- 15 Days
- Tokyo, Japan - Sapporo, Japan
- Voyage code:
- Sylvia Earle
from USD $12,955.50/pp Save 10%*
See 'Cabins & Prices' tab for discounted rates. Price inclusive of charter flight/s
Draped across the north Pacific Ocean from Hokkaido, Japan, to Russia’s Kamchatka Peninsula, the 22 islands and 30 islets of the Kuril Islands form a necklace of active volcanoes and sea-sculpted coastlines waiting to be explored. Nutrient-rich waters washing this ‘Pacific Rim of Fire’ teem with marine life, from sea otters to harbour seals, Steller sea lions to orca, Dall’s porpoise to beaked and sperm whales. The islands form a natural ‘flyway’ for migratory birds including both horned and tufted puffins, whiskered and rhinoceros auklets and exquisite little murrelets. You’ll Zodiac into flooded calderas, beneath soaring bird cliffs, to landings where brown bears fish for salmon. The fittest may even attempt to attempt to climb a volcano. Every day brings new adventure.
All cabin prices are inclusive of charter flight.
- Marvelling at the sun-kissed beauty of snow-capped volcanoes, slowly revealed by rising sea mists
- Supercharged birdwatching along a migratory flyway alive with Siberian ruby throats, rough legged buzzards, snow buntings, spectacled pigeons, tufted puffins and rhinoceros auklets
- Zodiac cruising through waters boiling with Steller sea lions and pups, thousands of crested auklets and into the flooded caldera of Broutana Bay, an abandoned, secret submarine base from Soviet time
- Trekking through a kaleidoscope of landscapes, from megaherb and coniferous forests to grasslands, lava fields and the flanks of active volcanoes. Watch for brown bears and cubs, and historical remains of Ainu (indigenous Japanese) settlements and World War II battles
In true expedition style we encourage exploration and adventure, offering flexibility in challenging environments in a way that puts you among the action to see and do as much as possible. This itinerary is only a guide and subject to change due to ice and weather conditions.
Day 1 Tokyo
Upon check-in at Hotel Nikko Narita Airport, reception staff will provide you with Aurora Expeditions cabin tags. Please fill out the luggage tags clearly, showing your name and cabin number to allow us to deliver your luggage to your cabin ahead. At our voyage briefing, enjoy a welcome drink and meet fellow expeditioners, before spending the night in preparation for your charter flight to Petropavlovsk-Kamchatskiy.
Accommodation: Hotel Nikko Narita Airport
Day 2 Petropavlovsk-Kamchatskiy
Board our charter flight to Petropavlovsk-Kamchatskiy to embark the Sylvia Earle. After boarding, there is time to settle into your cabin before our important safety briefings. This evening meet your expedition team and crew at the Captain’s Welcome Dinner.
Days 3-4 Russkaya Bay & Vestnik Bay
Lush valleys and snow-capped volcanoes welcome you to Kamchatka’s east coast, where brown bears feast on berries and salmon. In Vestnik Bay, we explore the coast of Utashud Island by Zodiac, home to shy otters, Steller sea lions, seabirds and Kamchatka brown bears. Rounding Cape Lopatka, Kamchatka’s most southern point, you land in Kambalnyi Bay, to stretch your legs beneath the magnificent 2,161m volcano, Kambal'naya Sopka. Across Kuril Strait, cruise kelp beds off Shumshu Island in search of curious otters ferrying pups, and the bobbing heads of spotted seals. Explore the bird cliffs of Ptichi Islands alive with puffins.
Day 5 Shumshu Island, Atlaslova Island
Ashore, on Shumshu, a peaceful river snakes through grassy wetlands where lady-slipper orchids and wild roses bloom. On Atlasova, you land beneath a wind-sculpted hill of volcanic ash to explore remains of a Soviet gulag in the shadow of a near-perfect 2,339m volcano, Alaid, the highest in the Kurils. You’ll watch for nesting cormorants, buzzards, Eurasian wigeons, and tufted ducks, while peregrine falcons sometimes soar above the beach.
Day 6 Onekotan Island
Hike across Onekotan’s tundra, as it wakes to summer, and through bonsai pine forests to Black Lake, watching for red foxes and remains of Ainu dwellings. From Onekotan Island, we explore the coastline of nearby volcanic Kharimkotan or Makanrushi Islands by Zodiac.
