Siberia: Nov - Mar
Our remote tiger tracking safari in Siberia’s Durminskoye Reserve takes place in the depths of winter near Khabarovsk, a city in Russia’s south-eastern corner on the border with China. Accompanying renowned tracker Alexander Batalov, you’ll be involved in frontline conservation work leading up to the Siberian tigers’ prime mating season in March. Working in near-constant freezing temperatures and deep snow – essential for preserving those all-important paw prints – this safari is only for the most intrepid adventurer. Exploring the tigers’ sprawling habitat by foot, skidoo and 4x4, your chances of seeing the biggest of big cats in the flesh may be slim, but by setting up remote camera traps and assisting Alexander in monitoring the region, you will be contributing to the protection and ongoing survival of these magnificent endangered creatures, which may number as few as 400 in the wild.
Kamchatka: May - Sep
Despite lying at similar latitudes to Great Britain, the Kamchatka Peninsula endures long, freezing winters due to the influence of cold sea currents and Arctic winds, leaving the land covered in snow from October to late May. The months between May and September offer the most comfortable temperatures, but Kamchatka’s sheer size means its climate can be variable depending on which particular area you visit. In general, visitors can expect highs ranging from 15 to 20°C during the summer, with lows rarely reaching below freezing.
Kamchatka may be larger in size than the UK but its population numbers just 330,000 people, most of whom live in the capital of Petropavlovsk on its southern tip. Due to the vast tracts of mountainous, undeveloped tundra that lie between its sparse population centres, helicopters are often the easiest way to get around. Even in the summer, it is worth packing plenty of layers when taking to the skies.
Kamchatka’s brown bears hibernate during the coldest months here, when temperatures can drop to as low as -25°C. Despite heading into their dens in November and emerging in March, the best time to see these magnificent beasts is in July, to coincide with the annual salmon run that occurs in streams and rivers the world over. During this time, millions of salmon flood the region’s waterways, offering the bears a perfect opportunity to embark on a leisurely fishing trip. Kurile Lake in particular is a prime location for watching these two wild wonders come together.
Peak birdwatching season occurs between May and early June, with the Commander Islands providing the most favourable location for seabird sightings. This group of 17 remote islands, islets and rocks is situated 100 miles off Kamchatka’s eastern coast, which ensures cooler summers than those enjoyed on mainland Kamchatka, but also makes the Islands a favourite home of seabird colonies. Puffins, cormorants, albatross and auklets can be seen in great numbers, while sightings of the striking Steller’s sea eagle – boasting a wingspan up to 7ft 2in – is sure to be a highlight of any trip.