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Russia's Ring of Fire
Russia's Ring of Fire

Journey to Kamchatka, Commander and Kuril Islands

Russia's Ring of Fire
Difficulty
Difficulty levels
Easy. Passive relaxation and sightseeing — cruises for example. No physical activities. Good for older people.
Normal. Active tours. You don’t have to be a sportsman, but you need to be strong enough to ride a snowmobile or go hiking in the mountains.
Advanced. Get ready for a challenge — long trekking with a heavy backpack on the shoulders, rafting along mountain rivers.
Hard. Professional training and perfect physical fitness are required. The level involves climbing to the tops of the mountains (above 3000 meters), freeriding and North Pole diving.
Group size
to 50 person
Duration
13 days

Accommodation during the trip

12 nights

Languages

EN
guide
Start date
27 May 2020
  • 27 May 2020
End date:
8 June 2020
477 256 RUB

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.

Russia's Ring of Fire
Difficulty
Difficulty levels
Easy. Passive relaxation and sightseeing — cruises for example. No physical activities. Good for older people.
Normal. Active tours. You don’t have to be a sportsman, but you need to be strong enough to ride a snowmobile or go hiking in the mountains.
Advanced. Get ready for a challenge — long trekking with a heavy backpack on the shoulders, rafting along mountain rivers.
Hard. Professional training and perfect physical fitness are required. The level involves climbing to the tops of the mountains (above 3000 meters), freeriding and North Pole diving.
Group size
to 50 person
Duration
13 days

Accommodation during the trip

12 nights

Languages

EN
guide
Start date
27 May 2020
  • 27 May 2020
End date:
8 June 2020
477 256 RUB

Experiences you'll have

Cruise to Kamchatka, Commander and Kuril Islands

This 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.


The cost depends on the type of cabin. Find out more in the Accommodation section.

Itinerary

The journey begins in Petropavlovsk-Kamchatsky and ends in Yuzhno-Sakhalinsk, which you must travel to on your own. We can help with the purchase of tickets. If necessary, leave a comment on the application.

Day 1 Petropavlovsk-Kamchatsky

This morning you will be taken to the Avacha Bay where you will board the Spirit of Enderby ship. You will be shown to your cabins and get acquainted with the crew, the staff and the ship itself. 

Day 2 At Sea

Cruising from Petropavlovsk-Kamchatsky toward Commander Islands you will have the opportunity to observe whales and sea birds from the deck of the ship, take a wonderful photos and enjoy several lectures. 

Days 3-4 Commander Islands

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.

Day 5 Zhupanova River, Kamchatka

We will spend several hours in the Zodiacs cruising on the scenic Zhupanova River. Brown bears catch salmon here and also you could see Steller’s Sea Eagles, which often nest in the trees near the river. Here you will see different birds: Far Eastern Curlew, Long-toed Stint, Kamchatka Gull and Aleutian Tern. There is a plant for processing red fish and caviar on the river's bank.

Day 6 Bukhta Russkaya, Kamchatka

In this deep fiord 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 you could see the brown bears. Almost always there is a great chance to meet with the Orcas and Steller Sea Lions.

Day 7 Onekotan and Atlasova Islands

In the morning you will come ashore on Onekotan island. Through the swamps and an amazing field with wild flowers you will reach the Black lake, located near the Nemo volcano. Then you will visit Atlasov's island, where you will explore the coast, the coastal dunes and the remains of the former soviet concentration camp called GULAG.

 

In the evening, you will cross the Second Kuril Strait, which has one of the biggest rookery of Sea Otters in the Kuril Islands.

Day 8 Toporkovy Islands and Ekarma Island

Today you will visit the Toporkovy Islands and Ekarma Island and meet with its different and rare inhabitants. You could see Harlequin Ducks, Red-faced Cormorants, Tufted Puffins and Brunnich’s Guillemots, Grey-tailed Tattler, Middendorff’s Grasshopper Warbler and Black-faced Bunting.

Day 9 Simushir and Yankicha Islands

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 we will 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.

Day 10 Chirpoy and Urup Islands

This morning you will come ashore Chirpoy Island to see two active volcanoes and different sea birds. In the afternoon, if the weather is good you will explore Urup Island, walk along the shore and go deep into the forest.

Day 11 Iturup Island

You will come ashore near Kurilsk, from where local buses will take you into the volcanic highlands to thermal hot springs. Here you can not only enjoy the magnificent views, but also swim. During the walk you will again see many rare birds: Kamchatka Leaf-warbler, Japanese Robin, Siberian Accentor, Pine Grosbeak and Japanese Bush-warbler.

Day 12 Kunashir Island

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. This afternoon while we are at sea there is a chance for birding and an opportunity to recap and pack.

 

This evening there will be a farewell dinner.

Day 13 Sakhalin Island

You will arrive at the Port of Korskov on Sakhalin Island, which is 40 km south of Yuzhno-Sakhalinsk.There will be a complimentary transfer to the airport or to a central downtown hotel.

Russia's Ring of Fire
Difficulty
Difficulty levels
Easy. Passive relaxation and sightseeing — cruises for example. No physical activities. Good for older people.
Normal. Active tours. You don’t have to be a sportsman, but you need to be strong enough to ride a snowmobile or go hiking in the mountains.
Advanced. Get ready for a challenge — long trekking with a heavy backpack on the shoulders, rafting along mountain rivers.
Hard. Professional training and perfect physical fitness are required. The level involves climbing to the tops of the mountains (above 3000 meters), freeriding and North Pole diving.
Group size
to 50 person
Duration
13 days

Accommodation during the trip

12 nights

Languages

EN
guide
Start date
27 May 2020
  • 27 May 2020
End date:
8 June 2020
477 256 RUB

Accommodation during the trip

"Spirit of Enderby" will be a ship for the expedition. It is a small expedition ice-class vessel. In 2013 it was fully refurbished for comfortable accommodation of 50 passengers. 

