Siberia's Forgotten Coast

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

Siberia’s eastern coastline is undoubtedly one of the most remote and least visited regions of the globe. It is home to several groups of indigenous people, including the Itelmen, Koryak, Even and Chukchi. Fur trappers and sealers plundered the region’s natural resources in the name of the Tsar in the early 17th Century. Stalin and subsequent leaders encouraged economic development in this part of the Soviet Union. Soviet towns were built, bonuses were paid to those who would immigrate and work there and attempts were made to collectivize the traditional way of life which focussed on marine mammal harvesting and Reindeer herding.

As the iron curtain was drawn and the Cold War escalated, this region became forbidden territory. Travel to and within the area was strictly controlled, the number of military installations increased, early radar warning stations proliferated and Russia’s Pacific fleet patrolled the coastline.

This all changed in the early 1990s with Perestroika and the collapse of the Soviet Union. Military installations were abandoned, there were mass migrations of workers back west and towns and industries were simply abandoned. As the heavily subsided economy collapsed, the indigenous people were forced back to traditional ways of life. Permits to travel through the area did, however, become a little easier to obtain.

Twenty-five years on, travel through this region is still heavily regulated and virtually impossible for the independent traveller. There is little or no infrastructure, only a few kilometres of road, and no hotels apart from in the main towns of Petropavlovsk-Kamchatskiy and Anadyr. These towns have scheduled air services, but access to the rest of the region either by air or sea, even for locals, is at best ‘unpredictable’.

Throughout its checkered human history its rich natural history has largely gone unnoticed and unknown by the rest of the world. It is an amazing coastline dominated by the volcanoes of Kamchatka in the south, the fiords of what was formally the Koryak region, and the rich estuarine areas and tundra of Chukotka.

This coastline has one of the most diverse assemblages of wildlife and habitats of anywhere of a similar latitude on the globe, and virtually no people or visitors to disturb them. One of the most iconic species is the critically endangered Spoon-billed Sandpiper that is endemic to the region. Since 2011 we have supported BirdLife International and Birds Russia research teams working on this species. Our 2020 expedition not only continues that support, but it expands it to include other seabirds and waders as researchers monitor potential changes in their populations and distribution due to a variety of reasons including climate change.

Brief Itinerary

Day 1 Petropavlovsk-Kamchatskiy
Day 2 Zhupanova River
Days 3 & 4 Commander Islands
Day 5 Karaginskiy Island
Day 6 Verkhoturova Island and Govena Peninsula
Days 7 to 10 Koryak and Chukotka Coast
Days 11 & 12 Meinypil’gyno
Day 13 Cape Navarin and Keyngypilgyn Lagoon
Day 14 Anadyr - Nome, Alaska

Day 1 — Petropavlovsk-Kamchatskiy

Arrive into Petropavlovsk-Kamchatskiy, the capital and administrative center of the Kamchatka Region and transfer to the port to board the Spirit of Enderby. It is a historic town and there are a number of museums and monuments worth visiting.

Day 2 — Zhupanova River

We plan to spend the morning Zodiac cruising on the Zhupanova River. Our main target here is the Steller’s Sea Eagle and there are usually some occupied nests close to the river. Good numbers of Largha Seals are also often hauled out on sandbars in the river and we should see a good variety of waterfowl and waders. The river is an important salmon fishery and we hope to have the opportunity to visit a nearby fishing camp.

By late afternoon we should be over deep water heading for the Commander Islands and new species to look for include Laysan Albatross, Mottled Petrel and the Fork-tailed Storm-petrel. The Kamchatka Trench can also be excellent for cetaceans and we have previously seen Blue Whales on this crossing.

Days 3 & 4 — Commander Islands

The wildlife-rich Commander Islands were first discovered by the Commander Vitus Bering when his ship was wrecked here in 1741. We intend to explore the islands through a combination of landings and Zodiac cruises. Our first stop will be the village of Nikolskoye, where we will visit one of the only museums in the world to display a skeleton of the famed (but now extinct) Steller’s Sea Cow. Zodiac cruising is often spectacular and we hope to encounter Red-faced Cormorant, Red-legged Kittiwake, Pigeon Guillemot, Horned Puffin, as well as Parakeet, Crested and Whiskered Auklets, and Sea Otters.

