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Northern Explorer: Across The Bering Sea

Russian Far East, Alaska Cruise

Summary : Marvel at spectacular natural landscapes, pristine tundra and massive volcanoes. Follow historic routes of explorers and traders. Spot rare wildlife including the western grey whale and Steller’s sea lion. Identify countless birds: puffins, guillemots, cormorants, Steller’s sea eagle, Brown-headed Thrush, Siberian Ruby-throats, Alder-thickets, Black legged Kittiwakes, and Crested or Whiskered Auklets. Photograph a variety of wildlife including walrus, fur seal, otter, red fox and the enormous Kamchatka brown bear. Cruise and explore by Zodiac, watching for walrus haul-outs and sea otters at play in the surrounding waters. Travel in the company of experts including an ornithologist, marine biologist and climatologist.

**Price includes most beverages.

Activities : Birding, Culture, Hiking


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Day 1
Otaru, Hokkaido, Japan

Embark the Silver Discoverer for this stunning expedition. Meet your Expedition Team and attend a safety briefing. Familiarize yourself with your new home away from home, and meet some of your fellow travelers.

Day 2
Korsakov, Sakhalin Island, Russia

Explore this city founded in 1853 as Sakhalin's first Russian military post. Drive to Yuzhno-Sakhalinsk, the capital of the island with a population of just over 160,000. Founded as a small Russian settlement in the 1880’s, the city became a Japanese prefect capital when the southern half of Sakhalin was declared a Japanese colony in 1905; after WWII it was returned to Russia. Highlights include a visit to the Russian Orthodox Church, the Regional Museum housed in an impressive former Japanese mansion, and the bustling market. Enjoy a performance of traditional Cossack song and dance.

Day 3
Tuleniy Island, Russia

Tuleniy means “seal” in Russian, and during the summer months the island is home to literally tens of thousands of northern fur seals and Steller sea lions who come to breed. In addition to seals and sea lions, keep your eye out for a range of different birds that summer on the island including Black-footed Kittiwake, Tufted Puffin, Common Mure and Pelagic Cormorant.

Day 4 – 7
Kuril Islands, Russia

Stretching over 800 miles from the southern end of the Kamchatka Peninsula to Hokkaido in Japan, this chain of over 30 volcanic islands is an important breeding ground for Stellar sea lions and one of the richest areas in the world for seabirds; up to 14 species of auks, as well as Spectacled and Pigeon Guillemots can be found. As we travel southward, these are some of the places we hope to visit:

• Chirpoy Island – By Zodiac search along the coast for the profusion of wildlife that lives in the area including Steller sea lions fulmars, kittiwakes, puffins and auklets.

• Yankitcka Island – Yankitcka is impressive. It’s actually a sinking volcanic caldera accessible only by Zodiac and only during high tide. Inside the magnificent lagoon with its fumaroles and hot springs, witness traces of the tremendous forces that created the island long ago. A visit here is invariably one of the highpoints of the entire voyage. The number of auklets, which breed here, is truly incredible. If we are lucky we may also catch a glimpse of an Arctic fox or even the rare and elusive Whiskered Auklet.

• Matua Island – Matua is home to one of the Kuril’s most active volcanoes, with more than 14 documented eruptions in the past 250 years. Learn about the Japanese military base that was set up here during WWII and how the Japanese used to capture geothermal heat from the volcano to keep the runway open during winter. Hikers are rewarded with good views of the abandoned military positions and hopefully get a glimpse of the island’s population of Brown-headed Thrush, Siberian Ruby-throats and Alder-Thickets.

• Lovushki Islands – Search for northern fur seals and Steller sea lions around this cluster of small islands and rocky outcrops with the best views yet of auklets! Aboard Zodiacs, drift among them — Whiskered, Crested and Parakeet Auklets. Tufted Puffins with their eye-catching bills and flowing yellow head plumes are also here including many fulmars.

• Makanrushi Island – Explore coastal waters home to sea lions and revel in the view of the dramatic Makanrushi volcano.

• Shumshu Island – Watch sea otters at play in the waters surrounding the Zodiacs, and observe the activities of the numerous cormorants that reside in the harbor-side bird cliffs.

• Atlasova Island – At 6,500 ft (2,000 m), Alaid is the highest volcano in the Kuril’s and praised by the Japanese for its almost perfect volcanic cone. Land by Zodiac on the black lava beach for a walk to see the remains of the Taketomi tufa cone and the women's prison, or gulag. Women, many of them political prisoners during the Soviet rule, were sent here to raise foxes for fur.

Day 8
Petropavlovsk-Kamchatskiy, Russia

Petropavlovsk, town of Peter and Paul, derives is named from the two sailing ships used by Vitus Bering when the great explorer reached Avacha Bay in 1740. It is the only major city on the peninsula and one of the oldest. Petropavlovsk is also the scientific and cultural center of the region. Today you’ll see why as local guides take you on a comprehensive tour including the Museum of Ethnography and Natural History, the art school, the gold-domed Orthodox Cathedral and the marketplace.

Day 9
Bering Sea

A leisurely day at sea is yours to enjoy. Begin perhaps with a late breakfast and another cup of coffee or tea during the first of the day’s lectures. Hear fascinating tales of adventure and learn more about the region’s endemic wildlife and remarkable nature. Knowledgeable Lecture Staff members are experts in a variety of scientific fields.

