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Alaska and Russian Far East

Russian Far East Cruise

Summary : Embark from Nome, Alaska, and set sail on a journey to the Russian Far East and back, along the Aleutian Peninsula to Seward, Alaska. Get as close to your Alaskan experience as possible. Leaving the Russian Far East, travel to Alaska as never before, observing seals, sea lions and sensational land and seascapes along the way. Enjoy the legendary ornithology at Cape Kuyveveen and in the Pribiloffs and Aleutians, relax in the hot springs of Proliv Senyavina, and observe astonishing geology formed by aeonian stratas of time.

Activities : Birding, Culture, Hiking, Triple/Quad Cabins

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Itinerary
Day 1
Nome, Alaska

Nome is located on the edge of the Bering Sea, on the southwest side of the Seward Peninsula. Unlike other towns which are named for explorers, heroes or politicians, Nome was named as a result of a 50 year-old spelling error. In the 1850's an officer on a British ship off the coast of Alaska noted on a manuscript map that a nearby prominent point was not identified. He wrote "? Name" next to the point. When the map was recopied, another draftsman thought that the “?” was a C and that the “a” in "Name" was an o, and thus a map-maker in the British Admiralty christened "Cape Nome." The area has an amazing history dating back 10,000 years of Inupiaq Eskimo use for subsistence living.

Day 2
Provideniya, Russia

Provideniya is a former Soviet military port at the southern limit of the Arctic ice pack. With slightly less than 2000 inhabitants, many of whom are Yupik, it is the largest town and administrative center of the Providensky District. Started as a depot for the Northeast Passage traffic, it now is a port of entry to the Russian Far East and since the decline of the Soviet Union eco-tourism has boosted the local economy. The town has a Technical School and a fascinating museum with interesting and well-presented exhibits about the natural history and wildlife of the region. Additionally, displays highlight the housing styles and clothing of local Chukotka people from various villages in the area.

Day 3
Proliv Senyavina Hot Springs

To the Proliv Senyavina Hot Springs. We will go ashore by Zodiac, will enter a small lagoon and hike across tundra and some rolling hills to reach a stream with some hot springs. You can choose to either enter a small pool prepared by the local fishermen, or to go into the stream.

Day 4
Yttygran Island

Yttygran offers a unique natural history experience on this voyage. An array of bowhead whale bones and rock arrangements is stunning – it is a place of great archaeological importance combined with natural beauty. An early morning landing will add to the magic and mystery of the place due to the soft hues and the muffled light conditions. For the more energetic passengers a hike up the steep nearby hill provides an excellent leg stretch.

Day 5
Cape Kuyveveem

Like bookends, towering cliffs composed of light-colored granite and streaked by darker rock stand on each side of a large sheltered bay in the spectacular scenery of Cape Kuyvyveen. The sandy beach lies at the head of the bay with rolling tundra behind. The sheer granite rocks, distinct basalt caves and arches of the cape are home to thousands of Tufted Puffins that nest in rocky crevasses. Despite the cliffs on either side of the bay being quite close together, the adjacent terrains are slightly different and each attracts different species of birds.

Provideniya is a former Soviet military port at the southern limit of the Arctic ice pack. With slightly less than 2000 inhabitants, many of whom are Yupik, it is the largest town and administrative center of the Providensky District. Started as a depot for the Northeast Passage traffic, it now is a port of entry to the Russian Far East and since the decline of the Soviet Union eco-tourism has boosted the local economy. The town has a Technical School and a fascinating museum with interesting and well-presented exhibits about the natural history and wildlife of the region. Additionally, displays highlight the housing styles and clothing of local Chukotka people from various villages in the area.

Day 6
Hall Island, Alaska

Hall Island is one of the most remote islands in Alaska. Every summer this small rock island, in the middle of the Bering Sea, comes alive as about a million seabirds gather to breed and nest. They cling shoulder to shoulder on every available rock ledge. The most common seabirds include blacklegged kittiwakes, common and thick-billed murres, auklets, cormorants and northern fulmars.

St. Matthew Island is an extremely remote island in the middle of the Bering Sea, more than 200 miles from the nearest Alaska village. Even by Alaskan standards it is a lonely place. At the most southerly point of the 32 mile long island, at Cape Upright, the black sand and gravel beaches give way to massive sea cliffs that exceed heights of over 1000 ft. These are home to countless nesting murres, kittiwakes, cormorants and other sea birds. In fact, reports of the island’s wildlife by the Harriman Expedition in 1899 convinced Teddy Roosevelt to include St. Matthew in a group of islands designated as America’s first wildlife refuges in 1909.

Day 7
St Paul Island, Alaska

The city of Saint Paul is located on a narrow peninsula on the southern tip of St. Paul Island, the largest of five islands in the Pribilofs. These islands are located in the middle of the Bering Sea between the United States and Russia. St Paul’s lies 240 miles north of the Aleutian Islands, 300 miles west of the Alaska mainland, and 750 air miles west of Anchorage. The city of St. Paul is the only residential area on the island. The first non-natives to ‘discover’ St. Paul were Russian fur-traders in the late 1780’s, led by the navigator, Gavriil Pribylov.

