Tuesday, 27 September 2011

Heritage Expeditions expands Russian Far East exploration

HE_email_banner_2.jpgHeritage Expeditions has launched a new voyage to the virtually unexplored 'Sea of Okhotsk' as part of its Russian Far East programme in 2012. True to the exploratory style of the company, Heritage believes it is only the second expedition of this kind to visit this remote region.

Bounded to the north and west by the Russian continent, the Kamchatka Peninsula to the east, and the Kuril Islands to the south; the 'Sea of Okhotsk' roughly translates as the 'sea of hunters' in the language of its local indigenous people, the first indication of the abundance of wildlife to be found here.

In the mid-19th century, the sheltered sea was a hotbed for whaling which continued until the early 20th century. Despite the hunting and exploration that has occurred here over the decades, this sea remains one of the richest environments in the world for marine mammal life. Species such as endangered Western Grey Whales, Bowhead and Killer Whales frequent the waters; while the rugged coastline offers some of the best birding islands in the world, including the chance to see the rare Steller's Sea Eagle. On land, wild Brown Bears seek out the rich bounty of salmon in the rivers, against a backdrop of magnificent forests, high Arctic tundra, towering volcanoes and stunning wildflower displays.

The Russian Far East has something to captivate every adventurer, with the chance to visit a land steeped in mystery and intrigue and seen only by a privileged few. In addition to its rich natural history, the region is home to the Nivikh, Oroki and Even indigenous peoples - whose descendants can still be found practising a way of life handed down by their ancestors over thousands of years.

Travellers will follow in the footsteps of the great 17th century explorer Vitus Bering, who charted the coasts of the early Russian Empire, and whose legacy can still be seen today, seemingly frozen in time.
In more recent history, during the Cold War, the Sea of Okhotsk was used as a missile and submarine base for the Soviet Pacific Fleet. Until the 1990s, access was restricted even to local Russians, and it was very rare for a westerner to obtain the permits necessary to travel here. It is still considered a 'border zone', and special permits and permissions are needed before non-Russians can enter. The heavy military presence still active in the region today is a reminder of the Cold War and the role it played in the history of the Far East.

This remarkable 18-day 'Sea of Okhotsk' voyage departs on 7 June 2012 from Sakhalin Island. Prices start from US$8,000 per person triple share and include one night pre-voyage hotel accommodation, transfers, all meals, shore excursions, permits and landing fees. Berths are strictly limited and early bookings are recommended. Heritage Expeditions is also able to arrange competitively priced airfares, 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

Heritage Expeditions New Zealand Ltd
Antarctic House, 53B Montreal Street, PO Box 7218 , Christchurch , New Zealand
Free Phone: 0800 262 8873 (within New Zealand)     1800 143 585 (within Australia)
Phone: +64 3 365 3500 Fax: +64 3 365 1300 Email: info@heritage-expeditions.com