Summary : This Alaska adventure will take full advantage of the long hours of mid-summer to trace pristine shores, cross the Arctic Circle, and step ashore on both Russian and American lands. Tour Alaska and the Bering Sea to discover the marine and wildlife habitats of the North Pacific—rivers, fjords, spectacular bays and remote coves, dense forests, dramatic marine geological formations, and towering coastal mountains. Numerous Zodiac excursions are planned as part of your Alaska expedition, negotiating sea cliffs for up-close sightings of nesting seabirds—red-legged kittiwakes, parakeet auklets, fulmars, puffins, and more. Travelers also enjoy excellent opportunities to view and photograph the region’s icon wildlife including brown bears, fur seals, walrus, and Arctic foxes.
Activities : Birding, Culture, Hiking, Photography
$999,999,999 to $0
Arrive in Anchorage and transfer to Anchorage Marriott Downtown. Gather this evening for a welcome dinner and briefing.
Board coaches for the scenic drive to Seward. Visit the Alaska SeaLife Center and a park where trails bring you close to Exit Glacier. Embark the Caledonian Sky late this afternoon and set sail in the evening.
This morning as the ship cruises past islands with steep cliffsides, watch for nesting puffins and cormorants. Board Zodiacs to explore, searching for the area’s prolific wildlife, including acrobatic humpback whales and pods of hunting orca, as well as fin and sei whales.
After lunch dock at the town of Kodiak, a bustling port settled by Russian fur traders in 1784. By 1792, Alexander Baranof established the town as the first capital of Russia’s North American colonies. Visit the 1794 Holy Resurrection Russian Orthodox Church and Erskine House, a National Historic Landmark built in 1809 and now housing the Kodiak Baranof Museum. Exhibits in the Alutiiq Museum detail the history and culture of these native people who lived here millennia before the Europeans arrived.
Nearly hidden at the far reaches of Amalik Bay, Geographic Harbor is surrounded by magnificent volcanic scenery. We cruise the area by Zodiac, watching for the brown bears frequently seen digging for clams along the beaches at low tide.
Trace the length of the Alaska Peninsula today, a stunning, nearly-uninhabited wilderness, stopping to investigate islands and coves and the tiny town of Chignik.
The ship anchors at Unga Island today; its multiple bays offer excellent Zodiac opportunities to spot sea otters and birds, including peregrine falcons. Ashore, enjoy botanizing amid fields of wildflowers and spongy tundra. Scattered pieces of multi-colored petrified wood are remnants of an ancient meta-sequoia forest, evidence that the region once enjoyed a warmer climate. In the evening search for whales in these waters famed for seasonal migrations.
Dutch Harbor was originally used by the North American Commercial Company to process fur seal pelts. Today, it is the busiest fishing and processing port in Alaska. Deckhands on purse seiners mend their nets and factory trawlers offload tons of king crab and pollock. Stroll among WWII relics of the U.S. Army, visit the Museum of the Aleutians and the WWII Historic Center, and view the oldest onion-domed Russian church in Alaska.
Due north in the Bering Sea lies the tiny archipelago comprising the five Pribilof Islands. They were discovered in 1786 by the Russian explorer Gerassim Pribilof who successfully located what he was hoping to find: fur seals by the thousands, which the Russians later harvested nearly to extinction. Today, the northern fur seal is protected and cannot be hunted commercially. The Pribilof breeding population now numbers more than 700,000. Bird colonies abound, with some 225 species recorded in the islands.
Step ashore in the small town of St. George whose residents include about 150 people of Aleut and Russian descent. A picturesque Russian Orthodox church commands a vista of the Bering Sea, and a cliff-top blind provides a remarkable view of a fur seal rookery. More parakeet auklets breed on St. George than anywhere else, and the nearly quarter million nesting red-legged kittiwakes make up 98 percent of the world’s population.
St. Paul is home to 800 Aleuts, the largest such community in the world. Enjoy a stroll through town, then walk among a profusion of tundra wildflowers, watching for Arctic foxes often spotted here. Zodiac excursions and walks to the edge of the cliffs reveal birds by the thousands—horned and tufted puffins; red-legged kittiwakes; red-faced cormorants; and crested, least, and parakeet auklets.
