Russia's Natural Wonders:

War, Wildlife and Volcanoes in Kamchatka and The Kuril Islands

Russia's Natural Wonders: War, Wildlife and Volcanoes in Kamchatka and The Kuril Islands

DAYS 9 / SHIP Spirit of Enderby

DEPARTURES 22 Jun 2021

PLACES VISITED Kamchatka / Kuril Islands

PRICES FROM $4,950 USD (More Rates)

The Pacific Ring of Fire manifests itself in numerous places on the rim of the Pacific Ocean - but nowhere more dramatically and spectacularly than in the Russian Far East. Here 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, this 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. During this voyage it is possible to see numerous species of auks including Tufted and Horned Puffins, Parakeet, Whiskered and Rhinoceros Auklets, as well as Spectacled and Pigeon Guillemots.

Other seabirds regularly encountered 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 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 were required to get special permits to travel to and within the area. It is only now, two decades since Perestroika, 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 two quite distinct and unique geographical regions: the Kamchatka Peninsula and the Kuril Islands. Each region is very different, 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 Russian Far East so special.

The Pacific Ring of Fire manifests itself in numerous places on the rim of the Pacific Ocean - but nowhere more dramatically and spectacularly than in the Russian Far East. Here 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, this 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. During this voyage it is possible to see numerous species of auks including Tufted and Horned Puffins, Parakeet, Whiskered and Rhinoceros Auklets, as well as Spectacled and Pigeon Guillemots.

Other seabirds regularly encountered 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 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 were required to get special permits to travel to and within the area. It is only now, two decades since Perestroika, 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 two quite distinct and unique geographical regions: the Kamchatka Peninsula and the Kuril Islands. Each region is very different, 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 Russian Far East so special.

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Russia's Natural Wonders: War, Wildlife and Volcanoes in Kamchatka and The Kuril Islands
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Day 1: Sakhalin Island, Port of Korsakov
This morning we will meet and take a coach transfer to the Port of Korsakov some 40 minutes south of the city of Yuzhno-Sakhalinsk. (Full details of all these arrangements will be provided upon receipt of booking.) Once transferred to the ship, you will be shown to your cabins and there will be a chance to unpack and explore the vessel. After we set sail for Kunashir Island there will be mandatory safety briefings and introductions to ship and staff.

Day 2: Kunashir Island
Today we plan to visit Yuzhno-Kurilsk, the largest settlement on Kunashir Island, the largest in the Kuril chain. Kunashir came back under Russian rule in 1945 following the Kuril Landing Operation with Yuzhno-Kurilsk being rebuilt 30 metres higher than the original settlement following the 1953 tsunami. There is much to see and do at this fishing and goldmining village including visiting the history-rich museum, geothermal hot springs, UNESCO geology site and the burial site of the Ainu people.

Day 3: Iturup Island
If conditions are suitable we will enjoy an early morning Zodiac cruise looking for the Spectacled Guillemot and the Long-billed Murrelet. After breakfast we plan to board the Zodiacs once again for the short ride 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 some thermal pools. On our return to Kurilsk there should be an opportunity to meet the local people and enjoy the coastal scenery.

Day 4: Chirpoy and Urup Islands
This morning we plan to anchor off Chirpoy Island where there are some dramatic headlands covered in breeding seabirds and, depending on the sea conditions, we expect to either land or enjoy a Zodiac cruise. Black-legged Kittiwakes and Brunnich’s Guillemots are among the more numerous species to be found here. As we continue south towards Urup there is an excellent chance of seeing Sperm Whale and Orca. 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. This afternoon we plan to take an extended walk on volcanic Urup Island, formerly known as Company Land. Rich in WWII history, we will learn about this as we explore the inland’s interior which is dominated by birch and alders home to impressive wildlife, while 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 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. Over lunch we plan to cruise back 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 should also see the snowy race of Pigeon Guillemot. While inside the caldera we will pass the breeding colonies of Crested and Whiskered Auklets and are likely to also find good numbers of Harlequin Ducks. 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: Yankicha and Onekotan Islands
The official natural monument of the Sakhalin Region, Kraternaya Bay is located on the southern coast of the uninhabited island of Yankich. This scenic setting is the result of sea water breaching a ten-thousand-year-old volcano. This half-submerged giant is considered one of the most beautiful places in the Kuril Ridge with its treeless mountains, cliffs and hills part of its immense volcano. Widely considered to be the most beautiful, yet least known volcanoes, Krenitsyn Volcano on Onekotan Island is the world's largest volcano within a volcano. This natural phenomenon sees a cone island protruding from the waters of the Ring Lake (one of Russia’s deepest lakes), which in turn is located in the huge bowl of the Tao-Rusyr caldera. The Krenitsyn volcano, born from the serene waters of the Ring Lake, is one of the natural sites of the 100 Wonders of Russia.

Day 7: Paramushir and Shumshu Islands
The islands of Paramushir and Shumshu still bear the scars of the exhausting air attacks and heroic Kuril landing of August 1945 when Soviet soldiers defeated Japanese invaders in the Kuril Islands. In the historical museum of Severo-Kurilsk view unique photographs of Japanese fortifications and the Kuril landing operation. On the island of Shumshu, walk in the footsteps of brave Soviet soldiers through the places of fierce battles, pay your respects to the mass graves of warriors and touch the remains of the once formidable Japanese military equipment. Honour the memory the heroes of the Battle of Shumshu heroes a minute of silence.

Day 8: Bukhta Russkaya, Kamchatka
If the weather is fine, fantastic views of the many snow-covered volcanoes that dominate the southern part of the peninsula greet us as we sail up this fiord. Bukhta Russkaya is an isolated fiord roughly 150 miles north of the southern tip of Kamchatka. Near the entrance there have been sightings of both the Long-billed Murrelet and the endangered Kittlitz’s Murrelet. We plan to make a landing at the head of the fiord where the birding can be very rewarding. We will need to exercise care as brown bears are not uncommon here. We also plan to Zodiac cruise the entrance to the fiord where there is an excellent chance of observing Sea Otters, Largha Seals, Steller Sea Lions and Orcas.

Day 9: Petropavlovsk-Kamchatskiy
We arrive at Avacha Bay early in the morning; there will be a complimentary coach transfer to the city and a central hotel or to the airport OR travel back-to-back and join us on our ‘In the Wake of Bering’ expedition and save 5% on both voyages. To allow time for disembarkation procedures and travel from Petropavlovsk-Kamchatskiy, we do not recommend booking flights departing before 1200hrs. 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: 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 Natural Wonders - 22 Jun 2021 to 30 Jun 2021 - Spirit of Enderby

Cabin Category Price USD Description Availablity
Main Deck Triple $4,950 Has one bunk (one upper and one lower) and one lower berth, wardrobe, drawers, a desk and wash basin. The nearby showers and toilets are shared with other Main Deck cabins. Limited
Main Deck $5,625 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 $6,075 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 $6,750 Two lower berths, writing desk, wardrobe, and drawers. Private bathroom with shower, toilet and washbasin. These cabins have windows. Available
Mini Suite $7,200 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. Available
Heritage Suite $7,650 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: $400.00pp

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.

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