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Russia – Wrangel Island Photo Expedition 2021

Russia – Wrangel Island Photo Expedition 2021

US$11,500 per person sharing


05 July 2021 – 19 July 2021

Join ORYX Photo Tours in partnership with Heritage Expeditions as we journey to Far East Russia to Wrangel Island and its surrounds. This unique Russia Photo Tour crosses the Arctic Circle and covers a significant section of the wild North Eastern Siberian coastline. It is a voyage only made possible in recent years by the thawing in the politics of the region and the retreat of summer pack ice in the Chukchi Sea. The very small distance between Russia and the USA along this border area was known as the Ice Curtain, behind which then and now lies one of the last great undiscovered wilderness areas in the world.

Untouched by glaciers during the last ice age, this island is a treasure trove of Arctic biodiversity and is perhaps best known for the multitude of Polar Bears that breed here. It also boasts the world’s largest population of Pacific Walrus and lies near major feeding grounds for the Gray Whales that migrate thousands of kilometres north from their breeding grounds in Baja, Mexico. The ‘mammoth steppe’ vegetation complex, a rich and diverse relic from the Pleistocene epoch nurtures over 400 plant species and never fails to astound visitors with its sublime beauty. The number and type of endemic plant species, the diversity within plant communities, the presence of relatively recent mammoth tusks and skulls, a range of terrain types and geological formations in the small geographical space are all visible evidence of Wrangel’s rich natural history and its unique evolutionary status within the Arctic.

The expedition team will take us on guided walks, zodiac cruises and provide lectures to help better understand and appreciate this unique High Arctic landscape, all while being able to capture its natural splendors with our lenses.

Why this Russia Photo is for You

Destination Allure

Visit one of the last great undiscovered Arctic wilderness areas in the world found on the North Eastern Siberian coastline.

Number of Species

Enjoy arctic splendor, including Polar Bears, Walrus, Arctic Fox Reindeer, Musk Ox, whales, numerous bird species such as Puffins, Guillemots, Gulls, Cormorants and migratory birds such as Snow Geese, Snowy Owls, skuas, Arctic Terns, Ross’s, Sabine and Ivory Gulls.

Time of Year

As the summer pack ice retreats, the wildlife found here on the ice, roaming the tundra and in the water will be on full display for our delight.

Freedom to Explore

For 15 days we will cruise to the ideal islands and locales found in and among Wrangel Island that offer the best wildlife opportunities & vistas. Zodiac trips will be incorporated to get closer to mammals and birds, as well as island landings in order to explore this relatively untouched wilderness on foot.

Private Expedition ship

Local knowledge of the region and its surroundings is key to crafting the ultimate photo tour experience. Combined with the photographic expertise of your ORYX Photo Tour Leader, you are in for an adventure that few will have the opportunity to experience.

Dale Morris - ORYX Photo Tours

Dale Morris

15 Days
10 Guests & 1 ORYX Leader
  • Destination
  • Departure
    Anadyr, Russia
  • per person sharing
  • Photographic Highlights
    Polar Bears, Walrus, Arctic Fox Reindeer, Musk Ox, whales, numerous bird species such as Puffins, Guillemots, Gulls, Cormorants and migratory birds such as Snow Geese, Snowy Owls, skuas, Arctic Terns, Ross’s, Sabine and Ivory Gulls
  • Guide

Day 0: Nome, Alaska

Those departing from Nome, Alaska, should arrive in Nome before midday and preferably the previous night. On arrival, you should check in with Bering Air at the Nome Airport who will have details of our charter flight. During this flight, you will cross the International Date Line, arriving into Anadyr on Day 1 of the expedition. Upon arriving you will clear Russian Customs and Immigration.russia photo tours

Day 1: Depart Anadyr, Russia

Today our adventure commences in Anadyr! Depending on your time of arrival you may have the opportunity to explore Anadyr, the administrative centre of the Chukotka region, before getting to know your fellow voyagers and crew on board the Kapitan Khlebnikov. If flights are on time, we will depart Anadyr this evening.

