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The Sea of Okhotsk
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Travelers should be in good health and comfortable walking or standing for extended periods of time. Daily activities may include walking tours, visits to sites, safari drives, and easy hikes; and some days will have more physical activities such as longer hikes, kayaking, snorkeling, or biking.

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Premium expeditions are led by a National Geographic expert, an expedition team, or top guides, and tap into National Geographic's worldwide resources to allow for in-depth exploration and special access to sites and experts in the field. Itineraries are fully planned, with some free time. Accommodations are high-end or best available. Ground transportation and most meals and activities are included in the trip price.

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Expedition Overview

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An expedition cruise that will take you into the heart of the Sea of Okhotsk, sailing from Japan and journeying towards the striking Kamchatka. Embark on a remarkable 15-day expedition to explore a largely undiscovered region which is home to an abundance of unspoiled islands. The pristine lands of the Russian Far East offer a wealth of spectacular scenery that cannot be found elsewhere. The sea and land are teaming with a profusion of exotic wildlife including the native ribbon seal, Steller sea lions and the Kamchatka brown bear. Complete your expedition in the spectacular surroundings of Kamchatka, where volcanic landscapes dominate.

This Expedition Cruise is onboard Ponant’s Le Soléal ship, part of the Sisterships fleet. View full details including deck plans and features onboard here.

Flight Petropavlovsk / Seoul + transfers included

Trip highlights

Explore these idyllic islands more intimately with shore visits in Zodiac® inflatables with a team of experienced naturalist guides.

Witness an abundance of varying landscapes including uninhabited islands, mountains, forests, volcanoes and ice floe.

Experience the Sea of Okhotsk alongside a National Geographic Photographer and Expert, who are specialised in the destination.

Andrew Evans
Contibuting editor, National Geographic Traveller

Author, travel writer, and TV host Andrew Evans has completed some 50 assignments for National Geographic, reporting live from all seven continents and more than 100 countries. For years a contributing editor for National Geographic Traveler magazine and its “Digital Nomad,” Andrew holds degrees in geography and Russian foreign policy and is fluent in Russian and French. He is the author of five books, including two bestselling guidebooks, and his award-winning memoir The Black Penguin, which the New York Times picked as one of “Summer’s Best Reads.” Andrew has received four Lowell Thomas Awards from the Society of American Travel Writers. He will share his knowledge of the geography, history, and culture of Cape Verde, the Bijagos, and the Kurils on upcoming National Geographic expeditions with Ponant.

  • 16 Jun 2020
Jasper Doest

Dutch photographer Jasper Doest specializes in conservation issues and wildlife photography, emphasizing the beauty and fragility of our planet. After an ecology major specializing in Arctic ecosystems, Jasper decided to become a photographer in order to bridge the gap between the human and the natural world. As a Fellow of the International League of Conservation Photographers, his photographs have received multiple awards and appeared in numerous publications, including National Geographic, GEO, and Smithsonian. Jasper’s photographs of Japanese macaques, popularly known as “snow monkeys,” received recognition in the prestigious Wildlife Photographer of the Year competition and appeared in the October 2016 issue of National Geographic magazine. His work highlighting “Flamingo Bob” — a rescue who is serving as a “spokesbird” for environmental awareness — earned two 2019 World Press Photo awards and was featured in National Geographic magazine in February 2020. Jasper frequently lectures on photography, conservation, and global sustainability and has presented at venues such as the United Nations Climate Change Conference in Bonn and The Royal Geographical Society in London. Doest furthermore recently received a World Press Photo award for the continuation of his work in Japan.

  • 26 Jun 2020
Itinerary - 15Days

1 Otaru, Hokkaido, Japan

Otaru is a lively harbour town that is the ideal location to embark on your expedition cruise. Bordered by the Sea of Japan, Otaru is a former industrial capital of which the influence is still visible today. The town’s open canals along with its 19th-century brickwork make for a striking city, particularly when covered in snow during the winter months.

2 Korsakov

Korsakov is a fishing port town located in the southern part of Sakhalin Island. This city offers a mix of Russian and Japanese structures. During your visit, you can go up the hill just behind the cruise terminal for a great view over the harbour or take a trip to Yuzhno-Sakhalinsk to learn about the local history and folklore as well as discover some of the island’s diverse flora and fauna.

