In the Wake of Bering:

The Commander Islands and Kamchatka

In the Wake of Bering: The Commander Islands and Kamchatka

DAYS 7 / SHIP Spirit of Enderby

DEPARTURES 30 Jun 2021

PLACES VISITED Kamchatka / Commander Islands

PRICES FROM $3,850 USD (More Rates)

This unique expedition follows in the footsteps of the Russian/Danish Explorer Commander Vitus Bering whose instructions from Tsar Peter the Great were to "sail north by north-east... chart the coast and collect information".

Our journey starts in Petropavlovsk-Kamchatskiy, the city which is named after two of Bering's ships, and we will also travel north by north-east, along what is still one of the remotest coastlines on earth.

Lying between the Sea of Okhotsk and the Pacific Ocean Russia's Kamchatka Peninsula is a 1,250 kilometre finger of land of which 30 per cent of the area is protected in national reserves. The most significant feature of the landscape is around 160 volcanoes, of which 29 are still active. This dramatic landscape makes the area one of the most popular for Russian cruises.

The Commander Islands and the 30 mile Marine Zone around them were declared a zapovednik (Federal Nature Reserve) in 1993. They have also been included in the World Network of Biosphere Reserves by UNESCO. Zodiac cruising is spectacular here with amazing numbers of birds and otters commonly seen here. There is a good chance of seeing whales ship cruising the Southern Coast of Bering Island as the area is excellent for cetaceans with Humpback, Sperm, Northern Minke, Orcas and Baird's Beaked Whales all regularly encountered.

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.

This unique expedition follows in the footsteps of the Russian/Danish Explorer Commander Vitus Bering whose instructions from Tsar Peter the Great were to "sail north by north-east... chart the coast and collect information".

Our journey starts in Petropavlovsk-Kamchatskiy, the city which is named after two of Bering's ships, and we will also travel north by north-east, along what is still one of the remotest coastlines on earth.

Lying between the Sea of Okhotsk and the Pacific Ocean Russia's Kamchatka Peninsula is a 1,250 kilometre finger of land of which 30 per cent of the area is protected in national reserves. The most significant feature of the landscape is around 160 volcanoes, of which 29 are still active. This dramatic landscape makes the area one of the most popular for Russian cruises.

The Commander Islands and the 30 mile Marine Zone around them were declared a zapovednik (Federal Nature Reserve) in 1993. They have also been included in the World Network of Biosphere Reserves by UNESCO. Zodiac cruising is spectacular here with amazing numbers of birds and otters commonly seen here. There is a good chance of seeing whales ship cruising the Southern Coast of Bering Island as the area is excellent for cetaceans with Humpback, Sperm, Northern Minke, Orcas and Baird's Beaked Whales all regularly encountered.

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.

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In the Wake of Bering: The Commander Islands and Kamchatka
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Day 1: Petropavlovsk-Kamchatskiy
Our expedition begins in the historic city of Petropavlovsk-Kamchatskiy which is located on one of the greatest natural harbours in the world, Avacha Bay. Petropavlovsk-Kamchatskiy is the main city of the Kamchatka Peninsula and the capital and administrative centre of the region. This city and the surrounding areas offer a great amount to see and explore. We encourage you to take a few extra days before the expedition departs to explore this amazing area. A coach will transfer you to the ship, where staff will be on hand to welcome you and show you to your cabin. You will want to be on deck as we depart Avacha Bay as some people claim that this natural harbour is amongst one of the best in the world.

Day 2: Olga Bay
Olga Bay is a part of the very large Kronotskiy Reserve, which also includes the world-famous Valley of the Geysers. Lush Kamchatka forests come right down to the beach line here, and there is a possibility we will see brown bears and other forest fauna, as well as multiple bird species that live in this pristine 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.

