Wrangel Island – Expedition Cruise in Russian Arctic

Across the Top of the World
©Photo by ATerauds
Wrangel Island - one of the world’s largest breeding populations of polar bears, and the highest concentration of walruses on earth.

Cruise to Wrangel Island, an area 140km off the northeast coast of Siberia, separated from northern Alaska by the Chukchi Sea. For 10 frozen months of the year, this lonely wilderness is completely cut off from the outside world. Reaching Wrangel and braving its polar climate is not for the faint of heart. Only the most dedicated nature lovers make the journey – but the rewards are without parallel. There is simply no better destination than to meet the wild denizens of the Arctic up-close, virtually undisturbed by human interference, and in numbers that will simply astound you.

Wrangel Island - Russian Arctic expedition cruise highlights:

  • Whale Bone Alley is the name given to a beach on Yttygran Island in the Bering Sea. Landing on the beach, you’ll take in the haunting atmosphere of this ancient site, where gigantic whalebones appear to sprout out of the ground, stretching along the coast for nearly half a kilometre
  • Wrangel Island: After 6 days we reach the highlight of our cruise. Explore the island on foot and via Zodiac, searching for wildlife such as polar bears, musk oxen and reindeer amid majestic tundra landscapes with brilliant pastel patches of Arctic wildflowers

There’s only one way to visit the biosphere reserve of Wrangel Island, and that’s by cruising aboard an ice-breaker. This 15-day Arctic cruise departs from the port town of Anadyr in northeastern Russia's Chukotka Autonomous Region. From here, we'll make our way through the narrow Bering Strait which separates Russia from the United States.

We then travel west along the Chukotka coastline before crossing the De Long Strait that leads to Wrangel Island. Our four to five days on Wrangel will be spent tracking polar bears and other wildlife against a backdrop of wildflowers and the surprisingly varied landscapes of summer in the High Arctic. Weather permitted, we’ll also attempt a landing on neighbouring Herald Island, whose sheer cliffs rise dramatically out of the ocean and support a flourishing colony of walruses and seabirds.

The return journey will pass by mile-after-mile of untouched wilderness along the North Siberian coast, a veritable paradise for birdwatchers. Finally, we return to the Bering Sea at the end of this Wrangel Island tour, where pods of grey and minke whales will hopefully escort us back to our starting and finishing point in the Bay of Anadyr.

The vast distances and unpredictable weather present their own unique challenges for cruise guests, but for wildlife lovers with a spirit of adventure, this is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to discover Wrangel Island and commune with nature on its own terms.

15 days
from
$
11,000
USD
Make an enquiry Detailed Itinerary

Arrival

Departure

Accomodation

Trip style

Anadyr

Anadyr

I/b Kapitan Khlebnikov

Expedition Cruise

Duration

Action rating

Group size

Type of tour

15 days / 14 nights

     

up to 110

Guaranteed Departures

Itinerary

Day 1:Anadyr

Welcome to Anadyr, the administrative centre of Chukotka and the easternmost town of Russia. Board our expedition vessel and get acquainted with the guests and crew.

Day 2:Anadyrsky Bay

At sea today, we’ll have a chance for some bird and cetacean watching as we settle into ship life. An afternoon Zodiac boat cruise is planned to some spectacular bird cliffs in Preobrazheniya Bay.

Day 3:Lavrentia and Cape Dezhnev

We arrive in Lavrentiya Bay this morning to visit the Chukchi region’s administrative centre of Lavrentiya. The place takes its name from James Cook, who landed here on St. Lawrence’s Day in 1778. We will explore the township and have the opportunity to view the mythical figure ‘Pelikan’, a Chukotkan sculpture which is said to have special powers; we will also visit the local museum which displays an interesting insight into Yupik and Chukchi cultures. There may be an opportunity to view Chukchi song and dance and to interact with the locals. Sea conditions permitting, we will land at Cape Dezhnev this afternoon. The north-easternmost point of the Eurasian continent, it is sometimes possible to see the coast of America from this remote and lonely outpost. It is also a historic landmark named after the Siberian Cossack, Semyon Dezhnev, who in 1648 became the first European to sail from the Arctic to the Pacific. A steep scramble from the beach brings you to an abandoned Border Guard base, a monument to Dezhnev and another to all the sailors who have sailed these seas. Cape Prince of Wales in Alaska lies 89 kilometres across Bering Strait.

