Chukotka: Where Russia's Day Begins

15 days
from
£8,450
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Polar Expeditions
Suitable for:
Age 18+
Activity level:
Leisurely
Activity Level: Leisurely
Trip code: 
POZ
Way to Travel:
Guided Group
Activity:
Polar
Max group size:
48
Min age:
18

Unique expedition crossing the Arctic Circle and including the isolated and pristine Wrangel Island

The Chukotka region is rich in natural resources and wildlife is abundant, but like all Arctic fauna, it is under pressure because of significant climate change. North of Chukotka, where the Chukchi Sea meets the Arctic Ocean, lies nature reserve and World Heritage site Wrangel Island, which has outstanding wildlife values. Sometimes referred to as the world's Polar bear maternity ward, because of the high density of denning Polar Bears, it is one of those islands that never disappoints those who are keen on natural and Arctic history. As the ice retreats each summer (further and faster than ever before) Polar bears come ashore and we see good numbers of these, likewise walrus find refuge here each summer normally in large numbers. Birds like Snow geese and Snowy owls also breed here. And of course, Wrangel Island is central to the story of the wreck of the Karluk and it features in other Arctic exploration stories.

On this special Chukotka expedition, we will meet the locals and listen to their stories and experience their love for and strong connection with the land and the sea. We will celebrate with them at their annual Regatta and Festival. We will explore the vast expansive tundra with its wild flowers and dwarf tree species and we will watch for Brown bears, reindeer, Arctic Foxes, ground squirrels and, if we are lucky, we may also see a wolverine. We will explore Wrangel Island with its Polar bears, walrus and rich Arctic history and at sea we will look out for whales.

Highlights

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

Key information

  • 14 nights on the ship
  • Expedition cruising in comfortable conditions
  • Countries visited: Russian Arctic, Russia, Arctic

What's included

  • All meals while on the ship
  • All accommodation
  • All transport and listed activities
  • Tour leader throughout and qualified Expedition Staff
  • We can include flights from the UK.  Please contact us for a quote.

What's not included

  • Travel insurance
  • Single accommodation (available on request)
  • Visas or vaccinations
  • Landing fees of $500 USD (paid locally)
Call for general departures:
074 340 4587
Call for private group trips:
+44 (0)20 8772 3874
Trip Notes

Click on the button below for detailed Trip Notes containing all the particulars about this trip, including kit lists and practical information.

Note: these can vary by departure; you can check out the specific Trip Notes for your chosen adventure on the dates & prices page.

Responsible Travel

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… 

Itinerary

  • Day 1

    Start Anadyr and embark.

    Start in Anadyr, the administrative capital of Chukotka. It is situated at the mouth of the Anadyr River near where the river enters the Anadyr estuary. The town was established in 1889 as a frontier post when it was called NovoMariinsk. The name was changed to Anadyr in 1920 when the Bolsheviks took control of the town. It has grown in importance over the years and today is a modern town with a population of about 11,000 people.

    You will be transferred to the ship, which will more than likely be anchored in the river (rather than tied alongside the wharf) during the afternoon. Once on board you will be shown to your cabins. There will be a chance to meet fellow expeditioners and for those who have not been aboard before, some time to explore the vessel. We will sail in the late afternoon for Egvekinot. There will be mandatory safety briefings and introductions to ship and staff after we sail.

    Meals included: Dinner
  • Day 2

    At Sea

    As we sail towards our first destination, the Arctic’s archaeological mystery ‘Whale Bone Alley’, we will take the opportunity to enjoy lectures to prepare us for our voyage and settle in to ship life.

    Meals included: Breakfast Lunch Dinner
  • Day 3

    Whale Bone Alley and Gil’mimyl Hot Springs

    Our first landing of the day we expect to be at one of the most significant and intriguing archaeological sites in the Arctic on Yttygran Island. This place is known affectionately as ‘Whale Bone Alley’ due to the large number of whale bones spread along the beach in the form of a pathway. The site dates to the 14th Century and its origins and purpose have been the cause of much debate. It was almost certainly a ceremonial site as well as being used for meat storage. What is puzzling is the lack of any substantial settlement in the vicinity, which suggests that it was possibly a communal site situated here because of the abundance of whales nearby.

