12/13 Nights Kamchatka Coast

$7,200.00Price

Siberia's eastern coastline is undoubtedly one of the most remote and least visited regions of the globe. It is home to several groups of indigenous people, including the Itelmen, Koryak, Even and Chukchi. Fur trappers and sealers plundered the regions natural resources in the name of the Tsar in the early 17th Century. Stalin and subsequent leaders encouraged economic development in this part of the Soviet Union. Soviet towns were built, bonuses were paid to those who would immigrate and work there and attempts were made to collectivise the traditional way of life.

 

As the iron curtain was drawn and the Cold War escalated, this region became forbidden territory. Travel to and within the area was strictly controlled, the number of military installations increased, early radar warning stations proliferated and Russia's Pacific fleet patrolled the coastline.

 

This all changed in the early 1990s with Perestroika and the collapse of the Soviet Union. Military installations were abandoned, there were mass migrations of workers back west and towns and industries were simply abandoned. As the heavily subsided economy collapsed the indigenous people were forced back to traditional ways of life but permits to travel through the area did become a little easier to obtain.

Twenty five years on, travel through this region is still heavily regulated and virtually impossible for the independent traveller. There is little or no infrastructure, only a few kilometres of road, no hotels apart from in the main towns of Petropavlovsk-Kamchatskiy and Anadyr. These towns have scheduled air services, but access to the rest of the region either by air or sea even for locals is at best ‘unpredictable'.

 

Throughout its chequered human history its rich natural history has largely gone unnoticed and unknown by the rest of the world. It is an amazing coastline dominated by the volcanoes of Kamchatka in the south, the fiords of what was formally the Koryak region and the rich estuarine areas and tundra of Chukotka.

 

This coastline has one of the most diverse assemblages of wildlife and habitats of anywhere of a similar latitude on the globe and virtually no people or visitors to disturb them. One of the most iconic species is the critically endangered Spoon-billed Sandpiper that is endemic to the region. For the past 7 years we have supported BirdLife International and Birds Russia research teams working on this species. Our 2018 expedition not only continues that support but it expands it to include other seabirds and waders as researchers monitor potential changes in their populations and distribution due to a variety of reasons including climate change.

Cabin Type
Departure Date

For 06-26-2018 and 06-25-2019 departure

 

Day 1 Petropavlovsk-Kamchatskiy

Arrive into Petropavlovsk-Kamchatskiy, the capital and administrative centre of the Kamchatka Region and transfer to the port to board the Spirit of Enderby.

 

Day 2: Zhupanova River

We plan to spend the morning Zodiac cruising on the Zhupanova River. Our main target here is the Steller’s Sea Eagle and there are usually some occupied nests close to the river. Good numbers of Largha Seals are also often hauled out on sandbars in the river and we should see a good variety of waterfowl and waders. By late afternoon, we should be over deep water heading for the Commander Islands and new species to look for include Laysan Albatross, Mottled Petrel and the Fork-tailed Storm-Petrel. The Kamchatka Trench can also be excellent for cetaceans and we have previously seen Blue Whales on this crossing.

 

Days 3 to 4: Commander Islands

The wildlife-rich Commander Islands were first discovered by the Commander Vitus Bering when his ship was wrecked here in 1741. We intend to explore the islands through a combination of landings and Zodiac cruises and our first stop will be the village of Nikolskoye, where there is an interesting museum. Zodiac cruising is often spectacular and we hope to encounter Red-faced Cormorant, Red-legged Kittiwake, Pigeon Guillemot, Horned Puffin, as well as Parakeet, Crested and Whiskered Auklets and Sea Otters. Our plans also include a ship cruise along the southern coast of Bering Island, as this area is excellent for cetaceans with Humpback, Sperm, Northern Minke, Orcas and Baird’s Beaked Whales all regularly encountered.

 

Day 5: Karaginskiy Island

Our proposed landing site is a patchwork of boggy tundra, ponds and shingle spits where an interesting range of waders can be found including Pacific Golden Plover, Red-necked Stint and Red-necked Phalarope. We also hope to see Bluethroat and Pallas’ Reed Bunting.

 

Day 6: Verkhoturova Island and Govena Peninsula

Verkhoturova Island has some huge seabird colonies and by following a short trail to the cliff top we should be able to enjoy some fantastic views of Tufted Puffins, Brunnich’s Guillemots, Pelagic Cormorants and Black-legged Kittiwakes. Both Steller’s Eider and Harlequin Duck occur here too and we may also see some Steller Sea Lions, as they are often hauled out on some offshore rocks. Later in the day, there will be either a Zodiac cruise or landing on the Govena Peninsula. Good numbers of brown bears can often be found here.

 

Days 7 to 10: Koryak and Chukotka Coast

During these days of the expedition we will travel along this largely unknown part of the coast. It comprises deep forested fiords where we should see brown bears, Red Fox and with luck, mountain sheep and Kamchatka Marmots. In the many lagoons and shallow bays there is a vast array of birdlife including Tundra Bean Goose, Steller’s Eider, Great Knot, Long-tailed Stint, Gyrfalcon, Siberian Accentor and Asian Rosy Finch. This area is also a stronghold of the Kittlitz’s Murrelet and we should see several during our journey. In our previous expeditions we have explored much of this coastline, documenting the distribution and abundance of many species. In 2011 we recorded a previously unknown breeding population of Spoon-billed Sandpiper. Working alongside researchers from BirdLife International and Birds Russia who will be travelling with us, we plan to revisit many of these areas to monitor changes and search for new breeding colonies. There will be unique opportunities for photography, for hiking and ‘birding’ in country where literally only a few ‘westerners’ have ever been and we know there is a rich diversity of species.

