The Chukotka region of the Russian Far East was the last part of Siberia to be ‘conquered' by the Cossack invaders from the west. The indigenous peoples resisted fiercely, only succumbing in the late nineteenth century. The Soviet regime initially treated them well, but the collectivisation and de-nomadisation policies of the 1930s and ‘40s cut to the very heart of the nomadic lifestyle which they had practiced for centuries and they found it difficult to adjust.

Because of its strategic position, being so close to the USA, the region was very heavily militarised during the Cold War. At one stage military personnel even outnumbered indigenous people. The collapse of the Communist regime in the early 1990s spelt disaster for the people, as they had become dependent upon the state. The election of Roman Abramovich as Governor of Chukotka in December 2000 changed the course of its history. His vision, generosity and leadership gave the people hope and today Chukotka is taking its rightful place in the Russian Federation. It is rich in natural resources and wildlife is abundant.

The people are adjusting to their new world, but it is not easy for many of them, torn between the present realities and their traditional lifestyles which served their ancestors so well. On this special Chukotka expedition we will meet the people, we will see and hear their stories and learn of their love for and strong connection with the land and the sea. We will celebrate with them at the annual Beringia Regatta and Festival and go in search of the special wildlife which inhabits the region. One species we will be particularly interested to see is the Spoon-billed Sandpiper which is close to extinction. This voyage will incorporate an international effort to search for this bird in the areas we visit. We will explore the vast expansive tundra with its wild flowers and dwarf tree species and we will watch for brown bears, reindeer, arctic foxes, ground squirrels and if we are lucky we may also see a wolverine. At sea we will look out for whales and walrus and if ice conditions are suitable, search for polar bears. These are what make Chukotka so uniquely different and so deserving of this special Chukotka expedition.

Opportunities for Cooperation Following the Creation of National Park "Beringia" in Chukotka, Russia On January 17, 2013, Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev signed a decree creating the Russian National Park "Beringia," in the Russian North East region of Chukotka. See more

We look forward to travelling with you on this Chukotka experience and know that you will gain a greater understanding of the people and the place where Russia's day begins. Click map to enlarge

NOTE 1 : You can join this expedition either in Anadyr or in Nome, Alaska. Those starting in Nome will fly by a Heritage Expeditions charter flight to Anadyr and will join the ship and the expedition members who have travelled direct to Anadyr.

NOTE 2: This itinerary will have some logistical improvements made to it following this year voyage. The date, duration and prime content will remain the same.

Day 0: Nome
For those departing Nome, Alaska your journey begins with a flight across the Bering Sea and International Date Line, to the remote port of Anadyr.

Day 1: Anadyr

We join the Spirit of Enderby in Anadyr this afternoon and will depart in the evening. After sailing there will be introductions and safety briefings.

Day 2: Preobrazheniya Bay/Cape Achchen

This morning as we sail across the Gulf of Anadyr there will be lectures and presentations on Chukotka by guest lecturers. This afternoon we Zodiac cruise and land at Preobrazheniya Bay where there are amazing bird cliffs.

Day 3: Mechigmen Lagoon/Masik Archaeological Site

Mechigmen Lagoon has a vast array of habitats suitable for both waterfowl and waders. We plan to spend today exploring the area, recording and photographing what we see. We will also visit Masik, a significant Inuit archaeological site on Mechigmen Spit.

Day 4: Cape Dezhnev and Uelen Village

This morning we plan a landing at Cape Dezhnev. The name celebrates the Cossack Semyon Dezhnev who in 1648 is believed to be the first European to sail through Bering Strait. Nearby are the fascinating remains of the abandoned Inuit village of Naukan. The inhabitants were relocated in the 1950s because it was thought they posed a security risk. This afternoon we visit the village of Uelen. Here we will enjoy the hospitality of the local people and enjoy a cultural performance. We will also visit their bone-carving studio which is famous throughout Russia. Images Cape Dezhnev.

