Epic Northeast Passage Expedition 28 DaysAboard:
This one-of-a-kind voyage will take you through the rarely explored Northeast Passage to discover these remote shores that are teeming with an abundance of wildlife, narrow fjords and remnants of Arctic history. This very special route is only achievable during a short window in the Arctic summer and you could be one of very few people to have ever transited these mysterious and fabled waterways. Cruising from Anadyr to Murmansk, we will make our way through the High Arctic, sailing through the mythical waters of the Chukchi, East Siberian, Laptev, Kara & Barents Seas to visit intriguing landing sites such as Wrangel Island, Franz Josef Land, and the Severnaya Zemlya Archipelago. These vast shallow waters north of Russia are a refuge for many Arctic wildlife species such as Polar bears, various species of walrus and whales, and iconic birds like Ivory gulls, Sabine's gulls and the elusive Ross's Gulls. Come with us as we explore some of the most seldom visited shores on the planet.
Note. Local landing charges of US$500 cash apply to this itinerary
- Discover some of the most rarely visited shores on the planet
- Incredible array of Arctic wildlife including Polar bears, walrus, narwhal and Arctic gulls
- Visit fascinating historic sites and experience the warmth of Arctic hospitality in local villages
- Visit the much sought-after destinations of Wrangel Island and Franz Josef Land
- Transfers to and from ship at arrival and departure
- Ship accommodation with all meals on board
- All excursions shown in itinerary
- NOT included: Optional charter flight from Nome, Alaska to Anadyr ($1300)
- NOT included: Port charges of US$500 paid locally in cash
So much to experience
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Having arrived independently in Anadyr, the capital of Chukotka, this afternoon it will be time to embark your expedition ship for the adventure of a lifetime. After settling into your cabin and exploring your home for the next 27 nights we will set sail out of the Anadyr Estuary. We recommend spending some time on deck looking for the beluga whales that are often spotted in the waters here.
A charter flight from Nome in Alaska to Anadyr on the day before departure is available. The cost of this flight is $1300pp. Please enquire with our adventure travel consultants about this and other options available for getting to Anadyr.
As we sail towards Preobrazhnaya Bay across the Gulf of Anadyr we will spend some time on deck searching for wildlife sightings before exploring the magnificent coastal cliffs of Preobrazhnaya Bay in the afternoon. This will be our first chance for exploration in our Zodiac dinghies and our main aim today will be searching for the seabirds that are seen here in abundance including Tufted and Horned Puffins, Crested and Parakeet Auklets and Brunnich’s Guillemot.
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.
Cape Dezhnev and Uelen Village
This morning we will attempt a landing at Cape Dezhnev, a remote outpost which is the north-eastern most point of the Eurasian continent. On a clear day it is sometimes possible to see the coast of America from here. After an exploration of the area, in the afternoon we will sail a few nautical miles to Uelen Village on the west of the cape. On the way we are likely to see flocks of King, Common and Spectacled Eiders as they migrate south. 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 hope to make land here to search for the Brunnich’s and Common Guillemots, Tufted and Horned Puffins and Black-legged Kittiwakes which are known to be spotted here in large numbers, despite visiting outside of the peak breeding season. We also hope to take a Zodiac cruise to explore the island’s spectacular bird cliffs to observe and photograph these birds up-close. Humpback and Bowhead whales are also often spotted here so we will be on the lookout for these.
The next few days may well be one of the highlights of your expedition as you get to explore the majesty of the Russian Federal Nature Reserve of Wrangel Island. 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, as well as Arctic fox. 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.
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 throughout your exploration of the island.
East Siberian Sea & Ayon Island
As we leave Wrangel Island behind and head towards Ayon Island, we will sail through the East Siberian Sea, on a constant lookout from deck for the walrus and Bowhead whales which are known to frequent the waters.
On day 10 we will have arrived at Ayon Island where we will stop for a visit to the local community to enjoy the warm hospitality of the Chukchi people, and learn more about their way of life on this exceptionally remote island.
