NEW TRIP

Sea of Okhotsk

Seals and Seabirds aboard the Spirit of Enderby

Sea of Okhotsk route-map

Trip Details at-a-Glance

Cost From: $6500  
Length: 12 days
Arrive: Korsakov, Sakhalin Island
Depart: Magadan, Russia
Lodging: 11 nights aboard 50-passenger expedition vessel
Meals: All meals included aboard ship and with the group ashore
Activity: Cultural Adventures, Small Ship Cruising, Wildlife & Natural History
Trip Level: 11-day cruise, cultural explorations and walking tours
1

Choosing the Right Trip

We work hard to help you choose the right trip for you, paying attention to your individual interests, abilities, and needs. If you have questions about the level of comfort or any of the activities described in this itinerary, please contact us.

References

We are proud to have an exceptionally high rate of repeat travelers. For more information, we would be happy to put you in touch with a client who has traveled with us.

The remote and seldom visited Sea of Okhotsk offers fantastic wildlife experiences. The birdwatching is nothing short of spectacular, with huge concentrations that can literally darken the sky at times, and northern fur seals, rare ribbon seals, Steller sea lions, Kamchatka brown bear, and snow sheep roam the isolated islands.

Itinerary

Day 1
Korsakov, Sakhalin Island / Embark Spirit of Enderby

We transfer to the Port of Korsakov some 40 minutes south of the city of Yuzhno-Sakhalinsk where we board the Spirit of Enderby. After settling into our cabins and meeting the staff and crew, we set sail, clearing the southern tip of Sakhalin Island as we cruise toward the Sea of Okhotsk.

Day 2
Tyuleniy Island

We visit little known Tyuleniy Island off the southeast coast of Sakhalin Island. This small island is a stronghold for northern fur seals and Steller sea lions. Fur seal numbers have increased since a 1911 International Convention banned seal hunting here. In the 1990s Steller sea lions started breeding on the island and their colony now numbers about 2,500 animals. Sea conditions permitting, we plan a landing here for an opportunity to photograph the seals and sea lions.

Day 3
Piltun Bay, Sakhalin Island

It was the discovery of oil and gas in this region that put Sakhalin Island on many people’s maps. The first commercial wells were built in Piltun Bay and they were not without controversy and protest. The bay is an important habitat for western gray whales, whose small population is monitored by researchers during the summer months. Traveling by Zodiac, we head to shallower waters where the whales are known to feed. If conditions are suitable we cross a river bay to explore an estuary where large numbers of harbor seals hang out.

Day 4
Iony Island

Tiny Iony Island lies in the middle of the Sea of Okhotsk, about 120 nautical miles from the closest land. What it lacks in physical size is more than made up for in wildlife. Iony is a well-known breeding ground for Steller sea lions, and birds appear to take up all available space—guillemots, kittiwakes and various species of auklets, with parakeet, whiskered and least being the most prominent. We will Zodiac cruise around the island as Steller sea lions occupy the few rocky beaches, making any landing impossible.

Days 5-6
Shantar Archipelago

The Shantar Islands, lying in the western sector of the Sea of Okhotsk close to the continent, are among the last places in the Sea of Okhotsk to become ice-free each year. This late ice can sometimes restrict how far we can explore here; conversely, ice increases our chances of seeing some of the seals including bearded, ringed, Largha, and ribbon seals that breed here (this area is one of the best to see and photograph the beautifully patterned ribbon seals). The seas around the Shantar Archipelago are also renowned for bowhead whales, and our chances of seeing these depend on the ice. If we can land there will be birding, botany, and photography excursions led by our team of onboard naturalists. We have set aside two days here to maximize our chances of getting ashore and also having the best wildlife experiences.

Day 7
Mal’minskie Islands

Birds everywhere in the Mal’minskie Islands, in the air, in the water, and on the land. The numerous breeding species include large numbers of spectacled guillemot, perhaps the largest colony of these birds anywhere, as they are only found in the Sea of Okhotsk. Other birds include ancient murrelet, rhinoceros auklet, parakeet auklet, horned and tufted puffin, crested auklet, and both common and Brunnich’s guillemot. There is also a good population of Steller sea eagles here and on the adjacent mainland. Landing on the island is restricted to a small gravel spit; however on the mainland we can stretch our legs and explore the taiga forest.

