The Russian High Arctic

The High Russian Arctic is one of the least traveled and most remote regions in the Northern Hemisphere. The breathtaking ice-capped mountains, the fascinating history of the early explorers and one of the highest densities of wildlife in the world build the framework for an unforgettable expedition.

In 2020, two brand new itineraries to the Russian Arctic will offer adventurers andwildlife enthusiasts a unique and once in a life time opportunity to explore parts of the world on which very few have stepped foot.

The two expeditions will put you in the footsteps of past polar explorers on the quest to find the Northeast Passage, while visiting some of the most breathtaking locations the Arctic has to offer.

A zodiac in the high acrctic

Novaya Zemlya

One of the most memorable places to visit in Novaya Zemlya is Inostrantesva Bay. Its landscapes are partially covered by moss and lichen but also by glaciers and icebergs. Polar bears are not a rare visitor of this breathtaking bay.

Oransky Island, a smaller island situated in the northwest of Novaya Zemlya, is the home to many different species of wildlife such as whales, walruses, many different types of seabird and more polar bears.

The first explorers to come to Novaya Zemlya arrived in Cape Spory Navlok in the late 1500s on an expedition led by Dutch explorer Willem Barents. It was his 3rd and last attempt to find the Northeast Passage. Barents died after being forced to spend the winter in Cape Spry Navlok, trapped by the sea ice. The ruins of their hut are still there today.

Walrus in the high arctc

Frank Josef Land

Sites to explore in Franz Josef Land can include Bell Island and Cape Flo a on Northbrook Island where many expeditions passed through in the 19th and 20th century. Some of the huts and building that were constructed during these times now lay in ruins but can still be visited.

Cape Norway’s flora makes it worth a visit and specially interesting for botanists while the somewhat challenging to access Cape Tegetthof on Hall Island with its tall cliffs is home to a larger number and variety of sea birds. The island itself provides great hiking opportunities unless polar bears are encountered.

Walrus haul-outs and hundreds of pinnipeds can be encountered on Stolichy and Appolovnov Island, which can be overseen from a safe distance on a zodiac cruise.

Tiskhaya Bukta’s Rubuinis Rocks sea cliffs are home to are kittiwakes and dovekies.

On Deck Aboard An Expedition Cruise In The High Arctic

Severnaya Zemlya

Russia’s largest ice cap, the Academy of Science Glacier on Severnay Zemlya, is located on the northern end of the straight. An ivory gull colony can be visited on Trovonay Island, and polar bears are frequently sighted.

Check out our trips to The Russian High Arctic

Jewels Of The Russian High Arctic 16-days

Russias High Arctic Archipelagos 22-days

A Masterclass In Photography From Chris Coe

Chris

Co-founder of The Travel Photographer Of The Year Awards, Chris Coe is a hugely experienced professional travel photographer, writer and photographic tutor, who has shot over 40 travel, photography and coffee table books. He has led many photographic tours in the UK and internationally, including South Africa, Ireland, Morocco and Svalbard.
In April 2020, Chris has agreed to run a Photography Masterclass Safari In Namibia with Wildfoot Travel
Ahead of that amazing trip, we ask Chris a few questions about his love of Namibia and his unique approach to photography courses.

What do you feel makes Namibia so special for photographers?

Photography is my passion. It’s all about light and time, and how you capture and use both creatively to give your images impact. The light in Namibia is fantastic. Also, of course, the stunning diversity of wildlife – large and small – unique landscapes and welcoming people all combine to create an incredible environment for photographers.

What’s your approach to photography tuition?

Photography is akin to playing a musical instrument like a saxophone. When you first pick up a camera, anyone can snap a photograph, when you first pick up a sax you may get a sound out of it but you certainly won’t be playing a melody, that comes with time and practice. Photography itself is actually simple, but it’s made complicated by today’s sophisticated cameras and their confusing menus. My approach to teaching is to simplify and demystify the camera first, then use this knowledge to stimulate your creativity, try new techniques and develop your style and photographic eye for an image which goes beyond the ordinary. My tuition is challenging, at times, but also confidence-building. We won’t get mired too deeply in the technical stuff – although I always ensure that the key technical elements required are covered so that the participants are comfortable and can then move forward as we focus on the creative aspects of the craft.

