High Arctic Odyssey: Remote Russian Archipelagos
Explore the most enigmatic and extreme regions of the Russian High Arctic. From the heavily glaciated Novaya Zemlya and Franz Josef Land to the isolated islands of the icy Kara Sea, this exclusive itinerary was designed to spend more time exploring these pristine places, increasing your chances of encountering unique wildlife and visiting some of our favourite far-flung destinations steeped in polar history.
Highlights include: Experience a true expedition as you explore rarely visited Severnaya Zemlya; encounter iconic arctic wildlife such as polar bears, walrus and seabirds; explore glaciated Novaya Zemlya, where the earliest Arctic explorers overwintered; visit significant sites at Franz Josef Land and learn about the region's storied history; and discover rarely visited islands of the icy Kara Sea.
Your Ship: The Quark Expeditions fleet never exceed more than 200 passengers , which gives guests the best polar experience on a smaller ship. Their ice strengthened vessels are built for challenging polar environments, which takes you to places ordinary cruise companies wouldn't dream of going.
Ocean Adventurer: A long been a favourite among guests with ample outdoor deck space, numerous cosy spots to socialize onboard, plus the outdoor jacuzzi.
Day 1: Helsinki, Finland Your arctic adventure begins in Helsinki, renowned for its extraordinary architecture and design scene and intriguing mix of eastern and western influences. If you arrive early, explore the many museums, galleries and restaurants, relax at a Finnish sauna or wander the vibrant Design District before retiring at your included hotel.
Day 2: Embarkation in Murmansk, Russia After breakfast, transfer to the airport and board the private charter flight to Murmansk, Russia. Once aboard, get acquainted with the ship and crew and settle in for your voyage north.
Days 3 - 4: At Sea Today you sail through the Barents Sea, named for the great Dutch explorer Willem Barents, who led two expeditions to Novaya Zemlya in the 1590s. Your Expedition Team will prepare you for the adventures that await. Learn about the storied history and politics of the region, its fascinating wildlife, geology, ecology and climate, and the incredible sights you will soon explore. Expedition staff will also keep a lookout for the seabirds, such as kittiwakes, skuas and fulmars, soaring above your ship. Whale and seal sightings may also be possible in this biologically rich sea.
Days 5 - 7: Exploring Novaya Zemlya The largest of the Eurasian arctic archipelagos, the rarely visited Novaya Zemlya ("New Land") is the third-largest wilderness area in Europe. This seemingly long, thin island actually consists of two main islands, Severny (northern) and Yuzhny (southern), separated by the imposing Matochkin Strait. These islands are pure, rugged arctic beauty at its best - massive extinct volcanoes, jagged ice cliffs and the most isolated mountain range in the Barents Sea.
As you explore Novaya Zemlya, expect a new adventure every day. Each expedition will be unique, depending on the weather and ice, but a few landing sites you might visit include Inostrantseva Bay, the Oransky Islands, Cape Zhelaniya, Cape Spory Navalok and Russkaya Gavan.
Boasting one of the most picturesque glaciers in the entire archipelago, Inostrantseva Bay provides breathtaking panoramic views of pristine arctic wilderness. If conditions allow, you may explore ashore, or Zodiac cruise along the face of the glacier, at a safe distance, possibly witnessing the wonders of calving ice. Encounters with Brunnich's guillemots (thick-billed murres) are likely, owing to a small colony in the coastal cliffs.
To the east side of Severny Island are the Oransky Islands. Wildlife abounds here, with a variety of animal and plant life to be discovered, and walrus have been sighted here on many previous expeditions. Coming across a walrus haul-out is unforgettable. These giant pinnipeds of the Arctic create a raucous chorus as each walrus vies for a choice spot of coastline. Encounters with whales and seabirds are possible, as well as polar bears, a genetically distinct subpopulation here.
A significant site in polar exploration, Novaya Zemlya also offers a number of opportunities for you to trace the footsteps of famous explorers and reflect on the region's history.
Days 8 - 13: Exploring the Kara Sea and Severnaya Zemlya Say goodbye to Novaya Zemlya as you cruise farther east, exploring the Kara Sea. The westernmost Asian sea off Siberia, the Kara Sea is known as the "ice cellar" of the Arctic, as it is often encumbered by trapped ice floes. Ice conditions will be considered by your skilled captain during navigation - luckily sea ice happens to be a great habitat for iconic arctic wildlife. There are several sites and small archipelagos along the Siberian coast that you might explore, tracing the path of polar explorers searching for the Northeast Passage. Weather and ice will determine where you explore, but some areas you might visit include Russky Island, Troynoy Island and Cape Chelyuskin.
Both Russky Island and Troynoy Island are part of the Great Arctic State Nature Reserve, the largest reserve in Eurasia. Russky Island is the site of a former polar station, established, in part, to monitor navigation along the Northern Sea Route, the Russian section of the Northeast Passage.
Troynoy Island is the largest of the Izvesti Tsik Islands, about 150 kilometres off the coast of the Taymyr Peninsula. The island is uninhabited, except for the researchers at the weather station. Home to an ivory gull colony, the island is also frequented by polar bears.
At the tip of the Taymyr Peninsula is Cape Chelyuskin, the northernmost point of the Russian and Eurasian mainland and the site of another active research station. Here, at "the edge of the earth", you may be able to explore on foot.
Dependent on ice and weather conditions, an exploration of Severnaya Zemlya embodies the true spirit of adventure. Dominated by glaciers and polar desert, the archipelago was not discovered until 1913 and remained virtually unexplored till 1930 to 1932, the last major undiscovered territory on earth. Amongst many possible destinations, you might visit a number of glaciers, including the Vavilov Ice Cap and those at Marat Fjord. If conditions are favourable, the ship may cruise the Red Army Strait, flanked by the massive Academy of Sciences Glacier (which also runs along the eastern shore of Zhuravlev Bay) and the smaller Rusanov Glacier. As one of very few people to ever explore this remote area in depth, you'll want to have your camera ready to capture these amazing sights.
