This voyage takes us where very few people have been – or are able to go. The region falls into three quite distinct and unique geographical regions: the Kamchatka Peninsula, the Commander Islands (the western extremity of the Aleutian chain of islands) and the Kuril Islands. Each of them is very different, with their own story and, in many cases, endemic plants and birds. On this expedition we go in search of those people, plants, animals and birds that make this part of the Pacific Ring of Fire so special and intriguing.
Stretching northwards for over 700 miles from Japan to the southern end of the Kamchatka Peninsula, the Kuril Islands were formed by the collision of the Pacific and Eurasian plates. This created a chain of over 30 volcanic islands and an oceanic trench that reaches depths of over 8,000 metres (+-26,000 feet). The combination of deep water upwelling, and the mixing of the cold waters from the Sea of Okhotsk with the warmer Pacific Ocean, creates ideal conditions for seabirds, making this one of the richest areas in the world, both in terms of the number of species and their sheer abundance. For many birders, the undoubted highlights are the auks and, during our voyage, it is possible to see up to 14 species, including Tufted and Horned Puffins, Parakeet, Whiskered and Rhinoceros Auklets, as well as Spectacled and Pigeon Guillemots.
The Commander Islands consist of two islands – Bering and Medney. They were uninhabited when Vitus Bering landed there in 1741, mistakenly believing it was Kamchatka. When his ship was wrecked he and many of his men consequently died. Those who survived told of the wealth that could be made from otter, fox and fur seal pelts. So began the ‘Fur Rush’ to the North Pacific that changed the region forever. The islands were settled, species like the Sea Cow became extinct, and the population of fur-bearing animals was decimated. During the Cold War, ‘Border Guards’ fiercely and patriotically protected these islands from unseen enemies. Today the islands are a Nature Reserve and only a small population still lives there. The days we spend on the Commander Islands will be as unique as the islands themselves.
The Kamchatka Peninsula, which dominates the North Pacific, is in turn dominated by a large number of volcanoes, dense forest and spectacular scenery very different to what we will see elsewhere on this journey. It is impossible to experience the entire peninsula in such a short time, so we have chosen several sites that will give a good overview of the region. These locations include one of the hundreds of salmon-rich rivers for which the region is renowned and around which the infamous Kamchatka Brown Bear congregates. We have also included a coastal harbour / bay renowned for cetaceans, including the Western Grey Whale. Other species such as Humpback and Sperm Whales can generally be observed here as well.
Please note that our tour leader may not accompany the expedition unless a minimum of 10 participants are signed up through us. In the case that our leader is not on board, the professional expedition staff will take care of all participants signed up through us.
Please note: the above prices exclude an additional landing fee of US$500 per person and are subject to foreign exchange fluctuations. Tour Price (Per Person): from €6,550 to €9,870 * from £4,860 to £7,310 * from USD 7,300 to USD 11,000 * from ZAR 98,730 to ZAR 148,770.
Day 1: Arrival in Petropavlovsk-Kamchatskiy
Day 2: At Sea
Days 3-4: Commander Islands
Day 5: Zhupanova River
Day 6: Bukhta Russkaya
Day 7: Second Kuril Strait, Atlasova and Onekotan Islands
Day 8: Ekarma and Toporkovy Islands
Day 9: Simushir and Yankicha Islands
Day 10: Chirpoy and Urup Islands
Day 11: Iturup Island
Day 12: Kunashir Island
Day 13: Sakhalin Island and depart.
- Top Birds: Steller’s Sea Eagle, Harlequin Duck, Short-tailed, Black-footed & Laysan Albatross, Mottled Petrel, Red-legged Kittiwake, Whiskered & Rhinoceros Auklet, Tufted & Horned Puffin, Parakeet, Spectacled and Pigeon Guillemot, Red-faced Cormorant, Ancient & Long-billed Murrelet, Siberian Rubythroat, Eurasian Nutcracker, Arctic Warbler, Brown-headed Thrush, Pine Grosbeak, Japanese Grey Bunting
- Top Mammals: Kamchatka Brown Bear, Sea Otter, Steller’s Sea Lion, Largha Seal, Orca, Western Grey, Humpback, Sperm, Northern Minke & Baird’s Beaked Whale, endemic subspecies of Arctic Fox
- Habitats Covered: open seas, shorelines, coves, volcanic slopes, scrubby birch/alder forest, meadows
- Expected Climate: mostly cool to cold
- Max Group Size: depending on ship capacity with well experienced expedition leaders
- Tour Pace and Walking: easy with some undemanding walks
- Accommodation: comfortable ship cabins
- Ease of Birding: generally undemanding
- Other Attractions: spectacular scenery, snow-covered volcanoes, beautiful wildflowers, abandoned Cold War military bases
- Photographic Opportunities: excellent.
The fee for the Russia’s Ring of Fire tour is as follows (depending on availability):
- Triple: US$ 7,300 per person sharing;
- Main Deck: US$ 8,500 per person sharing;
- Superior: US$ 9,200 per person sharing;
- Superior Plus: US$ 9,800 per person sharing;
- Mini Suite: US$ 10,200 per person sharing;
- Heritage Suite: US$ 11,000 per person sharing.
- Obligatory Landing Fees/Local Payment: US$ 500 per person
- Optional Kayaking supplement: US$ 1,025 per person.
- Due to constantly fluctuating exchange rates, we now quote our tours in 4 currencies (see website for all 4 currencies). The tour price is however fixed only in the currency printed in bold (US$), and the actual cost in the other currencies listed will be adjusted according to prevailing exchange rates at the time of final invoicing (usually 4 months before the tour.) The same applies to approximate domestic flight and single supplement rates, which are also quoted in the respective fixed currency.
- Please also note that we have taken an allotment on this cruise rather than chartering the cruise in entirety, and our leader may not accompany the expedition unless a minimum of 10 participants are signed up through us. In the case that our leader is not on board, the professional expedition staff will take care of all participants signed up through us.
- Furthermore, these costs are subject to unforeseen increases in tour related costs and may have to be adjusted as a result.
- Lastly, we may be forced to change or alter the itinerary and/or the designated tour leader at short or no notice due to unforeseen circumstances; please be aware that we will attempt to adhere as close to the original program as possible.
Please note: This tour does not require a high level of fitness, but participants should be in good general health and reasonably fit. Guests will be notified when longer walks may be undertaken. If you have any physical or medical limitations or conditions, please notify us in advance of departure.
Arrival and Departure Details: This tour does not include any airfares. The tour will begin in Petropavlovsk-Kamchatksiy on day 1 and will conclude in Yuzhno-Sakhalinsk on the morning of day 13 of the cruise. Please do not book a flight before 1 pm on day 13 to allow for disembarkation procedures. If you wish to arrive early and/or depart late and would like assistance or advice in this regard, kindly contact our office.
Please note: these prices are subject to foreign exchange fluctuations.
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