Say goodbye to Novaya Zemlya as you cruise east to explore the Kara Sea, the westernmost Asian sea off Siberia. Known as the ice cellar of the Arctic, it’s often encumbered by trapped ice floes, but don’t worry, ice conditions will be considered by your skilled captain during navigation. On the plus side, sea ice happens to be a great habitat for iconic Arctic wildlife. Weather dependent, there are several sites and small archipelagos along the Siberian coast you will aim to explore, tracing the path of polar explorers searching for the Northeast Passage. Hopefully you can visit Russky Island, Troynoy Island and Cape Chelyuskin – they are both part of the Great Arctic State Nature Reserve, the largest reserve in Eurasia. Russky Island is the site of a former polar station, established, in part, to monitor navigation along the Northern Sea Route, the Russian section of the Northeast Passage. Troynoy Island is the largest of the Izvesti Tsik Islands, about 150 km off the coast of the Taymyr Peninsula. The island is uninhabited, except for the researchers at the weather station. Home to an ivory gull colony, the island is also frequented by polar bears, so this may be an opportunity for an illusive sighting.
At the tip of the Taymyr Peninsula is Cape Chelyuskin, the northernmost point of the Russian and Eurasian mainland and the site of another active research station. Here, at the edge of the earth, you will hopefully get the chance to explore on foot.
An exploration of Severnaya Zemlya embodies the true spirit of adventure. Dominated by glaciers and polar desert, the archipelago was not discovered until 1913 and remained virtually unexplored till 1930–32, the last major undiscovered territory on earth. Amongst many possible destinations, you’ll hopefully visit a number of glaciers, including the Vavilov Ice Cap and those at Marat Fjord. If conditions are favourable, you may cruise the Red Army Strait, flanked by the massive Academy of Sciences Glacier (which also runs along the eastern shore of Zhuravlev Bay) and the smaller Rusanov Glacier. As one of very few people to ever explore this remote area in depth, you’ll want to have your camera ready to capture these amazing sights.