Russia’s Ring of Fire
Birding The Russian far East
Aboard Spirit of Enderby
- 13 days 27 May – 8 June 2016
Stretching northwards for over 700 miles from Japan to the southern end of the Kamchatka Peninsula, the Kuril Islands were formed by the collision of the Pacific and Eurasian plates creating a chain of over 30 volcanic islands and an oceanic trench which reaches depths of over 8,000m.
The combination of deep water upwellings and the mixing of the cold waters from the Sea of Okhotsk with the warmer Pacific Ocean creates ideal conditions for seabirds and 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 are 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, making this a truly “must do” trip for keen seabirders. The seas are also extremely rich in cetaceans and on recent expeditions we have seen Blue, Fin, Sperm, Humpback and Grey Whales as well as Orca (Killer Whale), Baird’s Beaked-Whale and Dall’s Porpoise.
As we head north up the Kuril chain and then explore Kamchatka and the Commander Islands, the scenery and vegetation change markedly, giving us the opportunity to look for an exciting range of land birds. For many, the highlight is the truly stunning Steller’s Sea-Eagle which breeds at a number of locations we plan to visit, although there are plenty of other special species including Rock Sandpiper, Mongolian Plover, Pechora Pipit, Japanese Robin, Siberian Rubythroat, Red-flanked Bluetail, Long-tailed Rosefinch and Black-faced Bunting. The birds, cetaceans, wild flowers and dramatic scenery make this territory truly unique and by joining this expedition you will have the opportunity to visit a region few have had the privilege to experience.
You will be transferred to the vessel and we will depart for the Commander Islands. You are welcome on the bridge as we sail from what some people consider the best natural harbour in the world. There is also some good birding as we leave the shoreline behind.
A day at sea as we cruise towards the Commander Islands. Enjoy several lectures and briefings as we prepare for the days ahead. It is also a good time to be on deck as the birding is good with Fork-tailed Storm-Petrel and Red-legged Kittiwake amongst the likely sightings.
Day 3 and 4:
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 Sea Otters. We include a visit to the small settlement of Nikolskoye and the local museum and if weather permits Commander Bay, where Vitus Bering was shipwrecked and is buried.
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 perch in the trees adjacent to the river. Other highlights could include Pacific Diver, Far Eastern Curlew, Glaucous-winged Gull, Aleutian Tern and Yellow-breasted Bunting. There is also a major salmon fishery on the river which we can visit.
Bukta Russkaya, Kamchatka
In this deep fiord on the Kamchatka Peninsula we will look for the critically 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 fiord where we can Zodiac cruise there are almost always Orcas and Steller Sea Lions.
Second Kuril Strait, Atlasova and Onekotan Islands
Very early in the morning we will pass through Second Kuril Strait which has one of the highest densities of Sea Otters in the Kuril Islands. Our landing on Atlasova Island is great for birders and non birders alike. There is the remains of a Gulag to explore and numerous species to see. This evening on Onekotan Island we can stretch our legs through an amazing field of wild flowers as we walk to Black Lake.
Ekarma and Toporkovy Islands
During an early morning Zodiac cruise at Ekarma Island we should see various alcids, with close looks at Tufted Puffin and Whiskered Auklet. This afternoon 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.
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 the 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.
Chirpoy and Urup Islands
This morning 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. This afternoons landing on Urup Island is a chance to stretch you legs on an extended walk, beachcomb and look for Sea Otters or bird in the forest behind the beach.
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 Brown Dipper, Arctic Warbler, Japanese Robin, Pine Grosbeak and Japanese Grey Bunting.
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.
Arrive at the Port of Korskov on Sakhalin Island. There will be transport to a central hotel and the airport in the town of Yuzhno-Sakhalinsk.
Dates and Cost
- Spirit of Enderby – 13 days 27 May – 8 June 2016
|shared facilities||private facilities|
|Main Deck Triple||Main Deck Twin||Superior||Superior Plus||Mini Suite||Heritage Suite|
|Additional Charges – Landing Fees:|
(Applies to all passengers)
|Kayaking Supplement – Limited space:||US$1,025|
Sole occupancy: 1.8 times the published cost on all cabin types except suite cabins which will be charged at 2 times the published cost.
- Pre/post cruise transfers, all on board ship accommodation and meals and all expedition shore excursions.
- All shore excursions as outlined in itinerary.
- All accommodation and meals while onboard the vessel.
- Services of Expeditions leaders.
We are able to organise pre and post excursions and accommodation as required. Please contact us for further details.
What’s not included
- Airfares and any airport taxes.
- Travel and cancellation insurances.
- All items of a personal nature, laundry, drinks, gratuities.
- International/domestic flights, visas and travel insurance.
How to Book
To initiate your reservation, please contact us as soon as possible to place an option on the voyage and cabin grade of your choice. The Booking Form in the brochure is to be signed, completed and returned to Adventure Associates along with your deposit. Reservations are established only when you receive written confirmation and acceptance of the deposit payment and Booking Form.
|Deposit required:||25% of Total cruise price in US$|
|180 days prior to departure:||A further 25% of cruise price in US$|
|90 days prior to depature:||Full balance due in US$|
|If booking within 89 days of departure:||Full payment must be made in US$|
For deposits in US Dollars, your local bank will be able to arrange a US$ Bank Draft for you. Deposits may also be made in Australian Dollars – these will be converted to US$ at the applicable exchange rate. All final payments must be made in US Dollars by US$ Bank Draft or US$ cheque made payable to “Adventure Associates”. Please contact us for our account details should you wish to pay by telegraphic transfer.
Cancellations and Refunds
Written instructions only will be accepted by Adventure Associates to cancel a reservation. Cancellation charges are subject to regulations or airlines, cruise companies, coach and tour operators, hotels and any other Principals involved. If it is necessary to cancel your arrangements, the following non-refundable provisions will apply.
|Until 120 days prior to departure||Refund of deposit less US$400 per person handling fee|
|Between 119-90 days prior to departure||Full loss of cruise deposit|
|On or within 89 days prior to departure||Loss od all deposits and tariffs forfeited*|
*If cancellation occurs within the 89 day period and full payment has not yet been received, the full penalty will still apply and unpaid monies are due immediately. For these and other reasons it is mandatory that you obtain trip cancellation insurance (see terms and conditions).
Prices quoted are based on group participation and no refunds will be made for any part of the program in which you choose not to participate, including any helicopter flying time (if applicable and which, at the discretion of the captain and expedition leader, may or may not be utilised). It is understood that refunds cannot be made to passengers who do not complete the tour for any reason whatsoever.
Spirit of Enderby
Vessel, the Spirit of Enderby, is perfect for Expedition Travel. 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. It carries just 48 passengers in very comfortable accommodation (refurbished in New Zealand Nov ’04). The cuisine is excellent and is prepared by top NZ and Australian chefs. Our 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 Capitan and crew.
The Spirit of Enderby measures 72 metres in length and is fully ice-strengthened. Powered by two 1,560 horse power diesel engines. It is capable of speeds of up to 12 knots. What makes this Expedition Vessel absolutely unique is the equipment we carry including: a) our fleet of RIB’s, (rigid inflatable boats) sometimes referred to as zodiacs. These extremely safe and stable craft will land you at some of the most amazing places. b) Our specially designed and built Hovercraft (2) give us unprecedented over ice capability in Antarctica allowing us to land in places that are inaccessible to other ships.
The name Spirit of Enderby honours the work and the vision of the Enderby Brothers of London. The Enderby Captains were at the forefront of Antarctic exploration for almost 40 years in the early 1800’s. It also celebrates Enderby Island, arguably the greatest Subantarctic Island in the world.