Day 8
Dutch Harbor, Unalaska, Alaska

The crumpled peaks, and tranquil scenery, of Dutch Harbor belies its history as one of the few places on American soil to have been directly attacked by the Japanese - who bombed the significant US military base here during the Second World War. Located on a string of islands, which loops down into the Pacific from Alaska, a visit to this Aleutian Island destination offers comprehensive military history, and extraordinary ocean scenery. Hike the volcanic, gloriously green landscapes, and look out for wonderful wildlife, like bald eagles, as they survey the surroundings. You can also watch on in awe, as incredible marine mammals crash through the waves just offshore.

Day 9
Unga Island

The Aleutian island of Unga holds an ancient petrified wood forest and a more recent ghost town that was the site of a small gold rush in the late 1800s and early 1900s. The village was eventually abandoned in the 1960’s and now has a somewhat somber appearance. Many of the houses have collapsed and are overgrown with brilliant fuchsia fireweed wildflowers. From a distance the church looks intact, but up closer it is apparent that the roof is standing on the ground, and the walls have completely collapsed. Great Horned Owls nest near the church and in the bay kittiwakes, Double Crested and Pelagic Cormorants, Common Murres and Tufted Puffins can be seen.

Day 10
Castle Bay, Alaska

Castle Bay lies immediately west of Tuliumnit or Castle Point. The rugged sandstone tower and pinnacle formations give the point and the bay their names. The bay is several miles long with a entrance about two mile wide.

Day 11
Geographic Harbor / Kukak Bay

Geographic Harbor is at the head of Amalik Bay in the Katmai National Park, and the brown bears here are ubiquitous. Bears can be spotted digging for clams on the low tide, munching on berries, roots and grasses ashore or, most famously, fishing for salmon in the rapids of clear mountain streams. Not only the bears enjoy fishing in Geographic Harbor – keen anglers journey great distances to catch halibut, ling cod and rockfish in the bay. The waters around the harbor are also known to be fishing grounds for seals, otters, countless seabirds, and whales.

Katmai National Park is on the top of many “Best of Alaska” lists because of its otherworldly landscape, including 15 active volcanoes. In Kukak Bay it is possible to view the abundant wildlife and raw beauty of this magnificent scenery. Kukak Bay is well known for its concentration of bears and the salmon on which they feed, and this is one of the prime areas in this region for bear viewing

Day 12
Chiswell Islands / Holgate Glacier, Alaska

The Chiswell Islands are part of the Alaska Maritime National Wildlife Refuge, and deservedly so. Small bays, inlets and sea cliffs are populated by innumerable seabirds including Black-legged Kittiwakes, Pelagic Cormorants, Horned and Tufted Puffins, as wells as guillemots, auklets and murrelets. The Chiswell Islands are blessed with towering cliffs and sea caves offering up spectacular scenery and a Steller sea lion rookery that bustles as the marine mammals commute to feeding grounds, socialize, and care for their pups.

Kenai Fjords National Park’s famous Holgate Glacier is a spectacularly active river of ice. The surrounding glaciated landscape paints a dramatic portrait of the rugged mountains in contrast to the cold blue ice of the glacier. On approach, the waters leading up to Holgate Glacier may be peppered with bits of ice and the crackling noise of ancient air bubbles being released from small bergs. Periodically loud cannon-like blasts emanate from the glacier, and some are accompanied by calving events off the ice front. Gulls frequently sit on the small icebergs while harbor seals ply the icy waters in search of their next meal.

Day 13
Seward, Alaska

It is hard to believe that a place as beautiful as Seward exists. Surrounded on all sides by Kenai Fjords National Park, Chugach National Forest, and Resurrection Bay, Seward offers all the quaint realities of a small railroad town with the bonus of jaw-dropping scenery. This little town of about 2,750 citizens was founded in 1903, when survey crews arrived at the ice-free port and began planning a railroad to the Interior. Since its inception, Seward has relied heavily on tourism and commercial fishing. It is also the launching point for excursions into Kenai Fjords National Park, where it is quite common to see marine life and calving glaciers.

Notes

Read this itinerary as a guide only; the exact route and program varies according to weather conditions - and the wildlife you encounter. Flexibility is the key to the success of this expedition. 

Travel Insurance:
Although travel insurance is not mandatory to participate in this voyage, ExpeditionTrips strongly recommends Emergency Medical/Evacuation coverage which includes coverage for cancellation, trip disruption, baggage and personal property. Other conditions may apply based on pre-existing conditions. ExpeditionTrips can assist U.S. residents with travel protection options.

Included:
Ship accommodation; onboard meals; butler service; complimentary beverages served throughout the ship (an assortment of complimentary wines, champagne and spirits); parka and backpack; all onboard gratuities (except spa); port charges and handling fees; Silver, Medallion, Grand and Owner's Suite guests receive laundry service and dinner at Officer's table; 1 hour of internet access per guest/per day for passengers booked in Adventurer, Explorer, View, Vista, and Veranda Suites; unlimited internet access for passengers booked in Medallion, Silver, Grand, and Owner’s Suite. Subject to change without notice.

Not Included:
Airfare; transfers and luggage handling; travel insurance; government fees and taxes; visa and passport expenses; gifts and items of a personal nature such as laundry and spa options, fuel surcharge may apply.

Photo Credit: © Creative Services at Silversea Cruises, © Richard Sidey (bear cub)

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