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Passage to Kamchatka

The remote reaches of Russia’s Kamchatka Peninsula and the distant and isolated Kuril Islands have fired the imagination of explorers and traders for centuries. Our past travellers have enthused about the spectacular scenery, the incredible array of wildlife and the native cultures known to only a few privileged visitors. Join us on this remarkable voyage of unparalleled exploration along the ‘Pacific Ring of Fire’. From Otaru, Japan to Russia’s Kamchatka Peninsula, we cruise through a pristine environment that calls to nature lovers, history buffs, photographers and the intrepid explorer within.

Among the Kurils, a necklace-like chain of volcanic islands, we find vast forests and wildflower-dappled tundra, backdropped by soaring steam-breathing volcanoes. Basalt stacks rise from the sea, tailormade resting and nesting spots for an unimaginable number of seabirds. Upon reaching the Kamchatka Peninsula, Russia’s remote easternmost province and home to the brown bear, we are greeted with a dramatic landscape of fire and ice. Geysers, hot springs and active volcanoes set amidst towering mountains and fast flowing rivers make this area magnificently unique. Marvel at spouting whales, frolicking seals and huge populations of nesting and migratory seabirds.

Using our fleet of Zodiacs we can explore inlets, bird sanctuaries and land in otherwise inaccessible places and, although we set sail with a set itinerary, it is often the unscheduled events that become the highlight. This is your opportunity to see a seldom visited corner of the world and to witness the timeless processes of nature taking place without the hindrance or help of man. Sailing in June, we will take full advantage of the mid-summer sun, travelling on nature’s terms, enjoying dramatic scenery and encountering the region’s ancient cultures and fascinating people whose lives are rarely touched by outsiders.

Passage to Kamchatka itinerary:

