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Across The Roof of The World

New ship and new departure now leaving from Nome, Alaska.

The Russian Arctic

Wrangel Island

On hold

A unique expedition that crosses the Arctic Circle, including Wrangel and Herald Islands, two isolated and pristine islands in the Russian Arctic.  The ship also stops along a section of the wild North Eastern Siberian coastline; a journey only made possible in recent years by the thawing in the region's politics and the summer pack ice in the Chukchi Sea. The very small distance between Russia and the USA— this border area was previously known as the Ice Curtain, behind which, then and now, lies one of the last great undiscovered wilderness areas in the world.

Itinerary

Day 1: Nome, USA

Day 2: Provideniya, Russia

Day 3: Yttygran Island and Gil’mimyl Hot Springs

Day 4: Cape Dezhnev and Uelen Village

Day 5: Kolyuchin Island

Days 6 to 10: Wrangel and Herald Islands

Day 11: North Siberian Coast

Day 12: Unnamed Bay and Lavrentiya

Day 13: Bukhta Penkingney and Arakamchechen Island

Day 14: Provideniya

Day 15: Nome, USA

full itinerary

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Wrangel Island is often called the "Polar Bear Nursery of The World" with hundreds of denning bears. It also boasts a musk ox population of nearly one thousand animals, and it is the last place on the planet where the wooly mammoth is known to have survived, roaming right alongside the musk ox, which miraculously managed to dodge extinction. Wrangel also has the highest level of protection of any reserve in the Arctic. 

There is truly no better place on the planet to see polar bears and musk ox up close—but not too close. Polar bears can be seen napping on ice floes, swimming up to the ship (the smell of lunch always invites a curious nose) along with mothers parading their newborns around the tundra,  Meanwhile, musk ox bulls crash heads with one another competing for breeding rights. Plus, the diverse ecosystem of the Arctic in an area that remains both untouched and uninhabited, save for a handful of rangers and scientists.

Very few companies lead to trips to this distant region, but only one, Heritage Expeditions, offers the opportunity to actually spend two days and three nights on Wrangel. Limited to a group of just five guests who stay with the Russian rangers in their huts, the trip to The Roof of The World is a rare opportunity.
 

“This grand wilderness in its untouched freshness ... this severely solitary land in the topmost, frost-killed end of creation.”

John Muir

Heritage Adventurer

Heritage Adventurer is a true pioneering expedition vessel of exceptional pedigree. Often referred to as the ‘Grande Dame of Polar Exploration’ due to her celebrated history and refined design, she was purpose-built for adventure in 1991 at Finland and specifically designed for Polar exploration.

 

Having held records for the most northern and southern Arctic and Antarctic navigations, and for traversing both the Northwest and Northeast Passages, makes Heritage Adventurer perfect for pioneering the Russian Arctic.

Originally designed to accommodate 184 guests, Heritage Adventurer now welcomes just 140 expeditioners ensuring spacious, stylish and comfortable voyages, while a fleet of 14 Zodiacs ensures all guests are able to maximize their expedition adventure

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 A Day Along the Chukotka Coast

During the six-day voyage it takes to reach Wrangel Island, we stop at several villages along the Chukotka Coast, providing a rare glimpse into both human and animal life in this remote region. The Bering Strait is the scene of one of the planet's largest wildlife migrations, including, Beluga, Bowhead, Gray Whales, Polar Bears, Ringed and Ribbon Seal and countless seabirds. On the mainland, we will be treated to a rare buffet of locally (and sustainably) harvested seal and whale meat along with a dance recital in full native dress. Twice a day we get into our Zodiacs, exploring tiny inlets rife with Snow Geese, Snowy Owls, Sabine and Ivory Gulls, Puffins, and more.

As we travel further north and the pack ice gets heavier, we see an increase in Polar Bears along with their cubs. "Daylight" lasts nearly 20 hours at this time of year. Wildlife watching on deck is possible at any time. 

Things that make this trip unique

There are multiple companies offering trips to the Arctic, but Heritage Expeditions continues to be the only company allowed to overnight a handful of passengers on Wrangel. Even without this optional expedition, traveling to the "The Roof of the World" by way of the Bering Strait is an extraordinary adventure. Several years back. more than 250 Polar Bears were sighted on Wrangel during a single cruise.  Although the pack ice is receding throughout much of the world, this particular region continues to offer lots of ice, and lots of animals. For those travelers who typically aren't tempted to board a ship amongst a throng of hundreds or even thousands, there is both intimacy and privacy aboard Heritage Adventurer.

Optional Overland Itineraries 

(limited to five people) $1,450 pp

 

Option 1

Day 1: Doubtful Harbour

On arrival the Overlanders will go ashore and spend the afternoon and evening exploring the area including the nearby spit known for large haul outs of walrus. The overnight accommodation will be Wrangel Ranger huts at Somnitelnaya.