    This afternoon we intend to make a landing at the Gil’mimyl Hot Springs. They are a short walk from the coastline, but well worth the effort. There will be a chance to explore the tundra for birds, plants and animals as we walk to and fro. After a soak in the springs we will re-join the ship for a relaxing evening.

    Meals included: Breakfast Lunch Dinner
  • Day 4

    Bukhta Penkingney and Arakamchechen Island

    This morning we will be launching our Zodiacs with a landing planned at Bukhta Penkingney, a long fiord cut into the coastline by glaciers and a popular spot for whale watching. Here a small braided river, its gravel bed studded with Willow bushes, winds its way down to the sea where we land. Exploring this scenic location we will be looking for Arctic Ground squirrels and pikas, Willow ptarmigan, Sandhill cranes and Brown bears attracted by the berries and salmon-filled river.

    This afternoon we plan to cruise over to Arakamchechen Island just north of Cape Chaplino and separated from the Chukotka mainland by the 8-kilometre wide Senyavina Strait. Having watched Gray whales feeding here previously, we recommend being out on deck as we slowly cruise through the strait. On Arakamchechen Island we will explore the lush tundra and, if they are present, view the prominent walrus haul out from the cliffs.

    Meals included: Breakfast Lunch Dinner
  • Day 5

    Lavrentiya and Unnamed Bays

    Dropping anchor in beautiful Lavrentiya Bay, we expect to spend the morning exploring the historically and culturally rich village of Lavrentiya. A former indigenous settlement, this Soviet-planned community was established in the 1920s as an administrative centre where local Chukchi and Siberian Yupik were encouraged to move to. Visit the museum, meet local elders and enjoy an authentic taste and slice of village life in the main square.

    Nearby picturesque Unnamed Bay is our planned destination for the afternoon where we will Zodiac cruise to shore. Welcomed by an expansive stretch of beach, backed by a lagoon and surrounded by rugged hills, there’s much to discover. Enjoy a walk along the beach and tundra looking for Arctic squirrel, or scale one of the nearby peaks and take in the stunning vistas

    Meals included: Breakfast Lunch Dinner
  • Day 6

    Cape Dezhnev

    Early this morning we will be at Cape Dezhnev, the north-eastern most point of the Eurasian continent. This cape commemorates the accomplishment of the Cossack Semyon Dezhnev who was the first European to sail through the strait in 1648 (80 years before Bering did). On the cape is a lighthouse, a monument and the remains of a Border Guard base. If the weather and sea conditions are suitable we plan to land here and give you the opportunity to explore the area. A short distance south of the cape is the former Inuit settlement of Naukan. The Soviet government relocated these people to other Chukotka settlements in the 1950s as it was thought they posed a security risk, supposedly because of the close proximity of Alaska. It is still possible to sense the melancholy in the air because the people never wanted to leave. As the relocation was fairly recent, there is a wealth of historic data and photographs that make a visit to this site even more poignant.

    Meals included: Breakfast Lunch Dinner
  • Day 7

    At Sea

    Take the opportunity to spend time up in the bridge or out on deck looking for the first Polar Bears of our voyage as we cruise along the sea ice, or download photos as we navigate towards Wrangel Island.

    Meals included: Breakfast Lunch Dinner
  • Days 8-10

    Wrangel Island

    We should arrive at Wrangel in the early morning, and what we can achieve will depend on the ice conditions. During the winter months Wrangel Island is completely surrounded by ice. Historically it was slow to break out in some years making it was almost impossible to reach the island. Changing weather conditions has meant that in recent years it is becoming ice-free earlier and earlier, with huge ramifications for the wildlife (especially the Polar bears) that rely on the ice.

    It is impossible to predict ice conditions ahead of time, but based on recent years there will still be some ice around the island which will be great for us as this is where the wildlife will be concentrated. There should also be opportunities to land and to explore the tundra to look for the species which breed here. We have allowed three days on and around the island to take advantage of whatever conditions we encounter. We will be utilising the local knowledge of the Park Rangers to make landings as well as spending some time Zodiac cruising the ice looking for Polar bears.