Day 14: At Sea There are several activities to keep you engaged while at sea. Attend dynamic presentations by your Expedition Team, relax in the polar library or simply spend some time on deck, admiring the sea and searching for wildlife.
Days 15 - 18: Exploring Franz Josef Land This remote group of 191 islands, many ice covered, forms the most northerly archipelago in Eurasia and lies entirely within the Arctic Circle. A nature reserve, it is part of the Russian Arctic National Park. Your exploration of the region is highly determined by weather and ice conditions, but you may explore historical sites, remote seabird colonies and walrus rookeries such as Cape Flora, Cape Norway, Bell Island and Tikhaya Bukta. Polar bear encounters are also possible.
On Jackson Island, Cape Norway is where Norwegian explorers Fridtjof Nansen and Hjalmar Johansen wintered from 1895 to 1896. The conditions were astonishingly difficult, but they survived until the summer and continued their journey south. The remains of their stone hut are still here today, with a memorial marking the event.
Exploring Tikhaya Bukta (Calm Bay), the site of an abandoned weather station on Hooker Island, is a step back in time. There is plenty to discover as you wander the ruins, immersed in Russian polar history, and you may even be able to send a postcard from the post office!
Another possible landing site, if time and weather permit, is Cape Tegetthoff on Hall Island, where you can visit the Barents memorial. The scenery here is spectacular, and you may be fortunate to view polar bears and Atlantic walrus.
Days 19 & 20: At Sea As your arctic expedition winds down, you have a couple of days to sail through this wildlife-rich sea, where whales of various species are often seen. Take in a presentation, reminisce about your journey with your shipmates, relax in the lounge while swapping stories and photos or enjoy the solitude of the sea. Expedition staff will be on hand to answer any questions and spot wildlife.
Day 21: Disembarkation Murmansk and Fly to Helsinki, Finland Returning to Russia's most northerly city, you'll have time to bid farewell to your Expedition Team and crew before catching the group charter flight back to Helsinki, where you will have one more night in this exquisite city.
Day 22: Helsinki, Finland After breakfast, spend time exploring more of the Finnish capital or catch your onward flight.
Important Reminder: Embracing the unexpected is part of the legacy - and excitement - of expedition travel. When traveling in extremely remote regions, your Expedition Team must allow the sea, the ice and the weather to guide route and itinerary details. This itinerary is a tentative outline of what you'll experience on this voyage; please be aware that no specific itinerary can be guaranteed. By the same token, wildlife encounters as described are expected but not guaranteed. Your Expedition Team will use their considerable experience to seek out wildlife in known habitats, but the presence of any particular species of bird or marine wildlife is not a guarantee.
• Shipboard accommodation with daily housekeeping • All meals, snacks, soft drinks and juices on board • Beer and house wine during dinner • All shore landings per the daily programme • Leadership throughout the voyage by an experienced Expedition Leader • All Zodiac transfers and cruising per the daily programme • Formal and informal presentations by the Expedition Team and special guests as scheduled • Photographic journal documenting the expedition • Waterproof expedition boots on loan for shore landings • Official Quark Expeditions parka to keep • Coffee, tea and cocoa available around the clock • Complimentary reusable water bottle • Hair dryer and bathrobe in every cabin • Comprehensive onboard materials, including a map and an informative Arctic Reader • All miscellaneous service taxes and port charges throughout the programme • All luggage handling aboard the ship • Emergency evacuation insurance to a maximum benefit of US$500,000 per person • Russian invitation letter for visa application provided after final payment
Mandatory Transfer Package Includes: • One night's pre- and post-expedition airport hotel accommodation in Helsinki • Round-trip flights from Helsinki to Murmansk • Transfers to and from the ship in Murmansk
Pricing (per person) $USD
2022 4 August 2023 4 Aug
Booking conditions • Baggage allowance on charter flight is 20 kg checked and 5 kg carry-on
• Single cabin prices available on request
• Baggage allowance on charter flight is 20 kg checked and 5 kg carry-on • Single cabin prices available on request
Not included • International airfare
• Arrival and departure transfers in Helsinki
• Passport and visa expenses
• Government arrival and departure taxes not mentioned above
• Meals ashore unless otherwise specified
• Baggage, cancellation, interruption and medical travel insurance - strongly recommended
• Excess-baggage fees on international flights
• Mandatory waterproof pants for Zodiac cruising, or any other gear not mentioned
• Laundry, bar, beverage and other personal charges unless specified
• Phone and Internet charges
• Voluntary gratuity at the end of the voyage for shipboard staff and crew
• Additional overnight accommodation
• Optional kayaking activities
• International airfare • Arrival and departure transfers in Helsinki • Passport and visa expenses • Government arrival and departure taxes not mentioned above • Meals ashore unless otherwise specified • Baggage, cancellation, interruption and medical travel insurance - strongly recommended • Excess-baggage fees on international flights • Mandatory waterproof pants for Zodiac cruising, or any other gear not mentioned • Laundry, bar, beverage and other personal charges unless specified • Phone and Internet charges • Voluntary gratuity at the end of the voyage for shipboard staff and crew • Additional overnight accommodation • Optional kayaking activities
Gratuity • Gratuities are voluntary and can be given at the end of your cruise
• We recommend that you budget US$10 to US$15 per person per day, if you are pleased with the service on board
• Gratuities are voluntary and can be given at the end of your cruise • We recommend that you budget US$10 to US$15 per person per day, if you are pleased with the service on board