Across the Top of the World Trip Notes

Ways to Travel:
Guided Group
Destinations:
Russian Arctic, Russia, Arctic
Programmes:
Polar Expeditions
Trip Code:
PMH
Activity Level: Leisurely
Leisurely

You are healthy, enjoy the outdoors and want a relaxing trip. No experience is required.

15 Days Land only
Ages: 18+

Trip Overview

This unique expedition crosses the Arctic Circle and includes the isolated and pristine Wrangel and Herald Islands and a significant section of the wild North Eastern Siberian coastline The very small distances between Russia and the USA along this border area was known as the Ice Curtain, behind which then and now lies one of the last great undiscovered wilderness areas in the world. Wrangel Island is a treasure trove of Arctic biodiversity, best known for its large populations of Polar bears. It is also home to a huge number of Pacific walrus and nearby are major feeding grounds for migrating Grey whales.

At a Glance

  • 14 nights on the ship
  • Expedition cruising in comfortable conditions

Trip Highlights

  • Explore the northern coasts of Chukotka
  • Spend four to five days exploring the wildlife-rich Wrangel Island
  • Cross the Arctic Circle
  • Travel in a small expedition vessel
  • Accompanied by extremely qualified Expedition Staff

Is This Trip for You?

Travelling Conditions

The voyages are designed to be as flexible as possible, taking advantage of circumstances and events as they occur, as well as passengers’ wishes and particular interests wherever possible. The atmosphere onboard is relaxed and friendly with expedition staff, including naturalists and Polar experts, on hand and the opportunity to mingle with people from all over the world. The ship is kept warm, clean and comfortable with a wet / mud room in which to hang gear and store boots ready for the next adventure.

On the Zodiac cruises you are sitting still for most of the time with the potential for some sea spray and a cold headwind - if you are not dressed appropriately you will get cold. On the shore excursions, the majority of landings are ‘wet’ which means that the Zodiacs beach and you are helped to slide into the ankle deep shore break before walking up onto dry land (wellington boots are recommended).

There are, of course, no paths, so be prepared for slippery, rough terrain and sometimes fairly deep snow. Back on board the cosy ship after each adventure, you can have a sauna and/or a hot shower and then relax with a tea, coffee, hot chocolate or something stronger from the bar.

Polar Itineraries

All Polar itineraries should be treated as a guide only - it is possible that, amongst other things, the capricious nature of wind, visibility and ice, intelligence from previous sailings, changes in local landing regulations or the expert opinion of the crew onboard may lead to adjustments to the route published.

Booking Conditions

Please note that the booking conditions for this trip differ from our standard conditions. 

As with all Polar holidays and voyages, the required deposit is 20% per person of your selected travel arrangements (minimum £1000 per person or equivalent) and the balance of the price of your travel arrangements must be paid at least 133 days before your departure date. The deposit is non-refundable, and at 133 days before departure date, our cancellation penalties are 100% of the holiday cost.

Following a review of all our trips we have categorised this trip as generally not suitable for persons of reduced mobility. However if you are a regular traveller on such trips, please contact customer services to discuss the trip and your personal condition.

Group

The Exodus group forms part of the ship’s complement, enjoying the relaxed, intimate and informal atmosphere, which breaks into smaller groups to facilitate the frequent excursions. We offer these cruises in conjunction with Heritage Expeditions and Exodus participants will join an international group, not all of whom have booked through Exodus. Occasionally some of these may be younger than 18 years old, the Exodus' stated minimum age for this trip.
We work with many fine Expedition Leaders and Polar Experts, bringing a diversity of interests including zoology, Polar history, geology, ornithology and ocean sciences. The ship’s operating crew have many years of experience in Polar Regions and are committed to ensuring a safe and memorable journey.

Adult min age:
18
Max group size:
48

Itinerary

Land Only Itinerary

  • Day 1

    Start Anadyr and embark.

    Depending on your time of arrival you may have the opportunity to explore Anadyr, the administrative centre of the Chukotka region, before getting to know your fellow voyagers and crew on board. If flights have been on time we plan to depart Anadyr this evening. As we depart you are invited to join the captain, officers and the expedition team on the bridge. The Anadyr estuary is renowned for its Beluga whales.

    Meals included:
    Dinner
  • Day 2

    Anadyrskiy Bay.

