Discover pristine islands and coasts on a near circumnavigation of the Bering Sea
Embark on a voyage of discovery in one of the planet’s most rugged and wildlife-rich regions that’s seldom explored. Covering more than 3,800 nautical miles over 22 days, you’ll have the luxury of time to linger in the Aleutian Islands among the great variety of whales that come here in the summer. You’ll be able to venture along the rugged coast of Russia to the gateway to the Arctic to see colonies of millions of seabirds and wild and pristine rivers and to meet some of the people of the area to learn about their ways of life. Throughout you’ll see wildlife galore, from marine mammals in the Aleutian Islands including sea otters, northern fur seals, and Steller sea lions to coastal brown bears in Katmai National Park and along the Kamchatka Peninsula and much, much more.
Watch brown bears digging for clams or fishing for salmon in Katmai National Park
See Pacific walrus, northern fur seals, gray, humpback, and sperm whales, sea otters, and Steller sea lions
Marvel at cliffs crowded with millions of seabirds—from horned and tufted puffins to murres and rare whiskered auklets
Explore the wild and pristine Zhupanova River, the legendary flagship waterway of Kamchatka, as you search for Steller’s sea eagles and their nests
Visit a Koryak village in northern Kamchatka, and Vitus Bering’s gravesite in the Commander Islands
Covering more than 3,800 nautical miles, and nearly circumnavigating the Bering Sea, this wide-ranging voyage explores one of the most rugged and wildlife-rich regions of the planet. Spot coastal brown bears from Katmai National Park to the Kamchatka Peninsula, search for Steller's sea eagles along the scenically stunning Zhupanova River and be awed by the abundance and variety of marine mammals and seabirds from the Aleutians to the Commander Islands.
Travel aboard any National Geographic Orion or National Geographic Resolution departure and we will cover your bar tab and all tips for the crew.
BRINGING THE KIDS
We believe sharing an expedition with your kids or grandkids is a life-enhancing experience. So take $500 off for each child under the age of 18.
TRAVELING AS A GROUP
Save 5% when traveling as a group of 8 or more people. Take advantage of these great savings, while enjoying traveling with your friends and family. This savings is applicable to voyage fares only, and is not valid on extensions or airfare. Deposit, final payments, and cancellation policies for group travel vary from our regular policies.
Certain offers may be combinable, up to two savings opportunities, except where noted otherwise. For example, travel with a group of 8 or more on back-to-back expeditions, and take advantage of both savings.
Save 10% on any consecutive journeys taken on board one of our expedition ships. This savings is applicable on voyage fares only, and are not valid on extensions or airfare.
Dates, Rates & Cabins
Travel on this itinerary from $27,990 per person
Browse our team directory to discover the full cast of expedition staff
The lodge’s seaside location—on the shore of Kachemak Bay—gives guests unique access to both mainland adventures (glacier hiking, bear viewing & more), and water-based activities. Walk through intertidal zones, visit an oyster farm, and keep watch for whales, seals, and otters in the waterway stretching between the lodge and the well-known town of Homer.
Expedition trips like this often seem to me to be a series of vignettes—of images that are only loosely connected. We hop from place to place in a region, along a course line, but the stops we make are sometimes so varied and so different from each other that they seem like photographs that got dropped into a drawer and mixed up, so that they come out in random order. Today felt particularly like that, largely due to the fog.
We woke and looked out our windows to see…nothing. It was as though someone had hung light gray sheets over all the glass. Nevertheless, the scout boat went ashore, and in due time we navigating the Zodiacs through a narrow entrance into a lagoon and landing at the edge of (what we assumed was) a vast expanse of tundra.
We set out on various walks, and the swirling fog revealed various images. Colorful tundra…a rushing river…gorgeous hills rising all around…magnificently ripe berries…sandhill cranes flapping along in their prehistoric way. But one image that will be forever graven on the memories of all those who got there was the Gil’mimyl Hot Springs.
There was no sign for the place, and no trail to get there. There was just hot water pouring out of a hillside just above the river, a sort of a box dug out of the ground next to it with a bit of decking around it, a plank bench supported by two whale vertebrae, and some very shaky stairs down to the river. But the water was deliciously hot in the pool, and bracingly cold in the river, and the whole experience was wildly fun. The steam from the hot tub rose to mingle with the mist above our heads.
Back on the ship the fog closed us in—the sheets came down over the windows—foiling our plans for whale watching. But later in the afternoon we sailed out of the fogbank and into clear, calm weather, and glorious views of the Chukotka coastline—our final vignette for the day. Tomorrow will bring another series of images and experiences, and I for one will try to be open to all of them.
Heavy fog accompanied
National Geographic Orion
in the harbor in the city of Provideniya, Chukotka today. With a population of just under 2,000 inhabitants, this former town was once a bustling farming and leather tanning location. Just a few years ago there were almost 10,000 people living between both sides of Provideniya Harbor.
The changes in government brought huge changes here, and there are signs of the slow demise of the physical buildings all around. The spirit of the people that live here, however, is as vibrant and strong as it perhaps ever was! With open arms and hearts, we were greeted at the harbor and each of us was shown the parts of town we set our sights on.