It’s a group trip, albeit a small one, does that mean all the photo tuition will be as a group?

Not at all! Naturally there will be some group tuition but I will also focus on each participant separately, helping them with specific aspects of their photography which they find difficult as well as techniques, composition and ways of seeing which will take their photography to the next level. At 11 days, this trip gives us masses of time for everyone to make progress in an unhurried way and at a pace that works for them as individuals. And rest assured, we’ll be having creative fun with the camera as well!

What if you have varying levels of photographic skill amongst the participants?

That’s not a problem; it’s something I’d expect. I’m used to dealing with groups that cover everything from raw beginners to what I’d call ‘serious’ amateurs, and even professional photographers.

What do you aim for all participants to have achieved by the end of the trip?

To feel that their photography has taken a major step forward, to feel more confident technically and creatively, to have learnt how to ‘see’ an image within a landscape or subject, and to have thoroughly enjoyed themselves, coming away with memories and photographic skills to last a lifetime. It’s a fabulous trip to a glorious country; I can’t wait!

Testimonials From Chris’s Tuition

“Clear, honest and impartial tuition with passion and motivation – liberating, stimulating, informative, digestible and confidence-building.”

Andrew Boddington, course participant

“Despite the many courses I’ve been on, your course was the one from which I learnt the most. What you taught me about composition is now almost intuitive and applied every time I compose or edit an image!”
Adrian Hollister, course participant

“Chris’s expert tuition, both general and tailored to each individual, meant I got the most out of every photo opportunity. Feedback and discussion on the images I had taken, both from the composition and technical viewpoint, meant I have come away with a new and refreshed approach to making images.  Highly recommended.”
Neville Morgan

“Chris provided expert tuition,  tailored to our individual needs throughout the course, often continuing late into the evening if we wanted it. Nothing was too much trouble.”
Ken Moore

“Very many thanks to Chris for a really good day’s training in London yesterday. It was a cold day and a few showers, but I learnt a lot even though I thought my knowledge of photography was fairly good! The group was friendly and we all benefited from the day – and of course the location was stunning. This is the second time i have met Chris and certainly find his training really easy to follow. He takes everything a step at a time and goes over points until he’s sure that we have understood and can put them into practise.”
Richard Goldsmith

Find out more about our Photography Masterclass Safari In Namibia

Holly Budge - How Many Elephants Hitting The Front Line Running

Everest summiteer and conservationist, Holly Budge, on patrol with Akashinga, an armed, all-female, anti-poaching team in Zimbabwe.

Holly BudgeDescribed as “one of the UK’s most accomplished female adventurers”, Holly Budge, was quite literally on top of the world when she summited Mount Everest. Her adventurous pursuits, including becoming the first woman to skydive Everest, provide a platform to raise valuable funds for How Many Elephants. To date, she has raised over £300k for charities and initiatives. Holly is an energetic and engaging keynote and TEDx speaker who talks passionately about her diverse achievements in the outdoors and the power of passion. Her message is simple: Think Big. Dream Bigger.

Holly Budge, founder of How Many Elephants, earnt a rare privilege of accompanying the highly skilled Akashinga rangers whilst they patrol the front lines. From the summit of Everest to the front line of conservation in the African bush, Budge is no stranger to adventure but this was a whole different beast.

“It’s 5.45am. I’m standing in line with four armed Akashinga rangers, ready to go out on foot patrol. “You may not see any wildlife Holly, this is not a safari trip” says Nyaradzo. I pinch myself as the realisation of what I am about to do gets real. These women are fighting a war on poaching and the poachers are not the only threat out there. The rangers load their rifles. The front ranger clicks her fingers as a signal to go. I take a deep breath as we move into the darkness” says Budge.

Akashinga translates to “The Brave Ones” in the local vernacular, an apt name for the often dangerous work they do. Coming face to face with poachers and wild beasts, heading up raids and sting operations, these women are highly trained and highly motivated to make a difference to the future survival of endangered African wildlife species.

Budge is the founder of How Many Elephants. The charity’s mission is to raise awareness of the African elephant crisis and make a difference. Because every day, 96 elephants are killed for their ivory. That’s 35,000+ of these magnificent, gentle, intelligent animals a year. That’s ten years to extinction.

