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Russia's Ring of Fire: Kamchatka and Kuril Islands

Example 14 Day Cruise aboard Heritage Adventurer
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Nowhere is the Pacific Ring of Fire more dramatic 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, resulting in volcanic and geothermal activity that has built a unique and amazing landscape. Join this 14-day expedition to explore three distinct geographical regions along the Pacific Ring: the Kamchatka Peninsula; the Commander Islands (the western extremity of the Aleutian chain of islands), and; the Kuril Islands. Each has its own story and, in many cases, endemic plants and birds. Go in search of the people, plants, animals, and birds that make this part of the Pacific Ring of Fire so special.
Highlights
  • Explore the Kamchatka Peninsula, Commander Islands, and Kuril Islands
  • See one of the world's richest wildlife areas in species and abundance
  • Discover the cultural and Soviet history of the Ring of Fire
  • Experience unique volcanic landscapes and geothermal activity
Places Visited
  • Asia
  • Europe
  • Russia
  • Russian Far East
  • Japan
  • Atlasova Island
  • Bukhta Russkaya
  • Commander Islands
  • Ekarma
  • Kamchatka
  • Kunashir Island
  • Kuril Islands
  • Onekotan
  • Otaru
  • Petropavlovsk-Kamchatskiy
  • Simushir
  • Yankicha
  • Zhupanova River
Trip Type:
  • Small Ship
Activity Level: Relaxed
0

Full Itinerary

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Day 1: Otaru, Japan| Embark

Make your way to the designated meeting point for your transfer to Heritage Adventurer (times and meeting point will be confirmed with your voyage documents) where the captain and expedition team will be waiting to welcome you aboard. After clearing Japan Customs and Immigration, join the expedition team in the Observation Lounge or up on the Observation Deck as we set sail for Sakhalin Island. 

Day 2: Sakhalin Island, Russia

  • Ship
  • 1 Breakfast, 1 Lunch, 1 Dinner
We arrive at the Port of Korsakov on Sakhalin Island where we will clear Russian Customs and Immigration, time permitting we plan to have the opportunity to explore southern Sakhalin with the birders heading out to search for Sakhalin Leaf Warbler and Sakhalin Grasshopper Warbler. Alternatively head into Yuzhno-Sakhalin to discover this historic town with its beautiful central park and modern cathedral. If the weather is favourable we should get great views of Tyatya Volcano, which at almost 1,819 metres dominates the landscape. In the evening, we sail for Kunashir Island.

Day 3: Kunashir Island

  • Ship
  • 1 Breakfast, 1 Lunch, 1 Dinner
This morning you land at Kunashir Island, the largest in the Kuril chain, to explore Kurilsky Reserve alongside local rangers. Species we could encounter here 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. Be on the lookout for two special species that occur in the reserve, namely Blakiston’s Fish-Owl and Crested Kingfisher.

Day 4: Iturup Island

  • Ship
  • 1 Breakfast, 1 Lunch, 1 Dinner
If conditions are suitable we will enjoy an early morning Zodiac cruise looking for the Spectacled Guillemot and the Long-billed Murrelet. We plan to board the Zodiacs once again for the short ride to the community of Kurilsk where local buses will take us into the volcanic highlands of Iturup. Passing through some spectacular scenery as we steadily climb up towards the Baranskiy volcano, there may be an opportunity to soak in natural hot pools high in the mountains. On our return to Kurilsk there should be an opportunity to explore the village or explore the coastal habitats of Iturup with your naturalists including a Zodiac safari.

Day 5: Simushir Island | Yankicha Island

  • Ship
  • 1 Breakfast, 1 Lunch, 1 Dinner
Today your ship enters 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. Your 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: Ekarma and Onekotan Islands

  • Ship
  • 1 Breakfast, 1 Lunch, 1 Dinner
This morning we expect to be off Ekarma Island which, like so many of the islands in the Kuril chain, is an active volcano. The island is home to hundreds of thousands of breeding Northern Fulmars and we plan to Zodiac cruise along the coast enjoying the multitude of birds.In the afternoon, we plan to make a landing at the northern end of Onekotan Island from where it is a relatively easy walk to Black Lake. Our walk will take us through stunted areas of Siberian Stone Pine, Dwarf Birch and Polar Willow.

Day 7: Atlasova Island, Second Kuril Strait Ptich’i Rocks

  • Ship
  • 1 Breakfast, 1 Lunch, 1 Dinner
This morning we will arrive at Altasova Island where Alaid, the tallest volcano in the archipelago. On the shore near our landing site are the remains of a Gulag and some small marshy ponds where it might be possible to see Longtoed Stint and other waders. We then plan to sail through the Second Kuril Strait between Shumshu and Paramushir Islands on route to Ptich’i or Bird Rocks. The plan is to Zodiac cruise the wildlife-rich Ptich’i Rocks where an abundance of birds, seals and Sea Otters reside at these fascinating formations. 

Day 8: Bukhta Russkaya, Kamchatka

  • Ship
  • 1 Breakfast, 1 Lunch, 1 Dinner
In this deep fjord on the Kamchatka Peninsula, look for the critically endangered Kittlitz’s murrelet as well as long-billed murrelet. lAt the entrance to the fjord where there is an excellent chance of observing Sea Otters, Largha Seals, Steller Sea Lions and Orcas.

Day 9: Zhupanova River, Kamchatka

  • Ship
  • 1 Breakfast, 1 Lunch, 1 Dinner
Spend several hours in the Zodiacs cruising on the scenic Zhupanova River, where you should get great looks at Steller’s sea eagles, as the birds often perch in the trees adjacent to the river. Other highlights may include Pacific Diver, Falcated Duck, Wood Sandpiper, Aleutian Tern, Eastern Yellow Wagtail, Arctic Warbler, Willow Tit and both Yellow-breasted and Rustic Buntings.