Day 7 Ekarma Island; Shiashkotan Island
Explore Ekarma, sanctuary to many birds, including puffins, auklets, fulmars and cormorants. Sea otters swim just off the northeastern cape. Vast nesting colonies of storm petrels and remains of Ainu villages await you on Shiashkotan.
Day 8 Srednego Islands; Lovyshki Island
Zodiac cruised around the rugged columnar stacks of the Srednego Islands, home to thousands of nesting seabirds including northern fulmars, guillemots, black-legged kittiwakes, and whiskered auklets. Nearby Lovyshik Islands are small, often fog-bound, rocky islets where you are approached by boisterous Steller sea lions northern fur seals.
Day 9 Broutana Bay & Yankicha Island
We hope to explore the ghostly remains of a secret Soviet Navy base at Broutana Bay on Simushir Island. At the northern tip of the island is a large volcanic caldera, similar to the one found on Yankicha Island, but a lot bigger. The Broutana Bay caldera is over 2 miles (3.2 kilometres) wide, but unlike Yankicha, the Simushir volcano is not active, it is extinct. It’s alleged that the Russian Navy used explosives to create a channel into the caldera to allow the submarines to access Broutana Bay. The channel is only 9 metres (28 feet) deep and 33 metres (100 feet) wide. The weather has to be unfoggy and the sea must be relatively calm for the captain to be able to skilfully steer the vessel into the caldera. Inside the caldera lie the remains of the secret submarine base that once housed some 3,000 people. The weather can change very quickly here and fog often rolls in suddenly making it difficult if not impossible to enter the caldera. If you’re already inside the caldera, the fog can trap you inside. A visit to Broutana Bay is completely weather dependent so here’s hoping for favourable weather on the day.
After then aim for Yankicha Island’s caldera. Intriguing and beautiful, Yankicha island hides a flooded volcanic caldera of emerald green waters. Accessible by Zodiac only at high tide, the lagoon, offers fumarole fields, hot springs and bubbles rising from the sea floor. Walk to the crater rim in search of blue foxes, while at dusk, watch as spectacular concentrations of crested and whiskered auklets stream back from the sea.
Day 10 Brat Chirpoyev, Chirpoy Island
Evocative mists often engulf Chirpoy islands, lifting to reveal dramatic basalt columns of Brat Chirpoyev as you approach by Zodiac, surrounded by thousands of northern fulmars, kittiwakes, the odd puffin and sea otters. Otherworldly roars herald the Steller’s sea lion colony on Chirpoy, with the promise of a hike up the flanks of an active volcano when you land.
Day 11 Bliznecy Island, Novokuril'skaya Bay (Urup Island)
Urup offers 120 kilometres of stunning volcanoes, lush vegetation, lakes and rivers. Cruise the ‘Twins’, a geological wonderland of twisted basalt sea cliffs, hike to Japanese bunkers with spectacular views and tufted puffin nests. On the west coast, you may Zodiac through basalt tunnels of Petroskov Rocks.
Day 12 Tyuleniy Island
Meaning seal in Russian, Tyuleniy attracts as many as 250,000 individuals that gather here each summer during their breeding season. You’ll be greeted by a cacophony of barks as you approach the island by Zodiac. Search the sea cliffs for nesting black-legged kittiwakes; crested, whiskered and rhinoceros auklets; tufted puffins, common and thick-billed murres, and ancient murrelets.
Day 13 Moneron Island
Located in Sakhalin Oblast region, Moneron Island is an uninhabited nature reserve that features a fascinating mix of both Russian and Japanese monuments and landmarks including a Japanese Shinto temple, pedestrian bridge, a Russian cemetery and the remains of a Soviet frontier post dating back to the 1940s. The clarity of the water surrounding Moneron Island comes from the pure water that flows directly from the mountains into the sea. On walks and by Zodiac, we discover the island’s waterfalls and rock shelters, and search for kittiwakes, black-tailed gulls, cormorants horned puffins, and the rare long-billed sea parrot.
Day 14 Korsakov
At Korsakov, at the southern tip of Sakhalin Island, we clear Russian customs for entry into Japan. For much of its history, control of Korasakov oscillated between Japan and Russia, until the town was ceded to the Soviet Union at end of World War Two. You might explore the port town while the Sylvia Earle finalises its exit clearance before departing for Otaru, Japan.
Day 15 Otaru
Disembark in the harbour city of Otaru, Hokkaido. Transfer to Sapporo to continue your journey.
