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Alaska and Russian Far East

Alaska Russian Far East Cruise

Summary : Travel in the wake of Vitus Bering and drink in the startlingly beautiful landscapes of Alaska and the Russian Far East: massive glaciers, evergreen forests, serrated peaks and placid fjords. Absorb the culture of a region where the similarities of both nations become clear. Yet it is the stunning wildlife here that is the most compelling—from brown bears to bald eagles these are the true stars of the show.

Activities : Birding, Hiking, Triple/Quad Cabins

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Prices from
$15,300 to $45,100

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Itinerary
Day 1
Seward, Alaska

Embark the ship.

Day 2
Holgate Glacier / Chiswell Islands /

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.

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.

Day 3
Kodiak Island

Larsen Bay is one of the hotspots of commercial and sports fishing on Kodiak Island’s western side. The village of Larsen Bay is home to one of the oldest standing canneries on Kodiak Island. Situated in a scenic valley at the mouth of a narrow fjord, the small village of Larsen Bay lies within Kodiak Island’s National Wildlife Refuge -which covers the southwestern part of Kodiak Island- and is the starting point for scenic flights over the mountainous island. Wildlife near Larsen Bay includes Kodiak brown bears, seals and sea lions, as well as eagles and puffins.

Day 4
Semidi

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. Large numbers of seabirds including Ancient Murrelets, Parakeet Auklets, Horned Puffins, Northern Fulmars and jaegers, and over a million murres are on hand here. The surrounding sea is home to sea otters, sea lions, seals, Dall’s porpoises, Pacific white-sided dolphins and whales.

Day 5
Chignik

Chignik is a fishing village on the Alaskan Peninsula and home for just under 100 year-round inhabitants. Most of the houses in the community are running along a local stream and neighborhood kids can be seen riding their bicycles back and forth on its length. In the summer months the population doubles, as the fishing gets better and the town supports a couple of fish-processing plants. Chignik is a remote outpost at the doorstep of the Aleutian Island chain and offers up a true taste of Alaskan outback life. A few small waterfalls cascade down the surrounding mountains, and eagles can be seen as Hump Salmon (also called Pink Salmon when out in the ocean) swim up the river to spawn.

Day 6
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 7
Dutch Harbor

With bald eagles soaring overhead, emerald-green volcanic peaks chafing the clouds, and raw ocean scenery as far as the eye can see, this far-flung destination is the definition of remote and wild. Part of the outlying Aleutian Islands archipelago, which spirals out across the Bering Sea into the wilds of the Pacific, Dutch Harbor offers a dramatic backdrop and rich military history - as one of the few pieces of US soil to be directly attacked by the Japanese during World War II. The town settles into the embrace of a vast deep-water harbour, which helps to protect from the unpredictable churn of the Bering Sea. Enjoy hikes along coastal trails to birdwatch among more than 100 different species – and look on as huge clouds of cawing seabirds float on gusts of wind, filling the air with their raucous calls.

Day 8
St. Paul Island

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. Today, this small city has one school (K-12), one post office, one bar, one small general store, and one church, a Russian Orthodox Church that is registered National Historic building. In summer, this island is teaming with wildlife, including about 500,000 northern fur seals and millions of seabirds, including tufted puffins

Day 9
St. Matthew Island / Hall Island

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. Today, biologists from the Alaska Maritime National Wildlife Refuge, try to visit St. Matthew every five years to monitor changes. The most famous story of this island is the case of the disappearing reindeer. In 1944, twenty-nine reindeer were brought to the island as alternative food supply for WWII troops.

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.

Day 10
At Sea

Days at sea are the perfect opportunity to relax, unwind and catch up with what you’ve been meaning to do. So whether that is going to the gym, visiting the spa, whale watching, or catching up on your reading, these blue sea days are the perfect balance to busy days spent exploring shore side.

Day 11
Day 12
Anadyr, Russia

Anadyr is the administrative center of Chukotka Autonomous Region and home to approximately 13,000 people. Like many northern towns that have short summers and very long winters, Anadyr is painted in all colors of the rainbow to lift the spirits of its inhabitants in winter. Under Governor Roman Abramovich, the well-known oligarch, big money had been invested to develop and revive local infrastructure and industries that had collapsed with the break-up of the Soviet era. Life is booming once again in this remote region as Russian and foreign investors take interest in mining, fishing and other profitable sources of Chukotka. The Chukotka Museum in Anadyr holds an impressive collection of artefacts that include the most exquisite carvings of walrus ivory, baleen, mammoth tusk and stone.

