The Kuril Islands | 17 days
Draped across the north Pacific Ocean from Hokkaido, Japan, to Russia’s Kamchatka Peninsula, the 22 islands and 30 islets of the Kuril Islands form a necklace of active volcanoes and sea-sculpted coastlines waiting to be explored. Nutrient-rich waters washing this ‘Pacific Rim of Fire’ teem with marine life, from sea otters to harbour seals, Steller sea lions to orca, Dall’s porpoise to beaked and sperm whales. The islands form a natural ‘flyway’ for migratory birds including both horned and tufted puffins, whiskered and rhinoceros auklets and exquisite little murrelets. You’ll Zodiac into flooded calderas, beneath soaring bird cliffs, to landings where brown bears fish for salmon. The fittest may even attempt to attempt to climb a volcano. Every day brings new adventure.
- Marvelling at the sun-kissed beauty of snow-capped volcanoes, slowly revealed by rising sea mists
- Supercharged birdwatching along a migratory flyway alive with Siberian ruby throats, rough legged buzzards, snow buntings, spectacled pigeons, tufted puffins and rhinoceros auklets
- Zodiac cruising through waters boiling with Steller sea lions and pups, thousands of crested auklets and into the flooded caldera of Broutana Bay, an abandoned, secret submarine base from Soviet time
- Trekking through a kaleidoscope of landscapes, from megaherb and coniferous forests to grasslands, lava fields and the flanks of active volcanoes. Watch for brown bears and cubs, and historical remains of Ainu (indigenous Japanese) settlements and World War II battles
As the voyage starts with a charter flight from Tokyo to Petropavlovsk-Kamchatskiy, why not ask us about tailor-making a tour of Japan prior to boarding, to make this truly a voyage of a lifetime.
Ship Sylvia Earle
When: 28 August - 13 September 2022
Guide price:£10,910 per person based on twin cabin (private facilities) with early booking offer
“Generally, I think our memories are of experiences rather than particular places – walking or running the Solovetski trails and paths, seeing a beaver while on the rowing boat trip, the long daylight hours and strolls after dinner, the friendly hotel in the Solovetskis (Irina, who seemed to cook, clean and do everything basically was wonderful); the banyas and soups in the Solovetskis; drinks in the courtyard in the Helvetia hotel; the amazingly sunny weather in St Petersburg and appreciating just how much restoration has been done at the palaces; the superb picnic we had on the train on the way up to the islands; The Marriage of Figaro as part of the White Nights Festival; a really great restaurant on the last night called Mechta Molokhovets. We really do love Russia, and the Solovetskis, Kizhi and St Petersburg were all wonderful”
Kenneth Donaldson and Cathy Dean, Solovetski Islands
“This was a wonderful trip. Getting there and back was slightly trying, not because of the airlines (both Transaero and Yakutia were good) but because of the length of the flights, the hassle of boarding, stopping over in Irkutsk on the way back, and of course the time changes (3 hours London/Moscow, nearly 9 hours Moscow/Petropavlovsk, and the reverse on the way back. The voyage itself was splendid. There were some early starts and late finishes, a few rather optimistic ‘dry landings’ from zodiacs (I always wore rubber wellingtons and always needed them) and one optimistic ‘walk’ through a pass between bays which involved ploughing through deep/very deep snow for about a mile while on a slope most of the way. But we took these in our stride. We saw tons of wildlife – literally; at least two dozen whales, more than 5,000 hauled-out walruses, about 50 sea-lions, dozens of seals, and at least 15 brown bears. We were successful in finding the spoon-billed sandpiper, and the scientific element of the trip was both enlightening and exciting.”
Chris Meader, In Bering’s wake, in search of the spoon-billed sandpiper