Day 4:Kolyuchin Island

Today we’ll be exploring the haunting landscapes of Kolyuchin Island. Just 11km from the coast of the Chukotka Peninsula, Kolyuchin Island was once a Chukchi settlement and an important Russian Polar Research Station. Now abandoned, the island is a haven for birdwatchers yet rarely visited by humans. Near the derelict buildings are magnificent bird cliffs where impressive numbers of puffins, guillemots and gulls can be observed and photographed up close.

Day 5-9:Wrangel and Herald Islands

Depending on ice and weather, we’ll have up to 5 days exploring Wrangel and nearby Herald Island on foot and via the Zodiac tenders. Polar bears will be high on our list of animals to observe, and we may also be rewarded with sightings of walruses, musk oxen, reindeers and Arctic foxes.

Day 10:North Siberian Coast

Tracing the north Siberian coast, we’ll stay on the alert for whales, walruses and other wildlife. See Chukchi villages whose residents survive the unforgiving climate, hunting marine mammals as their ancestors did.

Day 11:Unnamed Bay

This afternoon we plan to visit Unnamed Bay, surrounded by hills we will explore the bay’s tundra terrain as the protected peninsula provides a great opportunity to stretch our legs after the transit south. Walks skirt up to a summit that has stunning views out over the bay, sheltered lagoon and braided river beneath, the landscape is breath-taking; big sweeping valleys and lunar-like hilltops devoid of vegetation. Sculptured geological formations stand high above the water. Brown bears may be present fishing in the river or loping across the valley.

Day 12-13:Penkigngey Bay, Gil’mimyl and Arakamchechen, Yttygran and Nuneangan Islands

We will spend the next two days exploring the East Siberian coastline and inlets. On a fine day the surrounding mountains are reflected in the waters of Penkigngey Bay, a long and deeply incised ord. After landing ashore the walkers can explore the hillside behind the beach climbing to the 400-metre summit of Mt Gatgangey, or enjoy the peaceful surrounds sitting by the lake on the pebbly beach or birdwatching. Pika may be spotted amongst the rocks and Ground Squirrel scampering and playing amongst the ground cover. A number of interesting migrants may be nesting here including Arctic Warbler and Grey-cheeked Thrush. Sandhill Cranes have also be seen in the valley on a previous visit. This bay is frequently visited by Humpback Whales. At Gil’mimyl there is something of interest for everyone, visit the local Chukchi family, birdwatch in the tundra, or enjoy the hot springs. On nearby Arakamchechen Island, there is a prominent walrus haul out; if the animals are present we will land and walk across the tundra to view them from the cliffs. Gray Whales are frequently seen around the island. 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. There are many meat pits used for storage and other remains of a busy whaling camp that united several aboriginal villages at a time. In one location, immense Bowhead Whale jawbones and ribs are placed together in a stunning arch formation.

Day 14:Preobarzhenia Bay

This morning we will be in the vicinity of Preobrazheniya Bay where there are some outstanding ‘Bird Cliffs’ which we will Zodiac cruise, the rock faces, ridgelines and soaring granite spires are home to an abundance of bird life. Species that can be seen include Common and Thick-billed Murres, Black-legged Kittiwakes, Least and Crested Auklets, Vega Gulls and Arctic Tern. Both Horned and Tufted Puffins are normally in vast numbers stretched along cliffside grasses.

Day 15:Anadyr

After 15 unforgettable days, our incredible journey is complete, and the Kapitan Khlebnikov returns to the port of Anadyr. After breakfast and a final farewell, you’ll be transferred to your hotel or the airport as a true Arctic adventurer and one of the privileged few to have stood on the wildest shores of Wrangel Island and witnessed nature at its most untouched. Those returning to Nome will join a charter flight that will depart Anadyr around midday and, because of the International Date Line will arrive back in Nome on the evening of the previous day. However, we strongly advise that you do not book any onward travel from Nome until the following day to allow for possible delays in the charter flight.