Our plans also include a ship cruise along the southern coast of Bering Island, as this area is excellent for cetaceans with Humpback, Sperm, Northern Minke, Orcas and Baird’s Beaked Whales all regularly encountered. Weather will determine where and when we can land, but there are a number of very interesting sites nearby including Medny Island and Commander Bay where Vitus Bering died when his ship was wrecked in 1741.

Day 5 — Karaginskiy Island

This large uninhabited island on the east coast of the Kamchtaka Peninsula offers a wide variety of habitats. Our proposed landing site is a patchwork of boggy tundra, ponds and shingle spits where an interesting range of waders can be found including Pacific Golden Plover, Red-necked Stint and Red-necked Phalarope. We also hope to see Bluethroat and Pallas’ Reed Bunting.

Day 6 — Verkhoturova Island and Govena Peninsula

Verkhoturova Island has some huge seabird colonies which we can get close to by following a short, but steep trail to the clifftop. We should be able to enjoy some fantastic views of Tufted Puffins, Brunnich’s Guillemots, Pelagic Cormorants and Black-legged Kittiwakes. Both Steller’s Eider and Harlequin Duck occur here too, and we may also see some Steller Sea Lions, as they are often hauled out on offshore rocks.

In the late afternoon we will either Zodiac cruise, or land on the Govena Peninsula in the Koryaksky Reserve in search of the Kamchatka Brown Bear. There is a high population of bears here and our landing depends on whether or not they are patrolling the beaches.

Days 7 to 10 — Koryak and Chukotka Coast

During these days of the expedition we will explore this largely unknown part of the coast making multiple landings to observe, photograph and map the wildlife. The coastline comprises deep forested fiords where we should see brown bears, Red Fox and, with luck, mountain sheep and Kamchatka Marmots. In the many lagoons and shallow bays there is a vast array of birdlife including Tundra Bean Goose, Steller’s Eider, Great Knot, Long-tailed Stint, Gyrfalcon, Siberian Accentor and Asian Rosy-finch. This area is also a stronghold of the Kittlitz’s Murrelet and we should see several during our journey.

In our previous expeditions we have explored much of this coastline, documenting the distribution and abundance of many species. In 2011 we recorded a previously unknown breeding population of Spoon-billed Sandpiper. Working alongside researchers from BirdLife International and Birds Russia, who will be traveling with us, we plan to revisit many of these areas to monitor changes and search for new breeding colonies. Their program will provide unique opportunities for photography, hiking and ‘birding’ in country with a rich diversity of species and where literally only a few ‘westerners’ have ever been before.

Days 11 & 12 — Meinypil’gyno

The village of Meinypil’gyno, located on a 25-mile (40 km) long shingle spit, is the most important site in the world for breeding Spoon-billed Sandpiper. Members of the Spoon-billed Sandpiper Task Force monitor about 15 breeding pairs here. We will be guests of the Task Force and if it is possible we will be guided to one of their monitored nests. The area is extremely rich in other wildlife, so we may also find Emperor Goose, Pacific Diver, White-billed Diver and Sandhill Crane. The lagoon entrance often has Largha Seal, Gray and Beluga Whales, and a spectacular number of gulls. The community is very welcoming and boasts a traditional amateur dance group and small museum that is well worth a visit.

Day 13 — Cape Navarin and Keyngypilgyn Lagoon

This coastline is extremely rich in marine mammals and one creature we will be looking for, in particular, is the walrus as there is a known haul out near Cape Navarin. However the animals do regularly move between locations, so finding them is always very much a matter of luck, although we have had success here in the past. Good numbers of Gray Whales often congregate here too.

To the north of Cape Navarin is Keyngypilgyn Lagoon. On previous visits we have found this an excellent location for waterfowl and waders including Emperor Geese, Greater White-fronted Geese, Brent Geese, Whooper Swan, King Eiders, Red Knots and Aleutian Terns.

Day 14 — Anadyr - Nome, Alaska

As we cruise into Anadyr Bay, there is an excellent chance of seeing more Beluga Whales and after a final breakfast on board the Spirit of Enderby, it will be time to disembark. We will provide complimentary transfers to a downtown hotel or the airport.

Those returning to Nome will join a charter flight that will depart Anadyr around midday and, because of the International Date Line, will arrive back in Nome on the evening of the previous day. Those returning to Moscow can either be transferred to the airport or hotel in Anadyr, depending on their flight times.

