This week long itinerary explores one of the least visited and most pristine ecosystems in the world; the Russian state of Primorye may not evoke the same thoughts and emotions as Siberia. But it is this state which harbours the largest areas of intact and protected forests in the Russian Far East.
As well as a huge and diverse range of wildlife that inhabit this region there are large numbers of indigenous people that also live here and live in roughly the same way they have done for generations. This tour will visit several of these villages and allow you the chance to meet and spend time with some of these people.
Track wild Siberian Tigers
Hike the Sikhote Alin Reserve
Asiatic Black Bear
Stellers Sea Eagle
Vladivostok / Udege Legend National Park
Today you will be met at the airport by your Russian guide and your interpreter in Vladivostok and then taken on the long journey to Udege Legend National Park (~7 hours). Along the way you will travel through local villages and taiga forest until you reach the park. The park is located on the western slope of the Sikhote Alin mountain range and it is the home to the world’s largest remaining population of local Udege people. Whilst driving along there will be time to stop for any pictures you wish as some of the surrounding environment is very pretty.
Once you arrive at the park you will check into your accommodation and have your dinner. The rest of the evening is free with no scheduled activities.
Udege Legend National Park
This morning you will be taken on a guided walk around the forests and hills of Udege Legend National Park; this walk will take around 3 hours. This forest is home to a population of tigers, brown and Asiatic black bears as well as several smaller mammal species (sable, Eurasian lynx, northern leopard cat and Asian badgers). However seeing a tiger is very unusual here as they are incredibly shy and tend to avoid people at all costs. We will look for signs of the tigers and other wildlife and of course learn about the forest. The ecological aspects of the forest as well as the cultural history as the Udege people are people of the forest, they have always done (and still do) rely on the forest for much of their day to day lives.
This will become even more apparent when you visit a local Udege village in the afternoon and see further the complex cultural history of the indigenous people and their interactions with the forest.
Dersu Village & Sikhote Alin Reserve
This morning you will visit a fascinating place, the village of Dersu. This small village is populated by Old Believers; and is one of a very tiny number of such villages in Russia. The Old Believers are often compared to the Amish of North America and they live their lives in the traditional manner with no modern technology. They live their lives by a strict code of religious beliefs and are prohibited from the use of modern technology, clothing and other aspects of every day life for most people.
They live without electricity and so their days start early in the morning and they work nearly continuously until the sunsets and the village is plunged into darkness again. Everyone in the family has a role and jobs, young boys look after the livestock and clean the house, girls cook, repair clothing and help their mother. It is a very interesting experience to see these people living their traditional way of life.
After visiting here there is another long car journey (10 hours) as you head deeper into the Sikhote Alin mountains and specifically the Sikhote Alin Reserve. You will arrive after dark and so there is no time to explore the park today, instead you will check into your accommodation, have dinner and then rest before entering the reserve tomorrow.
Sikhote Alin Reserve
On day 4 will be a full day exploring some of the coastal area of the vast and impressive Sikhote Alin Reserve. Covering over 4,000km2 and ranging from sea level to over 1,500m in altitude the reserve is one of the world’s most important wilderness areas. It is also home to the largest continuous populations of animals in the Primorye region. This morning you will head to Blagodatnoe Lake, this lake is a gem in the reserve. It is located near the coast of the Sea of Japan and is picture perfect. During the excursion visitors will learn about a variety of valuable plants growing in the reserve, among which are rare species of orchids, Far Eastern orchid, Asian pogonia, sundew, thymus ternejicus, legendary Palibins Edelweiss. There are also large numbers of birds here, this is a major migratory stop over for birds travelling from subtropical and tropical Asia north to the Arctic Tundra to take advantage of the long day light hours there in the summer. There are also many resident birds here and the most beautiful is the Mandarin duck.
After spending time around the lake and seeing what birdlife there is, learning about the local flora and also seeing what tracks are present around the shore of the lake; you will visit the Cape North of the reserve. This is one of the most iconic images of the Russian Far East and is a large haul out area for largha seals. Tigers have been spotted scavenging on dead seals on the beach and it is also sometimes possible to see tiger tracks on the beach as well as sika deer as they come down to the shore to feed on the salt and mineral rich sea weed. You will hike around here before heading back to the accommodation for the night.
Day 5 will be another full day in and around the reserve, today you will be more focused on the work that the local rangers and anti-poaching patrols do as they govern and protect the forest and wildlife from the myriad of threats facing them from the outside.