    Meals included: Breakfast Lunch Dinner
  • Day 11

    At Sea

    We will be steaming south from Wrangel Island and, again, sea and ice conditions will dictate our course and speed. We suggest expeditioners will be richly rewarded by being on deck, because if we are in ice there could be Polar bears, walrus, and Ringed and Bearded seals to be seen. As we make our way closer to the Chukotka coast we will keep an eye out for Humpback and Gray whales, which are frequently seen. Increasingly we are also seeing a number of Bowhead whales in this area. We will also use this time for lectures and recaps.

    Meals included: Breakfast Lunch Dinner
  • Day 12

    Kolyuchin Island and Kolyuchin Inlet

    This morning we will come to anchor at tiny Kolyuchin Island. What it lacks in size it more than makes up for in points of interest. People from the nearby village of Nutepelmen come here to hunt walrus when the ice disappears and large numbers of walrus haul out on the island. At the western end of the island is the remains of a Polar Research Station which was only abandoned in the 1990s. During the Soviet period there were large numbers of these Research Stations in the High Arctic, but few survived the economic meltdown of the 1990s. Nearby are some amazing bird cliffs where it is possible to get magnificent views (and photographs) of puffins and guillemots as they come and go from their nests. The only things stopping us from landing here, other than weather and sea conditions, are Polar bears. They take refuge on the island when the ice recedes and if they are there it is both unwise and unsafe for us to go ashore. If they are ashore we will Zodiac cruise the bird cliffs for equally good views.

    This afternoon we have planned a cruise to nearby Kolyuchin Inlet, a massive tidal estuary so big we can take our ship inside. It is ideal habitat for many bird species and it is early enough in the season for the majority of them to either be on nests or have young. It is an easy landing with lots of opportunity for hiking, exploring and photography.

    Meals included: Breakfast Lunch Dinner
  • Day 13

    The Annual Beringia Arctic Games

    Today we plan to attend the first day of the annual Beringia Regatta and Festival which includes whaleboat and Baidara (traditional walrus skin covered boats) races, as well as cultural group performances. It is one of the most colourful festivals in the Chukotka calendar and attracts people from many villages in the region. This unpredictable festival rotates between different villages and features a range of activities. Some you can watch, while others allow participation. There will be local foods to sample and lots of photographic opportunities. This festival gets to the heart and soul of the people, their culture and land.

    Meals included: Breakfast Lunch Dinner
  • Day 14

    Presbrazhenya Bay

    We aim to be cruising along the south coast of Chukotka today and plan to stop at Presbrazhenya Bay. This is an excellent opportunity to Zodiac cruise some spectacular bird cliffs, as long as sea conditions permit we will get in close for some great photographic opportunities. There will also be a chance to land at a hunting camp (and boat haul-out area) at the nearby village of Nunligren. This evening enjoy a farewell dinner and final recap.

    Meals included: Breakfast Lunch Dinner
  • Day 15

    Disembark in Anadyr.

    We will wake this morning as we enter the Port of Anadyr. After breakfast passengers will be taken ashore either to the airport to catch a flight out today or to the town if staying on.

    Meals included: Breakfast
Trip Notes

Click on the button below for detailed Trip Notes containing all the particulars about this trip, including kit lists and practical information.

Note: these can vary by departure; you can check out the specific Trip Notes for your chosen adventure on the dates & prices page.

Essential Info

Group Information

The Spirit of Enderby and the Akademik Shokalskiy take a maximum of 48 passengers. 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

Visas

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.

Vaccinations

Russia

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

Arctic

There are no specific health risks.

Eating and 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.

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.

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.

Call for general departures:
074 340 4587
Call for private group trips:
+44 (0)20 8772 3874
Trip Notes

Click on the button below for detailed Trip Notes containing all the particulars about this trip, including kit lists and practical information.

Note: these can vary by departure; you can check out the specific Trip Notes for your chosen adventure on the dates & prices page.

Accommodation

Polar Adventure Ship

The Chukotka: Where Russia's Day Begins 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.

Call for general departures:
074 340 4587
Call for private group trips:
+44 (0)20 8772 3874
Trip Notes

Click on the button below for detailed Trip Notes containing all the particulars about this trip, including kit lists and practical information.

