The eastern seaboard of Russia dominates the North Pacific and yet very few people know anything about it, let alone have experienced it. This isolation has protected one of its most valuable assets – its wilderness and to some degree, its wildlife. The area was considered an important ‘frontier zone’ during the Cold War, so it was off-limits to foreigners. Even Russians had to get special permission to travel here. These limitations were changed in 1991/92 with Perestroika but that didn’t make it more accessible. If anything it is probably less accessible now than it was, as there are fewer people living in the region and the state-subsidised transport system has collapsed. There is no money to replace the ageing fleets of aircraft and ships and few people can afford the prices that are charged to travel in this region today. This makes it the perfect destination for Expedition Cruising.
|0||Nome||Charter flight from Nome to Anadyr|
|1||Anadyr||Embarkation on the Spirit of Enderby|
|2||Egvekinot||Visit the museum and learn of the interesting history|
|3||Bukhta Gavrilla||Keep an eye out for walrus, waterfowl and waders|
|4||Pika River and Meinypil'gyno||Walrus and visit the small settlement with local hospitality|
|5||Bukhta Natalii||Hike from one way to another surrounded by beautiful landscapes and tundra|
|6||Tintikun Lagoon||This state reserve is home to a large population of brown bears|
|7||Koryakskiy Reserve & Verhoturova Island||Brown bears, tufted and horned puffins, pigeon, common and brunnich's guillemots|
|8||Karaginskiy Island||Notice the change in tundra as you encounter the first 'forests' of the region|
|9-10||Commander Islands||Fur seal rookery, learn of the history of these unique islands|
|11||Olga Bay||Rising volcanoes, wilderness, gray whales|
|12||Zhupanova River and Bukhta Bechevinskaya||Zodiac cruise up Zhupanova River look out for Steller's Sea Eagles|
|13||Petropavlovsk-Kamchatskiy||Disembark in Avacha Bay, one of the greatest natural harbours in the world|
The Spirit of Enderby is a fully ice-strengthened expedition vessel, built in 1984 for polar and oceanographic research and is perfect for expedition travel. She carries just 50 passengers and was refurbished in March 2013 to provide comfortable accommodation in twin share cabins approximately half of which have private facilities. All cabins have outside windows or portholes and ample storage space. On board there is a combined bar/library lounge area and a dedicated lecture room. The cuisine is very good and is prepared by top NZ and Australian chefs.
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. The ship will depart when everybody is on board. There will be mandatory safety briefings and introductions to the ship and staff once you set sail on your adventure.
Spend the day in and around the town of Egvekinot on the shores of Kresta Bay. The town was built by Gulag prisoners who were then forced to construct a road to the mine. Explore the town which has an excellent museum, the road and tundra as well as visit the Arctic Circle.
This coastline is rich in marine mammals and one creature you will be looking for, in particular, is the walrus. The bukhta (or bay) was named after Commander Vitus Bering’s ship, the St Gabriel, of the First Kamchatka Expedition. Behind the expansive beach there is a lagoon you can explore for waterfowl and waders.
Start the day with a visit to the delta of Pika River – a well known walrus haul out. Later in the day, visit Meinypil’gyno, a small settlement located on a 40km long shingle spit. It is a traditional village although renovated under the recent Chukotka government; enjoy local hospitality from the village ensemble who perform some of their traditional dances for us.
Along the Koryak Coast there are many beautiful fiords (bukhtas or bays) and none are more beautiful than Bukhta Natalii. This fiord has two smaller fiords that drain into it from the south. Hike from one bay to another whilst surrounded by the magnificent mountain landscapes and tundra vegetation.
Much of the southern Govena Peninsula was recently made into a state reserve. There are a number of fiords included in the reserve; one of the most spectacular is Tintikun Lagoon which is one of the most picturesque locations found anywhere in the world. A large population of brown bears inhabits this area, if you are fortunate you should see a number of them.
Start the morning in Kamchatka Brown Bear country, an undisturbed habitat within the Koryakskiy Reserve, where you will go bear watching. Brown bears frequently visit this area which is completely protected and rarely visited. In the afternoon visit Verkhoturova Island where Tufted and Horned Puffins, Pigeon, Common and Brunnich’s Guillemots and also Parakeet and Least Auklets can be seen. On nearby rocky islets there is a regular non-breeding haul out of Steller Sea Lions.
A few kilometres to the south of Verhoturova Island is the much larger Karaginskiy Island. Here you will encounter some of the first ‘forests’ of the voyage. This is a change from the tundra that you have seen, a sure sign that we are getting further south. Autumn is the best time for the wild berries and you can marvel at the richness of the local flora, as many of them should be at their best.
The wildlife-rich Commander Islands were first discovered by Commander Vitus Bering when his ship was wrecked here in 1741. He perished on the island along with many of his men. The reports from those that survived led to a ‘fur rush’ and the settlement of the islands. There are two large islands (Bering and Medny) with two smaller islands Ariy Karmen and Toporkov. Intend to explore the islands through a combination of landings and Zodiac cruises. Plan to stop at the village of Nikolskoye. Visit the fur seal rookery at North-West Cape and Zodiac cruise around the impressive bird colony at Ariy Kamen. You will also possibly visit the gravesite of Commander Vitus Bering or the remarkable Medny Island.
Olga Bay is a part of the very large Kronotskiy Reserve, which also includes the world-famous Valley of the Geysers. The habitat has lush Kamchatka forests coming right down to the beach. The area around Olga Bay is frequented by large numbers of Gray Whales that are usually quite friendly to visiting boats. The rising volcanoes in the background here provide a beautiful setting to explore real Kamchatka wilderness.
This morning we make your way along the Zhupanova River by Zodiac. This journey allows you to explore a river habitat which is common in Kamchatka. Steller’s Sea Eagles are known to nest in the lower reaches of the river.
During the night your expedition vessel will enter Avacha Bay which is one of the greatest natural harbours in the world. There will be a complimentary transfer to the airport or to a central downtown hotel.