 

Onboard there is a bar, a cosy lounge, a lecture hall and a library with a big collection of thematical books. A spacious bridge is always open for passengers. You can also view sea animals from open decks.  

 

The cost of the cruise depends on the type of cabin: 

  • Triple cabin accommodation — 7650 USD pp
    There are two lower sleeping berths and one upper sleeping berth in the cabin. A desk, a wardrobe and a nightstand.  A wash-basin. The nearby showers and toilets are shared with other cabins. There is an illuminator in the cabin. 
  • Double cabin accommodation — 8925 USD pp
    There are two lower sleeping berths in the cabin. A desk, a wardrobe and a nightstand.  A wash-basin. The nearby showers and toilets are shared with other cabins. There is an illuminator in the cabin. 
  • Superior cabin accommodation — 9660 USD pp
    There are two sleeping berths — one lower and one upper one. A desk, a wardrobe and nightstands. A bathroom: shower, toilet, a wash-basin. There is a window in the cabin.
  • Superior Plus cabin accommodation — 10 290 USD pp
    There are two lower sleeping berths in the cabin. A desk, a wardrobe and nightstands. A bathroom: shower, toilet, a wash-basin. There is a window in the cabin.
  • Mini Suite accommodation — 10 700 USD pp
    There is a bedroom with a bouble bed and a living room with a single bed in the cabin. A bathroom: shower, toilet, a wash-basin. There is a window in the cabin.
  • Heritage Suite accommodation — 11 550 USD pp
    There is a bedroom with a bouble bed and a living room with a single bed in the cabin. A bathroom: shower, toilet, a wash-basin. There are panorama windows in the cabin.
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Common questions

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Who will be my guide +

The crew of the ship is Russian-speaking, there are both Russian and English speaking guides.

Meals +

The cost of the tour includes a full board: breakfast — buffet, lunch — main course, salad and dessert, dinner — main course, vegetables and dessert. Tea, coffee, biscuits and soups are available 24/7 in the library bar, and alcoholic drinks are available an hour before dinner. The wine list includes New Zealand wines.

 

Cooks can prepare meals according to your diet if you inform them in advance.

What to bring with me +

Personal equipment required

When choosing clothes and shoes, consider the features of the cruise. The temperature on the Northern route points can drop to 0°C. 

 

Clothing: warm pants, waterproof pants, thermal underwear, sweater, turtleneck, wool cap, covering ears, balaclava/scarf, warm socks, waterproof windproof jacket with hood. At the last retirement party you can bring dressy clothes (heels not advised).

 

Shoes: boots with a grooved sole will allow you to stand most steadily; rubber boots are necessary, but they can be given on the first day of the cruise for free. If you plan to take your own boots, they should be up to mid-calf or higher with a thick ribbed non-slip sole. In some landings will have to step into the water to a depth of 25 cm. Also it can be quite slippery on the ice and on the shore. Make sure the boots sit comfortably on a woolen sock, it is important to bring warm insoles. In addition, you need sandals, sneakers or any other comfortable shoes for the ship and slippers for the shower.

 

Other: a small backpack for landings (preferably waterproof), warm and waterproof gloves, sunglasses, cream, chapstick, binoculars, earplugs.

 

Documents: passport, boarding pass on board (issued or sent by mail), plane ticket, copy of insurance.

Booking

Russia's Ring of Fire

Difficulty
Difficulty levels
Easy. Passive relaxation and sightseeing — cruises for example. No physical activities. Good for older people.
Normal. Active tours. You don’t have to be a sportsman, but you need to be strong enough to ride a snowmobile or go hiking in the mountains.
Advanced. Get ready for a challenge — long trekking with a heavy backpack on the shoulders, rafting along mountain rivers.
Hard. Professional training and perfect physical fitness are required. The level involves climbing to the tops of the mountains (above 3000 meters), freeriding and North Pole diving.
Group size
to 50 person
Duration
13 days

Accommodation during the trip

12 nights

Languages

EN
guide
477 256 RUB
What's included in the price:
  • shipboard accommodation

  • pre/post cruise transfers

  • meals

  • all expedition shore excursions

  • expedition leaders and guides services, including on-board lectures and presentations

  • information materials sent to the participants before the expedition

Extra charge:
  • international/domestic flights

  • local payment ($500 pp)

  • all items of a personal nature, laundry, drinks, gratuities

  • optional kayaking programme ($1025 pp)

  • visa

  • travel insurance

  • service before and after the cruise (hotel, meals, optional excursions)

In the price:
Included Extra charge
  • shipboard accommodation

  • pre/post cruise transfers

  • meals

  • all expedition shore excursions

  • expedition leaders and guides services, including on-board lectures and presentations

  • information materials sent to the participants before the expedition

  • international/domestic flights

  • local payment ($500 pp)

  • all items of a personal nature, laundry, drinks, gratuities

  • optional kayaking programme ($1025 pp)

  • visa

  • travel insurance

  • service before and after the cruise (hotel, meals, optional excursions)

27 May 2020, Wed — 8 Jun 2020, Mon
477 256 RUB
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