Small Group Safari

Northeast Passage and Wrangel Island

At the top of the world, near Alaska and 140km from the coast of Siberia, lies Wrangel Island, the little known polar bear capital of the world. Sail from Svalbard through the mysterious Russian High Arctic on an adventure that few ever experience. You’ll stop at small archipelagos, wander through the tundra, and look out for polar bears, foxes and walrus that congregate here in huge numbers. Experience destinations most people will never have heard of, as you learn the history of this magnificently wild part of the world.

Duration 28 days
Price From $18,382
When Aug-Sep
Destination Russian High Arctic

Safari Overview

Journey through the Northeast Passage, a lesser travelled route through the Russian High Arctic. Here you can watch for beautiful polar bears hunting on lush tundra, watch Arctic foxes hunting birds, and watch whales from the deck of the ship. With just 48 passengers, your ship will get you into smaller coves and fjords not accessible by larger ships. You’ll marvel at the isolation you’ll feel standing on islands that are about as far from civilisation as it’s possible to be. 

What makes this trip extraordinary

  • Go in search of polar bears hunting on pack ice and tundras.
  • Test your photography skills as seabirds swoop around you as you sail through majestic fjords.
  • Visit islands that very few have ever set foot on.
  • Learn about reindeer herding from a small group of Chukchi herders.

Watch polar bears hunting on a lush tundra landscape.

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Day by day

Day 1

Murmansk, Russia

Today the adventure begins! You will arrive into Murmansk and transfer to the ship. Set sail north, and get to know your fellow travellers.

Days 2-3

Across the Barents Sea

When you wake up this morning, you’ll be heading east across the Barents Sea. Keep your eyes open and your camera ready as you look out for whales swimming along beside the ship.

Days 4-6

Exploration of Franz Josef Land

Each day in Franz Josef Land will be planned based on current weather and sea conditions. Your experienced captain and expedition leader will adjust plans and make the most of every possible opportunity to head out and find wildlife, or explore well preserved historical sites with plenty of shore landings.

Days 7-8

Kara Sea

One of the coldest seas in Russia, the Kara Sea lies between Novaya Zemlay, Franz Josef and Severnaya Zemlya Archipelago. Wrap up warm and spend some time on deck, or settle in with a good book and relax ready for the rest of the adventure which lies ahead.

Days 9-11

Severnaya Zemlya Archipelago

This magical little group of islands was discovered in 1914-15, by the Russian explorer Vilkitski. Home to numerous polar bears, walrus, foxes and hares, this is a wildlife haven. With stunning glaciers and deep fjords, the scenery is perfect for cruising. You’ll want to spend all day outside!

Days 12-13

Crossing the Laptev Sea

For unique wildlife, this is the place. The Laptev Sea Walrus is a subspecies only found in this area, so the whole team will be out on deck with their eyes peeled. Walrus are often an unexpected highlight of trips to the Arctic, while you might be going for the polar bears, the walrus are actually surprisingly charming.

Days 14-16

Noviye Sebirskiye Islands

The New Siberian Islands are virtually unexplored and are uninhabited apart from researchers at a couple of weather stations. Explore the islands with a number of landings in search of wildlife.

Day 17

East Siberian Sea

You’ll be glad of occasional sea days like this to relax and recharge ready for more adventures. Enjoy the opportunity to sleep in, edit some photos, or chat to your fellow guests.

Day 18

Medvezhyi Islands

If you were hoping for more polar bears, here they are! With a healthy population of bears, these seldom visited islands are covered in tundra and bears are frequently spotted roaming in search of food.

Day 19

Ayon Island and Village

Home to a small group of Chukchi reindeer herders, you’ll be able to learn a little about reindeer herding, and the way of life up here in the High Arctic. Reindeer are also surprisingly photogenic, so enjoy this opportunity to take some pictures.

Day 20

East Siberian Sea

Three of Siberia’s major rivers flow into the East Siberian Sea, and you’ll be sailing through a region rich in history, with stories of ships trapped and crushed in ice in the days of early explorers.

Days 21-23

Wrangel Island

A Federal Nature Reserve, of significant importance, and a World Heritage Site, Wrangel Island is a major polar bear denning area. It is also the last landfall for migratory species flying north, with thousands of birds migrating here to breed, including snow geese, snowy owls, skuas, Arctic terns and ivory gulls. There is never a shortage of bears on the island, and many ships report sightings of multiple bears at one time, something rarely seen elsewhere in the Arctic.

Day 24

Kolyuchin Island

Today you’ll land on Kolyuchin Island where there is an abandoned Polar research and weather station. Abandoned buildings up here in the Arctic have a strangely melancholic feel to them but are beautiful to photograph. Most people find it’s difficult to imagine living in such a stark wilderness.

Day 25

Cape Dezhnev and Uelen Village

This morning you will be at Cape Dezhnev, the eastern extremity of the Eurasian continent. You’ll get to visit the nearby village of Uelen where you’ll have the opportunity to meet and chat to some of the local Chukchi people, as well as enjoying a cultural performance and a visit to the amazing bone-carving studio.

Day 26

Whale Bone Alley

Visit Whale Bone Alley on Yttygran Island, one of the most intriguing archaeological sites in the Arctic, in an area known for whales. In the afternoon you will get to visit the Gil’mimyl Hot Springs.

Day 27

Gulf of Anadyr

With a final day to enjoy lectures and relax on board, look out for birds and whales as you sail towards Anadyr.

Day 28

Anadyr

After a final breakfast, it’s time to say goodbye to the team and your new friends. It’s time to disembark, and transfer to the airport or a central downtown hotel where your trip ends upon arrival.

Trip Details

Small group Safari

This is a small group, set departure on board the Akademik Shokalskiy, a recently refurbished 48 passenger ship. The itinerary listed here is subject to change based on permits and approvals, and could change at any time. Flexibility is key with expeditions like this one.

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Your Next Steps

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