Kamchatka and Kurils: Russia's Ring of Fire
Russian Far East
Explore the Kamchatka Coastline, Kuril Islands & Commander Islands. Rich in human history, this geologically active region is home to a dramatic landscape of stunning volcanoes, geothermic activity & a diverse range of seabirds and whales
- Rarely-visted Commander Islands
- Kamchatka's wild coastine
- Incredible birdlife such as Steller's Sea Eagle and many endemic and endangered species
- Look for brown bear
- Marine mammal sightings such as Orcas, Steller Sea Lions and Sea Otters
- Volcanic landscapes of the Kuril Island chain
The Pacific Ring of Fire manifests itself in numerous places on the rim of the Pacific Ocean - but nowhere more dramatically than in Russia's Far East. Along one of the world's most active plate boundaries, the Pacific plate subducts under the North American plate and the resulting volcanic and geothermal activity has built a unique and amazing landscape. Upwelling from the deep trenches formed by this action and currents around the many islands creates perfect conditions for seabirds and cetaceans. Consequently the area is one of the richest in the world, both in terms of the number of species, which can be seen, and their sheer abundance. For many birders, the undoubted highlight is the auks and during our voyage it is possible to see up to fourteen species including Tufted and Horned Puffins, Parakeet, Whiskered and Rhinoceros Auklets, as well as Spectacled and Pigeon Guillemots.
Other seabirds we regularly encounter include Laysan Albatross, Mottled Petrel, Fork-tailed Storm-Petrel, Red-faced Cormorant, Red-legged Kittiwake and Aleutian Tern. For those keen on cetaceans we can reasonably expect to see Fin, Sperm, Humpback Whales as well as Orca (Killer Whale), Baird's Beaked-Whale and Dall's Porpoise.
The region's human history is equally interesting and fascinating. The original settlers were the Ainu and Itelmen. They were displaced with the arrival of the Cossacks in the 18th century after the Explorer Vitus Bering had put the region on the map. The Soviet empire encompassed the region and at the height of the Cold War, Russia's formidable Pacific Fleet was based here. The secrecy surrounding the fleet resulted in the region being ‘closed' even to Russians who had to get special permits to travel to and within the area. It is only now, two decades since Perestroika, that people can travel relatively freely here, although there is still very little in the way of infrastructure for visitors.
The region we explore on this expedition falls into three quite distinct and unique geographical regions: the Kamchatka Peninsula; the Commander Islands (the western extremity of the Aleutian chain of islands) and the Kuril Islands. Each region is very different. Each has its own story and in many cases localised plants and birds. Join us as we go in search of those people, plants, animals and birds that make this part of the Pacific Ring of Fire so special.
A message for the keen birders and cetacean watchers reading this. Space doesn't allow us to list all species on a day-by-day basis in this itinerary. Please contact us for an expedition dossier or a bird and mammal list from previous expeditions.
Unique expedition to seldom-visited islands and a birder's delight!
OverviewExplore the Kamchatka Coastline, Kuril Islands & Commander Islands. Rich in human history, this geologically active region is home to a dramatic landscape of stunning volcanoes, geothermic activity & a diverse range of seabirds and whales.
Expedition Vessel: M/V Spirit of Enderby
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.
- Pre/post cruise transfers
- all on board ship accommodation
- meals and all expedition shore excursions.
- All items of a personal nature, laundry, drinks, gratuities.
- International/domestic flights
- Visas and travel insurance.
- Local Payment $500.00 USD pp
- Kayaking: $1025
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