Attend lectures today as the ship cruises toward the long chain of Aleutian Islands. Each of the 124 islands is the summit of an underwater volcano, and nearly all are part of the Alaska Maritime National Wildlife Refuge, a 3.5 million-acre preserve. The refuge is home to an estimated 40 million seabirds of 55 different species.
While the Japanese invaded and occupied the far western Aleutian Islands of Attu and Kiska, U.S. forces built facilities on Adak Island to support efforts to retake the islands and to guard against a possible counter-offensive. In 1943, 27,000 troops were stationed in Adak. In 1997, the U.S. Navy released control of the island to the Aleut Native Corporation and only about 200 people live here today. This morning, go ashore and explore the island for a sense of its significance in WWII, or join a birding excursion to look for red-faced cormorants, Aleutian terns, and gray-crowned rosy-finches.
This island was once the site of Japanese troop occupation in WWII. When the Americans arrived they found that the Japanese had all been evacuated under cover of fog. History unfolds as you explore the island with our historian to view the pier, wooden boardwalk, and a grounded two-man submarine. In the afternoon you have the opportunity to view the world’s largest nesting population of least auklets. Cruise by Zodiac to Sirius Point, a relatively recent headland created from lava flow and a special habitat for these seabirds. Here you will see thousands of auklets and other small alcids as they come and go in their feeding routines.
Ruggedly mountainous Attu is the westernmost Aleutian island. Massacre Bay is the site of the only land battle fought on North American soil during WWII, and Attu’s evocative heritage reveals rusty Quonset huts, the occasional spent cartridge shell, and other military artifacts attesting to the American occupation of the island after it was retaken from the Japanese in 1943. Today, a nature walk reveals placid fields of vividly-hued wildflowers carpeting the battlefields: lupines, Alaskan paintbrush, and iris.
Attend lectures recapping your experiences in Alaska.
Cross the International Date Line, arriving in Russia on Saturday. After breakfast, set out for an exploration of Petropavlovsk, one of the oldest towns in the Russian Far East. Hospitable local guides bring you to the museum of ethnography and natural history, the art school, and the gold-domed Orthodox cathedral. In the afternoon, venture into the countryside to visit a Siberian K9 kennel for a mushing demonstration. Disembark this evening for your overnight flight to Anchorage.
Re-cross the International Date Line and arrive in the US on Saturday morning. Dinner and overnight at the Anchorage Marriott Downtown.
Depart on your independent homeward flights.
Accommodations in hotels and on board as outlined in the itinerary; all onboard meals and all group meals ashore, including soft drinks, beer and wine with lunch and dinner; arrival and departure transfers on group dates; services of the expedition staff, including lectures, briefings, slide/film shows; all group activities and excursions; landing and port fees; all gratuities; $50,000 of medical expense coverage and $75,000 in emergency evacuation insurance.
All air transportation; excess baggage charges; airport arrival and departure taxes; transfers for independent arrivals and departures; passport and/or visa fees; baggage/trip cancellation insurance; items of a personal nature such as laundry, bar charges, alcoholic beverages, e-mail/Internet/fax/telephone charges.
Know Before You Go:
For most activities, a relatively moderate level of exertion is required. You will need to climb, unaided, in and out of Zodiacs for excursions ashore; staff and crew members will be on hand to assist. Many of the landings will be “wet” and require that you wear waterproof, knee-high boots. Ashore, you must be able to walk moderate distances, unaided, over occasionally rough and often slippery terrain. Shore excursions have been designed to accommodate both those who enjoy gentle strolls and those who prefer more active hikes. Climate conditions vary depending upon our ship’s position. Summer temperatures in Alaska range from approximately 40º to 60ºF. Flexibility is a must, as itineraries are subject to change, and landings may be tidal or weather dependent.
*Emergency Medical & Evacuation Insurance:
Emergency medical coverage to a maximum benefit per paying passenger of $50,000 is included in the cost of this expedition, as well as evacuation coverage to a maximum benefit per paying passenger of $75,000. Insurance is underwritten by National Union Fire Insurance Company of Pittsburgh, PA. The policy will contain reductions, limitations, exclusions and termination provisions. All coverages may not be available in all states. Please note this coverage does not cover you against trip cancellation or for additional days of travel prior to and/or after the expedition trip dates. ExpeditionTrips strongly advises all clients to purchase travel insurance which includes trip cancellation and interruption coverage for the entire duration of your trip.