You will be involved in setting up and collecting camera traps as well as looking at the images and videos that are caught on them. These camera traps and the animals tracks are often the only evidence that people get of the presence of endangered animals such as tigers and you will learn how the rangers use this information to gain knowledge of population size and therefore can adequately protect them.
This morning you will leave the forest and the Sikhote Alin Reserve and travel to the coast again and this time to one of the most photogenic and beautiful bays along the entire Far Eastern coast; Durbovaya Bay.
This bay is famous for the various rock formations along the coast, the soft stone along the coast here has been carved over millennia and you will spend time here this afternoon and the evening taking in the sites and sounds of the bay before spending the night on the coast.
This morning you will have a relaxed breakfast before departing the bay and heading back to the city of Vladivostok. This journey will take around 10 hours and you can stop along the way for pictures. On arrival back in the city you will be taken to a hotel near the airport and then taken for your farewell dinner in Russia.
After breakfast you will be transferred to the airport in time to catch your return flight home.
Please note that the itinerary stated above is correct as our planned intentions for the tour. However adverse weather conditions and other local considerations can necessitate some modifications of the itinerary during the course of the tour; any changes will be made to make the best of the time and weather conditions available to us.
This tour is available on different date (subject to availability) please contact us for more details about running this tour on a date which suits you more.
The Russian Far East coast and Sikhote Alin Mountains has a typical Northern Hemisphere seasonal pattern with winter, spring, summer and autumn. However the winter here can last up to 6 months of the year with a very short spring and autumn and relatively long hot summer.
The autumn and winter temperatures are very cold and can drop down to -40oC and average around -15oC during the day with several consecutive days of snow storms being common. Springtime is short but remains also a good wildlife opportunity with many animals eager for activity after the lengthy winter season. Temperatures are also comfortable as the snow melts away, yet this can make some transport muddy to and from the reserve specifically during late April – early May. Summer is excellent for Himalayan black bear observation and wild ginseng. While June and August are cooler and more comfortable, July is not recommended because temperatures soar to uncomfortable levels and mosquitoes are at their peak.
Winter is spectacular featuring unbelievably pristine snowy vistas and frozen trees lining white roads and trails. The snow and ice during winter make for some superb photography.
Everything mentioned in the itinerary is included. Including three meals per day (breakfast, lunch and dinner). There will be an amount of bottled water (approx 1ltr) available for each guest each day. We have our own private vehicle to be driven by a local guide for transfers when needed.
All our excursions including guided walks, vehicle safaris and park entrance fees and camera trap patrol fees also included; we also include all fees for our driver, assistants and translator.
We recommend you bring along your own binoculars or spotting scope as well as appropriate clothing; which should be both light and durable walking clothes as well as water proof clothes, walking socks as well as some warm clothes (for the evenings). Broken in and comfortable, waterproof walking boots are essential. Any medication, books or other items of a personal nature is of course up to you to bring along. Oh and please bring plenty of memory cards or film for your camera.
We provide a comprehensive species list of all the vertebrates present in the areas we are visiting as well as some of the best field guides and reference books for the areas we are visiting. There is usually a spare pair of binoculars but in a group of 4 people these do not stretch too far.
Nearly everything is included in this tour. The only things not included are international flights, travel insurance (contact us for more information one what is required from your insurance policy), any food bought outside of the three main meals, drinks outside of any offered with the meals and the bottled water provided each day and any items of a personal nature such as souvenirs and tips. Any applicable departure taxes and not included (but maybe included in the cost of your flights). Please check before departure.
As we are based in Manchester we recommend flights from Manchester International Airport
We recommend Areoflot as a good airline for flights to Vladivostok. One of the best websites to search for the best fares for these flights is www.odopo.co.uk; who are IATA accredited this is a link direct to their site. Please check our terms and conditions regarding booking flights.
Please contact us for more information about flights and we can provide you with a link direct to the flights from another supplier; in which case you only have to enter the passenger information and payment details. By using the above link you will leave our site and we at Royle Safaris hold no responsibility for the content on the site.
All UK passport holders and most other nationalities are required to have a visa for Russia. These are only obtainable in advance from your local embassy. The easiest way to find information is by visiting http://visitrussia.org.uk (be aware that this link leaves our site and we at Royle Safaris hold no responsibility for information on the site). A tourist visa costs around £115 for a single entry visa which is valid for 30 days, however things change so please check out the website above for more information.
There are no mandatory vaccinations needed to visit Russia, but it is recommended to be protected against TB, polio, typhoid, tetanus and hepatitis A. Please consult your GP about your individual requirements for visiting Russia as soon as you have decided on this trip.
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