This morning transfer by coach to the Port of Korsakov some 40 minutes south of the city of Yuzhno-Sakhalinsk, where you embark the Spirit of Enderby. Once on board you are shown to your cabin and you have a chance to unpack and explore the vessel. Briefings and introductions to the ship, crew, and staff take place today after the ship sails towards the Sea of Okhotsk.
Visit little-known Tyuleniy Island off the south east coast of Sakhalin Island. This small island is a stronghold for northern fur seals and Steller sea lions. Fur seal numbers have increased since a 1911 International Convention banned seal hunting here. In the 1990s Steller sea lions started breeding on the island and their colony now numbers about 2,500 animals. Sea conditions permitting, plan a landing here for an opportunity to photograph the seals and sea lions.
It was the discovery of oil and gas in this region which put Sakhalin Island on many people’s maps. Piltun Bay is an important habitat for the small population of western gray whales. Researchers monitor the population during the summer months. Traveling by Zodiac, go to the shallower waters in search of the gray whales that feed here.
Iony Island lies in the middle of the Sea of Okhotsk. It is really just a rock, but what it lacks in physical size it more than makes up for in wildlife. Birds appear to take up all available space; there are guillemots, kittiwakes and various species of auklets, with parakeet, whiskered, and least being the most prominent. Take a Zodiac cruise around the island as Steller sea lions occupy the few rocky beaches, making any landing impossible.
Lying in the western sector of the Sea of Okhotsk close to the continent, the islands in this archipelago are amongst the last place in the Sea of Okhotsk to become free of ice each year. This late ice can sometimes restrict exploration here; on the other hand, ice increases the chances of seeing seals including bearded, ringed, largha and ribbon seals that breed here. If landing is possible, birding, botany and photography excursions led by a team of on board naturalists are on the docket.
Here birds are everywhere: in the air, in the water, and on the land. Numerous species breed here including large numbers of spectacled guillemot. Other species include ancient murrelet, rhinoceros auklet, parakeet auklet, horned and tufted puffin, crested auklet, and both common and Brunnich's guillemot. There is also a large population of Steller’s sea eagles on the island and on the adjacent mainland. Landing on the island is restricted to a small gravel spit, however on the mainland you can stretch your legs and explore the taiga forest.
This town has featured prominently in Russian Far East history since the earliest Cossack explorers came from the west. Vitus Bering traveled overland from St. Petersburg to Okhotsk in 1725 and again in 1733 and traveled to Kamchtka and beyond. Today Okhotsk is the center of fishing in the region. The port exports significant quantities of salmon and other fish. Visit the town, landing by Zodiac up the river near the town center. The local people are generous and welcoming and often provide entertainment in the town center, as well as a cultural display.
An internationally-known, but very difficult bird island to get to, Talan is famous for the hundreds of thousands of crested auklets that nest there. An extraordinary number of kittiwakes can also be found nesting along the cliffs, joined by a large population of Steller’s sea eagles. The crew plans to circumnavigate the island by Zodiac before landing and then return in the late evening to witness the huge flocks of crested auklets amassing at sea before coming ashore.
This is a mountainous region to the south-east of the town of Magadan, part of which is included in the Magadanskiy Zapovednik. This reserve protects brown bear and snow sheep, among other animals. Many of the landings here are expeditionary, meaning that many of these locations may be new and unknown, so you are never quite sure what you might find. That is part of what makes this style of travel so interesting!
These islands are claimed by some biologists to be the largest bird colony in the North Pacific. According to bird counts there are an estimated 7 million birds nesting on Matykil Island, the largest in the archipelago. Birds include common and Brunnich's guillemot, crested, parakeet, and least auklets, tufted and horned puffins, and northern fulmars. The most abundant of these is the least auklet. Zodiac around the coast as no landings are permitted.
For many the name Magadan is synonymous with Stalin’s oppressive Gulags or prisons, but there is very little evidence now of this town’s tragic past. The local museum has an excellent display about the Gulags but the most poignant reminder is the ‘Mask of Sorrow,’ a large monument on a hill overlooking the town. Today Magadan is a town of about 100,000 people. Fishing is important and gold mining is experiencing a revival. The infamous Kolyma Highway or the ‘Road of Bones’ connects Magadan with Irkutsk and ultimately greater Russia. Plan to arrive here midday where your journey ends. Transfer to a central hotel or the airport to continue your travels.
|Main Deck Triple||Main deck||Superior||Superior Plus||Mini Suite||Heritage Suite|
|Landing fees: $500 per person|
Kayaking Option: $995 per person