Kamchatka and Kuril Islands: Russia's Ring of Fire

Spirit of Enderby Cruise Ship
Spirit of Enderby
50 Passengers
Russian Far East

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 localized 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.

Brief Itinerary

Day 1 Sakhalin Island, Port of Korsakov
Day 2 Kunashir Island
Day 3 Iturup Island
Day 4 Urup and Chirpoy Islands
Day 5 Simushir and Yankicha Islands
Day 6 Toporkovy Islands and Matua Island
Day 7 Onekotan and Atlasova Islands
Day 8 Bukhta Russkaya, Kamchatka
Day 9 Zhupanova River, Kamchatka
Days 10 & 11 Commander Islands
Day 12 At Sea
Day 13 Petropavlovsk-Kamchatskiy

Day 1 — Sakhalin Island, Port of Korsakov

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.

Day 2 — 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. 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.

Day 3 — Iturup Island

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.

Day 4 — Urup and Chirpoy Islands

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.

Day 5 — 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 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 6 — Toporkovy Islands and Matua Island

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.

Day 7 — Onekotan and Atlasova Islands

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.

Day 8 — Bukhta Russkaya, Kamchatka

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.

Day 9 — Zhupanova River, Kamchatka

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.

Days 10 & 11 — 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 12 — At Sea

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.

Day 13 — Petropavlovsk-Kamchatskiy

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

Only show rates under
$ X
Please note that availability is updated about once a week.
Per Person USD
Rates Arctic 2018
Main Deck Triple
Main Deck Twin
Superior
Superior Plus
Mini Suite
Heritage Suite
Gov't Landing Fees
Charter
Air
Kayak
$7,300Full$8,500Full$9,200Full$9,800Full$10,200Full$11,000Full$500  
Kayak
Charter Air: Anadyr/Nome
$8,000Full$9,200 $9,800Full$10,500Full$10,900Full$11,900Full$500 $1,000 
Charter Air: Nome/Anadyr/Nome
 $8,900Full$9,400Full$10,000 $10,400Full$11,000Full$500 $2,000 
Charter Air: Nome/Anadyr/Nome
 $10,500Full$11,500 $12,500Full$13,000Full$13,800Full$500 $2,000 
Charter Air: Nome/Anadyr/Nome
 $10,500 $11,500Full$12,500Full$13,000Full$13,800Full$500 $2,000 
Charter Air: Nome/Anadyr
$7,200 $7,800 $8,300 $9,000 $9,500Full$10,300Full$500 $1,000 
No trips meet your criteria. Please increase the budget above to view more results.
Click on the tour dates in the left column to view a trip itinerary. Point MOUSE at Cabin Category to view DETAILED description.

Prices do not include Airfare or Government Landing Fees. Single Supplement rates are available at 1.8x the shared rate except for Suites which are 2x the shared rate. Please note that $75,000 Emergency Evacuation Insurance is required on all trips.

Kayaking on:
Kamchatka and Kuril Islands: Russia's Ring of Fire $1,025/person
Kamchatka Coast: Siberia's Forgotten Coast $1,050/person.

All trips subject to possible fuel surcharge.

Only show rates under
$ X
Please note that availability is updated about once a week.
Per Person USD
Rates Arctic 2019
Main Deck Triple
Main Deck Twin
Superior
Superior Plus
Mini Suite
Heritage Suite
Gov't Landing Fees
Charter
Air
$7,650Full$8,925 $9,660Full$10,290 $10,700 $11,550Full$500  
$8,400Full$9,660 $10,300Full$11,025 $11,445 $12,450Full$500 $1,000 
 $9,500 $11,000 $12,000 $12,500Full$13,100Full$500 $2,000 
 $11,025 $12,075Full$13,125Full$13,650Full$14,500Full$500 $2,000 
 $11,025 $12,075 $13,125 $13,650Full$14,500Full$500 $2,000 
$7,200 $7,800 $8,300 $9,000 $9,500Full$10,300 $500 $1,000 
No trips meet your criteria. Please increase the budget above to view more results.
Click on the tour dates in the left column to view a trip itinerary. Point MOUSE at Cabin Category to view DETAILED description.

Prices do not include Airfare or Government Landing Fees. Single Supplement rates are available at 1.8x the shared rate except for Suites which are 2x the shared rate. Please note that $75,000 Emergency Evacuation Insurance is required on all trips.

Kayaking TBD.

All trips subject to possible fuel surcharge.

Spirit of Enderby Deck Plan