show reverse itinerary
Day 1 - Tokyo.
Arrive today and transfer to our hotel for an overnight stay. Take some time to relax and enjoy the hotel facilities.
Day 2 - Tokyo to Otaru.
After breakfast in the hotel we will transfer to the airport for our scheduled flight to Sapporo. On arrival, transfer to Le Soleal which is moored in Otaru and meet your expedition team.
Day 3 - Korsakov, Russia.
Spend the morning at sea before we arrive in the Russian port of Korsakov in the early afternoon. After clearing customs and immigration formalities we will have the opportunity to visit the city. See Yuzhno-Sakhalinsk’s beautiful Cathedral of the Resurrection. The church was only completed in 1995 and the gold on the onion domes has very recently been laid, shining brilliantly. From the church continue to the Sakhalin Regional Museum, which is housed in a beautiful Japanese-style structure, due to the previous ruling of its southern neighbour. The museum covers all the facets of Sakhalin Island, from its flora and fauna, to its geology and history.
Day 4 - Tyuleniy Island.
Our lecture programme continues this morning as we sail to Tyuleniy Island. Tyuleniy means “seal” in Russian, and during the summer months the island is home to literally tens of thousands of northern fur seals and Steller sea lions. Our visit, at the height of the breeding season is well timed to see not only the seals and sea lions, but also tens of thousands of common guillemots and blacklegged kittiwakes that have made their nests in the cliffs above.
Days 5 to 8 - Kuril Islands.
The Kuril Islands consist of a volcanic archipelago that stretches 1300 kilometres, through the Sea of Okhotsk, from northern Japan to the Kamchatka Peninsula in Russia. Our itinerary for these days will be flexible as our Captain and Expedition Leader will plan landings based on weather and sea conditions. However we hope to visit Chirpoy Island. The origin of the names is uncertain: the original Ainu language name of the island was Repunmoshiri, a word meaning “place of many small birds”. During a Zodiac cruise we search along the coast for the profusion of wildlife that lives in the area including Steller sea lions, fulmars, kittiwakes, puffins and auklets. Yankicha Island is impressive, accessible only by Zodiac and only during high tide, it is actually a sinking volcanic caldera. Inside the magnificent lagoon with its fumaroles and hot springs, we can still see traces of the tremendous forces that created the island long ago. The number of auklets which breed here is truly incredible. Matua Island is home to one of the Kuril’s most active volcanoes, with more than 14 documented eruptions in the past 250 years. We will learn about the Japanese military base that was set up here during World War II and how the Japanese used to capture geothermal heat from the volcano to keep the runway, which normally freezes over during winter, permanently usable. Hikers will be rewarded with good views of the abandoned military positions and will hopefully get a glimpse of the island’s population of brown-headed thrush and Siberian rubythroats in the alder thickets. Alaid on Atlasova Island is the highest volcano in the Kurils with a height of over 2000 metres. Together with our expedition staff, we will land by Zodiac on the black lava beach of the island from where we will begin our walk to see the remains of the Taketomi tufa cone. On Shumshu we will use the Zodiacs to search for sea otters and also explore the beaches.
Day 9 - Listvenichnaya Bay & Cape Kekurnyy, Kamchatka Peninsula.
Arrive this morning at Listvenichnaya Bay on the Kamchatka Peninsula which is a prime location for brown bears. Depending on conditions we will make a landing or use the Zodiacs to scout the coastline. We will also see Steller sea lions, Steller sea eagles and harlequin ducks in the waters. Over lunch we will sail the short distance to Cape Kekurnyy, well known for the population of Steller Sea Lions that haul onto the rocks and where we will take a Zodiac cruise.
Day 10 - Kamenistaya Bay & Chazma River.
Continuing our time in Kamchatka we arrive this morning in Kamenistaya Bay located in the Kronotsky State Nature Reserve. The reserve was established in 1934 and is one of the oldest in Russia covering an area of almost 11,000 square kilometres which contains forest, tundra, taiga, mountains, volcanoes and geysers, a hugely diverse habitat for the abundant wildlife. The reserve is home to brown bear as well as caribou, otters, seals and multiple species of birds. If conditions permit we will offer walks with our expedition teams on land or Zodiac cruises to view the wildlife.
Day 11 - Ariy Kamen & Nikolskoye, Commander Islands.
The Komandorskiye or Commander Islands are named after famed Commander Vitus Bering who had been commissioned by the Russian Tsar to search for a land bridge between Asia and America. After having been to Alaska he was forced to overwinter here. He was buried on the island, but part of the crew managed to return to Petropavlovsk. Our experiences will be determined by weather, wildlife and sea conditions. We intend to visit Nikolskoye, which was established in 1826 by fur traders. This fishing village on Bering Island has a small museum where we will learn about the Aleut people and their culture. During our visit we will enjoy a concert and be entertained by a presentation of local games. In the afternoon, take a Zodiac ride to tiny Ariy Kamen Island a habitat for vast numbers of birds.
Day 12 - Zhupanova River, Kamchatka Peninsula.
This morning we will cruise back to Kamchatka and over lunch we anchor in the Zhupanova River. The Zhupanova River Estuary is a scenic maze of moist bogs, serpentine river channels and ponds against a snowy backdrop. The tall volcanic cone of Kronoskaya Sopka (3528 metres) stands above this predominantly uninhabited land. The river is one of the most productive trout rivers in the world and is home to the richest rainbow trout habitat on Kamchatka. This afternoon we have the opportunity to take a long Zodiac cruise along the river looking for wildlife including Steller’s sea eagles, Aleutian terns, seals and of course the iconic Kamchatka brown bears.
Day 13 - Petropavlovsk.
Petropavlovsk, town of Peter and Paul, derives its name from the two sailing ships used by Vitus Bering when the great explorer reached Avacha Bay in 1740. It is the only major city on the peninsula and one of the oldest towns in the Russian Far East. It is also the scientific and cultural centre of the region, and today we see just why that is, as our local guides take us on a comprehensive tour of the city’s highlights. We will visit the museum of ethnography and natural history, the art school, the gold-domed Orthodox cathedral and the marketplace. We will have almost the entire day to explore the town. As an exciting alternative, it may be possible to purchase an optional helicopter excursion to the Valley of the Geysers in the Kronotsky Nature Reserve.
Day 14 - Petropavlovsk to Seoul, South Korea.
Disembark this morning and transfer to the airport for our chartered flight to Seoul. On arrival transfer to our hotel for an overnight stay.
Day 15 - Seoul.
After breakfast in the hotel transfer to the airport for our scheduled flight to London.

