14 Nights Kuril Islands

14 Nights Kuril Islands

$14,395.00 Regular Price
$11,516.00Sale Price

Draped across the north Pacific Ocean from Hokkaido, Japan, to Russia’s Kamchatka Peninsula, the 22 islands and 30 islets of the Kuril Islands form a necklace of active volcanoes and sea-sculpted coastlines waiting to be explored. Nutrient-rich waters washing this ‘Pacific Rim of Fire’ teem with marine life, from sea otters to harbour seals, Steller sea lions to orca, Dall’s porpoise to beaked and sperm whales. The islands form a natural ‘flyway’ for migratory birds including both horned and tufted puffins, whiskered and rhinoceros auklets and exquisite little murrelets. You’ll Zodiac into flooded calderas, beneath soaring bird cliffs, to landings where brown bears fish for salmon. The fittest may even attempt to attempt to climb a volcano. Every day brings new adventure. 

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    * Early bird Up to 20% Off for 2022 departures

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    Day 1 Tokyo

    Upon check-in at Hotel Nikko Narita Airport, reception staff will provide you with cabin tags. Please fill out the luggage tags clearly, showing your name and cabin number to allow us to deliver your luggage to your cabin ahead. At our voyage briefing, enjoy a welcome drink and meet fellow expeditioners, before spending the night in preparation for your charter flight to Petropavlovsk-Kamchatskiy.


    Accommodation: Hotel Nikko Narita Airport


    Day 2 Petropavlovsk-Kamchatskiy

    Board our charter flight to Petropavlovsk-Kamchatskiy to embark the Sylvia Earle. After boarding, there is time to settle into your cabin before our important safety briefings. This evening meet your expedition team and crew at the Captain’s Welcome Dinner.


    Days 3-4 Russkaya Bay & Vestnik Bay

    Lush valleys and snow-capped volcanoes welcome you to Kamchatka’s east coast, where brown bears feast on berries and salmon. In Vestnik Bay, we explore the coast of Utashud Island by Zodiac, home to shy otters, Steller sea lions, seabirds and Kamchatka brown bears. Rounding Cape Lopatka, Kamchatka’s most southern point, you land in Kambalnyi Bay, to stretch your legs beneath the magnificent 2,161m volcano, Kambal'naya Sopka. Across Kuril Strait, cruise kelp beds off Shumshu Island in search of curious otters ferrying pups, and the bobbing heads of spotted seals. Explore the bird cliffs of Ptichi Islands alive with puffins.


    Day 5 Shumshu Island, Atlaslova Island

    Ashore, on Shumshu, a peaceful river snakes through grassy wetlands where lady-slipper orchids and wild roses bloom. On Atlasova, you land beneath a wind-sculpted hill of volcanic ash to explore remains of a Soviet gulag in the shadow of a near-perfect 2,339m volcano, Alaid, the highest in the Kurils. You’ll watch for nesting cormorants, buzzards, Eurasian wigeons, and tufted ducks, while peregrine falcons sometimes soar above the beach.


    Day 6 Onekotan Island

    Hike across Onekotan’s tundra, as it wakes to summer, and through bonsai pine forests to Black Lake, watching for red foxes and remains of Ainu dwellings. From Onekotan Island, we explore the coastline of nearby volcanic Kharimkotan or Makanrushi Islands by Zodiac


    Day 7 Ekarma Island; Shiashkotan Island

    Explore Ekarma, sanctuary to many birds, including puffins, auklets, fulmars and cormorants. Sea otters swim just off the northeastern cape. Vast nesting colonies of storm petrels and remains of Ainu villages await you on Shiashkotan.


    Day 8 Srednego Islands; Lovyshki Island

    Zodiac cruised around the rugged columnar stacks of the Srednego Islands, home to thousands of nesting seabirds including northern fulmars, guillemots, black-legged kittiwakes, and whiskered auklets. Nearby Lovyshik Islands are small, often fog-bound, rocky islets where you are approached by boisterous Steller sea lions northern fur seals.


