Overview

The Pacific Ring of Fire manifests itself in numerous places on the rim of the Pacific Ocean – but nowhere more dramatically and spectacularly than in the Russian Far East. Here the Pacific plate subducts under the North American plate and the resulting volcanic and geothermal activity has built a unique and amazing landscape. Upwelling from the deep trenches formed by this action and currents around the many islands creates perfect conditions for seabirds and cetaceans.

Consequently, this area is one of the richest in the world both in terms of the number of species, which can be seen, and their sheer abundance. For many, the undoubted highlight is the auks, and during this voyage it is possible to see up to 14 species including Tufted and Horned Puffins, Parakeets, Whiskered and Rhinoceros Auklets, as well as Spectacled and Pigeon Guillemots. Other seabirds regularly encountered include Laysan Albatross, Mottled Petrel, Fork-tailed Storm-Petrel, Red-faced Cormorant, Red-legged Kittiwake and Aleutian Tern. For those keen on cetaceans we can reasonably expect to see Fin, Sperm, Humpback Whales as well as Orca (Killer Whale), Baird’s Beaked-Whale and Dall’s Porpoise.

The region’s human history is equally interesting and fascinating. The original settlers were the Ainu and Itelmen. They were displaced with the arrival of the Cossacks in the 18th Century after the Explorer Vitus Bering put the region on the map. The Soviet empire encompassed the region and at the height of the Cold War, Russia’s formidable Pacific Fleet was based here. The secrecy surrounding the fleet resulted in the region being ‘closed’ even to Russians who were required to get special permits to travel to and within the area. It is only now, three decades since Perestroika, people can travel relatively freely here, although there is still very little in the way of infrastructure for visitors. 

The region we explore on this expedition falls into three quite distinct and unique geographical regions: the Kamchatka Peninsula, the Commander Islands (the western extremity of the Aleutian chain of islands), and the Kuril Islands. Each region is very different, has its own story and, in many cases, localised plants and birds. Join us as we go in search of those people, plants, animals and birds that make this part of the Pacific Ring of Fire so special.

A Rockjumper leader will not accompany the expedition unless a minimum of 10 participants are signed up through Rockjumper. In the case that a Rockjumper leader is not on board, the professional expedition staff will take care of all participants signed up through Rockjumper.

These prices are subject to foreign exchange fluctuations.

Tour Facts Top Birds
Steller’s Sea Eagle; Short-tailed, Black-footed & Laysan Albatrosses; Spectacled & Pigeon Guillemots; Common & Thick-billed Murres; Rhinoceros, Least, Crested, Parakeet & Whiskered Auklets; Long-billed & Kittlitz’s Murrelets; Horned & Tufted Puffins; Red-faced Cormorant; Leach’s & Fork-tailed Storm Petrels; Black-tailed, Slaty-backed, Glaucous-winged, Glaucous, 'Kamchatka' & Black-headed Gulls; Harlequin & Falcated Ducks; Goosander; Aleutian Tern; Long-toed Stint; Far Eastern Curlew; Red-legged Kittiwake; Parasitic & Long-tailed Jaegers; Pomarine Skua; Latham's Snipe; Long-tailed Rosefinch; White-tailed Eagle; Blakiston's Fish Owl; Eastern Buzzard; Japanese Pygmy Woodpecker; Kamchatka Leaf & Lanceolated Warblers; Japanese Robin; Red-flanked Bluetail; Siberian Nuthatch; Japanese Accentor; Chestnut-cheeked Starling; Siberian Rubythroat; Spotted Nutcracker; Grey Bunting; Middendorff’s Grasshopper Warbler; Pechora Pipit; Lapland & Snow Buntings;
Top Mammals
Gray, Sperm, Humpback, Northern Minke, Blue, Fin, Baird’s Beaked & Killer Whales; Dall’s Porpoise; Arctic & Red Foxes; Pacific Sea Otter; Northern Fur, Harbour & Largha Seals; Brown Bear; Steller Sea Lion; Tundra Vole; Musk Rat;
Habitats Covered
open seas, shorelines, coves, volcanic slopes, scrubby birch/alder forest, meadows
Expected Climate
mostly cool to cold
Max Group Size
depending on ship capacity with well experienced expedition leaders
Tour Pace & Walking
easy with some undemanding walks
Accommodation
comfortable ship cabins
Ease of Birding
generally undemanding
Other Attractions
spectacular scenery, snow-covered volcanoes, beautiful wildflowers, abandoned Cold War military bases
Photographic Opportunities
excellent
Tour Route Map Route Map Client Testimonials
Dates, Leaders and Pricing
Tour Enquiry
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