Snorkeling with bowhead whales and orcas in Shantar islands
Not many people have heard about Shantar islands. There are even less people who have had a privilege to visit this place. Shantar archipelago, located in the Sea of Okhotsk, is one of the most inaccessible places in Russia where nature is preserved in its primordial condition. Travelers will remember the fantastic landscapes of the Shantar Islands for a lifetime.
The main attraction of Shantar is the local bowhead whale population. These sea giants are the most northern whales in the world (together with narwhals). On account of living beyond the Arctic Circle they are also called Polar or Arctic whales. Only here, in the Sea of Okhotsk, one can find the unique, southernmost population of these animals. We will be able to observe them in a temperate climate, almost on the same latitude as Copenhagen. The local whales are calm and not afraid of vessels, and they often let people get quite close to them.
If visibility allows, we will try to enter the water with bowhead whales and take unique underwater pictures. Bowhead whales hold the record for lifespan among mammals, they live for up to 200 years and, possibly, even more. Sometimes the whales get so close to the shore, they can be observed several meters from land.
In addition to bowhead whales, in the Sea of Okhotsk we may encounter killer whales, who can scare away even the bowheads. Sometimes we also see beluga whales and gray whales. There are several species of seals: bearded seal, largha seal and ringed seal. Brown bears roam on some of the islands. As always in our expeditions, our main aim will be swimming with marine mammals, first of all with bowhead whales. We will learn a lot about marine mammals from the lectures of our guide.
Killer whale capturing takes place in Shantar sea. One of our goals is bringing people's attention to this unethical activity. By making ecoutours to this region we hope to struggle whale capturing.
We will swim with whales and seals, fish for trout and salmon, explore new lands. We will become pioneers and plunge into a completely different world.
Arrival to Komsomolsk-on-Amur. Night at a hotel.
Heading to Nikolay bay using 6x6 offroad camper truck (~12 hours drive). Night on the seashore inside the camper.
Approaching whales on paddle boards and freediving with the whales for those willing to get as close as they can. Tours around the sights of the Okhotsk sea near Nicolay bay and Wrangel bay. Observing bowhead whales, orcas, seals, spawning salmon and most likely even bears.
Cruising around Shantar islands and local bays. Observing bowhead whales and other marine mammals, snorkeling with them. Trekking on the islands. Watching bears and seals. Visiting the abandoned whaling station and meteorologists base. Fishing, lectures about marine mammal biology.
Back on land. Heading to Komsomolsk-on-Amur by the same vehicle. Night inside the camper truck.
Arrival to Komsomolsk-on-Amur. Night at a hotel.
The itinerary is designed for favorable weather conditions and might require adjustment due to changes of the latter. Also it might get adjusted in accordance with the physical fitness of the group members.
We use only the most reliable and comfortable vessels to provide the best experience for our guests.
"Odyssey" catamaran. Comfortable 13-meter sailing catamaran with 4 double cabins.
Spacious and comfortable common area equipped with entertainment systems, large deck for observing nature, toilet and shower with hot water, two 42-hp engines and sails, satellite phone - everything necessary for a long expedition. Catamaran carries 2 inflatable boats for approaching the animals and landings. Cruising speed 8 knots.
Dates and prices
July 17 - 31, 2019 August 24 - September 07, 2019
Price: 265 000 roubles
Stay at a hotel in Komsomolsk-on-Amur. Transfers within the city.
Transfer from\to Nikolay bay by camper truck, meals on the way.
Accommodation onboard the vessel (double rooms) and in land-based camp, all meals, snorkeling with whales and trekking on the islands.
All the documents and permissions from the local authorities.
Airfares and\or bus from Khabarovsk
Kayak\Paddle board rental
Insurance covering evacuation by helicopter evacuation
Evacuation costs in cases not covered by insurance
Extra expenditures due to weather conditions, flight delays, illness, broken personal equipment and other additional costs.
We will do our best to provide you the best possible experience; however, the route may be adjusted due to weather conditions.
Water temperature from +4С to +8С, surface temperature from +10С to +25С
There is little or no mobile coverage in the area. We recommend you to bring your own satellite phone. If you don't have one, the crew can provide you with satellite connection (expenditures not included).
There are regular flights to Komsomolsk-on-Amur (KXK), from Vladivostok (VVO, Aurora company, http://www.flyaurora.ru/en) or from Khabarovsk (KHV, Khabavia company, http://khabavia.ru, website only in Russian). However, local flights are often delayed due to weather conditions and planes don't go every day, so we recommend you fly to Khabarovsk (KHV). There are buses going directly from Khabarovsk airport to Komsomolsk-on-Amur (6 hours drive). We can arrange a private transfer for you upon request (costs not included).