In the language of its indigenous people, the Sea of Okhotsk translates as something like the ‘Sea of Hunters’ or ‘Hunters Sea’; our first indication of the region’s abundant wildlife. Despite the hunting that has gone on here over the years, this sea remains one of the richest in the world – and yet is so little known. Dominating the Northwest Pacific, the sea is bounded to the north and west by the Russian continent, to the east by the Kamchatka Peninsula, while the Kuril Islands and Sakhalin Island guard the southern border. Its coasts were once home to a number of indigenous peoples: the Nivikh, Oroki, Even and Itelmen – mostly now displaced by the advance of the modern world, though descendants can still be found practising a way of life handed down by their ancestors. The great 17th century explorer, Commander Vitus Bering, launched two expeditions from the town of Okhotsk on the western shores of the sea to explore the coasts of the Russian Empire, and to this day this town remains seemingly frozen in time. Our expedition also visits the town of Magadan; once the gateway to the Kolyma Goldfield where thousands of political prisoners were shipped under Stalin’s regime to work in the mines, typically under brutally harsh conditions.
Man’s treatment of the region’s wildlife wasn’t much better: in 1854 no fewer than 160 American and British whaling ships were here, hunting the Bowhead Whale. Driven almost to extinction, whales are now returning to the Sea of Okhotsk and it is possible to see a number of species, including a rare western population of Grey Whale. The beautiful and rare Ribbon Seal may also be found, shambling on craggy rocks, as can Steller Sea Lions and Northern Fur Seals.
Our expedition will unlock many secrets of this virtually unexplored part of our planet. Some of the many highlights we can look forward to include Talan Island, where we will visit a huge colony of Tufted Puffins, while on the cliffs of forgotten islands we’ll find thousands of other seabirds, with millions more breeding on the various islands scattered across the sea. But birds compose only part of the rich wildlife tapestry of the region: we will see rivers churning with salmon as they roar through taiga forests, wild hills roamed by wolves, Big Horned Sheep, Arctic Fox and, with luck, we’ll even catch sight of the mighty Kamchatka Brown Bear!
Please note: these prices are subject to foreign exchange fluctuations.
Steller’s Sea Eagle, Spectacled & Pigeon Guillemot, Crested, Whiskered and Parakeet Auklet, Red-faced & Pelagic Cormorant, Ancient Murrelet, Tufted Horned Puffin, Fork-tailed Storm Petrel, Short-tailed Shearwater
Western Grey, Bowhead, Northern Right, Beluga, Humpback & Fin Whale, Orca, Bearded, Ringed, Ribbon & Largha Seal, Steller’s Sea Lion, Kamchatka Brown Bear, Wolverine, Siberian Musk Deer, Big Horned Sheep, Arctic Fox, Sea Otter
open seas, shorelines, coves, rivers, taiga forest, meadows
mostly cool to cold
easy with some undemanding walks
spectacular scenery, numerous historical sites and structures, beautiful wildflowers