3 Tulenyi

Tyuleniy is a small uninhabited island full of wildlife, especially auklets, Northern Fur Seals and Steller’s Sea-Lions. Approaching the island by Zodiac® can be an amazing show, as the animals rush to the water to welcome visitors.

4 Nabilskiy Bay

Nabilskiy Bay is located on the northeastern coast of Sakhalin Island. In this area, fishing is one of the most typical activities, although the exuberant nature offers you some very nice hikes and you can also visit some archaeological sites.

5 Piltun Bay

Piltun Bay, in the north-east of Sakhalin, is an important site for the highly endangered Western Grey Whale. There’s also a high variety of seabirds, so try to spot some Aleutian Tern and Steller’s Sea-Eagles ashore.

6 Iony Island

Another spot of this biologically rich area is Iony Island, which lies in the middle of the Sea of Okhotsk. Although very small in size, it’s a paradise for wildlife. Bird species such as guillemot, kittiwakes, or aukllets, and a huge amount of Steller’s Sea Lions occupy the few rocky beaches.

7 Okhotsk

Okhotsk is a little bustling town located where the Okhota River meets the Sea of Okhotsk. This town is the centre of commercial fishing in the region. Get to know the welcoming locals of the region and admire the great diversity of wildlife.

8 Magadan and Zavyalov Island

The coastal town of Magadan is surrounded by wild landscapes with endless pine trees and vast rushing rivers. During Stalin’s reign, a lot of people were sent to the area of Kolyma to work in labor camps under extreme conditions. The monument of the “Mask of Sorrow” symbolizes eternal grief for the losses during the Soviet era. Walking through the city centre, you´ll find buildings in the Stalinist Empire style, including some Baroque elements.
Zavyalov Island is a relatively large mountainous island located in northern part of the Sea of Okhotsk, close to Magadan. Visiting this uninhabited island might give you the chance to get up close with some of the area's wildlife, including seabirds and sea lions.

9 Sailing Along Krutogorova River

During your expedition, sail along the peaceful Krutogorova River. The Krutogorova River displays an extremely complex interconnection with a floodplain throughout boasting a freshwater way or a whole host of marine wildlife. The unexplored river flows west for nearly 200 miles to the famous Sea of Okhotsk.

10 Atlasovo

Head south to the Kuril islands, a vast chain of volcanic islands separating the Sea of Okhotsk and the Pacific Ocean. These islands offer a fascinating primitive ad authentic beauty. Atlasovo Island is named after the Russian explorer Vladimir Atlasov, and it was the first of the Kuril Islands to be discovered. It offers many black sand beaches, rocky and lush coastlines, and a volcano that has inspired many legends.

11 Antsiferov Island and Ostrova Ptich'i, Sakhalin Oblast

Antsiferov Island is a remote, uninhabited island in the northern Kuril Islands chain.
The volcanic island is home to a wealth of rich wildlife including Steller sea lions, northern fulmars and tufted puffins.
Sakhalin is the largest island in Russia, just north of Japan. The island is covered with dense forests, mostly coniferous which ensures a diverse growth of native plants. Wildlife on the island consists of bears, foxes, otters, and sables as well as reindeer in the north and whales such as the North Pacific right whale, the bowhead whale, and the beluga whale.

12 Kambalnaya Bay

Kambalnaya Bay posses’ luscious green landscapes alongside fresh water making it an ideal spot for brown bears. You may be lucky enough to catch adult bears and their cubs during your expedition cruise to the Sea of Okhotsk.

13 Vestnik Bay

Part of the protected Yuzhno-Kamchatsky nature reserve, Vestnik Bay is the perfect stopover to witness local wildlife. From tufted puffins to spectacled guillemots, arctic foxes to bears, there is a wealth of wildlife in the forested areas that surround the bay. Head to shore on a Zodiac inflatable and enjoy the spectacular views from land.

14-15 Petropavlovsk-Kamtchatski

Petropavlovsk is the oldest town in the Russian Far East ensuring its history is prominent throughout. The relatively quiet town is surrounded by active volcanoes making it a popular destination for visitors. The town was established in 1740 when the ships Saint-Pierre and Saint-Paul first entered the bay. The quiet town is home to the Military Glory Museum and a wealth of natural landmarks that make up the backdrop for the town. Avacha Bay is one of the most beautiful, and largest in the world. It is overlooked by two giant volcanoes and surrounded by a long line of snow-capped mountains.