The polar bear encounters were something you would wait a lifetime to have. There is no doubt that up close their habits are fascinating, and we were so grateful for the sensitive method of approaching these beautiful creatures when advisable and giving them a wide berth (for their sakes) when not. We also appreciated the contact with the Chukchi people and their hospitality and entertainment. Then there were the snowy owls, snow geese, the myriad of shearwaters feeding in a sea full of whales, not to mention the walrus, seals and the tundra itself.
- Paul and Jacquie, travelled to Wrangel Island 2015
Day 0: Nome 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. Day 1: 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. Day 2: 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. Day 3: Konergino 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. Day 4: Presbrazhenya Bay 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 the spectacular bird cliffs which could provide great photographic opportunities. There will also be a chance to land at a hunting camp at the nearby village of Nunligren. Day 5: Whale Bone Alley and Gil’mimyl Hot Springs 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 kilometre and Gray Whales are frequently seen in the vicinity. This afternoon we intend to make a landing at the Gil’mimyl Hot Springs. Day 6: Novo Chaplino and the Annual Beringia Arctic Games We plan to be here for Day One of the annual Beringia Regatta and Festival which includes whaleboat and Baidara (traditional walrus skin covered boats) races as well as cultural group performances. It is one of the most colourful festivals in the Chukotka calendar and attracts people from all around the region. There will be a range of activities at the Regatta and Festival and local foods for you to sample. This is a festival that gets to the very heart and soul of the people, their culture and their land. Day 7: Cape Dezhnev Sea conditions permitting, we plan to will land at Cape Dezhnev early this morning, the north-eastern most point of the Eurasian continent. This cape 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). A short distance south of the cape is the former Inuit settlement of Naukan, as the relocation was fairly recent there is a wealth of historic data and photographs that make a visit to this site even more poignant. Day 8: At Sea Relax as we navigate towards Wrangel Island. Days 9 to 11: Wrangel Island Due to climate change in recent years Wrangel Island is becoming ice free earlier and earlier with huge ramifications for the wildlife (especially the Polar Bears) that rely on the ice. Weather conditions permitting there should still be some ice around the island where wildlife will be concentrated. There should also be opportunities to land and to 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. We will be utilising the local knowledge of the Park Rangers to make multiple landings as well as spending some time ice cruising looking for Polar Bears. Day 12: Kolyuchin Island / Kolyuchin Inlet This morning we will come to anchor at tiny Kolyuchin Island, at certain times of the year when the ice recedes large numbers of walrus haul out on the island. At the western end of the island is the remains of a Polar Research Station which was only abandoned in the 1990s. Nearby are some amazing bird cliffs, it is possible to get magnificent views (and photographs) of puffins and guillemots as they come and go from their nests. The only thing that will stop us from landing here are Polar Bears, if they are ashore we will Zodiac cruise the bird cliffs for equally good views of the birds. 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 hiking, exploring and photography. Days 13 to 14: At Sea As we make our way back to Anadyr we will recap the many experiences we have enjoyed on this special Chukotka expedition. Day 15: Anadyr After breakfast passengers will be taken ashore, a complimentary transfer to the airport or to a central downtown hotel will conclude the expedition. Enquire for a full itinerary.
The Spirit of Enderby is a fully ice-strengthened expedition vessel, built in 1984 for polar and oceanographic research and is perfect for Expedition cruising. She carries just 50 passengers and was refurbished in March 2012 to provide comfortable accommodation in twin share cabins, approximately half of which have private facilities. All cabins have outside windows or portholes and ample storage space. On board there is a combined bar/library lounge area and a dedicated lecture room. The cuisine is excellent and is prepared by top New Zealand and Australian chefs. The real focus and emphasis of every expedition is getting you ashore as often as possible for as long as possible with maximum safety and comfort. Expeditions are accompanied by some of the most experienced naturalists and guides, who have devoted a lifetime to field research in the areas that we visit. The ship is crewed by a very enthusiastic and most experienced Russian Captain and crew.