Passage to Kamchatka reverse itinerary:

show main itinerary
After breakfast in the hotel transfer to the airport for our scheduled flight to London.
Disembark this morning and transfer to the airport for our chartered flight to Seoul. On arrival transfer to our hotel for an overnight stay.
Petropavlovsk, town of Peter and Paul, derives its name from the two sailing ships used by Vitus Bering when the great explorer reached Avacha Bay in 1740. It is the only major city on the peninsula and one of the oldest towns in the Russian Far East. It is also the scientific and cultural centre of the region, and today we see just why that is, as our local guides take us on a comprehensive tour of the city’s highlights. We will visit the museum of ethnography and natural history, the art school, the gold-domed Orthodox cathedral and the marketplace. We will have almost the entire day to explore the town. As an exciting alternative, it may be possible to purchase an optional helicopter excursion to the Valley of the Geysers in the Kronotsky Nature Reserve.
This morning we will cruise back to Kamchatka and over lunch we anchor in the Zhupanova River. The Zhupanova River Estuary is a scenic maze of moist bogs, serpentine river channels and ponds against a snowy backdrop. The tall volcanic cone of Kronoskaya Sopka (3528 metres) stands above this predominantly uninhabited land. The river is one of the most productive trout rivers in the world and is home to the richest rainbow trout habitat on Kamchatka. This afternoon we have the opportunity to take a long Zodiac cruise along the river looking for wildlife including Steller’s sea eagles, Aleutian terns, seals and of course the iconic Kamchatka brown bears.
The Komandorskiye or Commander Islands are named after famed Commander Vitus Bering who had been commissioned by the Russian Tsar to search for a land bridge between Asia and America. After having been to Alaska he was forced to overwinter here. He was buried on the island, but part of the crew managed to return to Petropavlovsk. Our experiences will be determined by weather, wildlife and sea conditions. We intend to visit Nikolskoye, which was established in 1826 by fur traders. This fishing village on Bering Island has a small museum where we will learn about the Aleut people and their culture. During our visit we will enjoy a concert and be entertained by a presentation of local games. In the afternoon, take a Zodiac ride to tiny Ariy Kamen Island a habitat for vast numbers of birds.
Continuing our time in Kamchatka we arrive this morning in Kamenistaya Bay located in the Kronotsky State Nature Reserve. The reserve was established in 1934 and is one of the oldest in Russia covering an area of almost 11,000 square kilometres which contains forest, tundra, taiga, mountains, volcanoes and geysers, a hugely diverse habitat for the abundant wildlife. The reserve is home to brown bear as well as caribou, otters, seals and multiple species of birds. If conditions permit we will offer walks with our expedition teams on land or Zodiac cruises to view the wildlife.
Arrive this morning at Listvenichnaya Bay on the Kamchatka Peninsula which is a prime location for brown bears. Depending on conditions we will make a landing or use the Zodiacs to scout the coastline. We will also see Steller sea lions, Steller sea eagles and harlequin ducks in the waters. Over lunch we will sail the short distance to Cape Kekurnyy, well known for the population of Steller Sea Lions that haul onto the rocks and where we will take a Zodiac cruise.
The Kuril Islands consist of a volcanic archipelago that stretches 1300 kilometres, through the Sea of Okhotsk, from northern Japan to the Kamchatka Peninsula in Russia. Our itinerary for these days will be flexible as our Captain and Expedition Leader will plan landings based on weather and sea conditions. However we hope to visit Chirpoy Island. The origin of the names is uncertain: the original Ainu language name of the island was Repunmoshiri, a word meaning “place of many small birds”. During a Zodiac cruise we search along the coast for the profusion of wildlife that lives in the area including Steller sea lions, fulmars, kittiwakes, puffins and auklets. Yankicha Island is impressive, accessible only by Zodiac and only during high tide, it is actually a sinking volcanic caldera. Inside the magnificent lagoon with its fumaroles and hot springs, we can still see traces of the tremendous forces that created the island long ago. The number of auklets which breed here is truly incredible. Matua Island is home to one of the Kuril’s most active volcanoes, with more than 14 documented eruptions in the past 250 years. We will learn about the Japanese military base that was set up here during World War II and how the Japanese used to capture geothermal heat from the volcano to keep the runway, which normally freezes over during winter, permanently usable. Hikers will be rewarded with good views of the abandoned military positions and will hopefully get a glimpse of the island’s population of brown-headed thrush and Siberian rubythroats in the alder thickets. Alaid on Atlasova Island is the highest volcano in the Kurils with a height of over 2000 metres. Together with our expedition staff, we will land by Zodiac on the black lava beach of the island from where we will begin our walk to see the remains of the Taketomi tufa cone. On Shumshu we will use the Zodiacs to search for sea otters and also explore the beaches.
Our lecture programme continues this morning as we sail to Tyuleniy Island. Tyuleniy means “seal” in Russian, and during the summer months the island is home to literally tens of thousands of northern fur seals and Steller sea lions. Our visit, at the height of the breeding season is well timed to see not only the seals and sea lions, but also tens of thousands of common guillemots and blacklegged kittiwakes that have made their nests in the cliffs above.
Spend the morning at sea before we arrive in the Russian port of Korsakov in the early afternoon. After clearing customs and immigration formalities we will have the opportunity to visit the city. See Yuzhno-Sakhalinsk’s beautiful Cathedral of the Resurrection. The church was only completed in 1995 and the gold on the onion domes has very recently been laid, shining brilliantly. From the church continue to the Sakhalin Regional Museum, which is housed in a beautiful Japanese-style structure, due to the previous ruling of its southern neighbour. The museum covers all the facets of Sakhalin Island, from its flora and fauna, to its geology and history.
After breakfast in the hotel we will transfer to the airport for our scheduled flight to Sapporo. On arrival, transfer to Le Soleal which is moored in Otaru and meet your expedition team.
Arrive today and transfer to our hotel for an overnight stay. Take some time to relax and enjoy the hotel facilities.
* = Indicative
Map for Passage to Kamchatka
Le Soleal, the ship servicing Passage to Kamchatka

