Edge of the World

A fleeting opportunity remains for modern day adventurers to join a small number of like-minded travellers on French cruise line Ponant’s Kuril Archipelago voyage in September 2015, which will explore the outer reaches of the land of ice and firea rarely visited chain of active and benign volcanic islands linking Japan and the Kamchatka Peninsula.


From onboard the modern expedition cruise ship Le Soleal, this 15-night voyage is designed to reveal fascinating places untouched by tourism. These are remote destinations where a mere trickle of travellers visit each year since Perestroika and the end of Cold War, during which the region was off limits to foreigners. 


Extraordinary experiences will be etched onto travellers’ minds forever: entering the Wagnerian-like Valley of the Geysers, 200 primeval steaming geothermal vents from hell, in a Russian military-style helicopter; photographing prolific wildlife in bird colonies and seal rookeries scattered across this ageless coastline; watching a brown bear hunting for salmon; meeting the Chukchi people, or the ominous sight of a pod of orcas. 


Experience the basic power of nature with Le Soleal’s specialist expedition team and lecturers, who will enhance travellers’ time onboard and ashore while exploring the sheer grandeur, history, and culture of this fascinating region. More than grand landscapes, this island chain comes with a turbulent history that has involved the Russians, Chinese, and Japanese, and even British and French expeditionary forces. The area remains a dispute region between Russia and Japan. 


From Petropavlovsk, still with its imposing statue of Lenin, visit Atlasova, home to the highest volcano in the Kurils; Shumshu, where the last battle of WWII in the Pacific Russian invasion took place; the former Japanese WWII naval and military garrison at Paramushir; Yanchicha, so rarely visited it is barely mentioned on web searches; and the twin volcanic islands of Chirpoy.


Highlights of the trip include outings and landings in Zodiac dinghies with the ship’s naturalist guides; the natural wonders of active volcanoes, alpine landscapes, and black sand beaches; rare wildlife including sea otters, porpoise, seals, walruses, brown bears, and many bird species, and unique encounters with the Chukchi people. Fifteen nights from AU$11,410 (US$8,676) per person including one night’s accommodation in Tokyop and chartered flights.

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