadyr Bay there will be lectures, opportunities to look for whales and walrus from the deck, relaxing in the ship’s bar and catching up with reading or downloading and editing photos.

Day 6: Bukhta Gavriila and Pika River
This coastline is rich in marine mammals and one creature we will be looking for, in particular, is the walrus. As the animals regularly move between locations, finding them can be a matter of luck, although we have had success here in the past. We plan to explore Bukhta Gavriila. The bukhta (or bay) was named after Commander Vitus Bering’s ship, the St Gabriel, from the First Kamchatka Expedition. Behind the expansive beach there is a lagoon and we may also visit Chukotka’s oldest, and the Arctic’s southernmost, weather station which now sits abandoned. Due to strong tides around Cape Navarin there is an abundance of food here and it is not uncommon to see large numbers of seabirds and Gray Whales congregating in the area. This afternoon we plan to visit the delta of Pika River – a well-known walrus haul out and one of the few places in the southern part of their range that sees thousands of animals coming to rest on the beach.

Day 7: Bukhta Natalii
Along the Koryak Coast there are many beautiful fiords (bukhtas or bays) and none are more beautiful than Bukhta Natalii. This fiord has two smaller fiords that drain into it from the south – Bukhta Pavla and Bukhta Petra (named after St Peter and St Paul by Commander Vitus Bering). We plan to cruise to Bukhta Pavla and make a landing. The magnificent mountain landscapes and tundra vegetation will surround us, along with the possibility of sighting Snow Sheep, as they are often seen in the area. There is a historic walrus haul out on Bogoslova Island which guards the entrance to these fiords.

Day 8: Tintikun Lagoon
Much of the southern Govena Peninsula was declared a state reserve. This wildlife-rich and rarely visited location is surrounded by jagged peaks and cliffs where waterfalls tumble down valleys, and is home to Kamchatka Brown Bears, Steller’s Sea Eagles and Largha Seals. During our Zodiac cruise we expect to enjoy numerous wildlife encounters and explore one of the region’s most spectacular fiords Tintikun Lagoon. This fiord was blocked by a large terminal moraine during the last period of glaciation. A shallow river surrounded by jagged mountains, glaciers and forested slopes has breached the moraine, allowing access to one of the most picturesque locations found anywhere in the world. We take a closer look on a Zodiac safari. There is also a large population of brown bears and these should be feeding in, and around, the river mouth that drain into the head of the lagoon.

Day 9: Verkhutova Island
Verkhoturova Island has some huge seabird colonies which we plan to get close to by following a short, but steep trail to the clifftop. We should be able to enjoy some fantastic views of Tufted Puffins, Brunnich’s Guillemots, Pelagic Cormorants and Black-legged Kittiwakes. We may also see some Steller Sea Lions, as they are often hauled out on offshore rocks nearby.

Days 10 to 11: Commander Islands
The Commander Islands consist of two large islands (Bering and Medny) with two smaller islands Ariy Karmen and Toporkov. These islands are located at the western extremity of the Aleutian chain. We intend to explore the islands through a combination of landings and Zodiac cruises. Anchoring off Bering Island, named after Commander Bering who had the misfortune of discovering this land when his ship was wrecked here in 1741, we plan to explore Commander Bay. Walk to the graves of Bering and some of his crew who lost their lives during the long cold winter on this remote land and visit the site where they sought shelter. The reports from those that survived led to a ‘fur rush’ and the settlement of the islands. Our first stop will be the village of Nikolskoye, where we will visit one of the only museums in the world to display a skeleton of the famed (but now extinct) Steller’s Sea Cow. After the village we plan to visit the fur seal rookery at North-West Cape and Zodiac cruise the bird colony at Ariy Kamen. At nearby historic and atmospheric Medney Island we explore this fascinating landscape and wildlife including Pacific Sea Otters back from the brink of extinction after being hunted relentlessly in the 1800’s.

