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Day 1: Otaru (Sapporo)/Japan, departure 18.00 hrs
Day 2: Rishiri/Japan
Northern Japan will be the prologue to your adventure. The island of Rishiri off Hokkaido is dominated by a volcano of the same name, with a cone-shaped peak. It is spring – the perfect time to head out with your experts to discover fresh nature, just as the terrain is reclaimed by plant life bursting with colour.
Day 3-4: Sakhalin/Russia (Korsakov, Tyuleny )
The course will take you to the Sea of Okhotsk, where Anton Chekhov brought literary notoriety to the island of Sakhalin when he wrote about the erstwhile penal colony of Korsakov in his travelogue. Still impressed by the historical details, you will then take a Zodiac to the east coast of the island of Tyuleny. Its beaches are home to huge colonies of fur seals and its jagged cliffs are populated by flocks of common murres. Here – like so many other places on this route – whales can often be spotted.
Day 5-6: Kuril Islands (Brad Chirpoy, Harimkotan)
Hardly any other region in the world offers such a mesmerising reflection of the natural forces of the Pacific Ring of Fire as the Russian Far East. The beautiful Kuril Islands extend for 1,200 km (746 mi.) and bear witness to ancient volcanic activity. Overgrown mountain peaks shimmer through the mist and the spray thunders against steep cliffs: in this unspoilt expeditionary territory, numerous Zodiac rides and landings will allow you to experience the vastness of nature up-close. Wildlife sightings are a truly special part of the adventure. Brad Chirpoy, for example, part of an archipelago with still-active volcanoes, is home to sea lion colonies. With a bit of luck, the Zodiacs will let you see marine mammals and seabirds up-close along the Lovushka Islands. The basalt coast provides birds with shelter and you with the most stunning subjects for your photos.
Day 7-11: Kamchatka (Russkaya Bay , two days in Petropavlovsk, Zhupanova , Bering )
The many facets of Kamchatka could fill several books: active and extinct volcanoes, glittering glaciers and deep fjords, verdant forests and crystal-clear rivers. The HANSEATIC inspiration’s route is adjusted according to daily weather conditions and expected sightings, so it feels like a true expedition. Experience the power and vastness of this landscape late into the evening when it is still light – for example, on a hike with the experts through the overgrown valley, where you might observe sea otters in Russkaya Bay. The renowned scientists on board will happily expand your knowledge of different eras of Russian history, whether you’re interested in the indigenous peoples – the Itelmen and Koryaks – or the Cossack conquerors. You will then see the inhabitants of Petropavlovsk, the scientific and cultural centre of Kamchatka, in a new light. The bizarre landscape that surrounds it was formed 20,000 years ago. To marvel at the spectacle of fuming sulphur springs and columns of water from the perspective of Steller’s sea eagle, take a helicopter flight to the Valley of Geysers*. The flight to Nalychevo Nature Park* also promises breathtaking panoramas and the opportunity to bathe in the wilderness upon arrival. Alternatively, a challenging hike up Avacha volcano* will reward you with fantastic views. The Zodiac ride in Zhupanova also promises this: here you should keep a lookout for seals, Steller’s sea eagles and bears out hunting. This is the time of year when Pacific salmon return to the rivers to spawn. They make a real culinary treat – not least for the Kamchatka brown bears. From this natural kingdom, the HANSEATIC inspiration will set off for Bering Island, where the great pioneering acts of a famous explorer will be brought to life. Vitus Bering ran aground here in 1741 on the way home from his second Kamchatka expedition.
Day 12: Relaxation at sea
Day 13-14: Kuril Islands (Ptichiy Islands, Atlasova, Yankicho (Ushishir))
What is life like for the people here, in the village of Nikolskoje? On a Zodiac ride off the Ptichiy Islands, see the islands – and the home of seals and spotted seals – for yourself. Your experts will also shed light on the area’s volcanological history at the black lava beach of Atlasova. Discover exciting information about Alaid, one of the highest volcanoes in the Kuril Islands at over 2,000 m (6,562 ft). On Yankicho, you can explore inside the steep caldera – a haven for foxes and seabirds – in the Zodiacs if the weather is good.
Day 15: Relaxation at sea
Day 16: Korsakov/Sakhalin
A relaxing day at sea will take you back via Korsakov (official stop) to Otaru. A pleasant way to round off your time here and look back on the many stages of your expedition. How will you remember the Russian Far East – as a great adventure or a Russian fairy tale?
Day 17: Otaru (Sapporo)/Japan, arrival 7.00 hrs
A pleasant way to round off your time here and an opportunity to look back on the many stages of your expedition. How will you remember the Russian Far East – as a great adventure or a Russian fairy tale?