Budge spent several days immersed with the Akashinga Rangers, accompanying them on their daily patrols and other duties. Make no mistake though, this is not a 9-5 job and no day is the same. These women work fourteen days on and ten days off. They are not only changing the face of conservation but changing the traditional status quo of women staying at home bringing up the children. They are the breadwinners and positive role models in their families, their communities and beyond.

“As we move further into the interior, the realization that these women are my lifeline dawned on me. Without them, I’m a dead woman! This is a war zone and we are patrolling on the front lines. Challenges present themselves at every corner; Wild and dangerous beasts roaming, snare wire coiled round trees like spider’s webs’ awaiting their prey, the thorny undergrowth, the stifling heat of the sun, the desperate lack of water and signs of poachers’ presence make this a very hostile environment to be in, especially for a newcomer. “Welcome to the bush Holly” whispers one of the rangers. I gulp” says Budge.

 

Akashinga

 

Founder of Akashinga, Damien Mander says “by moving men into construction and labour and putting women into the power roles of law enforcement, management, decision making, we’ve completely deescalated the majority of local tension and brought conservation and communities together”. He strongly believes the face of conservation going forwards is female.

Budge recalls driving through the local communities with Nyaradzo, her go-to ranger,

and heads were turning. She told Budge that the men in her community had instilled in her that women couldn’t drive big vehicles. Nyaradzo proved them wrong when she learnt to drive a year before through the ranger programme. Her pride was spilling over as she drove the 4×4 anti-poaching vehicle around the communities as part of her daily work.

AkashingaThis is not Budge’s first time on the front line having spent time last year immersed with The Black Mambas in South Africa, another all-female anti-poaching team. “These are two very different female ranger models. The Black Mambas are armed with only pepper spray and handcuffs. The Akashinga are armed with rifles and trained in combat. Both are making a tremendous impact “on the ground” in Africa” says Budge.

Akahingha

Budge uses her world record adventures, including being the first woman to skydive Everest to raise awareness of the African elephant crisis and raise charitable funds for How Many Elephants. To date, she has fundraised over £300K. Her hard-hitting campaign uses design as a powerful visualisation tool to bridge the gap between scientific data and human connection. Her travelling exhibition showcases 35,000 elephant silhouettes to show the sheer scale of the elephant poaching crisis and is heading for China next year.

“Part of the originality of my exhibition is in my approach to avoid gruesome and shocking imagery to portray the facts. To actually see and connect with this data visually is very impactful” says Budge.

The thought of the African savannah devoid of elephants is heart-breaking enough but putting emotion aside, the impacts of losing these animals will be of extreme detriment to the environment and beyond; If the elephants go extinct, entire ecosystems could follow as they are a keystone species and important ecosystem engineers.

Holly Budge with the AkashingaBudge helped to dismantle snares wrapped around shady trees, just waiting for their victims to take shade from the beating sun. “It was heartbreaking to try and comprehend how many snares are out there and how quickly they are replaced, once found and removed. It is an ongoing battle” says Budge.

Budge is calling all conservationists, scientists, politicians, educators, storytellers, adventurers and change makers who dare to say, “I can make a difference in the world”, it’s time to stand up for elephants, before it is too late.

‘To see 35,000 elephant graphics on a wall is both shocking, impactful and a great way of raising awareness of the sheer scale of the poaching problem in Africa. Holly is a passionate individual and is using her creative and adventurous endeavours to make a really positive contribution’ says Colin Bell, a conservationist and author

Read more about How Many Elephants and ways to get involved here.

