Across the Top of the World - Wrangel Island 15 daysAboard: Akademik Shokalskiy
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 Spirit of Enderby 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.
Lavrentiya and Cape Dezhnev
This morning we will make a landing at Lavrentiya Bay where we will enjoy a visit to the Chukchi Region’s administrative centre of Lavrentiya. We will explore the township and visit the local museum which displays an interesting insight into Yupik and Chukchi cultures. There may be an opportunity to view Chukchi song and dance and to interact with the locals.
If sea conditions permit, in the afternoon 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. It is also an historic landmark named after the Siberian Cossack, Semyon Dezhnev, who in 1648 became the first European to sail from the Arctic to the Pacific.
Kolyuchin Island & Kolyuchin Inlet
So huge that it is visible from satellite photos, Kolyuchin 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.
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.
We continue our journey north across the Chukchi Sea, there may be sea ice to negotiate our way through as we get closer to Wrangel Island; this could offer our first opportunities to see Polar Bears, seals and walrus on ice.
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
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.
We will spend the rest of 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.
At Sea & Masik Village
This afternoon we plan to visit Masik Village, an archaeological site at Mechigmen Bay which is part of Beringia National Park. This site consists of subterranean dwellings, food caches and possible ceremonial structures where materials used in construction were whale skulls, ribs and jawbones.
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.
Today we will be in the vicinity of Preobrazheniya Bay where there are some outstanding ‘Bird Cliffs’. We plan to Zodiac cruise around the rock faces, ridgelines and soaring granite spires which are home to an abundance of bird life. Species that can be seen include Common and Thick-billed Murres, Black-legged Kittiwakes, Least and Crested Auklets, Vega Gulls and Arctic Tern. Both Horned and Tufted Puffins are normally in vast numbers stretched along cliffside grasses.
This evening relax and enjoy your last night on board as we sail across Anadyrskiy Bay towards Anadyr.
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
A recently refurbished Russian survey ship with accommodation for 48 passengers. All cabins have outside views and range from suites to twin share cabins. Public areas incude lecture room, bar/lounge, dining room and hospital. There is an open-bridge policy.
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