Summary : On this special Chukotka expedition, meet the people of this fascinating region. Listen to their stories and learn of their strong connection with the land and the sea. Celebrate with them at their annual Beringia Regatta and Festival which includes whaleboat and Baidara (traditional walrus skin covered boats) races, as well as cultural group performances. It is one of the most colorful festivals in the Chukotka calendar and attracts people from all around the region. North of Chukotka, explore the nature reserve and World Heritage site of Wrangel Island. Wrangel Island—known for its outstanding wildlife—is sometimes referred to as a 'Polar Bear Maternity Ward' because of the high density of denning polar bears. It is an island that never disappoints those who are keen on natural history or are enthusiasts of Arctic history. As the ice retreats each summer, further and faster than ever before, polar bears come ashore and you're likely to see good numbers. Explore the vast expanse of tundra accented by delicate wild flowers and dwarf trees species. Watch for brown bears, reindeer, Arctic fox, and if you're fortunate, wolverine. Explore Wrangel Island and search for its polar bears, walrus and rich Arctic history. Following a tumultous history, today the Chukotka region is taking its rightful place in the Russian Federation. Rich in natural resources and abundant in wildlife, the area is under significant pressure due to climate change.
Activities : Birding, Culture, Hiking, Triple/Quad Cabins
$999,999,999 to $0
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, the administrative capital of Chukotka. Depending on your time of arrival you may have the opportunity to explore Anadyr before boarding the vessel. Sail in the late afternoon for Egvekinot.
This small town was built by Gulag prisoners as a port to supply the rich Lul’tin mining complex some 124 miles inland, they were then forced to construct a road to the mine. Explore the town which has an excellent museum and plan to travel by Ural to explore along the road towards Lul’tin and into the tundra to gain an appreciation of this unique Arctic landscape close to the Arctic Circle.
Across Kresta Bay from Egvekinot is the small reindeer herding village of Konergino. Reindeer herding is still an important part of the indigenous people’s culture and economy, the practice has remained largely unchanged over the centuries and revolves around ‘brigades’ looking after large herds of reindeer out on the tundra. Today is an introduction to this industry/practice.
Cruise along the south coast of Chukotka today and take the opportunity to stop at Presbrazhenya Bay. Zodiac cruise the spectacular bird cliffs which could provide great photographic opportunities. There will also be a chance to land at a hunting camp at the nearby village of Nunligren.
The significant and intriguing archaeological site of 'Whale Bone Alley' on Yttygran Island dates to the 14th century, its origins and purpose have been the cause of much debate. Whalebones stretch along the beach in the form of a pathway for nearly half a mile and Gray Whales are frequently seen in the vicinity. This afternoon, plan to make a landing at the Gil’mimyl Hot Springs.
Sea conditions permitting, you will plan to land at Cape Dezhnev early this morning—this is the northeastern most point of the Eurasian continent. The name commemorates the accomplishment of the Cossack, Semyon Dezhnev, who was the first European to sail through this strait in 1648 (80 years before Bering did). Nearby is the former Inuit village of Naukan, the inhabitants were relocated to nearby villages by the Soviet administration in 1958 but photographs and stories make the site come alive.
Relax as your ship navigates northwards towards Wrangel Island. Ice conditions will determine your speed and course and will ultimately dictate whether you will actually be able to reach the island.
As you approach the island you will spend time searching the ice for polar bears, ringed seals, and walrus. Should there be opportunities to land you will explore the tundra to look for species which breed here. You will have three days on and around the island to take advantage of whatever conditions you encounter and will be utilizing the local knowledge of the park rangers to make multiple landings and ice cruising.
Sail south towards Kolyuchin Island. The day is filled with illustrated lectures, opportunities to spend time on deck, relaxing in the ship’s bar, and catching up with some reading or download and editing photos.
This morning you will plan a landing and/or Zodiac cruise at Kolyuchin Island. When the ice recedes large numbers of walrus sometimes haul out on the island. At the western end of the island is the remains of a Polar Research Station and nearby are some amazing bird cliffs, where it is possible to get magnificent views (and photographs) of puffins and guillemots. This afternoon you will cruise to nearby Kolyuchin Inlet, a massive tidal estuary and ideal habitat for many bird species, it is early enough in the season for the majority of them to either be on nests or have young. It is an easy landing with lots of opportunity for ‘birding’.
The plan is to be here for opening day of the annual Beringia Regatta and Festival which includes Baidara (traditional walrus skin-covered boats) races as well as cultural group performances and games. It is one of the most colorful festivals in the Chukotka calendar and attracts people from many villages. There will be a range of activities at the regatta and festival and local foods for you to sample and souvenirs to purchase. This is a festival that gets to the very heart and soul of the people, their culture and their land.
As you make your way back to Anadyr you will recap the many experiences you have enjoyed on this special Chukotka expedition.
After breakfast passengers will be taken ashore, and a complimentary transfer to the airport or to a central downtown hotel will conclude the expedition.
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 operators 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 operators 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.
Pre- and post-cruise transfers; shipboard accommodations; onboard lectures and access to public areas; shore excursions as described; services of expedition team; 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