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Saturday, May 28, 2022
Home Travel Wrangel Island sailing just got easier

Wrangel Island sailing just got easier


You’ve traveled to the Caribbean, around the Greek Islands, down the Danube River in Europe, and maybe you’ve even made it to Antarctica – what’s left for you in the world of sailing?

Why not drive north, waaaay north; high above the Arctic Circle lies Wrangel Island. This may just be the last new place on earth to sail. Even though it was remote, it just got a little easier to get there. Heritage Expeditions sails a new ship from Nome Alaska to Wrangel starting in their 2022 season!

This unknown island at the top of the earth has historically been in a tug of war between the US, Russia and other countries, with it now finally part of Russia’s Far East. You may have heard of Wrangel Island because of its tragic expedition history with the famous and failed last trip of the Karlukbut currently it is home to some of the most rare and endangered animals and landscapes in the world.

A very different kind of Arctic island

The island boasts the world’s largest population of Pacific walrus and the highest density of polar bears. It is a large feeding area for the gray whale that migrates from Mexico and the most northern nesting site for 100 migratory bird species, very endangered. Currently, 417 species and subspecies of vascular plants have been identified on the island, double those of any other Arctic tundra of comparable size and more than any other Arctic island.

Wrangel Island has been designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2004 this island is a unique gem in the High Arctic that few people experience.

Expedition to Wrangel Island

Of course, if you go to the last place on earth to sail, do not expect it to be your typical vessel! I was a passenger on Heritage Expedition’s Spirit of Enderby, a Russian Pole Expedition ship based in New Zealand.

Heritage is known for their travels to introduce you to the remote, unfamiliar places like the Subantarctic Islands I went to a few years ago (LINK) and rarely seen islands and cultures in Melanesia (LINK).

Expedition sailing is more robust, unplanned and unpredictable than the typical speed you may be used to. Granted, you still eat like a royalty, but the ship I was on was small and basic. I stayed in a basic cabin with 2 bunk beds, a desk and sink. The ship carried 50 passengers and an expedition team.

Heritage Adventurer – A New Ship for 2022

Heritage Expeditions used the Pandemic to make big changes – they purchased a new flagship for their polar expeditions! I loved the Spirit of Enderby, but it was definitely not for everyone. The new Heritage Adventurers will offer a mix of expedition-style travel and a touch of elegance.

Heritage Adventurer expedition ship
The new Heritage Adventurer Photo via Heritage Expeditions

The Heritage Adventurer is often referred to as the ‘Great Lady of Pool Exploration’ because of her celebrated history and refined design, she was purpose built for adventure at Finland’s Rauma shipyard in 1991 and specifically designed for Pool Exploration.

As the new flagship, the Heritage Adventurer will sail with 140 guests and will go beyond the Arctic and Antarctic circle. all the Heritage Routes.

5 reasons to sail to Wrangel Island

1. Rare game to see and photograph

Polar bears from Wrangel Island

The island has been referred to in the past as the Polar Bear Maternity ward because it has the largest population of polar bears that freely make Wrangel Island their home for a few months. Some days we would take out the zodiac and see more than 10 in one area.

Wrangel Island polar bear
Polar bear encounters on Wrangel Island

On top of that, the crew is excellent at educating you about Polar Bear safety as well as the current challenges the bears face with the disappearing ice. In fact, one of the few areas where the United States and Russia actually work as a team is on polar bear research around Wrangel Island.

Wrangel Island Extreme Destinations
Curious polar bears look at our Zodiac

The expedition team consists of PhDs of botany, marine biologists, expert bird watchers, biological scientists, as well as multilingual speakers who grew up in the Chokotka region of Russia through which we traveled. You will definitely get off the ship smarter and more informed.

Birds and amazing bird cliffs

This trip to the Russian Arctic is a dream for bird watchers; Eels, Snow Geese, Kittiwakes, Parrots, Snowy Owls, Guillemots, and more. On top of that, you will see some of the most densely populated bird cliffs in the world.





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