Summary : This unique expedition crosses the Arctic Circle and includes the isolated and pristine Wrangel and Herald Islands, and a significant section of the wild North Eastern Siberian coastline. It's a journey only made possible in recent years by the thawing in the politics of the region and the retreat of summer pack ice in the Chukchi Sea. The small distance between Russian and the USA along this border area was known as the Ice Curtain, behind which then and now lies one of the great undiscovered wilderness areas in the world. Journey through the narrow Bering Strait and travel west along the Chukotka coastline before crossing the De Long Strait to Wrangel Island. The island is a treasure trove of Arctic biodiversity and is perhaps best known for the multitude of polar bears that breed here—hope to catch sight of this beautiful animals. The island also boasts the world's largest population of Pacific Walrus and lies near major feeding grounds for Gray Whales. And the massive bird cliffs of Herald Island are sure to impress. Experience these rarely visited Arctic islands that boast a rich natural history and plentiful wildlife viewing opportunities.
Activities : Birding, Culture, Hiking, Triple/Quad Cabins
$10,500 to $13,800
For those departing Nome, Alaska, your adventure begins with a flight across the Bering Sea and International Date Line to the remote port of Anadyr.
All expedition members will arrive in Anadyr. Depending on your time of arrival you may have the opportunity to explore Anadyr before getting to know your fellow voyagers and expedition team on board the Spirit of Enderby. Depart when everybody is onboard.
At sea today there will be some briefings and lectures. It is also a chance for some birding, cetacean watching, and settling into ship life. Late this afternoon, plan to Zodiac cruise spectacular bird cliffs in Preobrazheniya Bay.
Yttygran Island is home to the monumental ancient aboriginal site known as Whale Bone Alley. Whale bones stretch along the beach for nearly half a kilometer. Gray whales are frequently seen around the island. You will also cruise by Nuneangan and Arakamchechen Islands where seabirds nest and walrus can be found.
Sea conditions permitting, land at Cape Dezhnev early this morning. The northeastern-most point of the Eurasian continent, it is sometimes possible to see the coast of America from this remote and lonely outpost. A few nautical miles to the west of Cape Dezhnev, visit Uelen Village, the most northeastern village in Russia. The population is predominantly Chukchi and the village is one of the largest centers for traditional Chukchi and Inuit art in the world. You’ll be welcomed by villagers and visit a bone-carving workshop during your visit.
This small island was once an important Russian Polar Research Station and one of a number dotted across the Arctic. Near the derelict buildings are some of the most spectacular bird cliffs in the Arctic where puffins, guillemots, and gulls can be observed and photographed up close.
Ice and weather conditions permitting, spend the next few days on Wrangel Island with a possible visit to nearby Herald Island. There are many landings you can make to search out wildlife, wildflowers, and Arctic landscapes. Polar bears will be high on your list of animals to see and with a little patience, you should be rewarded with a number of encounters. Musk oxen and reindeer were introduced to the island in 1975 and 1948, respectively, though reindeer numbers are low. You also have a chance to visit Dragi Harbor where the survivors of the Karluk, which was crushed by ice in 1914, scrambled ashore and lived until they were rescued. Wrangel Island is a Russian Federal Nature Reserve of international significance, particularly because it is a major polar bear denning area. Also, each summer thousands of birds migrate here to breed, including snow geese, snowy owls, skuas, Arctic terns, and Ross’s, Sabine, and ivory gulls.
Bounded by narrow sand ridges with numerous lagoons and inlets, this area offers plenty of places to land and explore this extensive coastline. You will be on the lookout for whales, walrus, and other wildlife. See Chukchi villages whose residents survive in an unforgiving climate, hunting seals and whales just as their ancestors did.
So huge that it is visible from satellite photos, this inlet contains vast numbers of waterfowl and migratory waders. Concentrate your visit on the Belaka Spit near the mouth of the inlet. It is a wild, desolate landscape that is strangely beautiful. Search the dunes and tidal areas for birdlife including emperor geese and spoon-billed sandpipers. Gray whales frequent the area and are sometimes spotted feeding only yards offshore.
Early in the morning, pass the Diomede Islands, sometimes called Tomorrow Island and Yesterday Isle because they straddle the International Date Line. Here Russia and America are separated by only 2.3 nautical miles of ocean. Remain in Russian territory as you cruise south past the islands. Later this afternoon, make an expedition landing on the Chukotka coast, your last chance to enjoy the wildlife and tundra landscape.
Relax as you sail across Anadyrskiy Bay towards Anadyr.
After breakfast, say your farewells. There will be a complimentary transfer to the airport or to a central downtown hotel.
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.
You can join this expedition either in Anadyr or in Nome, Alaska. Those starting in Nome will fly by a charter flight and join the ship in Anadyr.
Mandatory Travel Insurance:
As a requirement of participation on this tour operator's programs, 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 the tour operator's programs. 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 U.S. residents with travel protection options.
Shipboard accommodation; onboard lectures and access to public areas; shore excursions as described; services of expedition team; pre- and post-cruise transfers; all meals onboard the ship. Rubber boots may be available on request. Subject to change without notice.
Airfare to and from your home to the port of departure and port of arrival; private charter flight; items of a personal nature such as beverages, laundry, and medical supplies; travel insurance; passport and visa fees; gratuities; landing fees; fuel surcharge may apply.
PHOTOS: © K. Ovsyanikova; © M. Kelly; © A Terauds