17 - 31 July / 24 August – 7 September, 2020
Shantar islands: snorkeling with bowhead whales and orcas
The exact dates, cost and itinery of the programme will be posted here soon. Contact us to find out all the details.

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.

The problem of Killer whale capturing is extremely relevant in Shantar sea. One of our goals is bringing people's attention to this unethical activity. By organizing ecotours to this region we hope to make a difference in the fight against 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.
Day 1 (17 July / 24 August)
Arrival to Komsomolsk-on-Amur. Night at a hotel.

Day 2 (18 July / 25 August)
Heading to Nikolay bay using 6x6 offroad camper truck (~12 hours drive). Night on the seashore inside the camper.

Day 3-07 (19 - 23 July / 26 - 30 August)
Tours around the tourist sights of the Okhotsk sea near Nicolay bay and Vrangel harbor. Observing bowhead whales, orcas, seals, spawning salmon and most likely even bears. Approaching whales on paddle boards for those who don't want to disturb the peace of these marine giants and free diving with the whales for those willing to get as close as they can.

Day 08-12 (24 - 28 July / 31 August - 04 September)
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.

Day 13 (29 July / 05 September)

Back on land. Heading to Komsomolsk-on-Amur in the same vehicle. Night inside the camper truck.

Day 14 (30 July / 06 September)
Arrival to Komsomolsk-on-Amur. Night at a hotel.

Day 15 (31 July / 07 September)
295.000 RUB per person

17 - 31 July / 24 August – 07 September, 2020

Please note: 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.

  • accomodation at a hotel in Komsomolsk-on-Amur. Transfers within the city;
  • transfer from\to Nikolay bay by camper truck, meals on the way;
  • 10 days of accommodation onboard the vessel (double rooms), all meals, snorkeling with whales and trekking on the islands, lectures by the Team Trip biologist;
  • guiding services;
  • border area and reserve entrance permits.

Additional expenses:
  • plain tickets;
  • emergency insurance covering helicopter evacuation;
  • emergency evacuation with no insurance coverage;
  • additional expenses caused by bad weather conditions, changes in schedules of flights, breakage of personal gear and equipment through the fault of the public visitors, illness, or other unforeseen circumstances.
To-pack list:
  • comfortable waterproof shoes 2 sets (trekking boots, sneakers);
  • thermal underwear;
  • flashlight;
  • insect repellent;
  • waterproof pants, jacket;
  • raincoat;
  • hat, woolen socks, gloves, jacket;
  • towel;
  • personal medication;
  • wetsuit, mask, snorkel, flippers, gloves, socks.

Tour Leader:
Meet Ekaterina Dzhikiya - the marine biologist that will lead the group and provide you with plenty of amazing and fun facts about marine mammals. Having studied orcas as part of FEROP project in far east and having observed marine mammals at the Shantar sea for several seasons she knows the answers to pretty much any question you might come up with. It would be a shame to miss out on such an enriching experience knowledge-wise.

How to get here
There are regular flights to Komsomolsk-on-Amur from Vladivostok (Aurora company, http://www.flyaurora.ru/en) or from Khabarovsk (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).

Additional information.
  • 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 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
    Photos: Sergey Dolya, Ekaterina Djikiya, Grigoriy Tsidulko
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