Medvezhyi Islands & East Siberian Sea
Continuing our transit through the East Siberian Sea, on day 11 we will stop to explore the little known and seldom visited Medvezhyi Islands (Bear Islands). This remote archipelago of five granite islands will offer us much to explore, and our first stop will be Chetyrekhstolbovoy Island where we can enjoy a hike to the distinctive rock ‘pillows’ that the island is named after. While we are here we will also hope for some excellent polar bear encounters as the islands are known to have a sizeable population. Later we will explore Pushkareva Island to visit the old lighthouse and enjoy a walk to discover the unique Arctic flowers that cover the expansive tundra.
Day 12 will be spent at sea sailing towards the New Siberian Islands.
Noviye Sebirskiye (New Siberian Islands)
Next on our list of adventurous destinations will be the remarkable yet seldom visited islands of Noviye Sebirskiye (New Siberian Islands). This exceptionally remote archipelago which marks the border between the Laptev and East Siberian Seas, is made up of three distinctive island groups - – Southern, Central (Anzhu) and Northern (De Long). Each island group has its own unique geology and landscapes that are a delight to explore, and conditions permitting we will spend three days here discovering and learning all there is to know about each of them.
These two days will be spent at sea sailing towards the Severnaya Zemlya Islands. The Laptev Sea is bounded by the Taymyr Peninsula and as we sail we will make some stops to explore the peninsula by Zodiac in search of the Laptev Sea Walrus which are found nowhere else in the world. We hope to have good opportunities to photograph this isolated and elusive species up-close. We will also be on the lookout for musk ox as well as the lesser-known Taymyr form of Herring Gull.
Severnaya Zemlya Archipelago
Next we will spend three days exploring the three largest islands of the Severnaya Zemlya group, an archipelago which offers spectacularly scenic glaciated landscapes consisting of deep fjords and magnificent tidewater glaciers. We will explore by Zodiac to get up-close to these glaciers to witness the icebergs calving, and will also spend some time on land searching for the large colony of Ivory gulls. The islands lie on the border of the Kara and Laptev Seas, and we will have ample time here to discover all that makes them so unique before making our way into the Kara sea.
Generally considered to be the coldest sea in Russia, you will notice a distinct drop in temperature as we make our way through the Kara Sea towards the wild and remote Franz Josef Land archipelago. En route we hope to make a landing on the island of Ostrov Vize.
Franz Josef Land
It’s time for the pinnacle of our adventure as we reach the huge Franz Josef Land archipelago. Made up of 192 islands, this exceptionally remote area is located just 10 degrees from the North Pole and offers an abundance of intriguing wildlife, dramatic landscapes and fascinating landing sites. The archipelago’s unique position close to the permanent ice of the Arctic Ocean, yet accessible to the rich waters of the Atlantic, provides a wealth of marine wildlife for us to discover including Beluga and Bowhead whales, and perhaps even the elusive narwhal. We are also very likely to spot good numbers of polar bears here with the islands being host to a sizeable population.
Our exact itinerary here will be determined by ice and weather conditions and your experienced captain and crew will decide on the best route for exceptional wildlife, scenic and historic experiences. Places we expect to visit include Tikhaya Bay on Hooker Island where the numbers of guillemots and kittiwakes on the spectacular columnar cliffs of Rubini Rock is quite remarkable, and Cape Triest on Alger Island where the famous ‘Devil’s Marbles’ (spherical geodes) dot the landscape. We also plan to visit Cape Tegetthoff. This fascinating group of islands hold the stories of a history rich in exploration, scientific research and habitation, and at Cape Flora on Northbrook Island we will see the remains of three historic expeditions. The expert historians that will be accompanying you throughout your exploration will offer insights into the stories behind these.
Barents Sea & Murmansk
As our epic expedition comes to an end we will leave Franz Josef Land behind and head towards Murmansk through the Barents Sea. This crossing will take two full days and as we sail we recommend spending some time on deck searching for sightings of the harp seals and humpback whales which become more prominent as we sail further south. We will arrive in Murmansk on the morning of day 28 and upon arrival a transfer will be provided either to a central hotel or to the airport for your homeward or onward flights.
A view from Above
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