Russia's Ring of Fire 13 daysAboard: Spirit of Enderby
Join us on this thrilling journey to explore Russia’s Pacific Ring of Fire - the Kamchatka Coastline, Kuril Islands & Commander Islands. Aboard the Spirit of Enderby, and on exciting Zodiac cruises, you will explore this fascinating geologically active region on the lookout for a diverse range of seabirds and whales. The Russian Far East is the where the Pacific 'Ring of Fire' is at its most dramatic and surrounded by spectacular landscapes and often live volcanoes, you will visit areas that are rich in history and beauty, along one of the world's most active plate boundaries.
A birding enthusiast’s paradise, the lands you will visit are home to a plethora of birdlife including Parakeet, Whiskered and Rhinoceros Auklets, Tufted and Horned Puffins, Spectacled and Pigeon Guillemots and Aleutian Terns, amongst many others. Aside from birds there are also fantastic opportunities to spot an abundance of other wildlife such as various whale species, including orca, as well as brown bears.
Note. Local landing charges of US$500 cash apply to this itinerary
- Dramatic volcanic scenery
- Whales, sea otters, sealions and other marine mammals
- Myriad land and marine birdlife
- Abundant flora
- Kayaking option available
- Transfers on arrival and departure to and from ship
- All meals on board ship
- All excursions shown in itinerary
- Programme of lectures and talks
So much to experience
Too much to choose from? This is where we come in
Take advantage of our vast experience, passion and expertise to help you hand craft the perfect Arctic, Russia adventure for you.
Zoe’s abiding love of adventure travel has taken her to some of the most incredible wildlife-rich places on Earth. Her vast experience and genuine desire to share her knowledge makes her an outstanding and invaluable person to help you organise your wildlife adventure trip.
Mike has more than fifteen years hands-on experience in the industry, travelling to some of the most incredible wild places on the planet. His far-reaching knowledge and invaluable skills will ensure that your wildlife travel adventure is a dream come true.
Simon’s deep passion for and first-hand knowledge of a vast range of destinations all over the world gives him the ideal skills to help you create a truly unforgettable wildlife inspired adventure to the most exciting places on the planet.
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Arrive independently to Petropavlovsk-Kamchatskiy and join the transfer, to what is considered by many to be the best natural harbour in the world, to board your ship. After a warm welcome on board settle in to your home for the next 12 nights and join your expedition team on the bridge on the lookout for seabirds as your ship sets sail for the Commander Islands.
Today will be spent on board sailing towards the Commander Islands. You can take the time to prepare for the adventures ahead or spend some time on deck looking for likely sightings of birds including the Fork-tailed Storm-Petrel and Red-legged Kittiwake which often follow the ship. You can also join one of the many interesting lectures and presentations delivered by your onboard experts and attend briefings on safety measures for your forthcoming land visits.
As we reach the Commander Islands this is where your adventure will truly begin. The Commander group is made up of two main islands, Bering and Medny, and over the course of your time here you will have opportunity to explore various sites on both of these islands. Exploring by Zodiac you will discover the fascinating natural and cultural history of the islands, including a visit to the local museum as well as the small settlement of Nikolskoye. If weather permits you may also be able to visit Commander Bay, where Vitus Bering was shipwrecked and is buried.
Wildlife sighting potential here is excellent, with the area being extremely rich in marine mammals. During your two days here you may spot Sperm, Humpback, Northern Minke and Baird’s Beaked-Whales, as well as Orcas, Steller Sea Lions, Northern Fur Seals and Pacific Sea Otters. As well as marine animals, birding here is fantastic, with likely sightings of several species of auklets as well as the Red-legged Kittiwake, Mongolian Plover , Pechora Pipit , Rock Sandpiper, and Grey-crowned Rosy-Finch. There are also good chances of seeing the endemic subspecies of Arctic Fox.
Zhupanova River, Kamchatka
A great day for birding. Today you can enjoy an extensive zodiac cruise on the scenic Zhupanova River looking especially for Steller’s Sea Eagles as well as Pacific Divers, Far Eastern Curlews, Glaucous-winged Gulls, Aleutian Terns and Yellow-breasted Buntings. You can also visit a major salmon fishery near the mouth of the river.
Bukta Russkaya, Kamchatka
Another day of exploring by Zodiac as we cruise through this deep fjord on the Kamchatka Peninsula. As we sail through the scenic entrance to the fjord there are very high chances of seeing the Orcas and Stellar sea lions that frequent these waters, and a short excursion to the head of the fjord may very well reward with some sightings of brown bears. You can also be on the lookout for birds like the Kittlitz’s Murrelet and Long-billed Murrelet that are often spotted here.
