For those departing from Nome, Alaska, your adventure begins with a flight across the Bering Sea and International Date Line, to the remote port of Anadyr.
All expedition members will arrive in Anadyr, the administrative capital of Chukotka. Depending on your time of arrival you may have the opportunity to explore Anadyr before boarding the vessel. We will sail in the late afternoon for Egvekinot.
This small town was built by Gulag prisoners as a port to supply the rich Lul’tin mining complex some 200km inland, they were then forced to construct a road to the mine. We explore the town which has an excellent museum and plan to travel by Ural to explore along the road towards Lul’tin and into the tundra to gain an appreciation of this unique Arctic landscape close to the Arctic Circle.
Across Kresta Bay from Egvekinot is the small reindeer herding village of Konergino. Reindeer herding is still an important part of the indigenous people’s culture and economy, the practice has remained largely unchanged over the centuries and revolves around ‘brigades’ looking after large herds of reindeer out on the tundra. Today is an introduction to and an opportunity to understand this industry/practice.
We will be cruising along the south coast of Chukotka today and we will take the opportunity to stop at Presbrazhenya Bay. We Zodiac cruise spectacular bird cliffs which could provide great photographic opportunities. We also plan time exploring the rich tundra landscape for birds and plants.
The significant and intriguing archaeological site of ‘Whale Bone Alley’ on Yttygran Island dates to the 14th century, its origins and purpose have been the cause of much debate. Whalebones stretch along the beach in the form of a pathway for nearly half a kilometer. Gray Whales are frequently seen in the vicinity and there may be a chance to go whale-watching by Zodiac. This afternoon we plan a landing at nearby Gil’mimyl Hot Springs.
Sea conditions permitting, we plan to land at Cape Dezhnev early this morning; this is the north-eastern most point of the Eurasian continent. The name commemorates the accomplishment of the Cossack, Semyon Dezhnev, who was the first European to sail through this strait in 1648 (80 years before Bering did). Nearby is the former Inuit village of Naukan, the inhabitants were relocated to nearby villages by the Soviet administration in 1958 but photographs and stories make the site come alive.
Relax as we navigate northwards towards Wrangel Island. Ice conditions will determine our speed and course and will ultimately dictate whether we will actually be able to reach the island.
As we approach the island we will spend time searching the ice for Polar Bears, Ringed Seals and Walrus. Should there be opportunities to land we will explore the tundra to look for species which breed here. We have allowed three days on and around the island to take advantage of whatever conditions we encounter and will be utilizing the local knowledge of the Park Rangers to make multiple landings and ice cruising.
We sail south towards Kolyuchin Island. The day is filled with illustrated lectures, opportunities to spend time on deck, relaxing in the ship’s bar and catching up with some reading or download and editing photos.
This morning we plan a landing and/or Zodiac cruise at Kolyuchin Island. When the ice recedes large numbers of walrus sometimes haul out on the island. At the western end of the island is the remains of a Polar Research Station and nearby are some amazing bird cliffs, where it is possible to get magnificent views (and photographs) of puffins and guillemots. This afternoon we will cruise to nearby Kolyuchin Inlet, a massive tidal estuary and ideal habitat for many bird species, it is early enough in the season for the majority of them to either be on nests or have young. It is an easy landing with lots of opportunity for ‘birding’.
We plan to be here for opening day of the annual Beringia Regatta and Festival which includes Baidara (traditional walrus skin covered boats) races as well as cultural group performances and games. It is one of the most colorful festivals in the Chukotka calendar and attracts people from many villages. There will be a range of activities at the Regatta and Festival and local foods for you to sample and souvenirs to purchase. This is a festival that gets to the very heart and soul of the people, their culture and their land.
As we make our way back to Anadyr we will recap the many experiences we have enjoyed on this special Chukotka expedition.
After breakfast passengers will be taken ashore, a complimentary transfer to the airport or to a central downtown hotel will conclude the expedition.
* Itinerary may be subject to change