Summary : The expansive region bordering the Sea of Okhotsk is one of the planet’s least-explored and most remarkable destinations for untouched forests, pristine tundra, and vast amounts of wildlife. Here, you’ll find a number of whale species including beluga, orca, and bowhead; basking seals and sea lions by the thousands; and millions of seabirds. Aboard the all-suite Caledonian Sky, this Siberia expedition will take you from Kamchatka to the Kurils and then a Sea of Okhotsk tour to explore remote shores and isolated islands long closed to Westerners. Siberia adventure travelers—from birders and botanists to photographers and nature-lovers—will revel in this breathtaking environment where nature has exceeded herself, and travelers have barely started to explore.
Activities : Birding, Culture, Hiking
$999,999,999 to $0
Depart on your independent flight to Anchorage. Gather at the Marriott Anchorage Downtown for a welcome dinner and overnight.
Board your flight to Petropavlovsk. Cross the International Date Line, arriving in Russia on Sunday. Set out to explore one of the oldest towns in the Russian Far East, founded by Vitus Bering in 1741. Hospitable local guides bring you to the museum of ethnography and natural history, the art school, and the gold-domed Orthodox cathedral. This afternoon, board the Caledonian Sky.
Part of the Pacific Ring of Fire, the Kurils are composed of 40 volcanoes, 16 of which are active. This afternoon, as you cruise through the First Kuril Strait, watch for the Steller’s sea eagles that frequent the area. Past voyages have also found hundreds of sea otters frolicking in this strait—a heartening rejuvenation after a brush with near-extinction. Step ashore on Atlasova Island, dominated by the towering 7,600-foot-high Alaid Volcano. Stroll along the black sand beaches to observe the island’s fascinating geology or take a hike inland over tundra bursting with wildflowers.
Join naturalists on deck to search for seabirds and marine mammals in the Sea of Okhotsk, while lecturers introduce the region’s history and wildlife.
Go ashore this morning in Utkholokskiy National Park, a vast, nearly uninhabited wilderness to search for birds and wildlife, including bears that are often found foraging along the tidal flats.
The waters of Shelekova Bay are subject to extreme tides and powerful currents, bringing nutrients to the surface and supporting huge quantities of life. By Zodiac, search for whales, seals, Steller’s sea lions and tremendous numbers of birds, including puffins and murres. Some six million pairs of least auklets and large numbers of crested auklets nest on Yamskie Island. As dusk falls, witness a veritable “auklet haze,” which darkens the sky as they return to roost for the night.
Cruise along the coast of Cape Alevina to search for the bears that are attracted by the spawning salmon.
This morning explore tiny Talan Island, home to one of the largest seabird communities in the Northern Pacific, with colonies reaching 1.8 million birds—puffins, auklets, and gulls are among the 12 species found here. The island is also home to Steller’s sea eagles, peregrine falcons, and red foxes. Permission pending, visit the Russian research center where local ornithologists are monitoring the annual bird migrations.
This small town, the first to be settled in the region, was chosen by Captain Vitus Bering as his headquarters for two extraordinary expeditions. Stroll Okhotsk’s quaint streets, lined with small shops and modest clapboard houses surrounded by gardens—all seemingly frozen in the 18th century. Visit the intriguing museum and enjoy a cultural performance.
Go ashore for nature walks to explore pristine Siberian forest, keeping an eye out for Steller’s sea eagles and brown bears.
In true expeditionary fashion, spend the next two days investigating the remote Shantar region—no roads reach the coastline, isolating it from civilization. The rocky islands covered with Siberian forest are a pristine wilderness, with sea-carved caves and cliffs, cascades, and 200 bird species inviting exploration by Zodiac and walks ashore. Watch for flocks of spectacled guillemots, which “sprint” across the water on crimson webbed feet when taking flight, as well as horned and tufted puffins diving under the waves to gorge on small fish. This area also presents a good opportunity to spot Shantar brown bears.
This remote island in the center of the Sea of Okhotsk is a wildlife sanctuary that was previously off-limits to visitors. Join naturalists aboard Zodiacs and trace the perimeter of Iony to discover huge flocks of crested, least, whiskered, and parakeet auklets; horned and tufted puffins; northern fulmars; and massive numbers of murres. There is also a large Steller’s sea lion rookery.
Today cruise along the wild coast of Sakhalin Island, as nature directs your course. Conditions permitting, go ashore for nature walks to search for Radde’s and Arctic warblers, Siberian rubythroats, and white-tailed eagles. There is also a possibility of spotting the gray whales that have been known to frequent this area.
Zodiac excursions around this tiny island reveal masses of nesting seabirds and rookeries of fur seals and Steller’s sea lions. The island’s name—Russian for seal—bears testament to its reputation as a primary destination for migrating northern fur seals and, during the 19th century, Russian and American sealers.
Dock in the port of Korsakov and depart overland for a visit to Sakhalin’s capital of Yuzhno-Sakhalinsk. Here explore the local market, lined with vendors’ wares representing this multicultural town’s heritage of indigenous peoples such as Ainu, Oroki, and Nivkh, as well as Russians, Japanese, and Koreans. Visit the Regional Museum, the Russian Orthodox church, and enjoy a performance of Cossack music and dance.
Spend the morning at sea and after lunch, arrive in Otaru, known for its interesting interior canal lined by historic buildings. Join a tour of this charming port city, with time at leisure to explore on your own. Spend your final overnight aboard the Caledonian Sky as the ship remains pier side.
Disembark this morning and transfer to Sapporo for your independent flight to the USA arriving home the same day.
Accommodations in hotels and on board as outlined in the itinerary; all onboard meals and all group meals on land, including soft drinks, beer, and wine with lunch and dinner; group transfers; services of the expedition staff, including lectures, briefings, slide/film shows; all group activities and excursions; landing and port fees; all gratuities; emergency medical coverage (maximum benefit per paying passenger of $50,000)*; evacuation coverage (maximum benefit per paying passenger of $75,000)*.
All air transportation; excess baggage charges; airport arrival and departure taxes; transfers for independent arrivals and departures; passport and/or visa fees; accident/baggage/cancellation insurance; items of a personal nature such as laundry, bar charges, alcoholic beverages, email/Internet/fax/telephone charges.
*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.