Day 8
Okhotsk Town

This town has been featured in Russian Far East history since the earliest Cossack explorers came from the west. Vitus Bering traveled overland from St. Petersburg to Okhotsk in 1725 and again 1733 and traveled to Kamchatka and beyond. Because of the hostility of the Koryak people in the north toward the Russian invaders, the Sea of Okhotsk was the main access route to Kamchatka. Today Okhotsk is the center of fishing in the region, exporting significant quantities of salmon and other fish. We visit the town, landing by Zodiac up the river near the town center. The local people are generous and welcoming and will provide entertainment and a cultural display in the town center. This is a chance to experience genuine Russian Far East culture and embrace their hospitality.

Day 9
Talan Island

An internationally known, but very difficult island to access, Talan is infamous because of the hundreds of thousands of crested auklets that nest here. There are also an extraordinary number of kittiwakes nesting along the cliffs and not surprisingly a large population of Steller sea eagles. We plan to circumnavigate the island by Zodiac before landing and then return in the late evening to witness the huge flocks of crested auklets gathering at sea before coming ashore.

Day 10
Koni Peninsula

This is a mountainous region to the southeast of the town of Magadan, part of which is included in the Magadanskiy Zapovednik, a Federal Nature Reserve that protects, among other animals, brown bear and snow sheep. Many of our landings are expeditionary in nature: although we have landed at a number of places along the coast, many will be new and unknown to us, so we are never quite sure what we will find. That is part of what makes this style of travel so interesting.

Day 11
Yamskiye Islands

These islands are also included in the Magadanskiy Zapovednik, and are claimed by some biologists to be the largest bird colony in the North Pacific. According to bird counts there are an estimated 7 million birds nesting on Matykil Island, the largest in the group. Birds include common and Brunnich’s guillemot, crested, parakeet and least auklets, tufted and horned puffins and northern fulmars. The islands are also a well-known breeding ground for the Steller sea lion and we will see large numbers both in the water and hauled out on the few beaches on the island. We Zodiac around the coast as no landings are permitted.

Day 12
Magadan / Fly home

The name Magadan is synonymous with Stalin’s oppressive gulags, or prisons. It is estimated that between 1932 and 1953 more than 3.5 million “prisoners” where shipped across the Sea of Okhotsk to Magadan (or Nagaevo as it was then known), to work in the Kolyma goldfields. It is thought that only 500,000 survived the terrible conditions including the cold, lack of food, and inhuman treatment by the guards and officials. Nowadays there is very little evidence of this town’s tragic past. The local museum has an excellent display about the gulags but the most poignant reminder is the “Mask of Sorrow,” a large monument on a hill overlooking the town. Magadan is a town of about 100,000 people. Fishing is important and gold mining is experiencing a revival with mechanical dredges and machinery successfully reworking the areas once worked by the prisoners with their hands. The port is kept open throughout the winter by icebreakers as it is the lifeline for those living here. The infamous Kolyma Highway or the “Road of Bones” connects Magadan with Irkutsk and ultimately greater Russia. We plan to arrive here midday where our journey ends. You will be transferred to a central hotel or the airport for flights home.

Note: This cruise is not an exclusive Wilderness Travel departure. The itinerary, lecturers, and other arrangements are subject to change at the discretion of the ship operator.

2014 Cruise Collection Brochure

We’ve searched the world to find the finest small ships and most active adventures, from Greenland to Sumatra to the great rivers of Europe. Download our beautiful new Cruise Collection Brochure! Or request a printed copy to be sent by mail, or by calling 800-368-2794.

What the Trip is Like

The trip is rated Level 1, Easiest, and is appropriate for anyone in good health who is physically active. Zodiac landing crafts are used to explore the coastline and transport passengers ashore for walks to wildlife sanctuaries and the remains of ancient settlements. Some agility is required for getting in and out of the Zodiac landing crafts.

Explanation of Trip Levels

 

Departures

2014
Jun 11-22, 2014  Spirit of Enderby

Trip Cost

2014 Cruise Rates by Cabin Category
Per person, double occupancy

CategoriesCruise Price
Triple $6,500
Twin Main Deck $7,600
Superior $8,000
Superior Plus $8,700
Mini Suite $9,000
Suite $9,900
Landing Fees per person (local payment): $500
Single supplement: 80% for Main Deck, Superior, and Superior Plus; 100% for Suites

Deck Plan

Cabin details:

