“While polar bears are a reasonably regular sight on the 14-night voyages, it is rare to see so many animals on a single trip,” said expedition leader Aaron Russ from on board the Spirit of Enderby expedition vessel.
“Wrangel Island certainly lived up to its reputation as a Polar Bear hotspot, bears were seen everyday and on several occasions we saw more than ten in a single zodiac outing, on two occasions we were treated to the very rare sight of a bear in its snow den,” he said.
“As we approached Wrangel Island, renowned as one of the world’s top polar bear breeding and birthing sites, there was great anticipation as we navigated through the last remnants of the pack ice towards the shore. It was a privilege spending five days under the guidance of local Rangers on the island’s Nature Reserve tracking these magnificent animals, as well as seeing walrus, reindeer, snow geese and the astonishing concentrations of migratory bird species that nest here annually”.
“This remote region near the top of the world is one of the most remote and inhospitable parts of the planet, and holds great significance for the conservation of life on earth,” said Russ.
“Our journey not only includes the isolated Wrangel and Herald Islands but also a significant section of the wild North Eastern Siberian coastline. It is an expedition made possible only in recent years by the thawing in the politics of the region and the retreat of the summer pack ice in the Chukchi Sea. Right on the border between Soviet Russia and the USA, the area was known as the Ice Curtain and today remains one of the last undiscovered wonders of the world,” he said.
Heritage Expeditions has also claimed a world-first on this voyage, being the first passenger vessel ever to visit Russian-controlled Big Diomede or Ratmanov Island in the middle of the Bering Strait. The island is strategically important as it is just over a mile away from Little Diomede which is under American control.
“Our Zodiac cruise along the northern coastline was conducted under the watchful eyes of the Russian Border guards ashore, making for a very interesting and exciting time,” said Russ.
Heritage Expeditions has just released dates and prices for its 2012-2013 ‘Across the Top of the World’ Voyage programme. The next voyages will depart 25 July and 8 August 2012 from Anadyr in Russia.
Prices for the 15-day expeditions start from US$8,900 per person and include one night pre-voyage hotel accommodation, transfers, all meals, shore excursions, permits and a US$500 landing fee. Heritage is also able to assist with competitively priced airfares to Anadyr, as well as additional pre and post voyage touring in the Russian Far East.
For further information phone 1800 143 585 (Australia) or 0800 262 8873 (NZ) or visit www.heritage-expeditions.com