Day 13
Gabriela Bay / Cape Navarin

Gabriela Bay is located south and west of the Bering Strait along the coast of the federal subject Russian state of Chukotka Autonomous Okrug (population ~52,000). The bay abuts wetlands that dot the coastline, which in warmer seasons are lush with wildflowers like dwarf azaleas and forget-me-nots that can completely cover the tundra in their peak. While animal sightings are not guaranteed, visitors may keep an eye peeled for occurrences of walruses, brown bears or beluga whales.

Day 14
Anastasiya Bay

A U-shaped bay on the Bering Sea, Anastasia Bay appears to be carved out of the mountainous cliffs that make up the land that surrounds the tundra-like Koryak Mountains in Kamchatka Krai, Russia. The rare visitor comes to the bay hoping to walruses and seals, and birders search for Slaty-backed Gulls, Pelagic Cormorants, Horned Puffins, Tufted Puffins, Black-legged Kittiwakes, and White Wagtails, White-fronted Geese, Bean Geese and Whooper Swans. The land begs for a nature walk amidst its conical peaks and jagged cliffs, separated by valleys with lakes, waterfalls and tumbling streams and glimpses of arctic voles and ground squirrels.

Day 15
Peter Bay / Bogoslav Island / Pavel Bay

Peter Bay is a small inlet at the foot of the Koryak Mountain range well north of the Kamchatka Peninsula. At the entrance of the bay is a Largha seal haul-out site and a small hidden lagoon flanked by the ocean and the bay. The southern end of the bay has several small lakes that are dammed behind a moraine ridge; the remnant of an ancient glacier. The lakes feed a spectacular waterfall. The western and eastern sides of the bay have steep cliffs that seabirds favor for nesting sites. Their busy comings and goings from nest to ocean feeding grounds punctuate this Far Eastern Russian location.

Six nautical miles south of the entrance to Natalii Bay are the spectacular sea cliffs of Bogoslav Island. The small island rises to 424 meters (1,391 feet) above sea level and is a perfect place to spot Pigeon, Brünnich’s, and Common Guillemots, Black-legged Kittiwakes, Harlequin Ducks, Horned Puffins, White Wagtails, Pelagic Cormorants and Slaty-backed Gulls. Walrus can also be seen at a nearby haul-out.

Due west of Bogoslof Island, a mountain of 787 metres (2,582 feet) marks the entrance to Pavel Bay. Brown bears often walk along the slopes of the bay as it winds towards low-lying tundra dissected by tumbling mountain streams. This bay and others close by are used by nomadic reindeer herders who follow the cycles of life in Kamchatka. The people herd hundreds of reindeer over great distances from their inland grazing areas down to the coast. Here the reindeer graze on the salty coastal grasses that supplement their diet.

Day 16
At Sea

Days at sea are the perfect opportunity to relax, unwind and catch up with what you’ve been meaning to do. So whether that is going to the gym, visiting the spa, whale watching, or catching up on your reading, these blue sea days are the perfect balance to busy days spent exploring shore side.

Day 17
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. Thick-billed Murres, Glaucous and Slaty-winged Gulls, Parakeet Auklets and Red Phalaropes frequent the dramatic rocky formations while Common Murres, Pelagic Cormorants and Black-legged Kittiwakes line the cliffs and archways.

Day 18
Proliv Senyavina / Yttygran Island

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.

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 19
Day 19
Nome, Alaska

Disembark the ship after breakfast and transfer to the airport.

Notes

Read this itinerary as a guide only; the exact route and program varies according to ice and 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:
Transfers between airport and ship if booked on group flights; shipboard accommodations; Wi-Fi onboard ship; parka; backpack; one voyage highlights USB per cabin; all meals onboard ship; butler service onboard ship; self-serve laundrette; most beverages onboard ship; gratuities (except spa) onboard ship. Silver, Medallion, Grand and Owner's Suite guests also receive: laundry service and dinner at Officer's table. Subject to change without notice.

Not Included:
Airfare; 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

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