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Wildlife Viewing and Cultural Tour in Russia

offered by supplier M19682 (read about supplier)

Key Information:
Tour Duration: 28 day(s)
Group Size: 15 - 50 people
Destination(s): Russia  
Specialty Categories: Wildlife Viewing   Cultural Journey  
Season: August - September
Airfare Included: No
Tour Customizable: No
Minimum Per Person Price: 21900 US Dollar (USD)
Maximum Per Person Price: 29900 US Dollar (USD)

The allure of the mysterious Northeast Passage has captivated adventurers for centuries. Its Russian-controlled waters are steeped in history and mystery, while abundant wildlife is found along the remote shores. Only a handful of passenger vessels have ever completed a transit of this waterway, but recent changes in the summer sea ice conditions mean that it is now possible for a brief time each summer. In 2017, we fulfilled our long held ambition of completing a successful Northeast Passage double transit. We are excited to once again be running this geographical odyssey from Anadyr to Murmansk in 2019. Join us as we trace the route of legendary Polar explorer Adolf Erik Nordenskiold, navigate narrow fiords, search for unique wildlife, glimpse into the past and experience the warmth of Arctic hospitality in local villages.

Having been sought for centuries by European explorers who hypothesised upon its presence and economic benefits, The Great Northern Expedition of 1733-43 sponsored by Peter the Great made many significant discoveries but showed the route was not an economic trading proposition. It wasn’t until 1878-1880 that Swedish explorer Adolf Erik Nordenskiold completed the first ever transit proving that the route was navigable, albeit with some difficulty. In 1914-15 Boris Vil’kitskiy, with the icebreakers Taymyr and Vaygach, made the second transit of the Northern Sea Route as part of a major push by the Imperial Russian Navy to render it navigable for strategic purposes. In 1932 the Northern Sea Route Administration was established by the Soviet Union.

The vast shallow waters north of Russia, protected by the expansive sea ice that covers the region for most of the year, are a refuge for many Arctic species, Polar Bears roam throughout but there are especially large concentrations on the reserves of Wrangel Island and Franz Josef Land. During our voyage we travel through the ranges of the Pacific, Laptev and Atlantic Walrus and there is the opportunity to encounter these iconic tooth walkers in large haulouts. The triumvirate of Arctic gulls – Ivory, Sabine’s and the elusive Ross’s Gulls all breed on the shores of the Northeast Passage and there are good opportunities to see all three. Bowhead, Beluga and Narwhal all call these waters home and our naturalists will be keeping close watch. Venture ashore on some of the least known and seldom visited shores on the planet, Severnaya Zemlya Archipelago was the last major group of islands on earth to be discovered, the New Siberian Islands offer a wealth of opportunities for discovery. Sailing the mythical waters of Chukchi, East Siberian, Laptev, Kara & Barents Sea this is truly a geographic odyssey.

We invite you to join us on an historic journey to discover High Arctic landscapes that few people have witnessed, enjoy wildlife and wilderness experiences that until now have been the preserve of a few High Arctic explorers and researchers.

Itinerary:
Day 1: Nome.
For those departing from Nome, Alaska, your adventure begins with a flight across the Bering Sea to Anadyr, the capital of Chukotka.

Day 2: Anadyr.
Join the Akademik Shokalskiy this afternoon. This evening there are excellent chances to spot Beluga Whales as we sail out of the Anadyr Estuary.

Day 3: Preobrazhnaya Bay.
Crossing the Gulf of Anadyr there will be opportunities for wildlife watching. This afternoon we plan to explore the magnificent coastal cliffs of Preobrazhnaya Bay by Zodiac, home to an abundance of seabirds including Brunnich’s Guillemot, Crested and Parakeet Auklets plus Tufted and Horned Puffins.

Day 4: Whale Bone Alley and Gil’mimyl Hot Springs.
Whale Bone Alley on Yttygran Island is one of the most significant and intriguing archaeological sites in the Arctic. The waters nearby remain rich feeding grounds for whales, weather permitting we will look to take the Zodiacs in search of Gray Whales and walrus. This afternoon we plan a landing at the Gil’mimyl Hot Springs, Sandhill Cranes usually breed in the area.

Day 5: Cape Dezhnev and Uelen Village.
Early this morning we will arrive at Cape Dezhnev, the eastern extremity of the Eurasian continent. The Bering Strait is a vitally important migratory pathway, we may see flocks of King, Common and Spectacled Eiders passing south. In the afternoon enjoy the hospitality of the local people in the village of Uelen who are predominantly Chukchi. Our visit will include a cultural performance and visit to the famous bone-carving studio and museum.

Day 6: Kolyuchin Island.
Today we plan to land on Kolyuchin Island, although we will be visiting after the peak of the breeding season, there should still be large numbers of Tufted and Horned Puffins, Brunnich’s and Common Guillemots and Black-legged Kittiwakes. There may also be an opportunity to Zodiac cruise around the base of the cliffs where there are excellent photographic opportunities. Humpback and Bowhead Whales have been seen in this area previously.