Day 5: Kolyuchin Island/Belyaka Spit

This morning we land at Kolyuchin Island, where there is an abandoned Polar Research and Weather Station. There are also some terrific bird cliffs where it is possible to get some great photos of puffins, guillemots and gulls. Polar Bears are also known in this region but their distribution varies from year to year depending on local ice conditions. This afternoon we will make a landing at Belyaka Spit – it is an interesting site – and we plan to be here tomorrow as well.
Amphitheatre seats for sea cliff bird views   Abandoned polar research station

Day 6: Belyaka Spit

Belyaka Spit at the entrance to Kolyuchin Inlet is a very significant and important wader and waterfowl breeding area in the Arctic. Numerous species either breed, (see expedition dossier for list of breeding birds) moult or congregate here. We plan to spend the entire day here allowing plenty time for observations and photographs. As we depart this evening we will sail close the site where the Swedish explorer Adolf Nordenskiold wintered over on the first ever successful transit of the North East Passage in 1878. If the satellite imagery shows the ice edge nearby (it varies tremendously from year to year) we will cruise along it looking for wildlife including polar bears, walrus and seals.

Day 7: Ratmanov Island

This morning we visit Ratmanov (or Little Diomede) Island. The Border Guards sometimes allow us to Zodiac cruise the spectacular bird cliffs here. Less than one mile away from here and across the International Date Line is Big Diomede Island which is US territory.

Days 8 to 9: Novoye Chaplino/Beringa Festival and Providenyia

Our visit is timed to coincide with the annual Beringia Regatta and Festival. It is one of the most colourful festivals in Chukotka and attracts people from all around the region. Lavrentiya bay was named by Captain James Cook who visited on St Laurence’s day in 1778.We stay at anchor overnight to enjoy all the action over two days of this multi day event. We will also visit the town of Provideniya, formerly an important military town and port in the Russian Far East. Today it is only a shadow of its former self but it has an excellent museum.

Visit a page of images related to this festival



Day 10: Whale Bone Alley and Gil’mimyl Hot Springs

We will start the day with a visit to ‘Whale Bone Alley’ on Yttygran Island, one of the better known archaeological sites in the Russian Arctic. This afternoon we visit the nearby Gil’mimyl Hot Springs.

Days 11: At Sea

We are at sea all day today. There will be lectures and presentations and it will also be a chance to catch up on notes, diaries and to download photographs.

Day 12: Egvekinot

From the small town Egvekinotin in Kresta Bay we will travel by Ural truck inland across the tundra to the point where the 180 Meridian intersects the Arctic Circle. This is a unique opportunity to experience first hand the tundra habitat that dominates so much of Chukotka.
6 Wheel Drive Urals. Photography and wildlife stop Brent at the 180°/66.56° marker. Turn left and after a very long walk you hit Greenwich in London!
Look down The Tundra carpet A pallet of colour and shapes

Day 13: Meechkyn Spit

Our last chance to go ashore and investigate largely unexplored coastal habitat. Again we will be using the opportunity to document and record the birds and mammals seen here. The ornithologists from ‘Birds Russia’ will be keen to see if they locate any of the very rare Spoon-billed Sandpiper.

Day 14: Anadyr

You will wake this morning as we enter the Port of Anadyr. After breakfast you will be taken ashore either to the airport if you have a flight out today or to the town if you have chosen to stay on for a few extra days.  More images of Anadyr.

To allow time for disembarkation procedures we do not recommend booking flights before 13:00hrs.

Enquire for a full itinerary as space does not permit us to include a full list of species that maybe seen or describe activities in detail.


Notes About Chukotka

Notes about the land/ice bridge between Chukotka and Alaska

Mammoths and the Tundra

This trip includes:
Pre/Post cruise transfers, all on board ship accommodation and meals and all expedition shore excursions.

This trip does not include:
All items of a personal nature, laundry, drinks, gratuities. International/domestic flights, visas and travel insurance.