A haven for whale-watchers, birders and wildlife enthusiasts, the Kuril Islands are a pristine, largely undiscovered wonderland awaiting your discovery. And you can experience it all aboard a 102-guest expedition ship!  

1. The Kuril Islands are a land of extremes. 

Quite literally. This 56-island archipelago stretching more than 750 miles from Russia’s Kamchatka Peninsula to the northern tip of Japan boasts both snow and volcanoes, sea lions and arctic foxes. Here in the Pacific region known as the “Ring of Fire,” you’ll venture by Zodiac into a caldera on Yankicha and hike across tundra-covered volcanic slopes on Atlasov. Later, rest your weary muscles in the area’s bubbling hot springs.

2. Many of the islands’ original inhabitants still reside in the Kuril Islands. 

While the islands are mostly uninhabited, a small number of indigenous residents - the Ainu - still live here. What a thrill to meet and experience a place and a people few have ever seen. The Ainu are hunter-gatherers, with their own distinct language and culture, much of which centers around the brown bear, considered a revered animal. Learn more about the Ainu, who have long lived in the northern regions of Hokkaido, Japan, and the remote Kuril Islands here

3. The Kurils are a top birding destination.


Aboard your expedition ship, you’ll have a front-row seat on the bird show of a lifetime - thousands of migratory species stop here during their journeys. On land, there’s more to discover, from tufted puffins, Arctic loons and red-faced cormorants, to majestic Steller’s sea eagles and crested auklets. 

4. The Steller sea lions steal the show in the Kuril Islands.

If you can’t resist a cute sea lion, the Kurils are the place to see them in large numbers. They’re often gathered on the volcanic shoreline, making it easy to glimpse them from your expedition ship. These pinnipeds share the limelight with the Kuril Islands’ other varied wildlife, including brown bears, arctic foxes and wolverines. 

5. The Kuril Islands are claimed by two countries. 

Several of the Kuril Islands are actually claimed by both Russia and Japan. Why? Neither country signed the World War II peace treaty. While Russia has control over the entire archipelago, Japan still lays claim to four of the southern islands. 

So, what can you expect when I arrange your small-ship expedition to the wonderfully mysterious and remote Kuril Islands? Here’s a taste:

  • You’ll step ashore at remote Koryak village, hike through epic fjords and explore the rugged Russian Far East. 
  • You’ll see northern fur seals, sea otters and Pacific walrus.
  • You’ll spot the sacred red-crowned crane in Hokkaido and get to know the culture of the indigenous Ainu people. 
  • You’ll explore vibrant Tokyo and see how seamlessly ancient traditions meld with modern-day life. 

Ready for an epic adventure to the land of snow-covered tundra and steaming volcanoes? Fill out the consultation request form below and we can start the conversation.