info & bookings:
The Ring of Fire: Northern Kuril Islands, Kamchatka Peninsula and the Commander Islands
Client quote: ‘Thank you for all that you (& Chris) did to make this a remarkable experience’ Kamchatka J&V.S.July 2011 Client quote: ‘ Amazing scenery, lots of good birds, staff and crew on ship excellent!’ Kamchatka G&J.C.June 2012
Bird & Wildlife Cruise: birds, whales & dolphins, mammals, scenery & photography.
Petropavlovsk – Commander Islands – Kamchatka coastline – Kuril Islands – Sakhalin
Sample wildlife: Laysan Albatross, Fork-tailed Storm-petrel, Spectacled Guillemot, Pigeon Guillemot, Whiskered Auklet, Crested Auklet, Horned Puffin, Tufted Puffin, Red-legged Kittiwake, Aleutian Tern, Steller’s Sea-eagle, Long-toed Stint, Rock Sandpiper, Siberian Rubythroat, Humpback Whale, Baird’s Beaked Whale, Dall’s Porpoise, Brown Bear and Sea Otter.
Climate: Temperate to cool.
Accommodation: 50+ passenger expedition ship, cabins with and without private facilities.
This region of spectacular scenery has only been accessible since 1994 and still remains rarely visited, far more people have been to Antarctica! The species list is truly mouth-watering and is surely headed by one of the world’s ultimate raptors, Steller’s Sea-eagle. Seabirds are also here in abundance, with the potential alcids including Spectacled, Brunnich’s and Pigeon Guillemots, Whiskered, Rhinoceros, Crested, Parakeet and Least Auklets, Tufted and Horned Puffins, and both Ancient and Long-billed Murrelets. Black-tailed, Glaucous-winged and Slaty-backed Gulls are all present, along with the range-restricted Red-legged Kittiwake and highly distinctive Kamchatka Gull. We also stand a good chance of seeing Aleutian Tern too.
Whilst Laysan Albatross is the commonest albatross, there is also a good chance of both Black-footed and Short-tailed Albatrosses, with five of the latter in 2009, one in 2010 and 2012 and three in 2011. Other likely tubenoses include Mottled Petrel, Fork-tailed Storm-Petrel, Short-tailed Shearwater and the blue morph of the Northern Fulmar. Japanese, Pelagic and Red-faced Cormorants, Harlequin Duck, Black and Stejneger’s Scoters can all be expected and ashore, we will search for shorebirds such as Grey-tailed Tattler, Red-necked and Long-toed Stints, Latham’s Snipe and Rock Sandpiper.
Our landings add many more birds including Oriental Turtle Dove, Japanese Pygmy Woodpecker, Buff-bellied and Pechora Pipits, Brown-headed Thrush, Lanceolated and Middendorff’s Grasshopper Warblers, Radde’s, Eastern Crowned and the recently split Kamchatka Leaf Warbler, Grey-streaked, Siberian, Asian Brown, Narcissus and Red-throated Flycatchers, Rufous-tailed Robin, Red-flanked Bluetail, Siberian Rubythroat, Pine Grosbeak, Long-tailed Rosefinch and Rustic, Black-faced, Japanese Grey and Yellow-breasted Buntings.
Some of Japan’s special birds also occur in the Southern Kuril Islands and we will search for Japanese Robin, Japanese Bush Warbler and Japanese Accentor whilst ashore. On Sakhalin Island itself, we have seen Sakhalin Leaf Warbler and Sakhalin Warbler on previous visits and will look for both of these if time allows.
There will also be excellent chances for some exciting mammals including Arctic (Blue) Fox, Asian Brown Bear, Largha Seal, Northern Fur Seal, Sea Otter and Steller’s Sea Lions. Cetaceans could include Orca (annual – often 150+ seen), Blue (2007 & 2009), Sperm, Northern Minke, Grey, Humpback and Fin Whales plus Baird’s Beaked Whales (2009, 2010 & 2011) and the seemingly ‘turbo-charged’ Dall’s Porpoise. The opportunities for photography will be generally superb throughout.
The expedition offers an opportunity to explore one of the most geologically active and biologically rich parts of the planet and due to the large number of active volcanoes, this region has become known as the Pacific’s ‘Ring of Fire’. The Kamchatka Peninsula is a land of stunning bays and snow-capped volcanoes where alpine meadows and lowland forests support a great diversity of wildlife, whilst the Kuril chain comprises 32 islands that stretch between Russia and Japan.
Whilst the Southern Kuril Islands are sparsely inhabited, the Central and Northern Islands have no permanent human presence and we can expected to go for several days without seeing any other people. The voyage also takes in the remote Commander Islands which are also rich in bird and marine mammals and are the final resting place of the famed Danish explorer Vitus Bering.
Depending on your flight arrangements, you may have time to stay in Petropavlovsk and/or Sakhalin pre and/or post cruise and we can book hotels in both. The vessel will have a full expedition team onboard for this voyage including a ship’s ornithologist. Subject to demand, we will also operate some land-based birding excursions around Petropavlovsk and Sakhalin.
Day 1: Arrive at Petropavlovsk-Kamchatskiy, overnight group hotel.
Please note: All itineraries are subject to weather, local conditions and final approval by the relevant Russian authorities.
Dates: 28th May – 10th June 2014
Prices based on £1 = US$1.52. Payment may also be made in US$, please ask for rates.
Price excludes: Landing fees and port taxes (currently US$500, payable onboard the ship), return economy class flights from £855 (London – Petropavlovsk/Sakhalin - London), other meals at hotel in Petropavlosk, extra pre/post cruise hotel nights if required, optional land birding around Petropavlosk (approx £79 per excursion), travel insurance, onboard gratuities (suggest US$10 per day), Russian visa (c£95) and other drinks. Single supplement for hotel in Petropavlovsk £75.
Contact us for the ship’s colour brochure and our previous trip reports.
Our other Russian Far East voyages are the Sea of Okhotsk 2014 and Chukotka 2014.
We are expecting this voyage to operate in 2015 again, you may advance register for £100pp.
WildWings, Davis House, Lodge Causeway, Bristol, BS16 3JB. UK