Days 7-9: Wrangel Island.
Wrangel Island is a Federal Nature Reserve and World Heritage Site of international significance. It is a major Polar Bear denning area and one of the few areas of the Arctic to not be glaciated during recent glacial episodes. It is sometimes referred to as a Polar Bear maternity ward on account of the large numbers of cubs born here. There are numerous other Arctic species which we will be looking for including Musk Ox, Arctic Fox, Snow Geese and the Snowy Owls which breed here annually. The diversity of tundra flora is exceptional and during walks ashore we should see the last flowers of summer.

Day 10: East Siberian Sea.
This sea is defined by the Novosibirskie Islands in the west and Wrangel Island to the east, along its southern shores are three of Siberia’s major rivers, the Indigirka, Alazaya and the Kolyma. We will lookout for walrus and Bowhead Whales.

Day 11: Ayon Island.
The Chukchi people that call this island home are reindeer herders and hunters. We will enjoy the warm hospitality of the local people as we learn about life on this remote island.

Day 12: Medvezhyi Islands.
Today we will explore the little known and seldom visited Medvezhyi Islands (Bear Islands), an archipelago of five granitic islands. The islands have a sizeable population of Polar Bears which den on these shores over winter. A landing on the island of Chetyrekhstolbovoy offers the opportunity to hike to the unusual rock ‘pillows’ which the island is named after. On Pushkareva Island investigate the old lighthouse or enjoy the Arctic flowers that cover the expansive tundra during the brief summer.

Day 13: East Siberian Sea.
It was in this sea that the Jeanette, captained by George Washington De Long, became stuck fast and was crushed by ice in 1879. Wreckage from the Jeanette found in Greenland in 1884 gave Nansen the idea for the now famous 1893-96 Fram Expedition drifting across the Arctic Ocean.

Days 14 to 16: Noviye Sebirskiye (New Siberian Islands).
These islands, which consist of three major groups – Southern, Central (Anzhu) and Northern (De Long), mark the border between the Laptev and East Siberian Seas. We have allowed three days for exploring this remarkable yet seldom visited archipelago, conditions permitting we hope to have the opportunity to visit all three island groups, each with their own unique geology and landscapes.

Days 17 to 18: Laptev Sea.
This sea is bounded by the Taymyr Peninsula, the Severnaya Islands in the west and the Novosibirskie Islands in the east. We will explore the Taymyr Peninsula, Laptev Sea Walrus are only found in this area and we will be on the lookout for haulouts to photograph this unique and quite isolated population of walrus. There is Musk Ox resident in this area and we may spot the poorly known Taymyr form of Herring Gull.

Days 19-21: Severnaya Zemlya Archipelago.
The Severnaya Zemlya Islands are on the border of the Kara and Laptev Seas and are an extension of the Taymyr Peninsula. These islands were not discovered until 1914-15 when Russian explorer Vilkitski charted them. The three largest islands are heavily glaciated with deep fiords and majestic tidewater glaciers that are regularly calving icebergs. We look for an opportunity to visit a colony of Ivory Gulls.

Days 23 to 24: Kara Sea.
Lying between Novaya Zemlaya, Franz Josef Land and the Severnaya Zemlya Archipelago the Kara Sea is generally considered to be the coldest sea in Russia. Ostrov Vize is along our route to Franz Josef Land, we will look to make a landing on the island, conditions permitting.

Days 25 to 26: Franz Josef Land.

This huge archipelago of 192 islands located only 10 degrees from the North Pole offers numerous locations for us to explore. Its position close to the permanent ice of the Arctic Ocean yet accessible to the rich waters of the Atlantic gifts these waters an unusual diversity and abundance of marine life. The islands have a fascinating and rich record of exploration, scientific research and habitation. Landings planned including Cape Triest on Alger Island where the famous ‘Devil’s Marbles’ (spherical geodes) dot the landscape, Cape Flora on Northbrook Island where the remains of three historic expeditions are found in close proximity and Tikhaya Bay on Hooker Island where the numbers of guillemots and kittiwakes on the remarkable columnar cliffs of Rubini Rock are unforgettable. We also plan to include a visit to Cape Tegetthoff. There is a very healthy population of Polar Bears living amongst the archipelago and we will be keeping a close lookout for them. There are good chances to spot Beluga and Bowhead Whales and if we are fortunate we may find Narwhal.

Days 27 to 28: Barents Sea.
The Barents Sea was named in honour of Dutch seafarer and navigator, Willem Barents, who explored this region on expeditions in 1594 and 1596. As we move southwards opportunities for spotting Humpback Whales and Harp Seals that feed in these waters increase.

Day 29: Murmansk.
Murmansk is home to the Russia’s icebreaker fleet and featured as a strategically important port throughout the history of Russia. We disembark the ship in Murmansk, transfers to the airport or central hotels are provided.

Supplemental Tour Information:
International airfares are not included in the tour price.

Prices:

- Suite: $29,900 p/p
- Mini Suite: $27,900 p/p
- Superior Plus: $26,900 p/p
- Superior: $23,900 p/p
- Main Deck: $21,900 p/p

Additional charges: landing fees US$500 cash p/p paid on-board ship.

Notes:
Airfare is not included in the tour price.

About This Supplier
Location: New Zealand
Joined InfoHub: Sep 2009

M19682 was formed in 1985, as a way of increasing awareness and conservation of the natural world through responsible expedition travel. It’s founder Rodney Russ was a biologist working for the New Zealand Wildlife Service. Through his work on Kakapo, Black Robin and other endangered species he appreciated that...

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