Across the Top of the World - Wrangel Island 15 daysAboard: Kapitan Khlebnikov
A unique and exciting expedition across the Arctic circle, visiting remote and captivating areas including the Wrangel and Herald Islands and a significant section of the wild North Eastern Siberian coastline. Aboard the legendary Russian icebreaker Kapitan Khlebnikov you will journey through the narrow Bering Strait, which separates Russia from the United States of America, before travelling along the Chukotka coastline and across the De Long Strait to Wrangel Island and nearby Herald Island.
Exploring these beautiful areas via Zodiac and on foot you will discover a fascinating history and a treasure trove of Arctic biodiversity, as well as an abundance of wildlife and birdlife. Known for its fantastic nature reserve Wrangel Island is home to a multitude of Polar Bears that breed here, as well as the world's largest population of Pacific Walrus. You can also expect to see Gray Whales, Reindeer, Musk Ox and an abundance of sea and land birds.
Note. Local landing charges of US$500 cash apply to this itinerary
- Amazing and varied wildlife, including polar bears
- Spectacular scenery
- Local history and culture
- Transfers to and from ship for arrival and departure
- All meals on board ship
- All excursions shown in itinerary
- Programme of expert lectures and talks
So much to experience
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Arrive independently to Anadyr and join the transfer to the port to board your ship. After a warm welcome on board settle in to your home for the next 14 nights and join your expedition team on the bridge on the lookout for seabirds as your ship sets sail for your journey across the top of the world.
This morning will be spent at sea, and you can join some of the optional lectures and presentations on the wildlife, history and geology of the areas you will be visiting, delivered by your onboard team of experts. There will also be some safety and environmental briefings and you will have chance to spend some time on deck looking out for the seabirds which may follow the ship.
In the afternoon we plan to take our first Zodiac excursion to cruise beneath the spectacular bird cliffs of Preobrazheniya Bay.
Yttygran, Nuneangan and Arakamchechen Islands
Today we will visit Yttygran Island, home to the monumental ancient aboriginal site known as Whale Bone Alley, where whalebones stretch along the beach for nearly half a kilometre. We will have time to explore the in search of the Grey whales that regularly frequent the area, before cruising by the Nuneangan and Arakamchechen Islands where seabird nests and walrus can often be found.
Cape Dezhnev, Uelen Village
If sea conditions permit, this morning we will attempt a landing at Cape Dezhnev. This remote outpost is the north-eastern most point of the Eurasian continent, and on a clear day it is sometimes possible to see the coast of America from here. In the afternoon we will sail a few nautical miles to Uelen Village on the west of the cape. Uelen Village is the most north-eastern village in Russia and is one of the largest centres for traditional Chukchi and Inuit art in the world. We will enjoy a warm welcome from the villagers and perhaps a cultural presentation before visiting the bone-carving workshop.
The next stop on our adventure will be Kolyuchin Island, which was once an important Russian Polar Research Station. We will visit the remnants of the station and learn about the history of the area, with time to explore the island’s spectacular bird cliffs where puffins, guillemots and gulls can be observed and photographed up close.
Wrangel & Herald Islands
The next few days will be the pinnacle of your expedition as you get to explore the majesty of the Russian Federal Nature Reserve of Wrangel Island and nearby Herald Island. Your exact itinerary here will be much dictated by ice and weather conditions, with your captain choosing the best course each day to make the most of all scenic and wildlife opportunities. Top of the list here will be searching for sightings of Polar bears, with Wrangel Island being a major Polar Bear denning area. With a little patience we should be rewarded with a number of encounters, and we may also get to see musk oxen and reindeers, which were introduced to the island in 1975 and 1948. Birding opportunities are also excellent here, and each summer thousands of birds migrate here to breed, including Snow Geese, Snowy Owls, skuas, Arctic Terns, Ross’s, Sabine and Ivory Gulls.
As well as wildlife encounters you will also have the 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. The history experts accompanying you will keep you entertained with stories of the island’s past, and the nature experts will offer insight into the wild flowers and beautiful Arctic landscapes that you will see along the way.
Please note: There is the option of a 3 day/2 night traverse of the island by tundra vehicle, which must be booked in advance
North Siberian Coast
We will spend the day exploring by Zodiac along the coastline through the narrow sand ridges, with numerous lagoons and inlets offering ample landing opportunities. On a constant lookout for whales, walrus and other wildlife, we will also visit some small 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 birdlife including Emperor Geese and Spoon-billed Sandpipers. Gray Whales frequent the area and are sometimes spotted feeding only metres offshore.
Bering Strait & Chukotka Coast
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.
On your final day at sea you can relax and take time to share stories of your epic adventure with your new-found friends. As we across Anadyrskiy Bay back towards Anadyr keep an eye out on deck for final seabird and whale sightings, and enjoy the last talks and presentations delivered by your onboard experts.
Arrival back in Anadyr signals the end of our expedition. In the morning you will disembark and join a transfer to the airport or to a central hotel.
A view from Above
Russian icebreakers are considered to be among the best and most powerful in the world - and the Kapitan Khlebnikov is an outstanding example. Built in 1980 and launched a year later by the world's leading builder of icebreakers - Wartsila Company of Finland - the Kapitan Khlebnikov was designed for challenging sea conditions in north Siberia. Refurbished to accommodate passengers in 54 first-class outside cabins and suites, the Kapitan Khlebnikov is extremely comfortable. All cabins feature private facilities, two lower berths (one fixed berth and one convertible sofa bed), a desk and large closets. Public areas include two dining rooms, a lounge and bar, well-equipped auditorium, indoor swimming pool, gym and sauna. Views are excellent from the Navigation Bridge. Our ship also has a library of polar books and videos, a shop, a passenger elevator and a small infirmary with a western doctor.
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Take advantage of our vast experience, passion and expertise to help you hand craft the perfect Arctic, Russia adventure for you.
With a lifetime of unforgettable nature and adventure based travel under his belt, Simon shares his passion, enthusiasm and hands-on experience to help create the perfect itinerary for every client.
Amy’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 15 years of experience in the travel industry and continues to be inspired by the people, places and wildlife he discovers. His in-depth personal knowledge of a diverse range of destinations ensures your adventure itinerary will be a holiday like no other.