  • Heritage Suite: Has a large lounge area, a separate bedroom with double bed, a single bed in the lounge, writing desk, wardrobe, drawers. There is a private bathroom with shower, toilet and washbasin. There are large forward and side facing windows to allow great views.
  • Mini Suites: Have a separate bedroom with a double bed and a single bed or a sofa in the lounge, wardrobe, drawers, a desk and a private bathroom with shower, toilet and washbasin. The Mini Suites have windows.
  • Superior Plus cabins: Have two lower berths, wardrobe, drawers, desk, a private bathroom with shower, toilet and washbasin. These cabins have windows.
  • Superior cabins: Have bunks (an upper and lower berth), wardrobe, drawers, a desk, a private bathroom with shower, toilet and washbasin. These cabins have windows.
  • Main deck cabins: Have two lower berths, wardrobe, drawers, a desk, washbasin and porthole. The nearby showers and toilets are shared with other Main deck cabins.
  • Main deck triple: Has one bunk (one upper and one lower) and one lower berth, wardrobe, drawers, a desk and wash basin. The nearby showers and toilets are shared with other Main deck cabins.

 

Trip Cost Includes:

  • Pre/Post cruise transfers
  • All onboard ship accommodation with meals
  • All expedition shore excursions

Trip Cost Does Not Include:

International/domestic airfare, all items of a personal nature, laundry, drinks, gratuities, visas, and travel insurance.

Trip Payment Schedule*

At time of reservation: 25%
100 days prior to departure: Balance

*Please note that this differs from our regular catalog departures.

Cancellation and Transfer Fee Schedule*

Minimum fee: $750 per person
90-179 days prior to departure: 25% of trip cost
89 days or less: 100% of trip cost

*Please note that this differs from our regular catalog departures.

Arrival & Departure Information

Arrival & Meeting Place
Yuzhno-Sakhalinsk, Russia
Date: June 11, 2014
Suggested flight arrival time: no later than 12:00pm (noon)
Ship departure time: 6:00pm (subject to change)

Suggested Arrival Airport
Yuzhno-Sakhalinsk, Russia (UUS)

Passengers must be in Yuzhno-Sakhalinsk by midday on June 11, 2014.  We recommend arriving to this city at least one day early in order to guard against the danger of delayed flights.  Our recommended hotel is the Megapalace Hotel.  Please let us know if you would like us to make a reservation for you.  Rates are still to be announced.

Departure Details
Magadan, Russia
Date: June 22, 2014
Suggested flight departure:  No earlier than 6:00pm

All passengers will be transferred from the ship to the airport or to a centrally located hotel in Magadan. We recommend that you overnight in Magadan on June 22 and schedule your flights home on the morning of June 23. Hotel overnights and/or extra services post trip are on your own.

Suggested Airport for Departure
Magadan, Russia (airport code GDX)

Spirit of Enderby

The 50-guest expedition vessel Spirit of Enderby, while offering very basic cabins, some with shared bathrooms, has a warm and intimate atmosphere, a professional staff, and excellent cuisine prepared by New Zealand and Australian chefs. The vessel has a bar, small lecture room, and library. She is fully ice-strengthened and equipped with a fleet of go-anywhere Zodiacs. Designed and built as a research vessel, she still undertakes research expeditions when not focused on passenger cruises. The ship is accompanied by a veteran team of experienced naturalists and guides who have devoted a lifetime to field research in the areas that the ship visits.

Deck Plan

Cabin details:

  • Heritage Suite: Has a large lounge area, a separate bedroom with double bed, a single bed in the lounge, writing desk, wardrobe, drawers. There is a private bathroom with shower, toilet and washbasin. There are large forward and side facing windows to allow great views.
  • Mini Suites: Have a separate bedroom with a double bed and a single bed or a sofa in the lounge, wardrobe, drawers, a desk and a private bathroom with shower, toilet and washbasin. The Mini Suites have windows.
  • Superior Plus cabins: Have two lower berths, wardrobe, drawers, desk, a private bathroom with shower, toilet and washbasin. These cabins have windows.
  • Superior cabins: Have bunks (an upper and lower berth), wardrobe, drawers, a desk, a private bathroom with shower, toilet and washbasin. These cabins have windows.
  • Main deck cabins: Have two lower berths, wardrobe, drawers, a desk, washbasin and porthole. The nearby showers and toilets are shared with other Main deck cabins.
  • Main deck triple: Has one bunk (one upper and one lower) and one lower berth, wardrobe, drawers, a desk and wash basin. The nearby showers and toilets are shared with other Main deck cabins.