Note: these can vary by departure; you can check out the specific Trip Notes for your chosen adventure on the dates & prices page.

Expert Blog Entries

Have you been on this adventure? Tell others what it’s like by writing a review.

Dates & Prices

An overview of flight options

Exodus is committed to making joining our tours as easy as possible, wherever you live. We generally only block book seats from London, but this certainly does not mean that you need to fly from there. Depending on the route and airlines available, there will usually be various options available for those who want to fly from their local airport.

This page aims to provide a useful overview of the options available to our clients. However, the best flight arrangements should be tailored to your personal requirements, so please contact our Sales team for expert advice.

 

What kind of options do I have ?

1. We can book for you: Flights from anywhere in the world - not via London  

Depending on the route, this may be direct or via an overseas hub like Amsterdam, the Middle East or elsewhere. On short haul routes there may be direct flights with low cost airlines, charter flights or scheduled airlines. Exodus can book most, but not all, of these for you. The most appropriate airline may be different to that which we use for the group flight from London, but many people now travel on different airlines and meet up with their fellow passengers at the destination.

Pros  Cons
  • May be the most direct route
  • Often the extra fare compared to the London flight is minimal.
  • As you will be in the hands a single airline for your entire journey, the airline will be responsible for your bags and your connections.
  • You may not be able to join the group transfers. However, we can usually arrange private transfers, or book your flights to try and coincide with the group transfers. See notes on transfer arrangements below.

 

2. We can book for you: Connecting flights from your local airport to London

Exodus can book connecting flights to London so you can join the group flight there. Connecting times will be followed according to airline advice, or as requested by clients. There are two types of fares we can use for this option: a 'through-fare' or a 'published fare'.
 
a) A 'through-fare' is where you will be in the main airline's care throughout. You change planes, but your bags are checked all the way through to your final destination. 

b) A 'published fare' ticket is completely seperate from your onward ticket from London. It is usually cheaper than a through-fare but will need to be paid for and issued as soon as it is booked. This can be a problem if your tour has not yet reached minimum numbers. On 'published fares' neither airline is aware that you have connecting flights, so Exodus is responsible for timing your connection, not the airlines involved. The tickets are also usually non changeable and non refundable.

Pros  Cons
  • Depending on the fare type, Exodus or the airline is responsible for flight connections.
  • Through fare tickets can be expensive.
  • On a published fare, tickets must be issued immediately; tickets on published fares can be very difficult to change if onward flight times change; bags are not checked though to your final destination.
  • Published fares are non-refundable.

 

3. Booking some or all of the flights yourself

You can also book connecting air travel yourself, either to London, or all the way to the start point. There may be certain airlines or routes we don't have access to, so this is always an option. However, if you make your own travel arrangements you become liable for any delays, cancellations or missed connections, and Exodus is not required to offer refunds if you have trouble reaching the start of your trip.

Pros  Cons
  • You might find cheaper fares, or routes not available to Exodus.
  • You are responsible for any delays or missed connections, and the cost of the tour is not protected should you miss your flight be cancelled.

 

 Notes on transfer arrangements

Sometimes it is possible to travel on a different airline to the group flight from London. Where this is the case, we need to think about ensuring you meet up with the group with minimum extra cost and hassle.

  • On certain trips, it is easy to arrive on a different flight and still meet the group at the hotel with time in hand. We can usually arrange private transfers (at extra cost) or offer advice on taking a taxi to the start hotel.
  • On other trips (especially in Europe), the transfer meets the group flight and then travels some distance to the first night's accommodation. Where this is the case, our Sales team will try to arrange flights that arrive before (and depart after) the group. However, we do have to make it clear in your final documentation that if your flights are delayed, the transfer cannot wait for you. While Exodus or our local operators will do what we can to help you reach the start point of the tour, any additional costs must be paid by the client. 

 

Next steps? 

Call our Sales team on: 0203 733 0698

Email your query: [email protected]

 

Please contact our specialist Polar sales team on 020 8003 9957 or at [email protected] for further dates and prices

Polar Ships: For information regarding ship specifications, visit the Polar Fleet page.

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