Chukotka and Wrangel Island 15 daysAboard: Spirit of Enderby
On this very special expedition you will travel to the wild and remote Chukotka region of the Russian Far East to explore its vast expansive tundra filled with wild flowers and dwarf tree species and home to brown bears, reindeer, Arctic Foxes, ground squirrels and an abundance of other wildlife and birdlife. You will have the chance to meet the people of the area; see and listen to their stories and learn of their love for and strong connection with the land and sea. We'll celebrate with them at their annual Regatta & Festival before travelling through the Bering Strait to the amazing wildlife reserve of Wrangel Island, a land of rich Arctic history and the home of polar bears and other abundant wildlife.
Note: you will need US$500 in cash for port fees on this expedition
- Spectacular wildlife including Polar bears, Brown bears and Arctic fox
- Birds and marine mammals
- Amazing Arctic scenery
- History and culture
- Transfers to and from ship on arrival and departure
- All meals on board
- All excursions shown in itinerary
- Expert lecture programme
So much to experience
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Mike lives and breathes adventure travel and has a wealth of experience in some of the most exciting and inspirational destinations in the world. His expertise and first-hand experience afford him the skills to help build holidays to remember.
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.
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.
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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 through Chukotka and Wrangel Island.
Your first day will be a day of local culture as we visit the town of Egvekinot on the shores of Kresta Bay. This small town was built by Gulag prisoners as a port to supply the rich Lul’tin mining complex some 200km inland, and they were then forced to construct a road to the mine. We explore the town which has an excellent museum and plan to travel by Ural to explore along the road towards Lul’tin and into the tundra to gain an appreciation of this unique Arctic landscape close to the Arctic Circle.
Across Kresta Bay from Egvekinot is the small reindeer herding village of Konergino where reindeer herding is still an important part of the indigenous people’s culture and economy. Today you will have the opportunity to meet the people of the area and get an introduction to and an opportunity to understand their way of life which has remained largely unchanged over the centuries and revolves around ‘brigades’ looking after large herds of reindeer out on the tundra.
Today we will be sailing along the beautiful south coast of Chukotka and there will be an opportunity to stop at Presbrazhenya Bay where we will Zodiac cruise under the spectacular bird cliffs of the area, providing exceptional photographic opportunities. There will also be a chance to land at a hunting camp at the nearby village of Nunligren.
Whale Bone Alley and Gil’mimyl Hot Springs
This morning we will visit the fascinating ‘Whale Bone Alley’ on Yttygran Island. This significant archaeological site dates back to the 14th century and its origins and purpose have been the cause of much debate. Whalebones stretch along the beach in the form of a pathway for nearly half a kilometre and the expert historians who will accompany you on your voyage will offer an insight into the area’s origins. As we explore the area we will keep an eye out for the Gray whales which often frequent the area and may have chance to take a Zodiac whale-watching excursion. In the afternoon we plan a landing at nearby Gil’mimyl Hot Springs.
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 visit the nearby former Inuit village of Naukan. In 1958 the inhabitants were relocated to nearby villages by the Soviet administration, but photographs and stories from our historians will make the site come alive.
As we navigate northwards towards Wrangel Island you can take the opportunity to relax and spend some time on deck looking for whales and seabirds. Ice conditions will determine our speed and course and will ultimately dictate whether we will actually be able to reach the island. At this time of year the chances are very good, but as with all Polar expedition sailing it is important to expect the unexpected.
The next few days may prove to be the highlight of your expedition as you get to explore the majesty of the Russian Federal Nature Reserve of Wrangel 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 may 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.
Today will be spent onboard cruising south towards Kolyuchin Island. Spend some time relaxing in the ship’s bar, wildlife spotting on deck, editing the plethora of photographs you are bound to have taken so far or joining one of the fantastic lectures and presentations provided by your onboard history and nature experts.
Kolyuchin Island and Inlet
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.
In the afternoon we will sail to nearby Kolyuchin inlet. So huge that it is visible from satellite photos,the 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.
Lavrentiya & the Beringia Festival
Today presents a unique and unrivalled opportunity to get to the very heart and soul of the people of Chukotka, their culture and their land. Meet the locals, see and listen to their stories and learn of their love for and strong connection with the land and sea as you attend the annual Beringia Regatta and Festival. We plan to be here for the first day of the festival which includes whaleboat and 'baidara' (traditional walrus skin covered boats) races as well as cultural performances. It is one of the most colourful festivals in the Chukotka calendar and attracts people from all around the region. There will be a range of activities at the Regatta and Festival and local foods for you to sample as you enjoy this once in a lifetime experience.
We are at sea today as we make our way back to Anadyr and the conclusion of this special Chukotka expedition. We will take the opportunity to recap the many experiences we have enjoyed. Our special guest lecturers will give their last presentations and we will enjoy a farewell dinner together.
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
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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