24 Nights Along the Ring of Fire: Kamchatka, Kuril Islands & Hokkaido

24 Nights Along the Ring of Fire: Kamchatka, Kuril Islands & Hokkaido


Discover the wild, northeastern most reaches of the Asian continent on an epic journey through one of the most geologically active regions of our planet. Set sail from Alaska aboard the National Geographic Orion, crossing the fabled Bering Strait to explore the unspoiled shores of Russia’s Chukotka and Kamchatka peninsulas. Navigate the Commander Islands, a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve harboring fascinating wildlife of both Asian and North American origin, and continue south to the remote Kuril Archipelago, a pristine wonderland of volcanic geology, indigenous cultural sites, and diverse flora and fauna. Hike amid the enchanting lakes and forests of northern Japan’s national parks, and cap off your voyage in the thriving metropolis of Tokyo.    

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    DAY 1: Anchorage, Alaska, U.S./Nome/Embark

    Arrive in Anchorage and fly to Nome, Alaska to embark the National Geographic Orion. (L,D)


    DAY 2: At Sea/Crossing the Bering Strait

    Spend the first day at sea settling into your cabin as we cross the international dateline along with the Bering Strait, one of the most iconic bodies of water on the planet. (B,L,D)


    DAY 3: Provideniya, Russia

    Often called the “gateway to the Arctic,” Provideniya lies at the western edge of the Bering Strait. This former Soviet military port is also the administrative center where we’ll conduct our ship’s clearance into Russia. Visit the excellent local museum filled with regional artifacts, and witness a traditional Yupik dance performance. (B,L,D)


    DAY 4-7: Chukotka and Koryak Coasts

    Over the next several days, explore the seldom-visited Koryak coast and Chukotka Peninsula in the remote Russian Far East. Hike the vast tundra, surrounded by volcanic mountains and diminutive flora, and photograph elusive brown bears, Pacific walruses, and a variety of seal species congregating in onshore rookeries. During a visit to a picturesque coastal village, learn about the local Koryak reindeer-herding culture. (B,L,D)


    DAY 8-9: At Sea/Commander Islands

    Spend two days sailing the wildlife-rich waters of Russia’s Commander Islands, a designated UNESCO Biosphere Reserve. Spot northern fur seals, Russian sea otters, and flocks of nesting seabirds. Step ashore at Bering Island to visit the gravesite of Danish explorer Vitus Bering, and look out for arctic foxes and horned and tufted puffins. Weather permitting, ride Zodiacs to a northern fur seal rookery at Cape Severo-Zapadni. (B,L,D)


    DAY 10-11: Chazhma & Zhupanova Rivers

    Continue south along the Kamchatka Peninsula and navigate into two pristine rivers, teeming with rainbow trout, salmon, and char. Explore by Zodiac, seeking out Steller’s sea eagles, one of the largest raptors in the world, as well as wading birds and spotted seals hauled-out on the sandbars. (B,L,D)


    DAY 12: Petropavlovsk-Kamchatskiy

    Sail into the protected waters of stunning Avacha Bay, the sea gate to Russia’s Kamchatka Peninsula. Visit the port town of Petropavlovsk-Kamchatskiy, framed by a trio of soaring snow-capped volcanoes: Koryakskiy, Avachinskiy, and Kozelskiy. (B,L,D)


    DAY 13-16: Kuril Islands

    Spend the next several days discovering the Kuril Islands, a volcanic archipelago stretching from Kamchatka to the northeastern corner of Japan’s Hokkaido island. Mostly uninhabited, the Kurils boast incredible wildlife, dramatic scenery, and a complex political history. Weather permitting, we’ll visit several of the islands, including Atlasov—home to the archipelago’s highest volcano, as well as the remains of a women’s gulag, or Soviet-era labor camp; Ptichiy, a haven for migratory birds and sea otters; Shiashkotan, the site of an ancient village of the Ainu—an indigenous people of the Kuril, Hokkaido, and Sakhalin islands; and Simushir, where volcanic peaks loom over an abandoned submarine base. (B,L,D)


    DAY 17-18: At Sea/Korsakov, Russian Federation

    Enjoy a relaxing day aboard as we cross the Sea of Okhotsk to Korsakov, located at the southern end of Sakhalin, Russia’s largest island. Here, we’ll conduct our ship’s clearance out of Russia. (B,L,D)


    DAY 19: Abashiri, Japan/Shiretoko National Park

    Arrive in Abashiri on the island of Hokkaido. After our ship’s clearance into Japan, visit the Hokkaido Museum of Northern Peoples, dedicated to the indigenous tribes of the Earth’s subarctic regions. Later, we’ll venture to Shiretoko—the “end of the Earth” in the native Ainu dialect. One of Japan’s most spectacular national parks, Shiretoko is home to an abundance of land and sea mammals including brown bears, Steller sea lions, and sperm whales. We’ll also be on the lookout for white-tailed eagles, Blakiston’s fish owls (the largest living species of owl), and Steller’s sea eagles, which spend winters here. (B,L,D)


    DAY 20: Kushiro Shitsugen National Park/Akan Mashu National Park

    Sail Hokkaido’s northeastern coast to Kushiro and head inland to explore Kushiro Shitsugen National Park, Japan’s largest wetland and home to the endangered red-crowned crane, which was thought to be extinct in the early 20th century. Drive to Akan Mashu National Park, known for its ethereal, mist-shrouded lakes, and delve into forests of Sakhalin spruce before visiting a charming Ainu village. (B,L,D)


    DAY 21-22: Muroran/At Sea

    Dock at Muroran and choose from two options: Drive to Shikotsu-Tōya National Park, where mirror-like lakes and forest-covered hills are set against the silhouette of the snowcapped Mount Yotei stratovolcano. Or, drive to Shiraoi to visit the newly opened National Ainu Museum and Park, an open-air museum where visitors can experience various elements of Ainu culture. Our final afternoon will be spent at sea as we make our way toward Niigata. (B,L,D)


    DAY 23: Niigata/Tokyo

    Disembark in Niigata, facing the Sea of Japan on the island of Honshu. Board a bullet train to Tokyo, and upon arrival check in to the Conrad Tokyo, a modern hotel located just a few steps from Ginza, the world-famous shopping and entertainment district. Spend the remainder of the day at your leisure, exploring the vibrant Japanese capital on your own. (B,L,D)


    DAY 24: Tokyo

    Set out to explore Tokyo today. Visit the serene Meiji Jingu shrine, dedicated to the spirit of Emperor Meiji, who ruled over Japan from 1867 to 1912 and helped transform the country into a modern power. At the Edo-Tokyo Museum, learn about the Tokugawa shogunate, the powerful military government that preceded the Meiji era. Stroll the bustling streets of the Asakusa district and visit the iconic Sensoji temple, Tokyo’s oldest Buddhist temple. Enjoy a farewell dinner with your fellow travelers tonight. (B,L,D)


    DAY 25: Tokyo/U.S.

    After breakfast, depart for the airport to connect to your flight home. (B)