Wrangel Island & Kamchatka Tours, Arctic Wildlife, Polar Bear, Walrus
Greentours and Focus4Nature have chartered the expedition cruise ship, the Akademik Shokalskiy, for the trip of a lifetime. Setting out from the remote far northern port of Anadyr we journey to Wrangel Island, the Roof of the World, before heading south to Kamchatka’s wildlife-full and extraordinary landscapes. You can enjoy the full almost month-long tour, or take our ‘Roof of the World’ cruise, Anadyr to Anadyr, or just the Kamchatka part, Petropavlovsk-Kamchatsky to Petropavlovsk-Kamchatsky.
In one of Jules Verne’s Voyages Extraordinaires the Cascabels, a French Family of circus artists, float past Wrangel Island on an iceberg, and Verne describes a live volcano sited between the two capes. The latter we can attribute to Verne’s amazing imagination but the landscapes are both severely Arctic and wildly beautiful with ranges of tundra-cloaked mountains west of exotically-named Cape Hawaii.
Very few people have ever set foot on Wrangel Island. Just four rangers and a few staff look after the huge nature reserve that covers almost the entire 7600 square kilometres of Wrangel Island, made a strict reserve in 1976, and with just a few tourists and scientists allowed to visit each year. Musk Oxen and Reindeer roam surprisingly biodiverse tundra where Siberian and Wrangel Island Collared Lemmings sustain a big population of Snowy Owls. However it is the breeding population of Polar Bears that brings Wrangel fame with the highest density of dens anywhere in the world. Meeting a single Polar Bear is an incredible experience on all sorts of levels, but imagine watching and photographing numbers of them! We’ll see Polar Bears throughout the trip and on some days on Wrangel we’ll see dozens. Over two hundred were seen on one visit last year. It is also the quality of the sightings that will amaze – you’ll be surprised at the photographic opportunities with this most feared and charismatic predator. We’ll find ourselves amongst massed Walruses, and on land Arctic Foxes and families of Snow Geese. The flowery ‘Mammoth Steppe’ has amazing diversity for such a latitude with over four hundred plant species recorded. And we could even find a Mammoth tusk protruding from the ground as a party from this ship’s sister-vessel did on the 2011 trip!
Though one of the world’s most amazing wildlife locations Wrangel has remained firmly off the wildlife-photographers map because it has been virtually impossible to get to. However a thaw in political relations and the recent retreat of sea-ice in the Chukchi Sea now allows a sea passage from the east. We journey from the eastern tip of Asia, joining our expedition ship in the northern port of Anadyr then rounding Cape Dezhnev, only fifty miles from Alaska. We’ll visit famed Whalebone Alley on Yttygran Island and sea cliffs and estuaries where we’ll see vast flocks of puffins and auklets, Emperor Geese and maybe the fabled Spoon-billed Sandpiper. Pods of Killer Whales patrol these coastal waters and anywhere on our voyage sightings are likely of Gray, Humpback and Bowhead Whales.
Kamchatka is the most active and spectacular part of the Pacific Ring of Fire, awesome volcanoes, several of them active, form our daily scene, and the backdrop for sightings of (Kamchatka) Brown Bears. Kamchatka’s spectacular volcanoes, several of them active, form the backdrop for sightings of (Kamchatka) Brown Bears. We’ll spend plenty of time around stunning Kurilskoye Lake where we’ll be able to photograph the bears at our leisure as they fish for salmon close by our lodge. Steller’s Sea Eagle hunt over pristine valleys. An optional helicopter flight takes us to the world’s greatest concentration of geysirs and fumaroles and we’ll visit active volcanic vents and calderas. A boat trip out into Avacha Bay gives us close-up views of Tufted Puffins, Red-faced Cormorants and Red-legged Kittiwakes as well as Dall’s Porpoises. Estuaries along the peninsula are home to Largha Seals, Harlequin Ducks, and we’ll encounter endearing Sea Otters too.
Mammals, Birds and Flowers. Wildlife Photography & Wilderness Landscapes. This is a dedicated wildlife and wildlife photography cruise with as much time on land and in zodiacs as possible!
Although we will be based on board a boat there will be ample opportunity to take shore-based excursions. On these we usually cover no more than a couple of miles a day and always at a relaxed paced suited to photographers. There will be opportunities to do more on occasion especially on the Kamchtaka Extension!
Included in the Price
All accommodation, transport and meals aboard the Akademik Shokalskiy and on the Kamchtaka Extension. Services of wildlife and expedition guides and leaders. Please note: Drinks, tips and items of a personal nature such as travel insurance, are not included. Flights to and from Anadyr are not included however Greentours is happy to either make reservations for you or advise appropriate routings. Accommodation and meals in Anadyr are also not included.
There are a maximum of 50 spaces available on this cruise which is a combined Greentours and Focus4Nature charter.
The Akademik Shokalskiy is the complete three-star expedition vessel. Built in 1982 in Finland for polar and oceanographic research, she is fully ice-strengthened. Refurbished in 2012 to provide comfortable accommodation in twin-share cabins approximately two-thirds of which have private facilities. All cabins have outside portholes or windows and ample storage space. On board there is a combined library/bar/lounge area and a dedicated lecture room. The cuisine is excellent and is prepared by top NZ and Australian chefs. The ship takes a maximum of 50 passengers making it a small ship experience where everyone is able to partake of all shore visits and access many areas that cannot be reached by larger cruise ships. The ship is crewed by a very enthusiastic and most experienced Russian Captain and crew. On the Kamchatka extension we’ve some nights in a good hotel in Petropavlosk-Kamchatsky, two nights camping on Mutnovsky and three nights staying in basic cabins on the shores of magical Kurilskoye Lake, and a night in simple cabins aboard a small cruise boat in Russkaya Bay.
The flights are not included in the tour price. Greentours is happy to quote for your preferred routes. If buying your own flights you should ensure that you arrive into Anadyr on or before the 16th July. From Europe the easiest routings are through Moscow and thence a direct flight (8 hours!) to Anadyr, the return route back through Moscow. Those joining the trip to Kamchatka will fly from Anadyr to Petropavlovsk-Kamchatsky (via Khabarovsk) and then the return routing will be from Petropavlovsk-Kamchatsky via Moscow.
Though the weather in Anadyr will be pleasantly warm and sunny temperatures are much lower around Wrangel, in single figures °C and dropping to close to zero sometimes. Kamchatka experiences pleasant summer temperatures.
How to Book
Contact us to check there is availability for the number of places you require. Download a booking form (or contact us and we will send one to you) from the Booking Information section. Complete and send to us. You will receive confirmation of your place and then a detailed information pack will be dispatched to you about twelve weeks before departure. Bird and mammal checklists are available.