Embark the National Geographic Orion and explore the unique cultural heritage of the Bering Sea, where Russian, American, and Aleut influences intermingle on wild and remote isles. Sail the legendary Bering Strait en route to Provideniya, and glimpse traditions of the indigenous Yupik in this “Gateway to the Arctic.” Delve into the region’s fascinating World War II history in Unalaska, visit the incredible wildlife sanctuaries of Alaska’s Pribilof Islands, and spy brown bears on the Alaska Peninsula.
Sail the legendary Bering Sea aboard the National Geographic Orion, and disembark on remote islands to discover tiny Aleut communities.
By special permission, get up close to the millions of seabirds and fur seals that inhabit Alaska’s Pribilof Islands—sometimes called the Galápagos of the North.
Step foot in Russia’s seldom-seen Far East, and glimpse the local indigenous culture during a traditional Yupik dance performance.
Go on a Zodiac cruise in coastal Katmai National Park, and capture close-ups of resident brown bears fishing and digging for clams.
Itinerary - 13 Days
Days 1 & 2 — Anchorage, Alaska/Nome/Bering Strait
Arrive in Anchorage and fly to Nome, where we embark the National Geographic Orion. Spend the next day at sea, and cross the legendary Bering Strait en route to Provideniya, known as “The Gateway to the Arctic.” Weather permitting, we’ll stop at the remote Little Diomede Island, located in the strait and home to a tiny Inupiat community.
Days 3 through 6 — Provideniya, Russia/Pribilof Islands, Alaska
Disembark in Provideniya to visit the local museum and witness a traditional Yupik dance performance. By special permission, spend the next several days exploring Alaska’s Pribilof Islands, a wildlife-lover’s paradise. Go ashore on St. Paul, home to the majority of the Pribilof’s more than half a million northern fur seals. Then see the cliffs of St. George from below, exploring on Zodiacs. Crowded with millions of birds, these rocky outcrops are home to one of the largest seabird colonies in the Northern Hemisphere. Spot horned and tufted puffins, red-legged kittiwakes, crested auklets, and rare Asian vagrant species seldom seen in North America.
Days 7 & 8 — Unalaska/Alaska Peninsula
Cruise into Dutch Harbor in the city of Unalaska—site of a Japanese air attack during World War II, and now an important fishing port for crab, salmon, and a range of other species. Continue to the Baby Islands, where dynamic tides offer the chance to spot sea otters and rare seabirds. We’ll watch for wildlife on deck and aboard Zodiacs before continuing along the eastern shore of the Alaska Peninsula.
Days 9 & 10 — Shumagin Islands/Katmai National Park & Preserve
Go ashore on Unga Island to explore a petrified forest of sequoia trees that were buried by a volcanic mudslide nearly 25 million years ago. Water has eroded the sediment over time, leaving colorful stumps and logs along the island’s rocky shoreline. The next day, explore Katmai National Park & Preserve, known for its robust brown bear population. Seek out some of the resident grizzlies, and photograph them from a safe distance as they fish for salmon and dig for clams.
Day 11 — Kodiak Island
The second largest island in the U.S., Kodiak’s cultural heritage is a unique blend of Russian, Alutiiq, and American influences. Join our undersea specialist for a dock walk to peruse the commercial fishing boats anchored in Kodiak’s inner harbor. Then photograph the onion-domed Holy Resurrection Cathedral on a photo walk, or peruse native art and artifacts at the Alutiiq Museum. Later, explore one of the island’s outer bays by Zodiac.
Days 12 & 13 — Kenai Peninsula/Seward/Anchorage
We’ll spend the last full day of our trip cruising along the Kenai Peninsula. Take in views of the Harding Icefield—the source of nearly 40 glaciers—and search for wildlife along rocky coastal cliffs and in the surrounding waters. Arrive in Seward the following morning, and drive to Anchorage to connect with your flight home.
A dynamic expedition team—including an expedition leader; a photo instructor; and experts in wildlife biology, geology, culture, and the undersea— accompanies each departure. They will share their knowledge and insights on wildlife, landscapes, and local culture, and help you get your best photos. See one of the members of our extraordinary team below.
Ralph Lee Hopkins
Ralph Lee Hopkins is a popular photo instructor and geologist who also serves as an expedition leader aboard the National Geographic fleet. He served as a photographer on the historic Arctic Expedition for Climate Action in July 2008 and has traveled beyond both the Arctic and the Antarctic Circles many times during the past two decades. His wildlife images have appeared in National Geographic's books, magazines, and online galleries, and are represented in the National Geographic Image Collection.
Travelers can choose between a light or moderate activity level. For a light level of activity, they should be in good health and comfortable walking or standing for extended periods of time. Daily activities may include city walking tours, visits to sites, game drives on bumpy roads, or easy hikes.
For a moderate level, travelers should be prepared for multiple hours of physical activity (e.g. hiking, kayaking, biking) each day.
Click here for a description of all activity levels.