Days 3 to 5: Commander Islands
The Commander Islands form the western extremity of the Aleutian Islands and are the only islands in the chain that belong to Russia. They are named after the legendary Danish explorer Commander Vitus Bering who discovered the islands when he became the first European to sail between Asia and North America. Unfortunately Bering’s ship was wrecked and he died here along with many of his crew, though little evidence of their time on the island remains, except for a simple tombstone that marks Bering’s grave. Some of the crew did survive and eventually made it back to Kamchatka, including Georg Steller, the expedition’s naturalist. Although Steller also died before getting back to Western Europe, his journals survived and these provided details of the wildlife of the region including the Sea Cow which Bering and the crew had found on the Commander Islands. This extraordinary creature and the sea eagle were subsequently named after Steller, but the Sea Cow only survived a further 30 years as hunters soon arrived in the region. During our three days in the Commander Islands we plan to visit both Bering and Medny, but our first stop will be at the village of Nikolskoye on Bering Island. While ashore we will have the opportunity to visit the small museum (one of the few places in the world to have a skeleton of the Sea Cow) and meet some of the local people. There is also some excellent birding opportunities in the area. Along the shoreline there are often hundreds of Glaucous-winged Gulls as well as smaller numbers of the far more localised Red-legged Kittiwake. We should also see both Rock Sandpiper and Mongolian Plover (or Lesser Sand Plover) here, as well as both Lapland and Snow Bunting. All landing sites in the Commander Islands are weather dependent, so our precise itinerary will vary depending on the prevailing conditions. Whatever sites we use you can be assured of an amazing experience. Possible sites include a colony of over 2,000 Northern Fur Seals where we should also see Steller Sea Lions and as many as 200 Pacific Sea Otters. There are also several sites where Zodiac cruising can be highly productive and it is possible to get close views of Red-legged Kittiwake, Parakeet Auklet, Horned Puffin and Pigeon Guillemot. While ashore we could encounter Rock Ptarmigan, Grey-crowned Rosy-Finch and the endemic subspecies of Arctic Fox. We also plan to ship cruise along the southern coast of Bering Island as this is a superb area for seabirds and cetaceans. We could potentially see Short-tailed, Black-footed and Laysan Albatrosses, Mottled Petrel, Red-legged Kittiwake, Least, Parakeet and Whiskered Auklets and Horned and Tufted Puffins. This area is also renowned for cetaceans including Sperm, Humpback, Northern Minke, Baird’s Beaked Whales and Orca.

Day 6: Zhupanova River, Kamchatka
We anchor off the mouth of the Zhupanova River where we will Zodiac cruise up the river for several hours looking for birds and other wildlife. The combination of smoking volcanoes and mile upon mile of untouched forest make this area very special, but it is also home to some exceptional wildlife including a high density of Steller’s Sea Eagles. There are several massive stick nests immediately adjacent to the riverbank and consequently we have an excellent chance of getting some exceptional views of this majestic raptor. There should be plenty of other wildlife too. Species we have seen on previous occasions include Pacific Diver, Falcated Duck, Wood Sandpiper, Aleutian Tern, Eastern Yellow Wagtail, Arctic Warbler, Willow Tit and both Yellow-breasted and Rustic Buntings. At the river mouth there is a small fish-processing factory as huge numbers of salmon spawn in the river. Normally there is an opportunity to meet the fishermen, sample the fish, see how it is processed and the opportunity to purchase some fresh fish, as well as doing some land-based exploring/birding.

Day 7: Petropavlovsk-Kamchatskiy
We arrive back 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. 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

In the Wake of Bering - 30 Jun 2021 to 6 Jul 2021 - Spirit of Enderby

Cabin Category Price USD Description Availablity
Main Deck Triple $3,850 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. Available
Main Deck $4,375 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 $4,725 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 $5,250 Two lower berths, writing desk, wardrobe, and drawers. Private bathroom with shower, toilet and washbasin. These cabins have windows. Available
Mini Suite $5,600 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 $5,950 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: $300.00pp

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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