Important note: In the genuine spirit of expedition travel, we encourage exploration and adventure offering flexibility in challenging environments. This itinerary is only a guide and is subject to change due to weather, sea and other conditions beyond our control.
- One night’s hotel accommodation at Hotel Nikko Narita Airport including breakfast on day 1
- Charter flights: Tokyo-Petropavlovsk-Kamchatskiy
- Transfer from airport to pier in Petropavlovsk-Kamchatskiy on day 2
- Transfer from Otaru pier to Sapporo airport on day 15
- Onboard accommodation during voyage including daily cabin service
- All meals, snacks, tea and coffee during voyage
- Beer, house wine and soft drinks with dinner
- Captain’s Welcome and Farewell reception including four-course dinner, house cocktails, house beer and wine, non-alcoholic beverages
- All shore excursions and Zodiac cruises
- Educational lectures and guiding services from expedition team
- Complimentary access to onboard expedition doctor and medical clinic (initial consult)
- A 3-in-1 waterproof polar expedition jacket
- Complimentary use of muck boots during the voyage
- Comprehensive pre-departure information
- Port surcharges, permits and landing fees
- Gratuities for ship crew
- International or domestic flights not mentioned in the itinerary
- Transfers not mentioned in the itinerary
- Airport arrival or departure taxes
- Passport, visa, and vaccination charges
- Travel insurance or emergency evacuation charges
- Hotels and meals not included in itinerary
- Optional excursions not included in the itinerary
- Optional activity surcharges
- All items of a personal nature including but not limited to: alcoholic beverages and soft drinks (outside of dinner service), laundry services, personal clothing, medical expenses, Wi-Fi, email or phone charges
Lectures on wildlife, our environment, history and destinations
Whale and mammal spotting
One of the most exhilarating ways to experience Antarctica, the Arctic or any of our global voyages. The experience of …
One of the most exhilarating ways to experience Antarctica, the Arctic or any of our global voyages.
The experience of sea kayaking in the humbling wilderness of Antarctica or the European Arctic is guaranteed to stir your soul. Paddle between brash ice and icebergs of all shapes and sizes, skim past penguin rookeries or under soaring bird cliffs, or drift quietly as you watch wildlife unobtrusively, absorbing the majestic scenery.
Led by experienced guides, paddling in small groups allows us the opportunity to paddle between ice floes, brash ice and icebergs of all shapes and sizes as well as allowing easy and intimate access to beautiful coastlines.
Rather than travelling large distances, our aim is to see as much as possible. We paddle anywhere between 5 to 15 kilometres (2 to 4 hours) per outing, sometimes taking a snack and a flask of hot chocolate to enjoy on our excursion.
Each group of 4 to 10 kayakers will have their own intimate exploration of the small hidden bays and coasts that may be inaccessible to the Zodiacs and will also make time for their own shore excursions and wildlife encounters.
When we visit the poles, the elements play an important role. It is important that you have an adventurous attitude and understand that our kayaking time will be affected by the weather that we experience.
Even if your experience is limited, we’d encourage you to call us to discuss your suitability. There is often ample time to gain the required experience before you depart. Kayakers should be aged 14 years or over.
- Kayak & Paddle
- Neoprene boots
- Safety gear
- A 15-litre dry bag
- Life jackets
- Dry suits
- Pogies (insulated mittens that attach to your paddle)
Our guides have years of kayaking experience in our destinations. The sea kayaking guide will lead the group on each excursion, explaining facts about the wildlife and other highlights we paddle across. You can view our sea kayaking guides’ profiles here or see below.
How to Book
Please return the kayaking form at time of booking that you would like to include the optional sea kayaking activity for your expedition. Places are limited so we recommend reserving your place early.View more details
The icy waters of Antarctic and the Arctic guarantee amazing new experiences. In 1998 Aurora Expeditions offered the world-first commercial dive …
The icy waters of Antarctic and the Arctic guarantee amazing new experiences.
In 1998 Aurora Expeditions offered the world-first commercial dive trip to Antarctica, and weve built on our polar experience ever since. In Antarctica and the Arctic, we bring you the exciting and unique chance to get a closer look at the amazing marine life of our polar regions.
Antarctic and Arctic diving reveals a world of ice, where glaciers, gigantic icebergs and a unique blend of marine life greet us, making for a very special experience. With numerous diving opportunities along your voyage, no two days will be alike a truly inspiring and unforgettable experience awaits.
