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High Arctic Odyssey: Remote Russian Archipelagos

22 days

Explore the most enigmatic and extreme regions of the Russian High Arctic with our epic High Arctic Odyssey: Remote Russian Archipelagos voyage. In the spirit of a true arctic explorer, you’ll discover breathtaking ice-draped coastlines that are rarely visited by even the most intrepid adventurers. From the heavily glaciated Novaya Zemlya and Franz Josef Land to the isolated islands of the icy Kara Sea, this exclusive itinerary was designed to spend more time exploring these pristine places, increasing your chances of encountering unique wildlife and visiting some of our favorite far-flung destinations steeped in polar history. If weather and ice conditions allow, we will explore Severnaya Zemlya, the last major territorial discovery on the planet.

The Arctic has been inspiring explorers for centuries, and our expeditions offer the chance for you to discover why. We’re excited to host you on your unforgettable adventure! Feel free to reach out to our team of Polar Travel Advisers or your travel professional, who can answer your questions and provide assistance at any time.

Day-by-Day Expedition in Brief

  • Experience a true expedition as we explore rarely visited Severnaya Zemlya
  • Encounter iconic Arctic wildlife, such as polar bears, walrus and seabirds
  • Explore glaciated Novaya Zemlya, where the earliest Arctic explorers overwintered
  • Visit significant sites at Franz Josef Land and learn about the region’s storied history
  • Discover rarely visited islands of the icy Kara Sea

Day 1 — Helsinki, Finland

Your arctic adventure begins in Helsinki, renowned for its extraordinary architecture and design scene and intriguing mix of eastern and western influences.

Day 2 — Embarkation in Murmansk, Russia

After breakfast, we will transfer to the airport and board our private charter flight to Murmansk, Russia. Once aboard, get acquainted with the ship and crew and settle in for your voyage north.

Days 3 and 4 — At Sea

Today we sail through the Barents Sea, named for the great Dutch explorer Willem Barents, who led two expeditions to Novaya Zemlya in the 1590s. Learn about the storied history and politics of the region, its fascinating wildlife, geology, ecology and climate, and the incredible sights you will soon explore.

Days 5 to 7 — Exploring Novaya Zemlya

The largest of the Eurasian arctic archipelagoes, the rarely visited Novaya Zemlya (“New Land”) is the third-largest wilderness area in Europe. This seemingly long, thin island actually consists of two main islands, Severny (northern) and Yuzhny (southern), separated by the imposing Matochkin Strait. These islands are pure, rugged arctic beauty at its best—massive extinct volcanoes, jagged ice cliffs and the most isolated mountain range in the Barents Sea. Each expedition will be unique, depending on the weather and ice, but a few landing sites we strive to visit include Inostrantseva Bay, the Oransky Islands, Cape Zhelaniya, Cape Spory Navalok and Russkaya Gavan.

Days 8 to 13 — Exploring the Kara Sea

Say goodbye to Novaya Zemlya as we cruise farther east, exploring the Kara Sea. The westernmost Asian sea off Siberia, the Kara Sea is known as the “ice cellar” of the Arctic, as it is often encumbered by trapped ice floes. Ice conditions will be considered by your skilled captain during navigation—luckily sea ice happens to be a great habitat for iconic arctic wildlife. There are several sites and small archipelagoes along the Siberian coast we hope to explore, tracing the path of polar explorers searching for the Northeast Passage. Weather and ice will determine where we explore, but some areas we hope to visit include Russky Island, Troynoy Island and Cape Chelyuskin.

Day 14 — At Sea

There are several activities to keep you engaged while at sea. Attend dynamic presentations by your Expedition Team, relax in our polar library or simply spend some time on deck, admiring the sea and searching for wildlife.

Days 15 to 18 — Exploring Franz Josef Land

This remote group of 191 islands, many ice covered, forms the most northerly archipelago in Eurasia and lies entirely within the Arctic Circle. A nature reserve, it is part of the Russian Arctic National Park. Our exploration of the region is highly determined by weather and ice conditions, but we hope to explore historical sites, remote seabird colonies and walrus rookeries such as Cape Flora, Cape Norway, Bell Island and Tikhaya Bukta. Polar bear encounters are also possible.

Days 19 and 20 — At Sea

As your Arctic expedition winds down, you have a couple of days to sail through this wildlife-rich sea, where whales of various species are often seen. Take in a presentation, reminisce about your journey with your shipmates, relax in the lounge while swapping stories and photos or enjoy the solitude of the sea.

Day 21 — Disembarkation Murmansk & Fly to Helsinki

Returning to Russia’s most northerly city, you’ll have time to bid farewell to your Expedition Team and crew before catching our group charter flight back to Helsinki, where you will have one more night in this exquisite city.

Day 22 — Helsinki

After breakfast, spend time exploring more of the Finnish capital or catch your homeward-bound flight.
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Pre- and Post-Trip Options Extend Your Stay

Getting to the Arctic can be just as much fun as being there. Quark offers multiple travel packages that enable you to see more of the world before and after your Arctic adventure.

Explore Helsinki Package

This package includes an extra night and tour of Helsinki, a capital with extraordinary architecture and an intriguing blend of eastern and western influences. Experience a Finnish sauna and visit their spectacular church carved into a giant rock.