Day 2: Anadyrskiy Bay and at Sea

As we sail across Anadyrskiy Bay towards the Bering Strait there will be introductory lectures, an introduction to the staff and ship and a series of compulsory briefings and drills. There will also be a chance to relax or enjoy some ‘birding’ with our naturalists and/or settle into ship life and, for many of you, adjust to the time changes.russia photo tours

Day 3: Lavrentiya and Cape Dezhnev

This morning on our Russia Photo Tour, we arrive in Lavrentiya Bay to visit the Chukchi region’s administrative centre of Lavrentiya. The place takes its name from James Cook, who landed here on St. Lawrence’s Day in 1778. We will explore the township and have the opportunity to view the mythical figure ‘Pelikan’, a Chukotkan sculpture which is said to have special powers and also visit the local museum which displays an interesting insight into Yupik and Chukchi cultures. There may even be an opportunity to view Chukchi song and dance and to interact with the locals. Sea conditions permitting, we will land at Cape Dezhnev this afternoon.

Day 4: Kolyuchin Island

On the north-western end of the island are some of the most amazing bird cliffs in the Arctic! Comprising of Puffins, Guillemots, Gulls and Cormorants that can all be observed and photographed from just metres away.

Days 5 to 9: Wrangler & Herald Islands

Ice and weather conditions permitting, we will spend the next few days of our Russia Photo Tour on Wrangel Island and, if possible, we will also include a visit to nearby Herald Island. Wrangel Island is one of those islands that you have to visit to appreciate. A lot of its significance lies in the fact that it is a major Polar Bear denning area. In fact, it is sometimes referred to as a Polar Bear maternity ward on account of the large numbers of cubs born there. It is also the last landfall for migratory species flying north. Each summer thousands of birds migrate here to breed, including Snow Geese, Snowy Owls, skuas, Arctic Terns, Ross’s, Sabine and Ivory Gulls. There are many landings that we can make to search for wildlife, wild flowers and Arctic landscapes. Polar Bears will be high on our list of animals to see and with a little patience, we should be rewarded with a number of encounters. Reindeer and Musk Oxen were introduced to the island in 1948 and 1975 respectively, though the former’s numbers are low.

Day 10: At Sea, Bering Strait and North Siberian Coast

As we sail south through the Chukchi Sea there will be opportunities to download memory cards, share conversations and recap on our time at Wrangel Island. Our expedition takes us through the Bering Strait passing the Diomede Islands, which is sometimes called Tomorrow Island or Yesterday Isle because they straddle the International Date Line. Here Russia and the United States are separated by only 2.3 nautical miles of ocean. We will remain in Russian territory as we cruise south past the islands.

Day 11: At sea & Unnamed Bay

This afternoon on our Russia photo tour, we plan to visit Unnamed Bay. Surrounded by hills, we will explore the bay’s tundra terrain as the protected peninsula provides a great opportunity to stretch our legs after the transit south. Walks skirt up to a summit that has stunning views out over the bay, as well as a sheltered lagoon and a braided river beneath. The landscape is breath-taking with big sweeping valleys and lunar-like hill tops devoid of vegetation. Sculptured geological formations stand high above the water and Brown bears may be present fishing in the river or loping across the valley.

Days 12 to 13: Penkigngey Bay, Gil’mimyl and Arakamchechen, Yttygran and Nuneangan Islands

We will spend the next two days of our Russia Photo Tour exploring the East Siberian coastline and inlets.

Day 14: Preobrazheniya Bay

This morning we will be in the vicinity of Preobrazheniya Bay where there are some outstanding ‘Bird Cliffs’ which we will cruise past on Zodiacs. The rock faces, ridgelines and soaring granite spires are home to an abundance of bird life, including Common and Thick-billed Murres, Black-legged Kittiwakes, Least and Crested Auklets, Vega Gulls and Arctic Tern. Both Horned and Tufted Puffins are normally in vast numbers stretched along cliffside grasses. This evening there will be a recap and a disembarkation briefing, followed by some relaxation as we sail across Anadyrskiy Bay towards Anadyr. Tonight, we will enjoy a farewell dinner to celebrate our journey.

Day 15: Anadyr

After breakfast, it will be time to say our farewells. There will be a complimentary transfer to the airport or to a central hotel of your choice. Those returning to Nome will join a charter flight that will depart Anadyr around midday and, because of the International Date Line, will arrive back in Nome on the evening of the previous day. However, we strongly advise that you do not book any onward travel from Nome until the following day to allow for possible delays in the charter flight. Those returning to Moscow can either be transferred to the airport or a hotel in Anadyr, depending on their flight times. ***During our voyage, circumstances may make it necessary or desirable to deviate from the proposed itinerary. This can include poor weather and/or opportunities for making unplanned excursions. Your Expedition Leader will keep you fully informed.
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