    As we sail across Anadyrskiy Bay towards the Bering Strait there will be introductory lectures, an introduction to the staff and ship and a series of compulsory briefings and drills. There will also be a chance to relax or enjoy some ‘birding’ with our naturalists and/or settle into ship life and for many of you adjust to the time changes. Late this afternoon we will be in the vicinity of Preobrazheniya Bay where there are some outstanding ‘Bird Cliffs’ which we will Zodiac cruise before dinner.

    Meals included:
    Breakfast,
    Lunch,
    Dinner
  • 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. 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.

    Gray whales are frequently seen around the island. After landing at Whale Bone Alley we will take the Zodiacs on a whale-watching excursion. We will also cruise close inshore of neighbouring Nuneangan Island (Bird Island) where a large number of seabirds nest.

    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.

    Meals included:
    Breakfast,
    Lunch,
    Dinner
  • 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. It is also an 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 89km across Bering Strait. A few nautical miles to the west of Cape Dezhnev we visit Uelen Village; the most north-eastern village in Russia. Archaeological work has revealed that walrus, seal and whale hunters have lived here for over 2,000 years. Today the population is predominantly Chukchi, with some Russians and Inuit. Hunting is still very important but the village is also one of the largest centres for traditional Chukchi and Inuit art in the world.

    We will be entertained by villagers and visit the bone-carving workshop during our visit. Sculptures from the bone-carving workshop in Uelen can be found in most of the major museums in Russia.

    Meals included:
    Breakfast,
    Lunch,
    Dinner
  • Day 5

    Kolyuchin Island.

    This small island was once an important Russian Polar Research Station and one of a number dotted across the Arctic. Sadly with the collapse of the USSR there was no money to maintain them and they were abandoned; the buildings are derelict but the wildlife the men studied are still there. Near the abandoned station at the north-western end of the island are some of the most amazing bird cliffs in the Arctic; puffins, guillemots, gulls and cormorants can be observed and photographed from just metres away. At the south-eastern end of the island there is a prominent walrus haul out, if the animals are present it is one of the easiest places to observe them and get some good photographs.

    Meals included:
    Breakfast,
    Lunch,
    Dinner
  • Days 6-10

    Wrangel and Herald Islands.

    Ice and weather conditions permitting, we will spend the next few days on Wrangel Island and if possible we will also include a visit to nearby Herald Island.

    Wrangel Island is one of those islands that you have to visit to appreciate. The earliest human occupation is dated 3,200 years BC and it has been established that they were seasonal hunters from Siberia. The island’s presence was speculated about and marked on maps by early Russian explorers but it wasn’t until 1849 that it was ‘rediscovered’ by the British. A Canadian expedition attempted to establish a permanent settlement and claim the island for Canada; they were evicted by the Russians who claimed the island. Today it is a Russian Federal Nature Reserve of international significance and importance. A lot of its significance lies in the fact that it is a major Polar bear denning area. In fact it is sometimes referred to as a Polar bear maternity ward on account of the large numbers of pups born there. It is also the last landfall for migratory species flying north. Each summer thousands of birds migrate here to breed, including Snow geese, Snowy owls, skuas, Arctic terns, Ross’s, Sabine and Ivory gulls.

    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 respectively, 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. If ice conditions permit, we will explore Herald Island to the east of Wrangel Island.

    Meals included:
    Breakfast,
    Lunch,
    Dinner
  • Day 11

    North Siberian Coast.

    Although well mapped and charted, there have been very few Expedition Cruises and consequently there is a lot of scope for expedition landings. Depending on weather and sea conditions we will attempt an expedition landing today. There are several choices, at Cape Vankarem there is a seasonal large walrus haul out, the animals may or may not be present. The area around the Cape is bounded by narrow sand ridges with numerous coastal lagoons and inlets; nearby there is a small Chukchi village whose residents still make their living hunting walrus, seals and whales. There is another smaller Chukchi village called Nutepelmen which is situated on a spit at the entrance to Pyngopikhin Lagoon, further west of Cape Vankarem.

    Meals included:
    Breakfast,
    Lunch,
    Dinner
  • 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 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 Spoon-billed sandpipers. Gray whales frequent the area and are sometimes spotted feeding only metres offshore.

    Meals included:
    Breakfast,
    Lunch,
    Dinner
  • 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.