Second Kuril Strait, Atlasova and Onekotan Islands
This morning we will make a landing at the northern end of Onekotan Island from where it is a relatively easy walk to Black Lake through an amazing field of wild flowers. On the lake a selection of wildfowl can usually be found including Greater Scaup and Goosander. In the scrub look out for Buff-bellied Pipit, Brown-headed Thrush, Middendorff’s Grasshopper Warbler, Siberian Rubythroat and Pine Grosbeak.
This afternoon we visit Atlasova Island where the tallest volcano in the archipelago can be found. On the shore near our landing site are the remains of a Gulag that you can explore. Beyond that you can wander as far as you can in the time allocated, as there are no brown bears on this island. Near our landing site there are some small marshy ponds where it might be possible to see Long-toed Stint and other waders. On some nearby low cliffs there is a colony of Redfaced Cormorants and out in the bay there is a chance of finding Harlequin Duck, Black and Whitewinged Scoters as well as Pacific Sea Otters.
As we continue north we will cruise through Second Strait in the Kuril Islands, this region has one of the highest densities of Sea Otters in the Kuril Islands.
Ekarma and Toporkovy Islands
Another excellent day for birding, today you can enjoy an early morning Zodiac cruise at Ekarma Island, where you are likely to see various alcids and get up close to Tufted Puffins and Whiskered Auklets. In the afternoon we will go ashore at Toporkovy Island, which lies in the in the shadow of the active Matua Island volcano, to look for Harlequin Ducks, Red-faced Cormorants, Tufted Puffins and Brunnich’s Guillemots. There are also good chances of seeing Grey-tailed Tattlers, Black-faced Buntings and Middendorff’s Grasshopper Warblers.
Simushir and Yankicha Islands
An exciting day of adventure and wildlife spotting awaits as we enter the flooded caldera at the northern end of Simushir Island where a once top secret Soviet submarine base lies abandoned. We will go ashore to look for the Siberian Rubythroat, Eurasian Nutcracker, Pine Grosbeak and Japanese Grey Bunting that frequent the area.
In the afternoon you will experience what many consider to be one of the highlights of the whole voyage, Yankicha Island. An area of unique and fascinating geology, Yankicha Island is home to an incredible array of alcids including spectacular concentrations of Crested and Whiskered Auklets.
Chirpoy and Urup Islands
In the morning we will have arrived at Chirpoy Island, where the dramatic volcanic landscapes and headlands are covered in breeding seabirds. Weather dependent we will either Zodiac cruise or land on the island to explore this unique area before sailing towards Urup Island in the afternoon.
On Urup Island there will be the chance to take an extended walk along the beach looking for Sea Otters or birds in the forest.
Enjoy a day of relaxation today as we land at the small settlement of Kurilsk. From here a local bus or truck will bring take you up into the volcanic highlands of the island where you will find beautiful thermal hot pools in which you can enjoy a relaxing soak, with phenomenal views as your backdrop.
If taking a dip doesn’t appeal there will be ample opportunities for birdwatching with possible sightings of Japanese Robin, Pine Grosbeak, Siberian Accentor, Japanese Bush-warbler and Kamchatka Leaf-warbler.
As your Russian Far East cruise comes to an end we have time for one more stop as we visit Kunashir, the largest island in the Kuril chain. Today you can enjoy a walk through the Kurilsky Reserve, an extensive area of woodland where there are more birding and scenic opportunities.
In the afternoon you will re-board the ship and set sail towards Sakhalin Island where your expedition will finish. Enjoy your final evening on board sharing tales with your shipmates and recapping on the adventures you will have had.
Arrival into the Port of Korskov on Sakhalin Island signals the end of our expedition and after disembarkation a transfer will be provided either to a central hotel or to the airport in the town of Yuzhno-Sakhalinsk for onward or homeward flights.
A view from Above
The Spirit of Enderby was built in Finland as a Russian oceanographic survey ship and is still registered in Vladivostok under her original name of Professor Khromov and has a mostly Russian crew. The ship is fully ice strengthened for use in Arctic and Antarctic waters. Renamed Spirit of Enderby by Heritage expeditions, who lease the ship, it was fully refurbished in 2009 and has accommodation for up to 50 passengers in a mixture of suites and cabins, many with private facilities. There is an open bridge and deck policy and public areas including a dining room, lecture theatre, bar, lounge and library, small hospital and sauna.
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