Wrangel Island: Across the Top of the World
AT A GLANCE
Bird & Wildlife Cruise: birds, whales & dolphins, mammals, scenery & photography.
Anadyr (Russia) – N.E. Siberia - Wrangel & Herald Islands – Bering Strait – Anadyr
Polar Bear, Musk Ox, Pacific Walrus, seals, Gray & Humpback Whales, Belugas, Woolly Mammoth Tusks, Horned & Tufted Puffins, auks, Snowy Owl, Snow & Emperor Geese, Sandhill Crane and much more.
Cool to Polar summer..
50+ passenger expedition ship, cabins with and without private facilities.
WildWings pioneered expedition cruises to this region in the mid-nineties, however, our original ship is no longer operating, so we now offer a variety of exciting itineraries on the expedition vessel ‘Spirit of Enderby’ (55 passengers), run by Rodney Russ and his team. Being a Russian flagged ship, these expeditions can now visit sites previously not open to Western vessels. We have had clients on these voyages every year since 2007 and can assist fully with flights, visas etc.
This region of spectacular scenery has only been accessible since 1994 and still remains rarely visited, far more people have been to Antarctica! These particular voyages offer the rare chance to sail north through the Bering Strait and then north west, exploring the north east coast of Siberia and Chutkota as well as Wrangel, Herald and other offshore islands. Wrangel Island has one of the highest Polar Bear ‘denning sites’ of almost anywhere in the Arctic. Mid to late summer bring bears towards the island and it’s surrounding sea ice, as they start to think about mating, the pregnant females then diggings themselves in for the iminent winter, giving birth in their ice caves over the coming months. The island also has Musk Ox, Reindeer, Wolf, Arctic Fox and various lemmings plus a number of breeding birds. These include Snowy Owl and Long-tailed Skuas, various waders and Snow Geese. Regional specialities may also include Emperor Goose, Sandhill Crane, Harlequin Ducks, White-billed & Pacific Divers and a chance of King & Spectacled Eider plus White-winged Scotor. Breeding seabird cliffs will be visited, with three species of auklet (Crested, Least & Parakeet), four species of guillemots (Common, Brunnich’s, Black and Pigeon) plus both Tufted and Horned Puffins. Other birds we may see included both Sharp-tailed & Pectoral Sandpipers, Sabine’s Gull, Grey and Red-necked Phalaropes and of course, as with all wildlife trips, the unexpected too! Previous sailings have seen birds such as Short-tailed Albatross on the avian front, and Wolverine on the mammal front.
Tusks from long dead Woolly Mammoths are frequently found on the ground, adding a unique aspect from the past. Other living mammals that can be expected include Gray and Humpback Whales, this is the northern extent of their summer feeding grounds. Some of the Gray Whales will have spent the previous winter in Baja California of course. Pacific Walrus can be found on ice and their favoured beach haul-outs, Belugas (White Whales) are usually present in the waters of Anadyr, both at the beginning and end of our voyage. A variety of Arctic seals are possible, especially on or around sea ice. Past sighting have included Ribbon, Ringed, Largha and Bearded Seals. Brown Bear should also be encountered during one of the Russian mainland landings too.
The opportunities for both wildlife and landscape photography will be generally superb throughout. The vessel will have a full expedition team onboard for this voyage including a ship’s ornithologist.
Day 0: Nome
For those departing Nome*, Alaska your adventure begins with a flight across the Bering
Sea and International Date Line to the remote port of Anadyr.
Day 1: Anadyr
All expedition members will arrive in Anadyr; depending on your time of arrival you may have the opportunity to explore Anadyr, before getting to know your fellow voyagers and expedition team on board the Spirit of Enderby. We will depart when everybody is on board.
Day 2: Anadyrskiy Bay
At sea today, there will be some briefings and lectures it is also a chance for some ‘birding’ cetacean watching and settling into ship life. Late this afternoon we plan to Zodiac cruise some spectacular bird cliffs in Preobrazheniya Bay.
Day 3: Yttygran, Nuneangan and Arakamchechen Islands
Yttygran Island is home to the monumental ancient aboriginal site known as Whale Bone Alley. Whalebones stretch along the beach for nearly half a kilometre. Gray Whales are frequently seen around the island, we will also cruise by Nuneangan and Arakamchechen Islands where seabirds nest and walrus can be found.
