- Explore the rugged coastline of the Russian Far East aboard the National Geographic Resolution, stepping ashore at remote Koryak villages and hiking through breathtaking fjords and valleys.
- Witness a profusion of rare wildlife from the deck of our ship or aboard a nimble Zodiac, from whiskered auklets and northern fur seals to Steller’s sea eagles and brown bears.
- Navigate the Kuril Islands, located between the Kamchatka Peninsula and Japan’s Hokkaido island, and marvel at their fascinating geology as you trek the tundra-covered volcanic slopes.
- Spot the sacred red-crowned crane on a visit to the wetlands of Kushiro in Hokkaido, and learn about the unique culture of Japan’s indigenous Ainu people.
Discover the wild, northeastern most reaches of the Asian continent on an epic journey aboard the National Geographic Resolution. Set sail from Alaska, crossing the fabled Bering Strait to explore the unspoiled shores of Russia’s Chukotka and Kamchatka and regions, where few humans have ever set foot. Navigate the Commander Islands, a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve harboring fascinating wildlife of both Asian and North American origin, and continue south to the remote Kuril Archipelago, a wonderland of volcanic geology, indigenous cultural sites, and diverse flora and fauna. Hike amid the mystical lakes and forests of northern Japan’s national parks, and cap off your voyage in the thriving metropolis of Tokyo.
This trip is operated in collaboration with Lindblad Expeditions.
Arrive in Anchorage and fly to Nome, where we’ll embark the National Geographic Resolution. Settle into your comfortable cabin and set sail, cruising the open seas as we cross the legendary Bering Strait—the narrow passage that links the Bering Sea to the Arctic Ocean and separates North America from Asia.
National Geographic Resolution through day 22
Often called the “gateway to the Arctic,” Provideniya lies at the western edge of the Bering Strait. This former Soviet military port is also the administrative center where we’ll conduct our ship’s clearance into Russia. Visit the local museum to take a look at regional artifacts, photographs, and paintings, and enjoy a traditional music and dance performance.
Over the next several days, we’ll explore the seldom visited Koryak coast and Chukotka Peninsula in the remote Russian Far East. Hike the vast tundra, surrounded by volcanic mountains and diminutive flora, and photograph elusive brown bears, Pacific walruses, and various species of seals in onshore rookeries. We’ll also learn about the local Koryak reindeer-herding culture during a visit to a picturesque coastal village.
Spend two days sailing the wildlife-rich waters of Russia’s Commander Islands, a designated UNESCO Biosphere Reserve. Watch for northern fur seals, Russian sea otters, and flocks of nesting seabirds. Step ashore at Bering Island to visit the gravesite of Danish explorer Vitus Bering, and keep your eyes out for arctic foxes and horned and tufted puffins. Weather permitting, ride Zodiacs to a northern fur seal rookery at Cape Severo-Zapadni
Continue south along the Kamchatka Peninsula and navigate into two pristine rivers, teeming with rainbow trout, salmon, and char. Explore the lower portion of this waterway by Zodiac, seeking out Steller’s sea eagles—one of the largest raptors in the world—as well as wading birds and spotted seals hauled out on the sandbars.
Sail into the protected waters of stunning Avacha Bay, the sea gate to Russia’s Kamchatka Peninsula. Visit the port town of Petropavlovsk-Kamchatskiy, framed by a trio of soaring snow-capped volcanoes: Koryakskiy, Avachinskiy, and Kozelskiy.
We’ll spend the next several days discovering the Kuril Islands, a volcanic archipelago stretching from Kamchatka to the northeastern corner of Japan’s Hokkaido island. Mostly uninhabited, the Kurils boast incredible wildlife, dramatic scenery, and a complex political history. Weather permitting, we’ll visit several of the islands, including Atlasov—home to the archipelago’s highest volcano, as well as the remains of a women’s gulag, or Soviet-era labor camp; Ptichiy island, a haven for migratory birds and sea otters; Shiashkotan, the site of an ancient village of the Ainu—an indigenous people of the Kuril, Hokkaido, and Sakhalin islands; and Simushir, where volcanic peaks loom over an abandoned submarine base.
Enjoy a relaxing day at sea as we cross the Sea of Okhotsk to Korsakov, located at the southern end of Sakhalin, Russia’s largest island. Here, we’ll conduct our ship’s clearance out of Russia.
Arrive in Abashiri on the island of Hokkaido. After our ship’s clearance into Japan, visit the Hokkaido Museum of Northern Peoples, dedicated to the cultures of the indigenous tribes of the Earth’s subarctic regions. Later, we’ll venture to Shiretoko—the “end of the Earth” in the native Ainu dialect. One of Japan’s most spectacular national parks, Shiretoko provides a habitat for numerous species of land and marine mammals, such as brown bears, Steller sea lions, and sperm whales. We’ll also be on the lookout for white-tailed eagles, Blakiston’s fish owls, and Steller’s sea eagles, which spend the winters here.
Cruise Hokkaido’s northeastern coast to Kushiro and head inland to explore Kushiro Shitsugen National Park, Japan’s largest wetland and home to the endangered red-crowned crane, which was thought to be extinct in the early 20th century. Then drive to Akan Mashu National Park, known for its ethereal, mist-shrouded lakes, where we’ll delve into forests of Sakhalin spruce and visit a charming Ainu village.
Dock at Muroran and choose to drive to Shikotsu-Tōya National Park, filled with mirror-like lakes and forest-covered hills set against the silhouette of the snowcapped Mount Yotei stratovolcano. Alternatively, drive to the lush town of Shiraoi to visit the newly opened National Ainu Museum and Park, an open-air museum where visitors can experience various elements of Ainu culture. Our final afternoon will be spent at sea as we make our way toward Niigata.
Disembark in Niigata, facing the Sea of Japan on the island of Honshu. Board a bullet train to Tokyo, and check in to your hotel upon arrival. Spend the remainder of the day at leisure, exploring the vibrant Japanese capital on your own.
Accommodation: Conrad Tokyo
Set out to explore Tokyo today. Visit the serene Meiji Jingu shrine, dedicated to the spirit of Emperor Meiji, who ruled over Japan from 1867 to 1912 and helped transform the country into a modern power. At the Edo-Tokyo Museum, learn about the Tokugawa shogunate, the powerful military government that preceded the Meiji era. Delve into the bustling lanes of the Asakusa district and visit the iconic Sensoji temple, Tokyo’s oldest Buddhist temple. Enjoy a farewell dinner with your fellow travelers tonight.
After breakfast, depart for the airport. Cross the international date line on your overnight flight home.