You can extend your stay here, although there are limited opportunities as there are virtually no roads in, or around, this town, although the river provides access into the interior of Chukotka. Any excursions in the region need to be planned well in advance of your visit as special permits, permissions and arrangements will be required.

Note: During our voyage, circumstances may make it necessary or desirable to deviate from the proposed itinerary. This can include poor weather and/or opportunities for making unplanned excursions. Your expedition leader will keep you fully informed.

* Itinerary may be subject to change

Only show rates under
$ X
Due to COVID-19 trip availability is not being updated. Please contact Polar Cruises to check on specific trips availability.
Per Person USD
Rates Arctic 2021
Main Deck Triple
Main Deck Twin
Superior
Superior Plus
Mini Suite
Heritage Suite
Gov't Landing Fees
Charter
Air
$7,800 $9,100 $9,800 $10,400 $10,900 $11,800 $500  
Charter Air: Anadyr/Nome
$7,380Full$8,640Full$9,280Full$10,000 $10,420Full$11,430Full$500 $1,000 
Charter Air: Nome/Anadyr/Nome
$8,000 $9,300 $9,700Full$10,300 $10,800Full$11,500Full$500 $2,000 
Charter Air: Nome/Anadyr/Nome
$9,350 $10,400Full$11,500Full$12,600Full$13,000Full$13,800Full$500 $2,000 
Charter Air: Nome/Anadyr/Nome
$9,350 $10,400 $11,500Full$12,600Full$13,000Full$13,800Full$500 $2,000 
Charter Air: Nome/Anadyr
$7,200 $7,800 $8,300 $9,000 $9,500 $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.

"Across the top of the World" Overland Traverse $1,450.

Kayaking TBD.

All trips subject to possible fuel surcharge.

Only show rates under
$ X
Due to COVID-19 trip availability is not being updated. Please contact Polar Cruises to check on specific trips availability.
Per Person USD
Rates Arctic 2022
Main Deck Triple
Main Deck Twin
Superior
Superior Plus
Mini Suite
Heritage Suite
Gov't Landing Fees
Charter
Air
$7,800 $9,100 $9,800 $10,400 $10,900 $11,800 $500  
$6,590 $7,750 $8,270 $9,000 $9,420 $10,370 $500  
Charter Air: Anadyr/Nome
$7,380 $8,640 $9,280 $10,000 $10,420 $11,430 $500 $1,000 
Charter Air: Nome/Anadyr/Nome
$8,000 $9,300 $9,700 $10,300 $10,800 $11,500 $500 $2,000 
Charter Air: Nome/Anadyr/Nome
$9,350 $10,400 $11,500 $12,600 $13,000 $13,800 $500 $2,000 
Charter Air: Nome/Anadyr/Nome
$9,350 $10,400 $11,500 $12,600 $13,000 $13,800 $500 $2,000 
Charter Air: Nome/Anadyr/Nome
$9,350 $10,400 $11,500 $12,600 $13,000 $13,800 $500 $2,000 
Charter Air: Nome/Anadyr
$7,200 $7,800 $8,300 $9,000 $9,500 $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.

"Across the top of the World" Overland Traverse $1,450.

Kayaking TBD.

All trips subject to possible fuel surcharge.

DeckPlan_SpiritOfEnderby

   Heritage Suite
Has a large lounge area, a separate bedroom with double bed, a single bed in the lounge, writing desk, wardrobe, drawers. There is a private bathroom with shower, toilet and washbasin. There are large forward and side facing windows to allow great views.
   Mini Suite
Has a separate bedroom with a double bed and a single bed or a sofa in the lounge, wardrobe, drawers, desk and private bathroom with shower, toilet and washbasin. The mini suite has windows.
   Superior Plus Cabin
Has two lower berths, wardrobe, drawers, desk and private bathroom with shower, toilet and washbasin. These cabins have windows. *Cabin 411 has double bed with upper bunk.
   Superior Cabin
Has bunks (an upper and lower berth), wardrobe, drawers, desk and private bathroom with shower, toilet and washbasin. These cabins have windows.
   Main Deck Cabin
Has two lower berths, wardrobe, drawers, desk and washbasin. The nearby showers and toilets are shared with the other Main Deck cabins. These cabins have a porthole.
   Main Deck Triple
Has one bunk (upper & lower berth) and one lower berth, wardrobe, drawers, desk and washbasin. The nearby showers and toilets are shared with the other Main Deck cabins. These cabins have a porthole.