Thursday, July 6, 2017
HOME / ANCHORAGE, ALASKA
Arrive in Anchorage and check-in at our hotel. In the evening
gather for a welcome dinner and briefing.
Friday, July 7
ANCHORAGE / NOME / EMBARK SILVER DISCOVERER
After breakfast transfer to the airport for your flight to Nome.
With the discovery of gold in 1898, this boomtown’s population
swelled to nearly 20,000 miners, furiously panning along
15 miles of beaches that fringe Norton Sound. Today’s town of
5,000 offers a peaceful contrast to the lively legacy reflected
in the colorful local saloons and museum displays. Embark the
Silver Discoverer in time for lunch and set sail in the evening.
Saturday, July 8
KING ISLAND / ARCTIC CIRCLE
In true expedition style, board Zodiacs and explore the craggy
ledges of King Island to view thousands of least and crested
auklets as they make their way from nests to the sea. You will
also enjoy a crossing of the Arctic Circle at 66°33’N right on
the International Date Line—a feat few adventurers can claim.
Sunday, July 9
Day Lost Crossing International Date Line.
Monday, July 10
This morning spend time on deck watching for the marine life that
thrives in these nutrient rich waters as well as seabirds such as
short-tailed shearwaters, northern fulmars, Laysan albatross,
and fork-tailed storm petrels. When the weather is clear, the
views across the Bering Strait reach to Russia and Alaska.
Alternatively, enjoy lectures from our staff as they introduce
the many historic and natural facets of this fascinating region.
In the afternoon, go ashore in Provideniya, located at the
southern limit of the Arctic ice pack, it is the main commercial
port of this sparsely populated region. Tour the regional
museum and sail by Plover Bay, the Russian landing site of
the Harriman Expedition. When we return to US waters this
evening, we gain a day by crossing the International Date Line.
Monday, July 10
SAVOONGA, ST. LAWRENCE ISLAND, ALASKA
A Siberian Yupik community hosts our visit to St. Lawrence.
The hardy locals living on this windswept pebbly spit subsist
on the bounty of the sea. As you walk through the village, you
may see walrus hides stretched on drying racks, later to be
fashioned into skin boats, or umiaks. During a performance of
traditional dances, note that the accompanying drums are made
of stretched walrus stomach skin. Birders enjoy a brisk hike to
seek the red-necked phalarope, long-tailed duck, yellow and
white wagtail, and, possibly, the rare emperor goose.
HALL & ST. MATTHEW ISLANDS
Harriman Expedition participant Louis Fuertes collected bird
specimens at Hall Island, which he found to be an ornithologist’s
paradise. Walrus have occasionally been spotted here,
and we keep a lookout during Zodiac excursions, passing by
arches, waterfalls, and sea stacks packed with birds.
Fascinating geological formations are a trademark of the
deserted island of St. Matthew, a result of cooling igneous
volcanic rock. Countless numbers of thick-billed murres,
black-legged kittiwakes, fulmars, and puffins call the cliffs and
columns their seasonal home. Enjoy a walk through meadows
of blooming pink and yellow louseworts and blue Jacob’s
ladder. We may spot the rare McKay’s bunting, which breeds
here; Arctic foxes scurrying along the hillsides; and endemic
St. Matthew singing voles scampering among the rocks.
Wednesday, July 12
ST. PAUL ISLAND, PRIBILOF ISLANDS
Due south in the Bering Sea lies the tiny archipelago comprising
the five Pribilof Islands. They were discovered in 1786 by the
Russian explorer Gerassim Pribilof who successfully located
what he was hoping to find: fur seals by the thousands, which
the Russians later harvested nearly to extinction. Today, the
northern fur seal is protected and cannot be hunted commercially.
The Pribilof breeding population now numbers more than
700,000. Bird colonies abound, with some 225 species
recorded in the islands.
St. Paul is home to 800 Aleuts, the largest such community in
the world. Enjoy a stroll through town, then walk among a
profusion of tundra wildflowers, watching for Arctic foxes.