Day 2: Peak Tundra

Travel north firstly over the southern tundra slopes to a mountain pass through the Somnitelnie Mountains and down to a tributary of the Mammoth River, the longest river on the island. In the evening we will enjoy a walk looking for Snowy Owls, Lemmings, Arctic Foxes and a huge variety of High Arctic plants. Stay overnight at the Peak Tundra hut.

Day 3: Academic Tundra (Dream Head)
Continue down the Tundra River to the Academic Tundra, an extensive area that makes up over half the island. There are opportunities to see amazing fields of wild flowers, Musk Oxen, and potentially reindeer. We will return to the ship around midday.

(limited to five people)

Option 2

Day 1: Doubtful Harbour

On arrival the Overlanders will go ashore and spend the afternoon and evening exploring the area including the nearby spit known for large haul outs of walrus. The overnight accommodation will be Wrangel Ranger huts at Somnitelnaya.

Day 2: Neozhidannaya River

Travel west over the tundra as we follow the Mammoth River. Depending on the amount of snow we may need to travel via Devil’s Creek, the archaeological where the remains of a Paleo-Eskimos summer camp were discovered. Enjoy an evening walk on the tundra and overnight at the Neozhidannaya Ranger Huts.

Day 3: Cape Thomas

As we follow the Neozhidannaya River to Cape Thomas on the Western Plateau we will be entering Musk Oxen country, and be on the lookout for this elusive animal. Polar Bears are often seen at Cape Thomas, a known denning site, as well as Snowy Owl, Snow Bunting and Lemming. We will return to the ship around midday.

This Wrangel Island extension is an optional activity and conducted in conjunction with our voyage but independently operated by the Park Rangers. It is subject to minimum numbers, reserve regulations, weather and ice conditions. The journey can involve long hours (up to 12) in an off-road vehicle over rough terrain. Given its location and isolation, occasional extreme weather conditions may be encountered. Participants should be aware that there is no discount or compensation for missed landings that the main expedition makes, possibly including Herald Island while participating in the extension.

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Wild Fibers Exclusive Offer

Save $750 with roundtrip charter flight from Anchorage to Nome, plus pre-departure hotel accommodations.

Cabins and Prices

Complete deck layout and cabin categories: here 

  • Superior Single Cabins on Deck 5 are a spacious 22 sq. mtr. and feature large panoramic windows, king bed, comfortable lounge, writing desk, private en-suite with shower, ample storage and a flat screen entertainment system. $18,450 pp*

  • Superior Cabins on Deck 5 are a spacious 22 sq. mtr. and feature large panoramic windows, king or two single beds, comfortable lounge, writing desk, private en- suite with shower, ample storage and a flat screen entertainment system. $15,575 pp*

  • Superior Triple Cabins on Deck 5 are a spacious 22 sq. mtr.  and feature large panoramic windows, two single beds and one Pullman bed which folds down from the wall, comfortable lounge, writing desk, private en-suite with shower, ample storage and a flat screen entertainment system. $12,450 pp*

  • Superior Cabins on Deck 4 are a spacious 22 sq. mtr. and feature large panoramic windows, king or two single beds, comfortable lounge, writing desk, private en- suite with shower, ample storage and a flat screen entertainment system. $14,975 pp*

  • Main Deck Single Cabins on Deck 3 are a spacious 22 sq mtr. and feature two porthole windows, king bed, comfortable lounge, writing desk, private en-suite with shower, ample storage and a flat screen entertainment system. $17,475 pp*

  • Main Deck Triple Cabins on Deck 3 are a spacious 22 sq. mts. and feature two porthole windows, two single beds and one Pullman bed which folds down from the wall, comfortable lounge, writing desk, private en-suite with shower, ample storage and a flat screen entertainment system. $11,950 pp*

  • * The price listed includes the local landing fees of $500. (All prices are per person in US$).

Learn more about this exciting trip to the Russian Arctic in this issue of Wild Fibers.

Questions and Answers

What's the weather like?

Temperatures can range from the mid-30s to the mid-50s. However, the damp ocean air often makes it feel much colder. Rain is possible during the southern portion along the Chukotka Coast. Once we enter the pack ice the surface temperature decreases but often the sun's reflection makes it feel much warmer. As always, wear layers!

How close will we get to the polar bears?

Close . . . but not too close. The majority of polar bear sightings will be from the deck of the ship as the bears walk across the pack ice.  During our landings on Wrangel, we are well-protected by the Island's rangers. 

What about seasickness?

Typically, the seas in this region are no more or less threatening than in other Arctic regions—this is not like crossing the Drake Passage. However, for those who are prone to seasickness, advance preparedness is the key. 

If this is an expedition, what are the physical requirements?

Each person must be ambulatory, The amount of walking or hiking is at the sole discretion of the individual. Most important is the ability to get into a Zodiac.  There will be helping hands to guide you.

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JOIN US ON THE ROOF OF THE WORLD