    In 1867 when the USA purchased Alaska from Russia the new boundary was drawn between Big (Russian) and Little (USA) Diomede Islands. This makes Big Diomede Island Russia’s eastern-most possession. The island was originally inhabited by Yupik Eskimos but after World War II the native population were relocated to the mainland. Today there are no permanent residents but the Russians maintain a Border Guard station there. It is an important island for birdlife with good numbers of Black-legged kittiwakes, Common and Brunnich’s guillemot and Horned and Tufted puffin. If the Border Guards grant permission (we have applied for it) we will Zodiac cruise the coast near the station, the bird numbers in this region are spectacular, especially puffins.

    Later this afternoon we make an expedition landing on the Chukotka coast our last chance to enjoy the wildlife and tundra landscape.

    Meals included:
    Breakfast,
    Lunch,
    Dinner
  • Day 14

    At Sea.

    Join the staff for an expedition recap and a disembarkation briefing, and then simply relax as we sail across Anadyrskiy Bay towards Anadyr. Tonight we will enjoy a farewell dinner to celebrate our journey.

    Meals included:
    Breakfast,
    Lunch,
    Dinner
  • Day 15

    Disembark in Anadyr.

    After breakfast it will be time to say our farewells. There will be a complimentary transfer to the airport or to a hotel of your choice.

    Meals included:
    Breakfast

Accommodation

Polar Adventure Ship

Spirit of Enderby

The Across the top of the World is offered on the Spirit of Enderby and the Akademik Shokalskiy which are Polar Adventure ships. Full board accommodation on the ship, generally on a twin share basis in a variety of cabin types, all with shared or en suite facilities. Please visit the Polar Fleet page for Ship Information and Deck Plans.

Polar Adventure Ships

These are small (approx. 100 passengers) ice rated vessels well qualified for Polar waters. Intimate adventures are always more enjoyable with like-minded passengers and staff, so these voyages are for people who like flexible itineraries and plenty to keep them busy. Activities include frequent Zodiac excursions, trekking and many hours on deck in areas that other ships only dream about accessing. Food and staff are superb and every guest benefits from the technical advances of this superb fleet. Rest assured our Polar Adventure Ships enable any traveller to maximize their experience sensitively in the Poles.

Where a single supplement is available, paying for a single will only guarantee a room for single use. It does not necessarily mean a twin or double room will be provided for sole occupancy.

Please note that a member of the group may be allocated a single room by default if the make-up of the group means there isn’t anyone for them to share with. Paying the supplement in advance is the only way to guarantee a single room.

Single supplements cannot be refunded retrospectively.

Food & Transport

Eating & Drinking

All meals while on the ship included.

Typical Meals

The ships galley offers good quality service and cuisine throughout, with excellent chefs preparing international menus including vegetarian dishes, accompanied by a wide variety of drinks from around the world on sale.

Breakfast: Buffet style - unlimited tea and coffee, a selection of fruit juices, hot options including bacon and eggs or omelettes, a selection of bread and toast and jam/honey/marmalade, fruit and cereal.

Lunch: Three course set meal, or the occasional buffet or BBQ.

Dinner: Three or four courses with a starter of soup and/or salad, a choice of mains with at least one vegetarian option and a dessert, with tea and coffee.

 

Transportation

During the expedition, you will visit remote and isolated sites that are accessible only by Zodiac landing craft. Designed for expedition work, these large and heavy-duty inflatable vessels are extremely safe.

Joining Instructions

Travelling land only: 15 days starting and ending in Anadyr

Your trip normally starts at the pier in Anadyr on Day 1 of the itinerary. Details of how to reach the start point are provided in the Final Joining Instructions - sent approximately two weeks before departure.

Full joining instructions including local emergency numbers will be sent to you as part of our Final Joining Instructions. If you do not receive these at least a week before departure, or require them earlier please contact our office or your travel agent.

Location start:
Anadyr
Location end:
Anadyr

What to Take

Essential Equipment

Boots – Rubber boots are essential for a Polar Expedition.
Parkas – We recommend one with a wind and waterproof shell.  
Trousers – Waterproof trousers or salopeltes are essential for Zodiac travel as well as activities on shore.
Gloves – To keep your hands warm and dry, pack a minimum of two pairs of gloves: a pair of thin polypropylene gloves to be worn underneath warm outer gloves.
Hat and Scarf – Pack a warm, woollen hat or cap that covers your ears, as well as a scarf, neck gaiter or other face protection.
Socks – For maximum warmth, we suggest that you wear two pairs of socks to wear inside the rubber boots.
Outer Clothing – Pack woollen or fleece jumpers and tops, plus several turtlenecks for layering.
Underclothing – Pack silk or polypropylene underwear since it will keep you warm without adding bulk.
Knapsack or Backpack – To keep your hands free for shooting photographs, bring a water resistant or waterproof knapsack or backpack.
Shoes – Non-slip shoes for walking around the vessel.