Inclusions

Accommodation onboard of an icebreaker Kapitan Khlebnikov

3 daily meals onboard

Airport arrival and departure transfers

All expeditions and shore excursions with professional leaders

  • wildlife watching: polar bears, yaks, reindeer, foxes; different kinds of birds, including Snow Geese, Snowy Owls, skuas, Arctic Terns, Ross’s, Sabine and Ivory Gulls; and marine wildlife: walruses, sea lions, otters etc
  • cultural immersion, visiting native people in Uelen Village
  • guided shore excursions and zodiac boat tours
  • onboard lectures

Russian visa support documents

*Russian visa can be arranged by 56th Parallel for an additional cost (for Australian citizens only). Apply for comprehensive visa service here.

Flights, travel insurance, visa, optional excursions, individual transfers, tips

Additions and extensions:

  • Overland Traverse exclusive extension (US $1,450 pp)
  • Private charter flight Nome to Anadyr to Nome $2,000 pp

Dates & Prices

DatesAvailabilityPriceSingle sup. 
Jul 22 - Aug 5, 2019
Guaranteed Departures
Few places left US $11,000 contact us Reserve
Aug 5 - Aug 19, 2019
Guaranteed Departures
Few places left US $11,000 contact us Reserve
Jul 6 - Jul 20, 2020
Guaranteed Departures
Available US $11,500 contact us Reserve
Jul 20 - Aug 3, 2020
Guaranteed Departures
Available US $11,500 contact us Reserve
Aug 3 - Aug 17, 2020
Guaranteed Departures
Available US $11,500 contact us Reserve
Aug 17 - Aug 31, 2020
Guaranteed Departures
Available US $11,500 contact us Reserve
15 days
Anadyr
from
$
11,000
USD
Make an enquiry Detailed Itinerary
15 days
from
$
11,000
USD
Make an enquiry Detailed Itinerary
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Day 1: Anadyr

Welcome to Anadyr, the administrative centre of Chukotka and the easternmost town of Russia. Board our expedition vessel and get acquainted with the guests and crew.

Day 2: Anadyrsky Bay

At sea today, we’ll have a chance for some bird and cetacean watching as we settle into ship life. An afternoon Zodiac boat cruise is planned to some spectacular bird cliffs in Preobrazheniya Bay.

Day 3: Lavrentia and Cape Dezhnev

We arrive in Lavrentiya Bay this morning to visit the Chukchi region’s administrative centre of Lavrentiya. The place takes its name from James Cook, who landed here on St. Lawrence’s Day in 1778. We will explore the township and have the opportunity to view the mythical figure ‘Pelikan’, a Chukotkan sculpture which is said to have special powers; we will also visit the local museum which displays an interesting insight into Yupik and Chukchi cultures. There may be an opportunity to view Chukchi song and dance and to interact with the locals. Sea conditions permitting, we will land at Cape Dezhnev this afternoon. The north-easternmost point of the Eurasian continent, it is sometimes possible to see the coast of America from this remote and lonely outpost. It is also a historic landmark named after the Siberian Cossack, Semyon Dezhnev, who in 1648 became the first European to sail from the Arctic to the Pacific. A steep scramble from the beach brings you to an abandoned Border Guard base, a monument to Dezhnev and another to all the sailors who have sailed these seas. Cape Prince of Wales in Alaska lies 89 kilometres across Bering Strait.

Day 4: Kolyuchin Island

Today we’ll be exploring the haunting landscapes of Kolyuchin Island. Just 11km from the coast of the Chukotka Peninsula, Kolyuchin Island was once a Chukchi settlement and an important Russian Polar Research Station. Now abandoned, the island is a haven for birdwatchers yet rarely visited by humans. Near the derelict buildings are magnificent bird cliffs where impressive numbers of puffins, guillemots and gulls can be observed and photographed up close.

Day 5-9: Wrangel and Herald Islands

Depending on ice and weather, we’ll have up to 5 days exploring Wrangel and nearby Herald Island on foot and via the Zodiac tenders. Polar bears will be high on our list of animals to observe, and we may also be rewarded with sightings of walruses, musk oxen, reindeers and Arctic foxes.

