Once all guests have embarked, Silver Explorer leaves Otaru.
You will then be introduced to important members of the crew and your expedition team. Afterwards we have a sail away cocktail while we depart on our spectacular expedition “Expedition Kurils and Kamchatka”.
Tonight we invite you to familiarize yourself with your new home away from home, meet some of your fellow travelers, and enjoy the first of many memorable meals in The Restaurant.
During the morning you can relax, have a leisurely breakfast and attend the first of several lectures about the Russian Far East, its history, its people and above all its wildlife.
Korsakov once served as a penal colony and achieved literary fame after a travel report by Anton Chekhov. We will have enough time to get a glimpse of this city during an afternoon excursion with a cultural program. We intend to see Yuzhno-Sakhalinsk’s beautiful Cathedral of the Resurrection. The church was only completed in 1995, and the gold on the onion domes has very recently been laid, shining brilliantly. From the church continue to the Sakhalin Regional Museum, which is housed in a beautiful Japanese-style structure, due to the previous ruling of its southern neighbor. The museum covers all the facets of Sakhalin Island, from its flora and fauna, to its geology and history and its indigenous populations. At the Gagarin Park, with its adventure playgrounds and numerous beer and barbecue spots, the afternoon might end with a traditional performance of Russian song and dance.
Located off the East coast of Sakhalin Island in the Sea of Okhotsk, we can witness a natural paradise – this small island of only 3/4 sq. mi. is an ideal place to observe large colonies of estimated more than 250,000 Northern fur seals and Steller sea lions, as well as tens of thousands of Common Guillemots and Black-legged Kittiwakes that have made their nests in the cliffs above. We will take our Zodiacs to cruise along the shore and marvel at the unbelievable number of birds and mammals.
Our lecturers will take this day at sea to present lectures, seminars, and discussions about the Russian Far East and the impact human exploration has had in the different areas we have seen and intend to visit.
If you would like to relax, you can make use of the spa, the Connoisseurs Corner, use the fitness center or simply take in the fresh air on the sun deck. Enjoy lunch al fresco and meet with new friends for a cocktail.
Yankicha is a fascinating place. It is actually a flooded volcanic caldera, accessible only by Zodiac and only during high tide. Once inside the magnificent lagoon, we can still see, in the fumarole fields and hot springs, traces of the tremendous forces that created the island long ago. The island is also home to thousands of Crested Auklets and we may catch a glimpse of an Arctic fox or even the rare and elusive Whiskered Auklets during our nature walks.
With our Zodiacs we will approach the clusters of rocks that comprise this island group; home to huge populations of sea mammals and birds. At Skaly Lovyshky we will go in search of Northern fur seals and Steller sea lions and hope to get good views of the Pigeon Guillemots that often swim around the rocky outcrops of the islands.
Makanrushi, our evening stop, is another uninhabited volcanic island. North of the Evreinov Strait, It is a roughly rectangular island with almost 20 sq. mi. As there are no sandy beaches, but mostly steep cliffs, we will intend a ship or Zodiac cruise along the shore and hope to have good views of the island’s highest peak.
Alaid on Atlasova Island is the highest volcano in the Kuril chain with a height of over 6,500 ft. Together with our expedition staff we land by Zodiac on the black lava beach of the island, from where we will begin our walk to see the remains of the Taketomi tufa cone.
In the late morning Silver Explorer will continue north towards our next stop at the Utashud Islands.
The Utashud Islands are a small cluster of islets off the coast of Kamchatka with spectacular scenery. The islands feature gentle slopes and steep cliffs which make them ideal habitat for various seabird species. Harbor and possibly spotted seals are plentiful along the shores. An old rusty ship wreck could be seen on the southwestern side of one of the island slabs.
South of Petropavlovsk-Kamchatskiy is the 9 mile long Ruskaya Bay. The northeast to southwest direction and narrow body of water have made this bay a perfect place to look for shelter in foul weather, and fishing fleets and WWII convoys headed for Vladivostok have made ample use of the bay. Two shipwrecks can still be seen close to the bay’s southeastern shore. A river, used as a source of freshwater in former times, meanders through the valley and with our Zodiacs we will have to see how far we can explore, or if we hike to the small stands of trees found there.
By cruising the river with our highly maneuverable Zodiacs, we will have the ability to stop and go ashore wherever we expect to find the best birding and nature walks. Heading upstream, we are likely to spot up to 40 different bird species and may even see brown bears fishing for salmon in the river. Our main goal today is to spot Steller Sea Eagles. This majestic bird is known to frequent this area, and we hope to have good views of at least one of the eagles.
The Komandorskiye or Commander Islands are named after famed Commander Vitus Bering who had been commissioned by the Russian Tsar to search for a land bridge between Asia and America. After having been to Alaska he was forced to overwinter here. He was buried on the island, but part of the crew managed to return to Petropavlovsk. We will try to go ashore to see the graves of Bering and some of his crew.
Today we intend to visit a Steller sea lion rookery on the north side of Cape Severozapadniy. If we manage to land, we will walk along a sometimes waterlogged dirt road which leads to a blind overlooking the rookery. Apart from the sea lions arctic foxes can often be seen; they are curious, and will watch us from a safe distance.
Before lunch Silver Explorer will sail to Nikolskoye, which was established in 1826 by fur traders. This fishing village on Bering Island has colorful buildings and an Orthodox Church–one of Russia’s newest and one of the eastern-most–and a small museum where we will learn about the Aleut people and their culture. It also contains much information on Bering, as well as the bones of a Steller’s sea cow. During our visit we will enjoy a concert and be entertained by a presentation of local games.
We will spend the last day aboard Silver Explorer, sailing for Petropavlovsk, the only major city on the peninsula and one of the oldest towns in the Russian Far East. It is also the scientific and cultural center of the region, with a museum of ethnography and natural history, an art school, a gold-domed Orthodox cathedral.
Aboard Silver Explorer attend final lectures and discussions about the area you have travelled through, edit some of the many photos taken and join the onboard videographer for the documentary of our voyage along the Kuril Islands and Kamchatka.
We will arrive in Petropavlovsk-Kamchatskiy in the late afternoon.
After breakfast, disembark Silver Explorer.
Note: Expedition highlights and wildlife listed here are possible experiences only and cannot be guaranteed. Your expedition leader and captain will work together to ensure opportunities for adventure and exploration are the best possible, taking into account the prevailing weather, wildlife activity and ice conditions.
* Itinerary may be subject to change