Day 12: Olga Bay and Zhupanova River
Olga Bay is a part of the very large Kronotskiy Reserve, which also includes the world-famous Valley of the Geysers. The habitat is quite different to what we will have been experiencing before with lush Kamchatka forests coming right down to the beach line. There is a possibility we will see brown bears and other forest fauna, as well as multiple bird species that live in this habitat. The seas around Olga Bay are frequented by large numbers of Gray Whales that are usually quite friendly to the visiting boats, if the conditions are right we will take a Zodiac whale-watching cruise. The rising volcanoes in the background here provide a beautiful setting to explore real Kamchatka wilderness. This afternoon we make our way along the Zhupanova River by Zodiac. This journey allows us to explore a river habitat which is common in Kamchatka. The Kamchatka rivers (of which there are over 1,800) are important ecosystems that support a wide variety of wildlife. They are especially important for salmon spawning – one of Kamchatka’s valuable natural resources. Steller’s Sea Eagles are known to nest in the lower reaches of the river and we are likely to see many young birds as well as a few adults still hanging around their nesting sites.

Day 13: 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 14: Petropavlovsk- Kamchatskiy
Today we plan to spend the day exploring Petropavlovsk- Kamchatskiy, the capital and administrative centre of the Kamchatka Region. The town 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 15: 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 Puffns. 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 16: 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 17: 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 high points 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 Puffns. 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 18: 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 Puffns 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 19: 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.

Day 20: Sakhalin Island
We arrive at the Port of Korsakov on Sakhalin Island where we will clear Russian Customs and Immigration before setting sail for Otaru, Japan. This evening enjoy a farewell dinner and recap of our adventure.

Day 21: Otaru, Japan
This morning we arrive in Otaru, a port city in Hokkaido known for glassworks, music boxes, sake distilleries and picturesque Otaru Canal flanked with shops and cafes built within repurposed 1920s warehouses. After breakfast and clearing Japan Customs and Immigration, there will be a complimentary coach to a central hotel or to the airport. To allow time for disembarkation procedures and travel from Otaru, we do not recommend booking flights departing before 13:00hrs. 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...

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Pricing

Jewel of the Russian Far East - 4 Sep 2022 to 25 Sep 2022 - Heritage Adventurer

Cabin Category Price USD Description Availablity
Main Deck Triple image Main Deck Triple $13,950 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 $14,485 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 $18,475 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 $18,975 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 $20,975 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 $22,275 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 $23,475 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 $32,450 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, 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 and travel insurance.

We have just returned from the superb expedition on the Spirit of Enderby in Kamchatka. We cannot thank the 'on board' team enough...but hope our words have led them to realise our appreciation! READ MORE
ROGER
Amazing beautiful places … what more to life is there? READ MORE
SUSAN
The wildlife we saw will stay in my memories forever. READ MORE
FIONA
First of all, thank you again for the trip of a lifetime! I found it all so enjoyable and really appreciated your organization and care… I would just love to travel with you again. READ MORE
BARBARA
The cruise was excellent and everyone on the ship did a great job. I'm very pleased with everything, from the food to the zodiac cruises. We all had an amazing experience and brought home memories that will last for the rest of our lives. READ MORE
ANDERS BLOMDAHL
Dear Rodney I’m now back in the UK, with time to reflect on the amazing experience of the last 2 1/2 weeks.... It was a trip quite unlike anything I had experienced before, to such a remote and exciting place, with wonderful wildlife, scenery, geomorphology, history and culture, that it is difficult to describe it in simple words. I was able to gain a better understanding of spoon-bill... READ MORE
TIM
Personal highlights were Walrus(es), Brown Bear encounters, a fly-by Short-tailed Albatross, meeting many new people, and two visits to Russian Orthodox churches. READ MORE
JIM
I want to recognise the excellent experience I had during this trip, well done to the whole team on board and remote support team in NZ. Additionally, I want to share with Rodney the fantastic support we got from the local Russian partner in PK: whilst we were waiting for 12 hours for our flight, she offered generously to stay at her apartment including nice tea and snacks. This kind of perso... READ MORE
JEAN
The Heritage Expeditions' Jewel of the Russia Far East this September 2015, was the 4th voyage I have had the pleasure to be part of in almost as many years. Previous voyages have been to Wrangel Island, In the Wake of Scott & Shackleton and an expedition to the remote Bounty & Antipodes Islands and the Chatham Islands archipelago. Each has been led by Rodney whose Passion and Professionalism, ... READ MORE
NGAIRE HART
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As we explore some of the planet’s most remote and spectacular wildernesses, the safety and wellbeing of everyone on board our expedition v...READ MORE
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