Day 10: North Siberian Coast

Tracing the north Siberian coast, we’ll stay on the alert for whales, walruses and other wildlife. See Chukchi villages whose residents survive the unforgiving climate, hunting marine mammals as their ancestors did.

Day 11: Unnamed Bay

This afternoon we plan to visit Unnamed Bay, surrounded by hills we will explore the bay’s tundra terrain as the protected peninsula provides a great opportunity to stretch our legs after the transit south. Walks skirt up to a summit that has stunning views out over the bay, sheltered lagoon and braided river beneath, the landscape is breath-taking; big sweeping valleys and lunar-like hilltops devoid of vegetation. Sculptured geological formations stand high above the water. Brown bears may be present fishing in the river or loping across the valley.

Day 12-13: Penkigngey Bay, Gil’mimyl and Arakamchechen, Yttygran and Nuneangan Islands

We will spend the next two days exploring the East Siberian coastline and inlets. On a fine day the surrounding mountains are reflected in the waters of Penkigngey Bay, a long and deeply incised ord. After landing ashore the walkers can explore the hillside behind the beach climbing to the 400-metre summit of Mt Gatgangey, or enjoy the peaceful surrounds sitting by the lake on the pebbly beach or birdwatching. Pika may be spotted amongst the rocks and Ground Squirrel scampering and playing amongst the ground cover. A number of interesting migrants may be nesting here including Arctic Warbler and Grey-cheeked Thrush. Sandhill Cranes have also be seen in the valley on a previous visit. This bay is frequently visited by Humpback Whales. At Gil’mimyl there is something of interest for everyone, visit the local Chukchi family, birdwatch in the tundra, or enjoy the hot springs. On nearby Arakamchechen Island, there is a prominent walrus haul out; if the animals are present we will land and walk across the tundra to view them from the cliffs. Gray Whales are frequently seen around the island. 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. There are many meat pits used for storage and other remains of a busy whaling camp that united several aboriginal villages at a time. In one location, immense Bowhead Whale jawbones and ribs are placed together in a stunning arch formation.

Day 14: Preobarzhenia Bay

This morning we will be in the vicinity of Preobrazheniya Bay where there are some outstanding ‘Bird Cliffs’ which we will Zodiac cruise, the rock faces, ridgelines and soaring granite spires are home to an abundance of bird life. Species that can be seen include Common and Thick-billed Murres, Black-legged Kittiwakes, Least and Crested Auklets, Vega Gulls and Arctic Tern. Both Horned and Tufted Puffins are normally in vast numbers stretched along cliffside grasses.

Day 15: Anadyr

After 15 unforgettable days, our incredible journey is complete, and the Kapitan Khlebnikov returns to the port of Anadyr. After breakfast and a final farewell, you’ll be transferred to your hotel or the airport as a true Arctic adventurer and one of the privileged few to have stood on the wildest shores of Wrangel Island and witnessed nature at its most untouched. Those returning to Nome will join a charter flight that will depart Anadyr around midday and, because of the International Date Line will arrive back in Nome on the evening of the previous day. However, we strongly advise that you do not book any onward travel from Nome until the following day to allow for possible delays in the charter flight.

Included

Accommodation onboard of an icebreaker Kapitan Khlebnikov

3 daily meals onboard

Airport arrival and departure transfers

All expeditions and shore excursions with professional leaders

  • wildlife watching: polar bears, yaks, reindeer, foxes; different kinds of birds, including Snow Geese, Snowy Owls, skuas, Arctic Terns, Ross’s, Sabine and Ivory Gulls; and marine wildlife: walruses, sea lions, otters etc
  • cultural immersion, visiting native people in Uelen Village
  • guided shore excursions and zodiac boat tours
  • onboard lectures

Russian visa support documents

*Russian visa can be arranged by 56th Parallel for an additional cost (for Australian citizens only). Apply for comprehensive visa service here.

Not included

Flights, travel insurance, visa, optional excursions, individual transfers, tips

Additions and extensions:

  • Overland Traverse exclusive extension (US $1,450 pp)
  • Private charter flight Nome to Anadyr to Nome $2,000 pp

If you have any urgent questions or enquiries, please give us a call +61 2 9388 9816

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