Optional Equipment

Swimsuit
Sunglasses
Binoculars
Camera, extra batteries, film or memory cards
Protective sunscreen
Electric converter with adapter plug set, 220V/110V
Small medical kit containing prescription medicines and over-the-counter medication for basic ailments such as stomach upsets, allergies, headaches and seasickness
Snow poles or trekking poles

Practical Information

Passport

Russia

All nationalities require a full passport that must be valid for 6 months beyond the intended length of stay. It is your responsibility to have the correct personal documents and to obtain your own visa, if one is necessary, in accordance with the regulations of the country you are to visit. The information below is primarily for UK passport holders, and other nationalities should check with their travel agent or the relevant embassies. We are not responsible for the actions of local immigration and customs officials, whether at points of entry or otherwise, and any subsequent effects.

Visa

Russia

All nationalities require a visa for Russia. These requirements will vary depending on your nationality. For British nationals visa applications must now be made in person at a visa processing centre, located in London, Manchester and Edinburgh. At the time of application, fingerprints will be taken. We will be providing a new type of service to assist with the application process; however we will no longer be able to submit the application on your behalf. It is your responsibility to arrange a visa prior to travel, but we will provide you with more information after booking to help and advice with this. The cost of the visa is currently GBP108.40. For more information please click here

Please note: The visa application takes approximently 20 working days. You can arrange for your passport to be posted back to you or returned to the visa processing centre to collect it in person. There is a £20pp charge to create an invitation letter if any pre or post tour accommodation is not booked with Exodus.

 

Arctic

No visa required for British passport holders.

Visa regulations can change without notice: please check the current regulations in good time to obtain a visa if one is required.

There are no specific health risks on this trip.

Vaccination

Russia

There are no mandatory vaccination requirements. Recommended vaccinations are: Tetanus, Hepatitis A, Yellow Fever.

Arctic

There are no specific health risks.

Travel health can often be something people forget about before going away, but a little preparation and knowledge can go a long way to help you stay fit and healthy while abroad.

As we are not qualified to answer all your questions about travel health we strongly recommend you contact your Medical Professional or a Travel Health Clinic at least 8 weeks prior to departure for up-to-date information. Please note: vaccinations that are routinely recommended to residents of the UK, North America or Australasia are not considered to form part of the travel health advice, and you should ensure these are kept up to date where necessary.

For additional information please visit: https://travelhealthpro.org.uk/countries

Insurance - are you adequately covered?

It is a condition of joining any of our holidays that you must be fully insured against medical and personal accident risks (to include repatriation costs and air ambulance or helicopter rescue services where appropriate). On arrival in destination for your trip, you will be asked to present details to your leader or local representative of your policy.

If you are resident in the UK we strongly recommend the Exodus travel insurance policy, this is specifically designed to cover all activities on your trip. If arranging your own policy please ensure that you are covered for all activities that are part of the trip, optional activities that you intend to take part in and/or on high altitude itineraries, that you are covered up to the maximum altitude of the trip.

Local Time

Russia's Timezone:
Europe/Moscow MSK (GMT +03:00)

Electricity

Russia's Electricity:

Russia uses European standard two pin plugs.

Arctic's Electricity:

The electrical supply on board most of the Polar vessels is 220v/50Hz.

The electrical outlets found in the cabins and around the ships on most Polar vessels accept standard European two round pin plugs, so you may need to bring your own travel adapter.

on ships 220v 50Hz

Money

Russia's Currency

The national currency of Russia is the Russian Rouble (RUB), with an exchange rate at the time of publication of approximately 80 to the UK£ and 65 to the US$.

There are no restrictions on the import of currency, (subject to the maximum of US$ 3000 equivalent which may be brought into the country without declaration); though local exchange rates are invariably better than those in the UK. The exchange rate does fluctuate considerably, so it is best to check just before departure.

Arctic's Currency

On board all Polar vessels USD are accepted as the primary currency.

Extra Expenses & Spending Money

The standard currency onboard the ship is the US dollar. Some Russian roubles may also be useful for time spent in Russia.