Le Soleal

Luxury Small Ship
A sleek silhouette, a welcoming intimate atmosphere, and the same philosophy that has made L'Austral and Le Boreal such a success.

This magnificent yacht of only 132 staterooms and suites, all with balconies, has contemporary decor inspired by the luxury yachting world, with fluid lines and a modern colour scheme combining natural wood with shades of grey and white. White Corian counters in the lobby contrast with the warmth of leather to recall a boat's hull, while the central scuplture of enamelled pieces takes its inspiration from the sea.  In the lounge bar, the carpet picks up a tennis stripe theme symbolising a certain idea of cruising, one synonomous with French elegance and a chic seaside spirit.

Wheelchairs
3 specially adapted wheelchair cabins (Deck 3 = Superior cabin no. 307, no balcony, Deck 4 = Prestige Cabin no. 407 - with balcony and Deck 5 = Prestige Cabin no 509, with balcony) and lifts to all decks/areas.

Le Soleal in the Weddell Sea with Cockburn Island. The Small Cruise Ship CollectionRead about our recent Ponant cruise to Antarctica

Details
Length: 142 metres

Passenger Capacity: 264, Built: 2013

Please click the following links to read more about Ponant and the other Ponant cruise ships.

Cabin layout for Le Soleal
• See incredible wildlife of Tyuleniy Island - guillemots, truly enormous Steller sea lion bulls, and smaller (but still rather impressive) fur seals.

• Discover Kuril Islands.

• Explore Kamchatka Peninsula. Spot bears, Steller sea eagles and orcas.

• Visit Ariy Kamen and Nikolskoye, Bering Island, Commander Islands.
Enquire now about Passage to Kamchatka

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