To participate in our polar diving activity, all divers must be a trained, certified scuba divers with proof of certification beyond entry level, i.e. Advanced Diver certification or equivalent rating issued by a recognised scuba training organisation.
In addition to this, it is extremely important that adequate training and experience is gained in dry-suit diving, and in the use of other new and unfamiliar equipment to be used in polar waters. To ensure your safety and enjoyment and to avoid any unnecessary problems on the trip, recent diving experience and proof of a minimum of 20 logged dives using a dry-suit is required prior to joining the voyage.
Our team of experienced dive guides have over 20 years polar diving experience and provide divers with detailed briefings and best practice procedures to ensure a safe diving experience. Your dive master will ensure Standard Safety Diving Practices are adhered to at all times.
How to Book
Please return the scuba diving activity form at time of booking. If you have any queries regarding our scuba diving option, please contact our friendly Expeditions Experts for more information.
View more details
Discover the underwater world of Antarctica and the Arctic! Witness wildlife and scenery unlike any other place on earth. Through …
Discover the underwater world of Antarctica and the Arctic!
Witness wildlife and scenery unlike any other place on earth. Through crystal clear waters you’ll discover the amazing mobility and speed of penguins entering and exiting from the ice, marvel at beautiful sculpted icebergs below the water and witness marine life such as crustaceans, isopods, starfish and nudibranchs!
With a longstanding tradition of pushing the boundaries, Aurora Expeditions launched our Antarctic snorkelling adventures in 2014. In 2016 the activity has also been added to a range of our Arctic expeditions. This unique experience will allow passengers to see both destinations in a completely new dimension, witnessing wildlife and scenery unlike any other place on earth.
This latest innovative activity option is led by our expert polar diving guides, and utilises state of the art equipment including drysuits, gloves, hood, fins, mask, and snorkel. Passengers will be provided with all of the training and equipment they need to experience Antarctica from this truly unique angle.
Passengers who take part will enjoy the opportunity to snorkel daily (weather dependent), taking delight in sheltered bays, off shore islands and secluded ship wrecks which make for spectacular wildlife viewing.
Our team of experienced dive guides have over 20 years polar diving experience and provide snorkellers and divers with detailed briefings and best practice procedures to ensure a safe snorkelling and diving experience.
Polar snorkelling requires at least 6 snorkellers for the activity to proceed. Please ask our team for numbers at time of booking.
How to Book
Please return the polar snorkelling activity form at the time of booking. Simply inform our Expedition Experts at time of booking that you would like to include the optional snorkelling activity to your expedition. Places are limited.
For voyages on the Greg Mortimer:View more details
Cabins & Prices
Best of Japan
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Make it a back-to-back & save 5%
Enter a world of mystery and wonder, where 29 of more than 300 volcanoes are active, creating a dynamic landscape of immense beauty. Soak in coastal hot springs serenaded by thundering waterfalls. Zodiac cruise along black-sand beaches, where Kamchatka brown bears and cubs forage, and share swift rivers with Steller’s sea eagles diving on salmon.
Kuril Islands can be combined with Kamchatka & Chukotka KAM006S (17 days) starting 14th Aug 2022.
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*Terms & Conditions apply. Valid on select ship voyages only. Offer is valid on new bookings only aboard the Greg Mortimer or Sylvia Earle which must be booked and deposited by March 21st 2021. Promotion is subject to availability at the time of booking and capacity controlled. The promotion is only available in conjunction with the back to back voyage discount or the loyalty program offer, and not available with any other offer. The promotion can be withdrawn at any time and is not redeemable for cash. Normal booking terms and conditions apply. To confirm your booking, a completed booking form and non-refundable deposit of $2,500 pp in the booking currency is required within 7 days of reserved berth/s. Additional terms and conditions may apply. Please see full terms and conditions.
^Terms & Conditions apply. Additional 5% discount valid on both voyages but two voyages must connect back to back in terms of dates to be eligible. Offer is valid on new bookings only aboard the Greg Mortimer or Sylvia Earle. Promotions are subject to availability at the time of booking and capacity controlled. The promotion is only available in conjunction with early bird voyage discount or the loyalty program offer, and not available with any other offer. The offer can be withdrawn at any time and are not redeemable for cash. Normal booking terms and conditions apply. Please see full terms and conditions.