Tipping

The appropriate amount to tip the staff and crew is a personal matter but it is customary to provide an end-of-cruise gratuity (as a rough guide approximately US$13-15 per day per passenger would be appreciated).

Responsible Tourism

At Exodus we believe in the power of Responsible Travel.

Every time we travel, we are part of a global movement that creates jobs, builds more sustainable societies, encourages cultural understanding and safeguards common natural and cultural heritage. To learn more about what Responsible Travel means to Exodus click here… 

Exodus Community

Join the Exodus online community

Don't forget to visit the Community area on our website. You can view the range of Exodus videos and podcasts, read trip write-ups which have featured in the national media and take advantage of some special deals on travel gear and equipment.

In the Community Travel Forum you'll find the Departure Lounge where you can discuss your trip with fellow travellers before you depart. When you get back from your holiday remember to upload your images to the relevant trip page on our website. This helps other people see what our holidays are really like and you'll be entered automatically into our monthly photo competition.

To make full use of the Community you'll need to join My Exodus. It's free, registration is simple and easy, so what are you waiting for?

Important Information

On all guided trips

Although our leaders are well trained to deal with different capabilities, if they have any concerns about someone’s ability to safely partake in an activity, or their impact on other people’s enjoyment, we authorise them to take necessary action which, in some circumstances, may involve asking someone to miss that activity.

Although rarely enforced, by booking this trip you agree to section 14 of our Booking Conditions which clearly states that our leaders have the authority to do this. In these circumstances we will ensure anyone sitting out is safely provided for and offered alternative options where possible. Refunds will not be provided for activities missed and customers may be liable for additional costs incurred.

On all trips

In booking this trip you should be confident in your ability to participate in all activities described in these Trip Notes. If you have any doubt about your suitability you should call the Exodus office and ask to speak to one of the experts on this itinerary.

 

Every time that you travel abroad you should take the time to read the warnings in the essential information in the brochure.

Full joining instructions including local emergency numbers, and details of how to reach the start point, will be sent to you approximately 2 to 3 weeks prior to departure. If you do not receive these at least a week before departure, or require them earlier please contact our office or your travel agent.

The information in these Trip Notes is given in good faith. Where differences exist between the Trip Notes and our current brochure or website, the Trip Notes supersede the brochure and website. All holidays can be subject to unexpected changes; in order to enjoy them you should be prepared to be flexible where necessary. Occasionally, as stated in our brochure, it may not be possible to follow the itinerary as planned. This may be for a variety of reasons - climatic, political, physical or other. In these circumstances we will make the best possible alternative arrangements that maintain the integrity of the original itinerary.

As fuel prices, airport taxes and exchange rates fluctuate, and airlines manage their rates to match demand, it is proving harder than ever to guarantee our Flight Inclusive prices. Although we endeavour to keep our website as accurate as possible, daily fluctuations mean that our Flight Inclusive price may be out of date. For accurate prices we recommend that you contact one of our Travel Experts, or your Travel Agent.

TRAVEL AWARE – STAY SAFE & HEALTHY ABROAD

 

The Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office and the NHS have up-to-date advice on staying safe and healthy abroad. For more on security, local laws, plus passport and visa information, see https://travelaware.campaign.gov.uk/

Keep informed of current travel health news by visiting https://travelhealthpro.org.uk/

Advice can change so check regularly for updates.

For all latest travel information about your holiday, please visit our Travel Safety Advice page.

How to Book

1. Check availability

Go online to check availability, or contact us by phone or email.

2. Secure your place

You can provisionally hold a place on this trip, usually for between three and seven days.

3. Complete your booking and payment

When you're ready to book, go to our website for online bookings, book over the phone or you can complete a booking form (available online or on request by calling us). We accept all major credit and debit cards, or you can pay be cheque. Book with confidence: Exodus is fully licensed and bonded as a tour operator. We hold Air Traffic Organisers Licence (ATOL) number 2582 issued and bonded with the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA). We are also bonded to the International Air Transport Association (IATA) and we are members of the Federation of Tour Operators (FTO) and ABTA ‐ The Travel Association. This means you can book your Exodus holiday with confidence, as all monies paid to us for your trip are fully protected.

TRIP NOTE VALIDITY

These Trip Notes are valid from the "Current as" date on page one. They will occasionally be updated post booking and pre-departure; if there are any updates that significantly impact the inclusions or itinerary bookers will be written to separately. All customers will also receive a link to the most up-to-date version of the Trip Notes with their Final Joining Instructions pre-travel.