Day 10: Olga Bay

  • Ship
  • 1 Breakfast, 1 Lunch, 1 Dinner
Olga Bay is a part of the very large Kronotskiy Reserve, which also includes the world-famous Valley of the Geysers. There is a possibility we will see brown bears and other forest fauna, as well as multiple bird species that live in this habitat. The seas around Olga Bay are frequented by large numbers of Gray Whales that are usually quite friendly to the visiting boats, if the conditions are right we will take a Zodiac whale-watching cruise. 

Day 11-12: Commander Islands

  • Ship
  • 2 Breakfasts, 2 Lunches, 2 Dinners
The Commander Islands form the western extremity of the Aleutian Islands and are the only islands in the chain that belong to Russia. There is also some excellent birding to be enjoyed here. Along the shoreline there are often hundreds of Glaucous-winged Gulls as well as smaller numbers of the far more localised Red-legged Kittiwake. We should also see both Rock Sandpiper and Mongolian Plover (or Lesser Sand Plover) here, as well as both Lapland and Snow Bunting which invariably show very well. We should also have an opportunity to explore an area of tundra behind the village where the highly-prized Pechora Pipit is known to breed. We also plan to ship cruise along the southern coast of Bering Island as this is a superb area for seabirds and cetaceans. We could potentially see Shorttailed, Black-footed and Laysan Albatrosses, Mottled Petrel, Red-legged Kittiwake, Least, Parakeet and Whiskered Auklets and Horned and Tufted Puffns. This area is also renowned for cetaceans including Sperm, Humpback, Northern Minke, Baird’s Beaked Whales and Orca.

Day 13: At Sea

  • Ship
  • 1 Breakfast, 1 Lunch, 1 Dinner
We have a day at sea as we cruise across the Kamchatka Trench towards Petropavlovsk- Kamchatskiy which is located at one of the greatest natural harbours in the world, Avacha Bay.

Day 14: Petropavlovsk- Kamchatskiy | Disembark

  • 1 Breakfast
This morning we arrive in the historic city of Petropavlovsk- Kamchatskiy, it will be worthwhile watching from one of the many vantage points as we sail into Avacha Bay. Petropavlovsk- Kamchatskiy is the main city of the Kamchatka Peninsula and the capital and administrative centre of the region. After a final breakfast, a coach will transfer you to a central city point or the airport. 

Ship/Hotel

Heritage Adventurer

Heritage Adventurer
Heritage Adventurer Restaurant
Heritage Adventurer Restaurant

Dates & Prices

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Per person starting at
Heritage Adventurer - Superior Triple
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Superior Triple
Superior Triple Cabins on Deck 5 are a spacious 22m2 and feature large panoramic windows, two single beds, and one Pullman bed which folds down from the wall, comfortable lounge, writing desk, private en-suite with shower, ample storage, and a flat-screen entertainment system.
Heritage Adventurer - Main Deck Triple
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Main Deck Triple
Main Deck Triple Cabins on Deck 3 is a spacious 22m2 and feature two porthole windows, two single beds, and one Pullman bed which folds down from the wall, comfortable lounge, writing desk, private en-suite with shower, ample storage, and a flat-screen entertainment system.
Heritage Adventurer - Deck 4 Superior
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Deck 4 Superior
Superior Cabins on Deck 4 are a spacious 22m2 and feature large panoramic windows, king or two single beds, comfortable lounge, writing desk, private en-suite with shower, ample storage, and a flat-screen entertainment system.
Heritage Adventurer - Deck 5 Superior
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Deck 5 Superior
Superior Cabins on Deck 5 are a spacious 22m2 and feature large panoramic windows, king or two single beds, comfortable lounge, writing desk, private en-suite with shower, ample storage, and a flat-screen entertainment system.
Heritage Adventurer - Main Deck Single
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Main Deck Single
Main Deck Single Cabins on Deck 3 is a spacious 22m2 and feature two porthole windows, king bed, comfortable lounge, writing desk, private en-suite with shower, ample storage, and a flat-screen entertainment system.
Heritage Adventurer - Superior Single
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Superior Single
Superior Single Cabins on Deck 5 are a spacious 22m2 and feature large panoramic windows, king bed, comfortable lounge, writing desk, private en-suite with shower, ample storage, and a flat-screen entertainment system.
Heritage Adventurer - Worsley Suite
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Worsley Suite
Located on Deck 6, Worsley Suites are a spacious 22m2 and feature large panoramic windows, king or two single beds, comfortable chaise-style lounge suite, writing desk, private en-suite with shower, ample storage, and a flat-screen entertainment system.
Heritage Adventurer - Heritage Suite
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Heritage Suite
Located on Deck 6, Heritage Suites are an expansive 44m2 and feature large double panoramic windows, king bed, large living area with a sofa, coffee table, and chairs, and grand marble bathroom with a double basin, bathtub, and shower, large writing desk, floor to ceiling cabinetry for storage and a flat-screen entertainment system.

Notes

Cruise fare includes:
- Pre & Post cruise transfers
- All on board ship accommodation and meals
- All expedition shore excursions, excluding kayaking

Cruise fare does not include:
- Government landing fees
- All items of a personal nature: laundry, drinks, and gratuities
- International/domestic flights
- Visas
- Travel insurance

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Our guide and driver were very good with their knowledge and were very helpful with our questions. It was a very pleasant visit that would have been impossible to do on our own. Hotels and restaurants were fantastic. The special places we got to go to, like the kitchens, were great. Enjoyed the entire trip!
Meyer Smolen
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