Journey beginning and ending at Anadyr, Russia
Available: 2019-07-22 to 2019-08-05 starting from $14507 AUD
Limited availability: 2019-08-05 to 2019-08-19 starting from $14507 AUD
This unique expedition crosses the Arctic Circle and includes the isolated and pristine Wrangel and Herald Islands and a significant section of the wild North Eastern Siberian coastline. It is a journey only made possible in recent years by the thawing in the politics of the region and the retreat of summer pack ice in the Chukchi Sea.
The voyage journeys through the narrow Bering Strait, which separates Russia from the United States of America, and then travels west along the Chukotka coastline before crossing the De Long Strait to Wrangel Island. There we will spend four to five days under the guidance of local Rangers on the Nature Reserve. Untouched by glaciers during the last ice age, this island is a treasure trove of Arctic biodiversity and is perhaps best known for the multitude of Polar Bears that breed here.
Incredibly remote, culturally fascinating and rich in wildlife, this voyage is perfect for those ready for a true Arctic wilderness adventure. Be sure to book early as most departures fill easily.
Day 1 – Travel from Nome and arrive at Anadyr
All expedition members will arrive in Anadyr. Depending on your time of arrival you may have the opportunity to explore Anadyr, the administrative centre of the Chukotka region, before getting to know your fellow voyagers and crew on board the Spirit of Enderby. If flights have been on time we plan to depart Anadyr this evening. As we depart you are invited to join the captain, officers and the expedition team on the bridge. The Anadyr estuary is renowned for its Beluga Whales.
Day 2 – Anadyrskiy Bay
As we sail across Anadyrskiy Bay towards the Bering Strait there will be introductory lectures, an introduction to the staff and ship and a series of compulsory briefings and drills. There will also be a chance to relax or enjoy some ‘birding’ with our naturalists and/or settle into ship life as many of you adjust to the time changes. Late this afternoon we will be in the vicinity of Preobrazheniya Bay where there are some outstanding ‘Bird Cliffs’ which we will Zodiac cruise before dinner.
Day 3 – Yttygran, Nuneangan and Arakamchechen Islands
Yttygran Island is home to the monumental ancient aboriginal site known as Whale Bone Alley. Whalebones stretch along the beach for nearly half a kilometre. There are many meat pits used for storage and other remains of a busy whaling camp that united several aboriginal villages at a time. In one location, immense Bowhead Whale jawbones and ribs are placed together in a stunning arch formation.
Gray Whales are frequently seen around the island. After landing at Whale Bone Alley we will take the Zodiacs on a whale-watching excursion. We will also cruise close inshore of neighbouring Nuneangan Island (Bird Island) where a large number of seabirds nest. On nearby Arakamchechen Island there is a prominent walrus haul out; if the animals are present we will land and walk across the tundra to view them from the cliffs.
Day 4 – Cape Dezhnev and Uelen Village
Sea conditions permitting, we will land at Cape Dezhnev early this morning. The north-eastern most point of the Eurasian continent, it is sometimes possible to see the coast of America from this remote and lonely outpost. 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. A steep scramble from the beach brings you to an abandoned Border Guard base, a monument to Dezhnev and another to all the sailors who have sailed these seas.
Cape Prince of Wales in Alaska lies 89km across Bering Strait. A few nautical miles to the west of Cape Dezhnev we visit Uelen Village, the most north-eastern village in Russia. Archaeological work has revealed that walrus, seal and whale hunters have lived here for over 2,000 years. Today the population is predominantly Chukchi, with some Russians and Inuit. Hunting is still very important but the village is also one of the largest centres for traditional Chukchi and Inuit art in the world.
We will be entertained by villagers and visit the bone-carving workshop during our visit. Sculptures from the bone-carving workshop in Uelen can be found in most of the major museums in Russia.
Day 5 – Kolyuchin Island – visit a derelict Russian Polar Research Station
This small island was once an important Russian Polar Research Station and one of a number dotted across the Arctic. Sadly with the collapse of the USSR there was no money to maintain them and they were abandoned. The buildings are derelict but the wildlife the men studied are still there.
Near the abandoned station at the northwestern end of the island are some of the most amazing bird cliffs in the Arctic. Muffins, guillemots, gulls and cormorants can be observed and photographed from just metres away. At the south-eastern end of the island there is a prominent walrus haul out. If the animals are present it is one of the easiest places to observe them and get some good photographs.
Days 6 – 10 – Voyage to Wrangel and Herald Islands
Ice and weather conditions permitting, we will spend the next few days on Wrangel Island and we will also attempt to include a visit to nearby Herald Island. There are many landings that we can make to search out wildlife, wild flowers and Arctic landscapes. Polar Bears will be high on our list of animals to see and with a little patience we should be rewarded with a number of encounters. Musk Oxen and reindeer were introduced to the island in 1975 and 1948 though reindeer numbers are low.
We also have a 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. Wrangel Island is a Russian Federal Nature Reserve of international significance and importance particularly as it is a major Polar Bear denning area. Also each summer thousands of birds migrate here to breed, including Snow Geese, Snowy Owls, skuas, Arctic Terns, Sabine and Ivory Gulls.
Day 11 – North Siberian Coast
Although well mapped and charted, there have been very few Expedition Cruises and consequently there is a lot of scope for expedition landings. Depending on weather and sea conditions we will attempt an expedition landing today. There are several choices. At Cape Vankarem there is a seasonal large walrus haul out; the animals may or may not be present. The area around the Cape is bounded by narrow sand ridges with numerous coastal lagoons and inlets. Nearby there is a small Chukchi village whose residents still make their living hunting walrus, seals and whales.
There is another smaller Chukchi village called Nutepelmen which is situated on a spit at the entrance to Pyngopikhin Lagoon, further west of Cape Vankarem.
Day 12 – Kolyuchin Inlet
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.
Day 13 – Bering Strait and 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.In 1867 when the USA purchased Alaska from Russia the new boundary was drawn between Big (Russian) and Little (USA) Diomede Islands. This makes Big Diomede Island Russia’s eastern-most possession.
The island was originally inhabited by Yupik Eskimos but after World War II the native population were relocated to the mainland. Today there are no permanent residents but the Russians maintain a Border Guard station there. It is an important island for birdlife with good numbers of Black-legged Kittiwakes, Common and Brunnich’s Guillemot and Horned and Tufted Puffin.
If the Border Guards grant permission (we have applied for it) we will Zodiac cruise the coast near the station. The bird numbers in this region are spectacular, especially puffins. Later this afternoon we make an expedition landing on the Chukotka coast, our last chance to enjoy the wildlife and tundra landscape.
Day 14 – At sea
Join the staff for an expedition recap and a disembarkation briefing, and then simply relax as we sail across Anadyrskiy Bay towards Anadyr. Tonight we will enjoy a farewell dinner to celebrate our journey.
Day 15 – Anadyr
After breakfast it will be time to say our farewells. There will be a complimentary transfer to the airport or to a central downtown hotel.
Pre/Post cruise transfers, all on board ship accommodation, meals and all expedition shore excursions.
- International/domestic flights, visas and travel insurance.
- Laundry, drinks & gratuities
- All items of a personal nature
- Private charter flight Nome to Anadyr to Nome, US$2000 pp Local Payment, US$500 pp
- Optional Overland Traverse: US$1450 pp. Explore the interior of Wrangel Island by six-wheel Tundra vehicle The High Arctic environment that few people experience is now accessible on this 3 day – 2 night extension.
To find out more or to book this incredible tour, contact Globetrotter Lifestyle today!