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 is 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 very small distance between Russia and the USA along this border area was known as the Ice Curtain, behind which then and now lies one of the last great undiscovered wilderness areas in the world.
Day Place Highlights 1 Nome Flight from Nome to Anadyr 2 Anadyr Embark Spirit of Enderby 3 Anadyrskiy Bay Bird watching cliffs in Preobrazheniya Bay 4 Yttygran, Nuneangan and Arakamchechen Islands Ancient aboriginal site Whalebone Alley 5 Cape Dezhnev & Uelen Village Traditional Chukchi and Inuit art 6 Kolyuchin Island Bird cliffs with Puffins, guillemots & gulls 7-11 Wrangel and Herald Islands Polar bears, Musk Oxen & reindeer. Snowy owls, snow geese, Ross’s, Sabine & Ivory gulls. 12 North Siberian Coast Chuckchi villages, whales & seals 13 Kolyuchin Inlet Emperor geese, spoon-billed sandpiper & grey whales 14 Bering Strait and Chukotka Coast Diomede Islands 15 At Sea Anadyrskiy Bay 16 Anadyr Tranfer to the airport for onward journey
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. We will depart when everybody is on board.
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 we plan to Zodiac cruise some spectacular bird cliffs in Preobrazheniya Bay.
Yttygran Island is home to the monumental ancient aboriginal site known as Whale Bone Alley. Whalebones stretch along the beach for nearly half a kilometre. Grey Whales are frequently seen around the island, we will also cruise by Nuneangan and Arakamchechen Islands where seabirds nest and walrus can be found.
Sea conditions permitting, we will land at Cape Dezhnev early this morning. The north-eastern 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 we visit Uelen Village the most north-eastern village in Russia. The population is predominantly Chukchi and the village is one of the largest centres for traditional Chukchi and Inuit art in the world. We’ll be entertained by villagers and visit the bone-carving workshop during our 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, we will spend the next few days on Wrangel Island and we will also attempt to include a visit to nearby Herald Island. There are many landings that we can make to search out wildlife, wild flowers and Arctic landscapes. Polar Bears will be high on our list of animals to see and with a little patience we should be rewarded with a number of encounters. Musk Oxen and reindeer were introduced to the island in 1975 and 1948 though reindeer numbers are low.
We also have a chance to visit Dragi Harbour 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 and importance particularly as 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, 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. We will be on the lookout for whales, walrus and other wildlife. We will 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. We concentrate our visit on the Belaka Spit near the mouth of the inlet. It is a wild, desolate landscape that is strangely beautiful. We search the dunes and tidal areas for bird life including Emperor Geese and Spoon-billed Sandpipers. Gray Whales frequent the area and are sometimes spotted feeding only metres offshore.
Early morning we will 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. We will remain in Russian territory as we cruise south past the islands. Later this afternoon we make an expedition landing on the Chukotka coast, our last chance to enjoy the wildlife and tundra landscape.
Relax as we sail across Anadyrskiy Bay towards Anadyr.
After breakfast it will be time to say our farewells. There will be a complimentary transfer to the airport or to a central downtown hotel.