 

Days 11 to 12: Meinypil’gyno

Meinypil’gyno, located on a 40km long shingle spit is the most important site in the world for breeding Spoon-billed Sandpiper. Here about fifteen pairs are monitored by members of the Spoon-billed Sandpiper Recovery Taskforce. We will be guests of the Taskforce and if possible we may be guided to one of their monitored nests. The area is extremely rich in other wildlife, so we may also find Emperor Goose, Pacific Diver, White-billed Diver and Sandhill Crane. The lagoon entrance often has Largha Seal, Gray and Beluga Whales and a spectacular number of gulls.

 

Day 13: Cape Navarin and Keyngypilgyn Lagoon

This coastline is rich in marine mammals and one creature we will be looking for in particular, is the walrus, as there is a known haul out. The animals do regularly move between locations, so finding them is always very much a matter of luck, although we have had success here in the past. Good numbers of Gray Whales often congregate here too. To the north of Cape Navarin is Keyngypilgyn Lagoon. On previous visits we have found this an excellent location for waterfowl and waders including Emperor Geese, Greater White-fronted Geese, Brent Geese, Whooper Swan, King Eiders, Red Knots and Aleutian Terns.

 

Day 14: Port of Anadyr

As we cruise into Anadyr Bay, there is an excellent chance of seeing more Beluga Whales and after a final breakfast on board the Spirit of Enderby, it will be time to disembark. We will provide complimentary transfers to a downtown hotel and the airport.

 

For 09-03-2018 departure

 

Day 1: Anadyr

All expedition members will arrive in Anadyr, the administrative centre of the Chukotka region, and transfer to the Spirit of Enderby.

 

Day 2: Egvekinot

We spend the day in and around the town of Egvekinot on the shores of Kresta Bay. The town was built by Gulag prisoners who were then forced to construct a road to the mine. We explore the town which has an excellent museum, the road and tundra as well as visit the Arctic Circle.

 

Day 3: Bukhta Gavrilla

This coastline is rich in marine mammals and one creature we will be looking for, in particular, is the walrus. The bukhta (or bay) was named after Commander Vitus Bering’s ship, the St Gabriel, of the First Kamchatka Expedition. Behind the expansive beach there is a lagoon we can explore for waterfowl and waders.

 

Day 4: Pika River and Meinypil’gyno

We start the day with a visit to the delta of Pika River – a well known walrus haul out. Later in the day, we visit Meinypil’gyno, a small settlement located on a 40km long shingle spit. It is a traditional village although renovated under the recent Chukotka government; we enjoy local hospitality from the village ensemble who perform some of their traditional dances for us.

 

Day 5: Bukhta Natalii

Along the Koryak Coast there are many beautiful fiords (bukhtas or bays) and none are more beautiful than Bukhta Natalii. This fiord has two smaller fiords that drain into it from the south. We hike from one bay to another whilst surrounded by the magnificent mountain landscapes and tundra vegetation.

 

Day 6: Tintikun Lagoon

Much of the southern Govena Peninsula was recently made into a state reserve. There are a number of fiords included in the reserve; one of the most spectacular is Tintikun Lagoon which is one of the most picturesque locations found anywhere in the world. A large population of brown bears inhabits this area, if we are fortunate we should see a number of them.

 

Day 7: Koryakskiy Reserve and Verhoturova Island

We will start the morning in Kamchatka Brown Bear country, an undisturbed habitat within the Koryakskiy Reserve, where we will go bear watching. Brown bears frequently visit this area which is completely protected and rarely visited. In the afternoon we visit Verkhoturova Island where Tufted and Horned Puffins, Pigeon, Common and Brunnich’s Guillemots and also Parakeet and Least Auklets can be seen. On nearby rocky islets there is a regular non-breeding haul out of Steller Sea Lions.

 

Day 8: Karaginskiy Island

A few miles to the south of Verhoturova Island is the much larger Karaginskiy Island. Here we encounter some of the first ‘forests’ of the voyage. This is a change from the tundra that we have seen, a sure sign that we are getting further south. Autumn is the best time for the wild berries and we can marvel at the richness of the local flora, as many of them should be at their best.

 

Days 9 to 10: Commander Islands

The wildlife-rich Commander Islands were first discovered by Commander Vitus Bering when his ship was wrecked here in 1741. He perished on the island along with many of his men. The reports from those that survived led to a ‘fur rush’ and the settlement of the islands. There are two large islands (Bering and Medny) with two smaller islands Ariy Karmen and Toporkov. We intend to explore the islands through a combination of landings and Zodiac cruises. We plan to stop at the village of Nikolskoye. We visit the fur seal rookery at North-West Cape and Zodiac cruise around the impressive bird colony at Ariy Kamen. We will also possibly visit the gravesite of Commander Vitus Bering or the remarkable Medny Island.

 

Day 11: Olga Bay

Olga Bay is a part of the very large Kronotskiy Reserve, which also includes the world-famous Valley of the Geysers. The habitat has lush Kamchatka forests coming right down to the beach. The area around Olga Bay is frequented by large numbers of Gray Whales that are usually quite friendly to visiting boats. The rising volcanoes in the background will provide a beautiful setting to explore real Kamchatka wilderness.

 

Day 12: Zhupanova River and Bukhta Bechevinskaya

This morning we make our way along the Zhupanova River by Zodiac. This journey allows us to explore a river habitat which is common in Kamchatka. Steller’s Sea Eagles are known to nest in the lower reaches of the river.

 

Day 13: Petropavlovsk-Kamchatskiy

During the night the Spirit of Enderby will enter Avacha Bay which is one of the greatest natural harbours in the world. There will be a complimentary transfer to the airport or to a central downtown hotel.

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