Summary : Take advantage of the mid-summer sun and travel on nature’s terms. This is one of the world’s great journeys, an expedition that beckons nature lovers, history buffs and the intrepid explorer within. Marvel at spectacular natural landscapes, pristine tundra and massive volcanoes, spot a multitude of rare bird species without forgetting to enjoy some of the delicious fresh local caviar and vodka.
Activities : Birding, Culture, Hiking, Triple/Quad Cabins
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Once all guests have embarked, a mandatory safety drill will be conducted before Silver Explorer leaves Otaru.
You will then be introduced to important members of the crew and your Expedition Team. Afterwards have a sail away cocktail/
Tonight familiarize yourself with your new home away from home, meet some of your fellow travelers, and enjoy the first of many memorable meals in The Restaurant.
During the morning you can relax, have a leisurely breakfast and attend the first of several lectures about the Russian Far East, its history, its people and above all its wildlife.
Korsakov once served as a penal colony and achieved literary fame after a travel report by Anton Chekhov. Have enough time to get a glimpse of this city during an afternoon excursion with a cultural program. See Yuzhno-Sakhalinsk’s beautiful Cathedral of the Resurrection. The church was only completed in 1995, and the gold on the onion domes has very recently been laid, shining brilliantly. From the church continue to the Sakhalin Regional Museum, which is housed in a beautiful Japanese-style structure, due to the previous ruling of its southern neighbor. The museum covers all the facets of Sakhalin Island, from its flora and fauna, to its geology and history and its indigenous populations. At the Gagarin Park, with its adventure playgrounds and numerous beer and barbecue spots, the afternoon might end with a traditional performance of Russian song and dance.
Located off the East coast of Sakhalin Island in the Sea of Okhotsk, witness a natural paradise. This small island of only 2 sq. kilometers is an ideal place to observe large colonies of estimated more than 250,000 Northern fur seals and Steller sea lions, as well as tens of thousands of Common Guillemots and Black-legged Kittiwakes that have made their nests in the cliffs above. Take Zodiacs to cruise along the shore and marvel at the unbelievable amount of birds and mammals.
Your lecturers will take this day at sea to present lectures, seminars, and discussions about the Russian Far East and the impact human exploration has had in the different areas you have seen and intend to visit.
If you would like to relax, you can make use of the Spa, the Connoisseurs Corner, use the Fitness Centre or simply take in the fresh air on the Sun Deck. Enjoy lunch al fresco and meet with new friends for a cocktail.
Yankicha is a fascinating place. It is actually a flooded volcanic caldera, accessible only by Zodiac and only during high tide. Once inside the magnificent lagoon, see in the fumarole fields and hot springs, traces of the tremendous forces that created the island long ago. The island is also home to thousands of Crested Auklets and you may catch a glimpse of an Arctic fox or even the rare and elusive Whiskered Auklets during your nature walks.
With the Zodiacs, approach the clusters of rocks that comprise this island group which are home to huge populations of sea mammals and birds. At Skaly Lovyshky, go in search of Northern fur seals and Steller sea lions and hope to get good views of the Pigeon Guillemots that often swim around the rocky outcrops of the islands.
Makanrushi, your evening stop, is another uninhabited volcanic island. North of the Evreinov Strait, It is a roughly rectangular island with almost 50 sq. kilometers. As there are no sandy beaches, but mostly steep cliffs, cruise by ship or Zodiac along the shore and hope to have good views of the island’s highest peak.
Alaid on Atlasova Island is the highest volcano in the Kuril chain with a height of over 2,000 meters. Together with the expedition staff land by Zodiac on the black lava beach of the island, from where you will begin your walk to see the remains of the Taketomi tufa cone.
In the late morning Silver Explorer will continue north towards your next stop at the Utashud Islands. The Utashud Islands are a small cluster of islets off the coast of Kamchatka with spectacular scenery. The islands feature gentle slopes and steep cliffs which make them ideal habitat for various seabird species. Harbor and possibly spotted seals are plentiful along the shores. An old rusty ship wreck could be seen on the southwestern side of one of the island slabs.
South of Petropavlovsk-Kamchatskiy is the 15 kilometer long Ruskaya Bay. The northeast to southwest direction and narrow body of water have made this bay a perfect place to look for shelter in foul weather and fishing fleets and WWII convoys headed for Vladivostok have made ample use of the bay. Two shipwrecks can still be seen close to the bay’s southeastern shore. A river, used as a source of freshwater in former times, meanders through the valley and with Zodiacs or hike to the small stands of trees found there.
By cruising the river with Zodiacs, have the ability to stop and go ashore to find the best birding and nature walks. Heading upstream, spot up to 40 different bird species and maybe even see brown bears fishing for salmon in the river. The main goal today is to spot Steller Sea Eagles. This majestic bird is known to frequent this area.
The Komandorskiye or Commander Islands are named after famed Commander Vitus Bering who had been commissioned by the Russian Tsar to search for a land bridge between Asia and America. After having been to Alaska he was forced to overwinter here. He was buried on the island, but part of the crew managed to return to Petropavlovsk. Go ashore to see the graves of Bering and some of his crew.
Today visit a Steller sea lion rookery on the north side of Cape Severozapadniy. Walk along a sometimes waterlogged dirt road which leads to a blind overlooking the rookery. Apart from the sea lions arctic foxes can often be seen. They are curious, and will watch from a safe distance.
Before lunch Silver Explorer will sail to Nikolskoye, which was established in 1826 by fur traders. This fishing village on Bering Island has colorful buildings and an Orthodox Church and a small museum to learn about the Aleut people and their culture. It also contains much information on Bering, as well as the bones of a Steller’s sea cow. During your visit enjoy a concert and be entertained by a presentation of local games.
Spend the day aboard Silver Explorer, sailing for Petropavlovsk, the only major city on the peninsula and one of the oldest towns in the Russian Far East. It is also the scientific and cultural center of the region, with a museum of ethnography and natural history, an art school, a gold-domed Orthodox cathedral.
Aboard Silver Explorer attend final lectures and discussions about the area you have travelled through, edit some of the many photos taken and join the onboard Videographer for the documentary of your voyage along the Kuril Islands and Kamchatka.
Arrive in Petropavlovsk-Kamchatskiy in the late afternoon.
After breakfast the following day, disembark the vessel.
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.
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.
Ship accommodation; all onboard meals and entertainment; butler service; complimentary beverages (select wines, champagne, spirits, bottled water, specialty coffees, juices and soft drinks); onboard gratuities (except spa and salon); parka; Silver, Medallion, Grand and Owner's Suite guests receive laundry service and dinner at Officer's table; 1 hour of Internet access per guest/per day for passengers booked in Adventurer, Explorer, View, Vista, and Veranda Suites; unlimited Internet access for passengers booked in Medallion, Silver, Grand, and Owner’s Suites. Subject to change without notice.
Airfare; transfers and luggage handling; 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 Expeditions, © Richard Sidey (lake, puffin), © Elliott Neep (walrus)