    Day 9 Broutana Bay & Yankicha Island

    We hope to explore the ghostly remains of a secret Soviet Navy base at Broutana Bay on Simushir Island. At the northern tip of the island is a large volcanic caldera, similar to the one found on Yankicha Island, but a lot bigger. The Broutana Bay caldera is over 2 miles (3.2 kilometres) wide, but unlike Yankicha, the Simushir volcano is not active, it is extinct. It’s alleged that the Russian Navy used explosives to create a channel into the caldera to allow the submarines to access Broutana Bay. The channel is only 9 metres (28 feet) deep and 33 metres (100 feet) wide. The weather has to be unfoggy and the sea must be relatively calm for the captain to be able to skilfully steer the vessel into the caldera. Inside the caldera lie the remains of the secret submarine base that once housed some 3,000 people. The weather can change very quickly here and fog often rolls in suddenly making it difficult if not impossible to enter the caldera. If you’re already inside the caldera, the fog can trap you inside. A visit to Broutana Bay is completely weather dependent so here’s hoping for favourable weather on the day. 


    After then aim for Yankicha Island’s caldera. Intriguing and beautiful, Yankicha island hides a flooded volcanic caldera of emerald green waters. Accessible by Zodiac only at high tide, the lagoon, offers fumarole fields, hot springs and bubbles rising from the sea floor. Walk to the crater rim in search of blue foxes, while at dusk, watch as spectacular concentrations of crested and whiskered auklets stream back from the sea.


    Day 10 Brat Chirpoyev, Chirpoy Island

    Evocative mists often engulf Chirpoy islands, lifting to reveal dramatic basalt columns of Brat Chirpoyev as you approach by Zodiac, surrounded by thousands of northern fulmars, kittiwakes, the odd puffin and sea otters. Otherworldly roars herald the Steller’s sea lion colony on Chirpoy, with the promise of a hike up the flanks of an active volcano when you land.


    Day 11 Bliznecy Island, Novokuril'skaya Bay (Urup Island)

    Urup offers 120 kilometres of stunning volcanoes, lush vegetation, lakes and rivers. Cruise the ‘Twins’, a geological wonderland of twisted basalt sea cliffs, hike to Japanese bunkers with spectacular views and tufted puffin nests. On the west coast, you may Zodiac through basalt tunnels of Petroskov Rocks.


    Day 12 Tyuleniy Island

    Meaning seal in Russian, Tyuleniy attracts as many as 250,000 individuals that gather here each summer during their breeding season. You’ll be greeted by a cacophony of barks as you approach the island by Zodiac. Search the sea cliffs for nesting black-legged kittiwakes; crested, whiskered and rhinoceros auklets; tufted puffins, common and thick-billed murres, and ancient murrelets.


    Day 13 Moneron Island

    Located in Sakhalin Oblast region, Moneron Island is an uninhabited nature reserve that features a fascinating mix of both Russian and Japanese monuments and landmarks including a Japanese Shinto temple, pedestrian bridge, a Russian cemetery and the remains of a Soviet frontier post dating back to the 1940s. The clarity of the water surrounding Moneron Island comes from the pure water that flows directly from the mountains into the sea. On walks and by Zodiac, we discover the island’s waterfalls and rock shelters, and search for kittiwakes, black-tailed gulls, cormorants horned puffins, and the rare long-billed sea parrot.


    Day 14 Korsakov

    At Korsakov, at the southern tip of Sakhalin Island, we clear Russian customs for entry into Japan. For much of its history, control of Korasakov oscillated between Japan and Russia, until the town was ceded to the Soviet Union at end of World War Two. You might explore the port town while the Sylvia Earle finalises its exit clearance before departing for Otaru, Japan.


    Day 15 Otaru

    Disembark in the harbour city of Otaru, Hokkaido. Transfer to Sapporo to continue your journey.


    Important note: In the genuine spirit of expedition travel, we encourage exploration and adventure offering flexibility in challenging environments. This itinerary is only a guide and is subject to change due to weather, sea and other conditions beyond our control.