Day 10 – 12
Aleutian Islands, Alaska, USA

The Aleutians stretch 1,300 miles (2,600 km) from Kamchatka to Alaska used to be stepping-stones for Russian trappers and traders who established settlements on the islands. Dutch Harbour became a trans-shipping point for the gold boomtown of Nome. Today most of the islands form part of the Alaska Maritime National Wildlife Refuge, renowned for its dramatic, sea-sculpted coastlines, abundant marine animals and millions of migratory and nesting seabirds — 80% of all seabirds in North America use the refuge. For the next few days, wind through the Aleutians with a fairly flexible itinerary, making the best of the weather and local reconnaissance. Here are some places we hope to visit:

• Attu
Attu is the westernmost point of the United States and the site of the only WWII battle fought on North American soil — over two thousand Japanese soldiers lost their lives at Massacre Bay. The island is an ornithologist’s paradise and we hope to see some of the Asian migratory birds that are occasionally spotted. Be on the lookout for Peregrine Falcons, Lapland Longspur and Aleutian Canada Goose.

• Sirius Point, Kiska Island
Take a morning Zodiac tour along the cliffs of Sirius Point can only be described as "magical".
Search for Least and Crested Auklets, Peregrine Falcons and Laysan and Black-footed Albatrosses, all while keeping an eye open for the sperm whales that frequent the area. Evidence of the Japanese occupation during WWII haunts Kiska Harbour. Once ashore, see the remains of a Shinto shrine left behind by the 6,000-strong occupying force. During our nature walks, we hope to see Ptarmigans, Lapland Longspurs and Bald Eagles.

• Adak Island
The high winds of Adak are a blessing for birders; many migratory birds from Asia and elsewhere can be spotted. Indigenous (but often rare) shorebirds abound, and eagles are ubiquitous. Visitors not insistent upon scoring "First North America" sightings will find plenty of variety to enjoy. Hiking on the tundra may also be possible.

Day 13
At Sea

A leisurely day at sea to exchange notes with fellow travelers and take advantage of the amenities aboard Silver Discoverer. Spot seabirds found far away from their nesting grounds. Enjoy a lecture, an interesting book, or just relax in the comfort of your suite and watch a movie.

Day 14
Dutch Harbour, Unalaska Island, Aleutian Islands

Together with the city of Unalaska, Dutch Harbour, is a bustling community with about 4,000 residents. It is connected by bridge to the rest of Unalaska on Amaknak Island, and its name is frequently applied to the entire town. During a city tour, visit the World War II bunkers and the spectacular Russian Orthodox Church.

Day 15
Unga Spit, Aleutian Islands

Explore the islands by Zodiac, watch sea lions laze on the rocky shores and delight as sea otters play in the extensive bull kelp beds which surround the islands. There is a spectacular petrified ancient forest embedded in sea cliffs on this island.

Day 16 – 18
Alaska Peninsula

For the last leg of our expedition, journey along the Alaska Peninsula which extends 400 miles (644 km) from mainland Alaska toward the Aleutian Island chain. The landscape is breathtakingly beautiful with active volcanoes, towering mountain peaks, rolling tundra, rugged and wave-battered coastlines and the largest brown bear population in the state.

• Semidi Islands
This stunning and nearly uninhabited archipelago is home to some of the largest populations of native and undisturbed wildlife in the United States. There are 2.5 million birds here, almost half the breeding seabirds of the Alaska Peninsula. You’ll find huge numbers of Horned Puffins, Northern Fulmars and jaegers, and over a million murres. Ancient Murrelets and Parakeet Auklets are among the other species found, while the surrounding sea is home to sea otters, sea lions, seals, porpoises and whales.

• Geographic Harbour, Amalik Bay, Katmai National Park
Katmai National Park is on the top of many “Best of Alaska” lists because of its otherworldly landscape, including 15 active volcanoes. Here we have the opportunity to get up-close and personal to abundant wildlife and raw beauty; the scenery is magnificent at Geographic Harbour at the head of Amalik Bay, and the bears are ubiquitous. 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. Enjoy guided excursions to see bears, sea mammals and birds; or cast your line for some catch and release fishing.

• Chiswell Islands, Katmai National Park
Almost 40 million birds representing 30 species congregate in colonies along the coast of Chiswell Islands. Over 20,000 Horned and Tufted Puffins return to make their nests every summer. Visit rookeries teeming with birds, including Parakeet Auklets, Black-Legged Kittiwakes, Ancient Murrelets and Red Face Cormorants.

Day 19
Seward, Alaska

Following breakfast, disembark the vessel.


This itinerary is subject to change. ExpeditionTrips is not responsible for itinerary changes.

Suite accommodations; onboard meals and entertainment; butler service; parka; backpack; water bottle; gratuities aboard ship (except spa); complimentary beverages aboard ship (including select wines, champagnes, spirits, soda, water and coffee).

Not Included:
Airfare; transfers and luggage handling; optional shore excursions; park entrance fees; government fees and taxes; passport and visa expenses; Visa Invitation Letter $40; some champagne, premium wine and spirit selections, caviar, cigarettes and cigars; laundry or valet services; items of a personal nature such as boutique purchases, medical care, and spa services; fuel surcharge may apply.

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