 

 

Orca Breeching Find Out More About Orcas
  • With their distinctive black and white colouring, Orcas are widespread. Although they adapt to any climate and can be found in the coastal waters surrounding most countries, they prefer colder water and are usually found in deep water, within 500 miles of the shoreline.
  • It is estimated that half the world’s population of Orcas live in the waters of Antarctica.
  • Orcas are often called killer whales but they don’t typically attack humans. In fact, in the wild there has never been a single fatal attack on a human reported and only one bite on a human by an Orca has ever been recorded.
  • The name ‘Killer Whale’ is due to their ability to take down large marine animals, like seals and whales. In fact, Orcas will prey on almost any animal they find in the sea or along the coastline.
  • Despite being called killer whales, Orcas actually belong to the dolphin family Delphinidae. So, these highly intelligent animals are actually dolphins and not whales at all.
  • As an apex predator, they are at the top of the food chain, with the only threats that face them coming from man in the form of chemical pollution, noise pollution, over fishing resulting a reduction in their food supply, and climate change.
  • An average-sized Orca can eat up to 227 kilograms of food a day
  • Aside from the black and white colouring, Orca can be recognised in the water due to their prominent dorsal fin. The dorsal fin can be a long as six feet in a fully grown male Orca.

Orca FIn

  • Orcas can grow up to 32 feet in length and their teeth can be as long as 10cm.
  • They can swim at speeds up to 34mph
  • The lifespan of an Orca is estimated to range between 40 and 50 years.
  • Orcas are very sociable and live in pods of up to 40 members which are thought to be family based. There are two different kinds of pods. Resident Pods are less aggressive and tends to hunt fish. Transient Pods are much more aggressive and work together to hunt marine mammals.
  • Orcas frequently breach, making graceful leaps out of the water before landing with a loud splash on their backs, sides or stomachs.

Orca

  • Orcas also ‘skyhop’, slowly rising out of the water until head and almost all the flippers are above the surface before gradually sinking back out of sight. It is not uncommon to see several skyhopping together.
  • There is a resident group or Orcas in the waters of the UK, known as the ‘West Coast Community’ consisting of just 8 individuals, 4 males and 4 females. Unfortunately, there hasn’t been a calf born to this pod in the last 20 years.
  • Other pods of migrant Orcas visit Northern Scotland in early summer to feast on Herring and Mackerel and the occasional seal.

If you’d like to see Orca and a wide range of other marine wildlife, why not join us on one of our expedition cruises to Antarctica:

 

Patagonia Camp Patagonia Camp

A unique glamping and nature experience in the wilds of Southern Chile

Priding itself on being the first glamping experience on offer in South America, Patagonia Camp truly is a very special place to stay. Located in Chilean Patagonia, just 15 kilometres outside the spectacular granite peaks of the Torres del Paine national park, visitors to the camp can enjoy a true Patagonian wilderness experience but without compromising on any creature comforts.

Watch the Patagonia Camp Video

About Patagonia Camp

Patagonia Camp’s 20 luxurious, Mongolian-style yurts all feature central heating, private bathrooms and wonderful views of the night skies from their transparent domed ceilings. Views of the forest and glittering Lake Toro can be enjoyed from the yurts’ private terraces, and some even feature their own outdoor Jacuzzi. All meals are taken in the guest restaurant which is positioned to offer dramatic views out to Lake Toro and the Paine Massif, and the camp regularly offers a traditional Patagonian barbeque as part of the dining programme.

Patagnia CampWhere is Patagonia Camp?

The location of Patagonia Camp to the south of Torres del Paine makes it a must for nature lovers. This is a region of lush, native forest which attracts plenty of wildlife, and the setting of the camp in an expansive private reserve means over 40 kilometres of exclusive walking trails can be enjoyed by guests. Here you will encounter none of the crowds that sometimes frequent certain areas of Torres del Paine in peak season. We feel a programme combining some of these quieter excursions with the key activities in the Torres del Paine national park will offer the best possible experience for your time in the region. Patagonia Camp’s excursion programme has been deliberately designed to offer options for all levels of fitness, from challenging 8 hour hikes, gentle more gentle walks with scenic lakeside picnics or even vehicle tours taking in some of the main viewpoints in this dramatic region. Kayaking, stand-up paddle boarding and catch & release fishing are some of the other activities on offer.

Patagnoia Camp

Sustainability

Finally, sustainability has been at the very heart of operations Patagonia Camp since it first opened its doors in 2007. As well as all the recycling and energy-saving initiatives guests now come to expect at any accommodation calling itself eco-friendly, Patagonia Camp have implemented many more innovative measures to reduce their impact, such as their complex water filtration system which provides the purest drinking water to the camp without any need for plastic bottles.

More Photos From Patagonia Camp