This morning we board a coach for transfer to the Port of Korsakov some 40 minutes south of the city of Yuzhno-Sakhalinsk where we will board the Spirit of Enderby.
Kunashir is the largest island in the Kuril chain. We plan a landing in the Kurilsky Reserve and will explore an extensive area of woodland, where there are some good walks and birding. Species we could encounter include Latham’s Snipe, Oriental Turtle-Dove, Oriental Cuckoo, Japanese Bush-Warbler, Eastern Crowned Warbler, Narcissus and Brown Flycatchers, Siberian Stonechat and Long-tailed Rosefinch.
This morning we land at the small settlement of Kurilsk from where local buses/trucks will take us into the volcanic highlands to thermal hot pools where you can enjoy a soak or go birding. Possible species include Kamchatka Leaf-warbler, Japanese Robin, Siberian Accentor, Pine Grosbeak and Japanese Bush-warbler.
This morning we explore Urup Island, it is a chance to stretch your legs on an extended walk, beachcomb and look for Sea Otters or birds in the forest behind the beach. This afternoon depending on weather we will either Zodiac cruise or land on Chirpoy Island where there are some dramatic volcanic landscapes and headlands covered in breeding seabirds.
We will enter a flooded caldera at the northern end of Simushir Island where a once top secret Soviet submarine base lies abandoned. In the surrounding area look for Siberian Rubythroat, Eurasian Nutcracker, Pine Grosbeak and Japanese Grey Bunting. Our visit to Yankicha Island is likely to be one of the highlights of the voyage as the number of alcids which breed here is incredible, with spectacular concentrations of Crested and Whiskered Auklets.
This morning at Toporkovy Island in the shadow of the active Matua Island volcano we can expect to find Harlequin Ducks, Red-faced Cormorants, Tufted Puffins and Brunnich’s Guillemots. Ashore we could encounter Grey-tailed Tattler, Middendorff’s Grasshopper Warbler and Black-faced Bunting.
This morning on Onekotan Island we can stretch our legs through an amazing field of wild flowers as we walk to Black Lake. Our landing on Atlasova Island is great for birders and non-birders alike. There are the remains of a Gulag to explore and numerous species to see. Later today we will pass through Second Kuril Strait which has one of the highest densities of Sea Otters in the Kuril Islands.
In this deep fjord on the Kamchatka Peninsula we will look for the endangered Kittlitz’s Murrelet as well as Long-billed Murrelet. We plan a short excursion at the head of the fiord where there is a chance of seeing brown bears. At the entrance to the fjord where we can Zodiac cruise there are almost always Orcas and Steller Sea Lions.
We will spend several hours in the Zodiacs cruising on the scenic Zhupanova River where we should get great looks at Steller’s Sea Eagles as the birds often nest in the trees adjacent to the river. Other highlights could include Far Eastern Curlew, Long-toed Stint, Kamchatka Gull and Aleutian Tern. There is also a major salmon fishery on the river which we can visit.
There are two main islands in the Commander group, Bering and Medny, and during our two days we will explore several sites combining the best of the natural and cultural history. There is an excellent chance of finding Rock Sandpiper, Mongolian Plover, Pechora Pipit and Grey-crowned Rosy-Finch, as well as the endemic subspecies of Arctic Fox. Zodiac cruising can be extremely rewarding here with several species of auklets as well as the Red-legged Kittiwake. The area is also extremely rich in marine mammals. Potential species include Sperm, Humpback, Northern Minke and Baird’s Beaked-Whales, as well as Orcas, Steller Sea Lions, Northern Fur Seals and Pacific Sea Otters. We include a visit to the small settlement of Nikolskoye and the local museum.
As we cruise across the Kamchatka Trench towards Petropavlovsk-Kamchatskiy we will keep a look out for the cetaceans that this area is well known for. It is a good time to be on deck as the birding can be good, but we will also need to wrap the expedition, so there will be recaps and formalities to attend to. This evening there will be a farewell dinner.
During the night, the Spirit of Enderby will enter Avacha Bay which is one of the greatest natural harbors in the world. There will be a complimentary transfer to the airport or to a central downtown hotel.
* Itinerary may be subject to change