Personal highlights for me included an amazing natural history museum with truly dazzling displays of natural and cultural history. There was even a four-tusked walrus skull on display, perhaps one of the very few to be found in the Arctic!
Traditional local people in full regalia as well as Russian dancers performing more European style dances capped off our day with performances. Along with scrumptious local cuisine, the afternoon offered many opportunities to truly experience this part of Chukotka! Spaceba!
It was hard to believe that
National Geographic Orion
crossed the Bering Strait today as we re-entered US waters and said goodbye to Russian waters. We woke to calm seas, so flat it barely felt as though we were underway and not a typical day for this body of water that has long separated Russia from Alaska. As early as the mid-1500s geographers believed a body of water separated Asia from North America. Semyon Dezhnyov is thought to be the first explorer to cross the Bering Strait in 1648, but Danish born Russian explorer Vitus Bering was the first to cross and submit an official report to Europe almost 100 years later and whom the waterway is named for. During the Cold War, the Bering Strait marked the boundary between the Soviet Union and the United States and was known as the “Ice Curtain.” Indigenous peoples were prevented from transiting between the two nearby continents for seasonal trade and celebrations and there was no commercial air or ship traffic allowed.
Back on July 30, we sailed across the International Date Line in route to Russia and in the early morning hours today we passed over it once again. This means that we enjoyed a second August 10th on board and took advantage of our relaxing day at sea. In the morning Naturalist Grace Winer presented “Nome: Gold Rush on the Bering Sea” and fellow guest Dave Weeshoff shared stories and insight on his time spent volunteering with International Bird Rescue. Our day was filled with the exchange of images captured throughout our three weeks together; guests submitted photos to share with shipmates as well as in the photo slideshow. In the afternoon the staff and guests played a game of curiosity called “You Don’t Know Your Expedition Staff,” where guests guessed which staff member held which secret true to themselves. It was a laughter-filled event, as the staff did not even know one another’s secrets! Late in the afternoon, the rain subsided and the fog lifted, allowing us to enjoy one last sunny afternoon across the Bering Strait.
The Chukotka region of Russia’s far east remains the most sparsely populated region in the country, comprising a space six percent larger than the state of Texas but home to a mere 50,000 inhabitants as of 2010. Though human civilization is scarce, wildlife is abundant, and so
National Geographic Orion
sails towards her morning destination.
Our morning visit would include a stop at a nearby Chukchi settlement. Meynypilgino is a small village just inside a wild river mouth open to the sea. This community, one of just 400 people, supports a strong fishing culture and small sockeye salmon fishery. On the way to Meynypilgino, however, the ship saw plenty of wildlife worthy of early waking and special note!
Walruses, the largest pinniped on the planet, curiously popped their heads out of the water at a distance. As the ship steamed past, grey whales spouted their bushy blows and sunk back into their inky waters, searching for critters to feast on. This animal sports an incredibly long migration, calving in Mexico’s Baja California, then repositioning far north into the Bering Sea come feeding season. This migration is notoriously risky, as their main predator patrols the coast in search of young calves, weak adults, and especially the combination. Killer whales are often successful in their take of a grey whale, most notably in the Monterey Bay region of central California’s coast.
Meynypilgino is culturally reverent of the grey whale and walrus that often line their coastline, and do not whale or seal the animals. They are a community founded on fishing (mostly sockeye salmon) and reindeer herding. In the 1990s, the latter was somewhat lost from traditional, a feature that these people have sought to recover.
The ship brought all guests ashore, focusing the visit on a cultural performance. The village’s youth skillfully danced and sang for all present – but that wasn’t all. When the performance ended, all adolescents involved mingled with us, showed the common community games, and practiced their English with all. Fresh salmon, ikura (salmon roe), and freshly baked bread were offered as a mid-morning snack. Town dogs roamed about, fires blazed, and young children snacked on fresh fruit delivered to the village from the ship.
Back onboard, the afternoon at sea began. Smooth seas and reflective water lent itself to aerial bird photography, while naturalist Adam Maire delivered a presentation on grey whale habitat and life history. After the opportunity to rest, Grace Winer took the stage with the fascinating tale of the Harriman Alaska Expedition. A beautiful day concluded with an evening recap and delicious meal – but not to be missed,
National Geographic Orion’s
very own crew show will debut in the lounge tonight!
Misty fog added to the mood and mystique as Zodiacs departed
National Geographic Orion
to circumnavigate Bogoslova Island this morning. Many species of seabirds nest in the safe haven offered here. It was a busy place, with puffins, kittiwakes, murres, cormorants, and gulls coming and going to find food and bring it home. Soon the birds will abandon the island until next nesting season.
National Geographic Orion
re-anchored at Petra Bay for the afternoon. We went ashore at the head of this beautiful bay and took various length hikes. The longer hikers made it to lakes further inland, where a few stopped to take a refreshing dip. Tundra wildflowers abounded and kept photographers occupied for no short period.
This evening the executive chef and galley team prepared a special Far East Russian feast for everyone to enjoy.