Day 4: Cape Dezhnev and Uelen Village
Sea conditions permitting, we will land at Cape Dezhnev early this morning. The north-eastern most point of the Eurasian continent, it is sometimes possible to see the coast of America from this remote and lonely outpost. A few nautical miles to the west of Cape Dezhnev we visit Uelen Village the most north-eastern village in Russia. The population is predominantly Chukchi and the village is one of the largest centres for traditional Chukchi and Inuit art in the world. We’ll be entertained by villagers and visit the bone-carving workshop during our visit.
Day 5: Kolyuchin Island
This small island was once an important Russian Polar Research Station and one of a number dotted across the Arctic. Near the derelict buildings are some of the most spectacular bird cliffs in the Arctic where puffins, guillemots and gulls can be observed and photographed up close.
Days 6 to 10: Wrangel and Herald Islands
Ice and weather conditions permitting, we will spend the next few days on Wrangel Island and we will also attempt to include a visit to nearby Herald Island. There are many landings that we can make to search out wildlife, wild flowers and Arctic landscapes. Polar Bears will be high on our list of animals to see and with a little patience we should be rewarded with a number of encounters. Musk Oxen and reindeer were introduced to the island in 1975 and 1948 though reindeer numbers are low. We also have a chance to visit Dragi Harbour where the survivors of the Karluk which was crushed by ice in 1914 scrambled ashore and lived until they were rescued. Wrangel Island is a Russian Federal Nature Reserve of international significance and importance particularly as it is a major Polar Bear denning area. Also each summer thousands of birds migrate here to breed, including Snow Geese, Snowy Owls, skuas, Arctic Terns and gulls.
Day 11: North Siberian Coast
Bounded by narrow sand ridges with numerous lagoons and inlets, this area offers plenty of places to land and explore this extensive coastline. We will be on the lookout for whales, walrus and other wildldife. We will see Chukchi villages whose residents survive in an unforgiving climate, hunting seals and whales just as their ancestors did.
Day 12: Kolyuchin Inlet
So huge that it is visible from satellite photos, this inlet contains vast numbers of waterfowl and migratory waders. We concentrate our visit on the Belaka Spit near the mouth of the inlet. It is a wild, desolate landscape that is strangely beautiful. We search the dunes and tidal areas for birdlife including Emperor Geese and possibly Spoon-billed Sandpipers. Gray Whales frequent the area and are sometimes spotted feeding only metres offshore.
Day 13: Bering Strait and Chukotka Coast
Early morning we will pass the Diomede Islands, sometimes called Tomorrow Island and Yesterday Isle because they straddle the International Date Line. Here Russia and America are separated by only 2.3 nautical miles of ocean. We will remain in Russian territory as we cruise south past the islands. Later this afternoon we make an expedition landing on the Chukotka coast, our last chance to enjoy the wildlife and tundra landscape.
Day 14: At Sea
Relax as we sail across Anadyrskiy Bay towards Anadyr.
Day 15: Anadyr
After breakfast it will be time to say our farewells. There will be a complimentary transfer to the airport or to a central downtown hotel.
Please note: All itineraries are subject to weather, local conditions and final approval by the relevant Russian authorities.
Please note: All itineraries are subject to weather, local conditions and final approval by the relevant authorities.
Dates: 5th – 19th August & 19th August – 2nd September 2019
Leader/s: The ship’s expedition team.
£8479 Sharing a twin basic (lower berths)
£9285 Sharing a twin with facilities(upper and lower berths)
£10,095 Sharing a superior twin with facs. (lower berths)
£10,499 Sharing a suite with facilities from (beds)
Single cabin supplement 1.8 twin share price.
Price includes: Voyage with accommodation as booked, including all meals, tea/coffee, shore excursions, lectures and services of the onboard expedition team, day by day bird and mammal checklist, transfers hotel to ship, ship to airport.
Price excludes: Landing fees and port taxes (currently US$500, payable onboard the ship), return economy class flights from £1049pp (London – Anadyr – London via Moscow*), pre/post cruise hotel nights if required, travel insurance, onboard gratuities (suggest US$10 per day), Russian visa (c£98) and other drinks.
* You may also fly to Anadyr on a special charter flight from Nome, Alaska, USA (avoiding travelling through Russia), c£1380pp return. Flights UK – Nome return from £1049pp
Contact us for the ship’s colour brochure and previous voyage reports.
5th – 19th August & 19th August – 2nd September 2019