Wild Siberia: Kamchatka, Sea of Okhotsk & Sakhalin

July 25, 2014 - August 12, 2014

Below please find the day-by-day itinerary for this expedition. Unless otherwise noted, daily excursion options are included in the cost of the trip. We do our best to adhere to the scheduled itinerary, but in the spirit of our expeditionary style of travel we may deviate slightly to take full advantage of encounters with the destination and its people, culture, and wildlife.

July 25 Home / Anchorage, Alaska

Depart on your independent flight to Anchorage. Gather at the Marriott Anchorage Downtown for a welcome dinner and overnight.

Jul 26 - Jul 27 Anchorage / Petropavlovsk, Russia / Embark Caledonian Sky

Board your flight to Petropavlovsk. Cross the International Date Line, arriving in Russia on Sunday. Set out to explore one of the oldest towns in the Russian Far East, founded by Vitus Bering in 1741. Hospitable local guides bring you to the museum of ethnography and natural history, the art school, and the gold-domed Orthodox cathedral. This afternoon, board the Caledonian Sky.

July 28 Atlasova Island, Kuril Islands

Part of the Pacific Ring of Fire, the Kurils are composed of 40 volcanoes, 16 of which are active. This afternoon, as you cruise through the First Kuril Strait, watch for the Steller’s sea eagles that frequent the area. Past voyages have also found hundreds of sea otters frolicking in this strait—a heartening rejuvenation after a brush with near-extinction. Step ashore on Atlasova Island, dominated by the towering 7,600-foot-high Alaid Volcano. Stroll along the black sand beaches to observe the island’s fascinating geology or take a hike inland over tundra bursting with wildflowers.

July 29 At Sea

Join naturalists on deck to search for seabirds and marine mammals in the Sea of Okhotsk, while lecturers introduce the region’s history and wildlife.

July 30 Cape Utkholokskiy

Go ashore this morning in Utkholokskiy National Park, a vast, nearly uninhabited wilderness to search for birds and wildlife, including bears that are often found foraging along the tidal flats.

July 31 Shelekova Bay

The waters of Shelekova Bay are subject to extreme tides and powerful currents, bringing nutrients to the surface and supporting huge quantities of life. By Zodiac, search for whales, seals, Steller’s sea lions and tremendous numbers of birds, including puffins and murres. Some six million pairs of least auklets and large numbers of crested auklets nest on Yamskie Island. As dusk falls, witness a veritable “auklet haze,” which darkens the sky as they return to roost for the night.

August 1 Cape Alevina

Cruise along the coast of Cape Alevina to search for the bears that are attracted by the spawning salmon.

August 2 Talan Island

This morning explore tiny Talan Island, home to one of the largest seabird communities in the Northern Pacific, with colonies reaching 1.8 million birds—puffins, auklets, and gulls are among the 12 species found here. The island is also home to Steller’s sea eagles, peregrine falcons, and red foxes. Permission pending, visit the Russian research center where local ornithologists are monitoring the annual bird migrations.

August 3 Okhotsk Town

This small town, the first to be settled in the region, was chosen by Captain Vitus Bering as his headquarters for two extraordinary expeditions. Stroll Okhotsk’s quaint streets, lined with small shops and modest clapboard houses surrounded by gardens—all seemingly frozen in the 18th century. Visit the intriguing museum and enjoy a cultural performance.

August 4 Fedora Bay

Go ashore for nature walks to explore pristine Siberian forest, keeping an eye out for Steller’s sea eagles and brown bears.

Aug 5 - Aug 6 Shantar Archipelago

In true expeditionary fashion, spend the next two days investigating the remote Shantar region—no roads reach the coastline, isolating it from civilization. The rocky islands covered with Siberian forest are a pristine wilderness, with sea-carved caves and cliffs, cascades, and 200 bird species inviting exploration by Zodiac and walks ashore. Watch for flocks of spectacled guillemots, which “sprint” across the water on crimson webbed feet when taking flight, as well as horned and tufted puffins diving under the waves to gorge on small fish. This area also presents a good opportunity to spot Shantar brown bears.

August 7 Iony Island

This remote island in the center of the Sea of Okhotsk is a wildlife sanctuary that was previously off-limits to visitors. Join naturalists aboard Zodiacs and trace the perimeter of Iony to discover huge flocks of crested, least, whiskered, and parakeet auklets; horned and tufted puffins; northern fulmars; and massive numbers of murres. There is also a large Steller’s sea lion rookery.

August 8 Sakhalin Island / Expedition Stop

Today cruise along the wild coast of Sakhalin Island, as nature directs your course. Conditions permitting, go ashore for nature walks to search for Radde’s and Arctic warblers, Siberian rubythroats, and white-tailed eagles. There is also a possibility of spotting the gray whales that have been known to frequent this area.

August 9 Tyuleniy Island, Sakhalin Coast

Zodiac excursions around this tiny island reveal masses of nesting seabirds and rookeries of fur seals and Steller’s sea lions. The island’s name—Russian for seal—bears testament to its reputation as a primary destination for migrating northern fur seals and, during the 19th century, Russian and American sealers.

August 10 Korsakov / Yuzhno-Sakhalinsk

Dock in the port of Korsakov and depart overland for a visit to Sakhalin’s capital of Yuzhno-Sakhalinsk. Here explore the local market, lined with vendors’ wares representing this multicultural town’s heritage of indigenous peoples such as Ainu, Oroki, and Nivkh, as well as Russians, Japanese, and Koreans. Visit the Regional Museum, the Russian Orthodox church, and enjoy a performance of Cossack music and dance.

August 11 At Sea / Otaru, Hokkaido Island, Japan

Spend the morning at sea and after lunch, arrive in Otaru, known for its interesting interior canal lined by historic buildings. Join a tour of this charming port city, with time at leisure to explore on your own. Spend your final overnight aboard the Caledonian Sky as the ship remains pier side.

August 12 Otaru / Disembark / Sapporo / USA

Disembark this morning and transfer to Sapporo for your independent flight to the USA arriving home the same day.