DAY 5-24: Exploring the Russian High Arctic, Siberian Coast and Russian Far East
In keeping with the nature of an expedition, our day-by-day itinerary will be flexible. We’ll take full advantage of the extensive experience of our captain, crew, and staff as well as of our technological resources and ice-strengthened ship to chart a course around impenetrable ice, through one of the most remote regions on Earth, and toward once-in-a-lifetime sightings of the Arctic’s abundant wildlife.
Franz Josef Land
A little-explored world of pack ice, towering volcanic mountains, icebergs and glaciers, Franz Josef Land is the world’s northernmost archipelago, and part of the largest Arctic marine reserve—a sanctuary for such emblematic species as the Atlantic walrus, bowhead whale, polar bear, narwhal, and rare ivory gull. The scattered islands of Franz Josef Land were not discovered until 1873 by the Tegetthoff Expedition.
Kara Sea / Novaya Zemlya
Depending on our captain’s route in this wild land, approach the heavily glaciated coast of the Novaya Zemlya archipelago, northernmost of the islands of the Kara Sea. Dutch explorer William Barents overwintered at aptly named Ice Harbor in 1596-97.
Laptev Sea / Severnaya Zemlya
With 24-hour light, naturalists keep watch from the bridge, ready to announce the sighting of beluga whales or other marine mammals that frequent these shallow coastal waters. Pass Cape Chelyuskin, most northerly point of the Eurasian continent, on our way east toward the new world.
New Siberian Islands
Often surrounded by heavy pack ice, the 500-foot-high volcanic spires, cliffs and buttresses of these rocky outposts are a magnificent backdrop for abundant wildlife. We keep a lookout for elusive Ross’s gull, named after the polar explorer. Walrus haul out in numbers and seabirds nest on great cliffs on De Long islands, discovered by the Jeannette expedition in 1881 on their search for the North Pole.
East Siberian Sea
Depending on our course and weather, explore granite towers, luxuriant tundra and ancient ceremonial sites along the coast where mammoths once roamed. A hallmark of any Arctic expedition is flexibility and our options are many as we cross the top of the world. The surrounding pack ice is an ideal place to find walruses, polar bears and other wildlife of the circumpolar north.
A nature reserve since 1974 and World Heritage site, Wrangel Island is known for unusual biodiversity, including endemic tundra plants, snow geese, and largest seabird colonies in the region. The reserve has largest concentration of polar bears and walruses. Land mammals include musk oxen and reindeer. Expedition stops include a visit to the village and research center on the south coast.
Keep a lookout for gray whales and other marine mammals in these rich waters. Sailing south from Wrangel, call at Kolyuchin Island, where cormorants, murres, puffins auklets and other Pacific seabirds nest on steep cliffs. Pass the easternmost extension of the Eurasian continent at Cape Dezhnev and continue across the International Date Line to Alaska and the end of our epic voyage.