Summary : Enjoy the chance to explore the coastline of one of the most diverse assortments of wildlife and habitats of anywhere of a similar latitude on the globe—with virtually no people or visitors to disturb them. Siberia's eastern coastline is one of the most remote and least visited regions of the globe. The collapse of the Soviet Union brought back traditional ways of life in the region, which is home to several groups of indigenous people, including Itelmen, Koryak, Even, and Chukchi. Travel to the area, a land of exceptional natural beauty, is still virtually impossible to the independent traveler. This unique cruise provides excellent opportunities to observe the areas beautiful birdlife and wildlife and encounter the area's indigenous cultures.
Activities : Birding, Culture, Hiking, Kayaking, Photography, Triple/Quad Cabins
$8,000 to $11,900
Arrive in Petropavlovsk-Kamchatskiy, the capital and administrative center of the Kamchatka Region and transfer to the port to board the Spirit of Enderby.
Plan to spend the morning Zodiac cruising on the Zhupanova River. Your main target here is the Steller’s Sea Eagle and there are usually some occupied nests close to the river. Good numbers of Largha Seals are also often hauled out on sandbars in the river and you should see a good variety of waterfowl and waders. By late afternoon, you will be over deep water heading for the Commander Islands and new species to look for include Laysan Albatross, Mottled Petrel and the Fork-tailed Storm-Petrel. The Kamchatka Trench can also be excellent for cetaceans and Blue Whales have previously been seen on this crossing.
The wildlife-rich Commander Islands were first discovered by the Commander Vitus Bering when his ship was wrecked here in 1741. Explore the islands through a combination of landings and Zodiac cruises and your first stop will be the village of Nikolskoye, where there is an interesting museum. Zodiac cruising is often spectacular and you will hopefully encounter Red-faced Cormorant, Red-legged Kittiwake, Pigeon Guillemot, Horned Puffin, as well as Parakeet, Crested and Whiskered Auklets and sea otters. Your plans also include a ship cruise along the southern coast of Bering Island, as this area is excellent for cetaceans with Humpback, Sperm, Northern Minke, Orcas and Baird’s Beaked Whales all regularly encountered.
Your proposed landing site is a patchwork of boggy tundra, ponds and shingle spits where an interesting range of waders can be found including Pacific Golden Plover, Red-necked Stint and Red-necked Phalarope. You will also hopefully see Bluethroat and Pallas’ Reed Bunting.
Verkhoturova Island has some huge seabird colonies and by following a short trail to the cliff top, you should be able to enjoy some fantastic views of Tufted Puffins, Brunnich’s Guillemots, Pelagic Cormorants and Black-legged Kittiwakes. Both Steller’s, Eider and Harlequin Duck occur here too and you may also see some Steller Sea Lions, as they are often hauled out on some offshore rocks. Later in the day, there will be either a Zodiac cruise or landing on the Govena Peninsula. Good numbers of brown bears can often be found here.
During these days of the expedition, travel along this largely unknown part of the coast. It comprises deep forested fjords where you should see brown bears, red fox and with luck, mountain sheep and Kamchatka Marmots. In the many lagoons and shallow bays there is a vast array of bird life including the Tundra Bean Goose, Steller’s Eider, Great Knot, Long Tailed Stint, Gyrfalcon, Siberian Accenter and Asian Rosy Finch. This area is also a stronghold of the Kittlitz’s Murrelet and you should see several during your journey. Explore much of this coastline, documenting the distribution and abundance of many species.
Work alongside researchers from BirdLife International and Birds Russia who will be traveling with you, and plan to revisit many of these areas to monitor changes and search for new breeding colonies. There will be unique opportunities for photography, for hiking and birding in a country where only a few westerners have ever been and where there is a rich diversity of species.
Meinypil’gyno, located on a 40km long shingle spit is the most important site in the world for breeding Spoon-billed Sandpiper. Here about fifteen pairs are monitored by members of the Spoon-billed Sandpiper Recovery Taskforce. You'll be guests of the Taskforce and if possible, you may be guided to one of their monitored nests. The area is extremely rich in other wildlife, so you may also find Emperor Goose, Pacific Diver, White-billed Diver and Sandhill Crane. The lagoon entrance often has Largha Seal, Gray and Beluga Whales and Sabine’s Gull.
This coastline is rich in marine mammals and one creature will be looking for in particular is the walrus, as there is a known haul out. The animals regularly move between locations, so finding them is often a matter of luck, although the ship has had success here in the past. Good numbers of Gray Whales often congregate here, too. To the north of Cape Navarin is Keyngypilgyn Lagoon. On previous visits, the ship has found this an excellent location for waterfowl and waders including Emperor Geese, Greater White-fronted Geese, Brant Geese, Whooper Swan, King Eiders, Red Knots and Aleutian Tern.
As you cruise into Anadyr Bay, there is an excellent chance of seeing more beluga whales and after a final breakfast on board the Spirit of Enderby, it will be time to disembark. Enjoy a complimentary transfer to a downtown hotel or the airport.
The above itinerary is a guide only, as the exact program depends on weather and ice conditions and the wildlife you encounter. These expeditions are subject to approval from various Russian Federal and Regional Authorities and may have to change depending on these approvals. Permits have been lodged for all the sites mentioned in the itinerary, depending on approvals these may have to be amended or substituted. Flexibility is the key to the success of this expedition. ExpeditionTrips is not responsible for itinerary changes.
Mandatory Travel Insurance:
As a requirement of participation in this trip, all passengers must purchase full medical and emergency evacuation insurance for the specific areas they will be visiting. The minimum coverage requirement is $100,000 for program. The policy provider, policy number and contact phone number must be provided prior to departure date. We also strongly recommend that all passengers purchase comprehensive travel insurance which would include coverage for cancellation, trip disruption, baggage and personal property. ExpeditionTrips can assist you with this.
Kayaking (Optional): $1,050 per person
Join experienced kayaker Judd Hill as you launch your kayaks from the Spirit of Enderby which acts as a floating base camp for special excursions and shore landings. Judd has kayaked in many exotic locations including Fiji, Panama, Palawan, Antarctica, the Russian Arctic and the Russian Far East. Cruising in a small group of about 6 to 10 paddlers and led by Judd, you will generally visit the same sites as the Zodiacs but be more independent and perhaps access areas not appropriate for Zodiacs. If the ship’s schedule allows, it may be possible to do an extended day trip, taking your lunch with you. The coastlines offer a wide array of habitats and sea kayaking opportunities, from sandy bays to rugged cliffs against a backdrop of extraordinary floral displays. They are also perfect sanctuaries for nesting seabirds, fish and marine mammals, so each day brings new challenges and fresh experiences to our small band of kayakers. Please inquire.
Group transfers to embark the ship and transfer from the ship to city hotels and/or airport on disembarkation; shipboard accommodations; onboard lectures and access to public areas; shore excursions as described; all meals onboard the ship. Subject to change without notice.
Airfare to and from your home to the port of departure and port of arrival; items of a personal nature such as insurance and excess baggage charges, passport, visa and vaccination fees, beverages, laundry, ship to shore communications, medical supplies, souvenirs, etc.; gratuities; landing fees; fuel surcharge may apply.
PHOTOS: © C Collins