POLAR BEARS, WALRUS,
MUSKOX AND REINDEER

Late August - early September
DESCRIPTIONS:
Some of the islands in the Arctic Ocean off Yakutia's northern coast are considered, by those in the know, to be the best places in Eurasia to spot polar bears if visited at the right time of year. Of particular interest is Preobrazheniya (Transfiguration) Island, 1000km north of the Arctic Circle in Yakutia's Anabar District. Every year when the ice recedes, a walrus rookery forms on the island's spits and numerous polar bears arrive to prey on them.Of additional interest to travellers, in summer Preobrazheniya's high rocky cliffs are home to 1 million nesting guillemot and gulls, a truly spectacular sight, sound and smell!

We offer one itinerary with visits to Yakutia's Preobrazheniya and Begichev islands. As the majority of the trip takes place not in Yakutia but on the neighbouring (and equally fascinating) Taymyr Peninsula, the trip is included on our sister site, Arctic Russia Travel. Please click the link below to be taken to the relevant page with itinerary, price and photos.
Day 1
Group flies in to Moscow. Guide meets them and we get a connecting flight to Krasnoyarsk. This can either by a daytime flight (10:10 – 18:50 by current timetables) or an overnight flight (22:35 to 07:15). In the first case the group would overnight at a Krasnoyarsk hotel and fly to Khatanga on Tuesday. In the second case they would fly straight on to Khatanga on Tuesday.
Day 2
Group flies from Krasnoyarsk to Khatanga, a village on the Taymyr Peninsula. Visit local ethnographical museum and underground museum hacked into the permafrost itself, where remains of locally found mammoths are preserved. Note – if the museum owner happens to be away on holiday during our trip, it will not be possible to visit it, as he refuses to leave the keys with locals.

Excursion around the village. Excursion around the village. At this time of year, the world's largest reindeer herd (over 1 million animals) is migrating right past Khatanga. Reindeer can be seen right outside the village swimming across the Khatanga River, and often even running through the village itself.
Day 3
Group travels north down the river towards Tsvetkova Point. Our boat has two cabins, one with 8 beds and one with 4. Two Russian guides can also sleep in the kitchen. This gives us space for 10 group members, plus one English-speaking guide, two Russian guides / motor boat drivers and one cook.

High change of seeing large muskox herds on the way. Pass isolated indigenous villages such as Novorybnaya and Syndassko (the northernmost permanently inhabited village in Eurasia). Stop to visit them if desired.

This journey will take roughly 24 hours if no ice has been blown down onto the river. If ice has been blown down it may take longer. In the unlikely situation that large quantities of ice have blown down onto the river, the boat may temporarily have to stop and wait at Syndassko village or around the mouth of the River Novaya. The chances of this happening are around 5% at most.

The migration of Arctic char takes place around the River Novaya mouth, as does the polar bear migration often, so there will be good chances of seeing both of these, as well as reindeer and muskox of course. If the boat has to stop and wait for the ice to disappear, we will do treks into the tundra, and motorboat trips down the River Novaya.
Hopefully this will not happen, and the itinerary will continue as detailed below. The captain of this boat has done 8 trips to Tsvetkova Point for scientists on a similar time frame as ours. He said every time they made it there and back without problems. But passengers must be prepared for the theoretical possibility that the boat will not make it to Tsvetkova point at all, because of ice. It's extremely unlikely, but it's possible, and clients need to be warned of it and prepared for it. In this case we would of course do trips in different areas, such as the River Novaya and the region around Syndassko.
Day 4
Group continues north by boat. Good chance of seeing seals, white Beluga whales and migrating birds. Group arrives at Tsvetkova point after lunch. We put up camp near a large walrus rookery that appears every year in the middle of August. VERY high chance of seeing polar bears in the area, as their migration route passes through the area and they prey on the walrus. Good chance that large numbers of walrus will detach themselves from the main rookery and swim right up to our boat to inspect us.
Day 5
Hike or travel in motorized dingy along Tsvetkova Point to observe walrus, polar bears, muskox, lemmings, Arctic fox and a large number of bird species such as black-throated loon, various ducks and eider.
Day 6
Hike or travel in motorized dingy along Tsvetkova Point to observe walrus, polar bears, muskox, lemmings, Arctic fox and a large number of bird species such as black-throated loon, various ducks and eider.
Day 7
Trip to a nearby UNESCO World Heritage site with high cliffs, glacial cirques and buttes sticking out into the sea. Chance of seeing birds, polar bears, arctic fox and muskox.
Day 8
Cross the border from Taymyr to Yakutia and visit Preobrazheniya Island (Transfiguration Island). On the island's high cliffs, up to 1 million birds can be seen nesting. Many species of gulls, including the very rare Sabine, and a large number of guillemot. There is also a large walrus rookery here and as a result very high chances of seeing polar bears, which prey on the walrus.
Day 9
Group does a hike up to the top of Preobrazheniya Island to view the bird cliffs from above. On the way, good chance of seeing polar bears, lemmings, Arctic fox, snowy owls and more.
Day 10
From Transfiguration Island, depending on weather conditions, we can head south to Begichev Island in Yakutia where we can see bizarre rock formations on the beaches and visit indigenous Dolgan reindeer herders, or head west back into Taymyr to the River Novaya area and visit Dolgan hunters, fishermen and mammoth tusk hunters.
Day 11
Group travels back to Khatanga by boat
Day 12
Arrival in Khatanga. If they have spare time they can visit the crafts centre, where local artisans make objects from mammoth tusk, walrus tusk and reindeer antlers. They can also do a boat trip nearby to local beauty spots and for wildlife spotting, fishing, have a shashlyk barbecue, etc.
Day 13
Group flies from Khatanga to Krasnoyarsk. Overnight in hotel.
Day 14
Group has a day trip to the famous Krasnoyarsk Pillars national Park with English-speaking guide.
Day 15
Group flies to Moscow and on home.
Polar bear at Tsvetkova Point, Taymyr Peninsula, Arctic Siberia
Walrus rookery at Tsvetkova Point, Taymyr Peninsula, Arctic Siberia
Part of the 1-million head Taymyr reindeer herd migrating across the Khatanga River, Taymyr Peninsula, Arctic Siberia
Walrus at Tsvetkova Point, Taymyr Peninsula, Arctic Siberia
Guillemot on the cliffs of Preobrazheniya Island, Anabar District, Arctic Yakutia, where up to 1 million nesting birds can be seen
Muskox crossing a river at Tsvetkova Point, Taymyr Peninsula, Arctic Siberia
INCLUDED IN THE PRICE:

  • 1 tour leader travelling for free from your company. If no tour leader, then one of the clients travels for free.
  • 1 English-speaking guide accompanying the group from Moscow plus all his expenses.
  • 2 armed Russian guides / motorboat drivers. Both are very experienced Arctic biologists and fully qualified to defend groups from polar bears if necessary.
  • 1 cook and food everywhere apart from Moscow or Krasnoyarsk
  • All equipment (Western standard tents, motorboats, etc)
  • All transport, flights, transfers and accommodation, but not in Moscow and not flights Moscow – Krasnoyarsk – Moscow
  • Border zone permits for Taymyr
  • Satellite phone for emergency use only
  • Full medical kit
NOT INCLUDED IN THE PRICE:

  • International flights or flights Moscow – Krasnoyarsk – Moscow
  • Hotel, guiding, food or transport in Moscow
  • Travel insurance or medical insurance
  • Personal expenses
  • Expenses (such as the cost of booking new flights or hotel reservations) caused by delayed flights, force majeure situations and so on.
  • Clothing or sleeping bags
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