Day 1: Arrive in Petropavlovsk-Kamchatskiy and board the Spirit of Enderby. Set sail for the Commander Islands in the late afternoon.
Day 2: Enjoy lectures and scan the skies for birdlife as we spend a day at sea.
Day 3 - 4: Explore the two main islands in the Commander Islands group - Bering and Medney. We will visit various historic sights and look for birds including the Rock Sandpiper, Mongolian Plover, Pechora Pipit, Red-legged Kittiwake and Grey-crowned Rosy-Finch. We also hope to see Arctic Fox, Steller Sea Lions, Northern Fur Seals and whale species such as the Sperm, Humpback, Northern Minke and Baird's Beaked Whale. We will pay a visit to the small settlement of Nikolskoye to visit the little local museum and if weather permits, see Commander Bay where Vitus Bering was shipwrecked and is buried.
Day 5: Zhupanova River. We will spend several hours in the Zodiacs cruising this scenic river where we should be able to see the magnificent Steller's Sea Eagle. Other species generally found in this area include the Pacific Diver, Far Eastern Curlew, Glaucous-winged Gull, Aleutian Tern and Yellow-brested Bunting. We also hope to visit a salmon fishery.
Day 6: Bukta Russkaya. In this deep fiord we will look for the critically endangered Kittlitz's Murrelet as well as the Long-billed Murrelet. We plan a short excursion to look for brown bears and a Zodiac cruise at the entrance to the fiord where we often see Orca and Steller Sea Lions.
Day 7: Second Kuril Strait, Atlasova and Onekotan Islands. Very early in the morning we will pass through the Second Kuril Strait which has one of the highest densities of Sea Otters in this region. We will explore the remains of a Gulag on Atlasova Island and in the evening plan to land on Onekotan Island and walk to Black Lake.
Day 8: Ekarma and Toporkovy Islands. During an early morning Zodiac cruise at Ekarma Island we should see various alcids, with Tufted Puffin an Whiskered Auklets in predominance. In the shadow of the active volcano on Matua Island this afternoon we hope to see Harlequin Ducks, Red-faced Cormorants, Tufted Puffins and Brunnich's Guillemots on Toporkovy Island.
Day 9: Simushir Island. This is a flooded caldera that was a former submarine base. In the afternoon we will experience Yankicho Island, ornithological wonder of the world, home to thousands of Crested & Whiskered Auklets.
Day 10: Chirpoy and Urup Islands. Depending on weather we will either land on Chirpoy Island or take a Zodiac cruise to see the dramatic volcanic landscapes and headlands covered in seabirds. A landing on Urup Island in the afternoon offers a chance to stretch the legs on an extended walk in the forest beyond the beach or beachcombing along the shoreline looking for Sea Otters.
Day 11: Iturup Island. We plan a landing at the small settlement of Kurilsk this morning. Local buses will transfer us to the volcanic highlands to thermal hot pools where we can enjoy a soak or go birding. Species we may see include Brown Dipper, Arctic Warbler, Japanese Robin, Pine Grosbeak and Japanese Grey Bunting.
Day 12: Kunashir Island. This is the largest island in the Kuril chain. We will go ashore to explore the Kurilsky Reserve which offers an extensive area of woodland. The afternoon is spent at sea as we head towards Sakhalin Island.
Day 13: Arrive at the Port of Korskov and disembark.
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