Zodiac excursions and walks to the edge of the cliffs reveal
birds by the thousands—horned and tufted puffins; red-legged
kittiwakes; red-faced cormorants; and crested, least, and
Thursday, July 13
ST. GEORGE ISLAND
Explore the small town of St. George whose residents include
about 150 people of Aleut and Russian descent. A picturesque
Russian Orthodox church commands a vista of the Bering Sea,
and a cliff-top blind provides a remarkable view of a fur seal
rookery. More parakeet auklets breed on St. George than anywhere
else, and the nearly quarter million nesting red-legged
kittiwakes make up 98 percent of the world’s population.
Friday, July 14
DUTCH HARBOR, UNALASKA ISLAND / BABY ISLANDS
Dutch Harbor was originally used by the North American
Commercial Company to process fur seal pelts. Today, it
is the busiest fishing and processing port in Alaska. Stroll
among WWII relics of the US Army, visit the Museum of the
Aleutians and the WWII Historic Center, and view the oldest
onion-domed Russian church in Alaska.
In the afternoon sail among the Fox Islands group of the
Aleutians, watching for minke whales, the smallest baleen whale
in the northern Pacific. The five tiny, volcanic Baby Islands, our
day’s final destination, teem with puffins and whiskered auklets.
Saturday, July 15
OTTER COVE, UNIMAK ISLAND / HIGH ISLAND
After breakfast board Zodiacs and head for the largest
Aleutian island, Unimak, which is ringed by sandy beaches,
carpeted in flowering tundra, and crowned by the Shishaldin
Volcano. This is the only island in the Aleutians with a population
of brown bears. Enjoy one of several walks offered today, from
beach explorations to a tundra hill walk with stupendous views.
As we cruise the coast of High Island this afternoon, watch for
the thousands of horned and tufted puffins along its cliffs.
Sunday, July 16
UNGA ISLAND, SHUMAGIN ISLANDS
Anchor at Unga Island today; its multiple bays offer excellent
Zodiac opportunities to spot sea otters and birds, including
peregrine falcons. Ashore, enjoy botanizing amid fields of
wildflowers and spongy tundra. Scattered pieces of multicolored
petrified wood are remnants of an ancient meta-sequoia
forest, evidence that the region once enjoyed a warmer climate.
In the evening search for whales in these waters famed for
seasonal migrations as we head toward the Semidi Islands.
Monday, July 17
The Semidi Islands are home to two and a half million birds.
Make a Zodiac landing to walk on a small, sandy beach
covered in driftwood sea-carved into intriguing silvery shapes.
Also by Zodiac, trace the shores of Aghiyuk Island, home to
huge colonies of seabirds—northern fulmars, common murres,
and black-legged kittiwakes.
Tuesday, July 18
GEOGRAPHIC HARBOR, KATMAI NATIONAL PARK AND PRESERVE
Nearly hidden at the far reaches of Amalik Bay, Geographic
Harbor is surrounded by magnificent volcanic scenery (access
through the narrow entrance of the harbor is tidal dependent).
We cruise the area by Zodiac, watching for brown bears that
dig for clams along the beaches at low tide.
Wednesday, July 19
KODIAK, KODIAK ISLAND
Dock at the town of Kodiak, a bustling port settled by Russian
fur traders in 1784. By 1792, Alexander Baranof established
the town as the first capital of Russia’s North American colonies.
Visit the 1794 Holy Resurrection Russian Orthodox church,
with its prominent blue onion domes, and Erskine House, a
National Historic Landmark built in 1809 and now housing the
Kodiak Baranof Museum. Exhibits in the Alutiiq Museum detail
the history and culture of these native people who lived here
millennia before the Europeans arrived.
Cruise toward Seward this afternoon. As we pass islands with
steep cliffsides, watch for nesting puffins and cormorants and
scan the waters for acrobatic humpback whales and pods of
hunting orca, as well as fin and sei whales.
Thursday, July 20
SEWARD / DISEMBARK / ANCHORAGE / HOME
We disembark the Silver Discoverer in Seward and board
motor coaches bound for Anchorage and the airport where
we connect with independent homeward flights.