09/07/2020-25/07/2020 Freediving with bowhead whales and Orca

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15 Days
Trip Dates : 09/07/2020-25/07/2020
Okhotsk sea camp - Russia
Group Size : 8
Trip Details

Set out for a once-in-a-lifetime adventure in a most distant and pristine places in Russia, which will allow you to explore the nature of the Okhotsk sea and be one of the first to swim side by side with majestic bowhead whales. 

The main attraction of the expedition is the local bowhead whale population. These sea giants are the most northern whales in the world (together with narwhals). On account of living beyond the Arctic Circle they are also called Polar or Arctic whales. Only here, in the Sea of Okhotsk, one can find the unique, southernmost population of these animals. We will be able to observe them in a temperate climate, almost on the same latitude as Copenhagen. The local whales are calm and not afraid of vessels, and they often let people get quite close to them. If visibility allows, we will try to enter the water with bowhead whales and take unique underwater pictures. Bowhead whales hold the record for lifespan among mammals, they live for up to 200 years and, possibly, even more. Sometimes the whales get so close to the shore, they can be observed several meters from land. In addition to bowhead whales, in the Sea of Okhotsk we may encounter killer whales, who can scare away even the bowheads. 
The clear water of the bay we’ve chosen for the diving will let us experience something even more unique – submerging into the water to spend unforgettable time with bowhead whales keeping us company. Perfect opportunity to take amazing underwater pictures, too. 
In addition to bowhead whales, in the Sea of Okhotsk we’re likely to encounter orcas while moving from one bay to another on speed boats. We may also see beluga whales and gray whales. There are several species of seals, too: bearded seal, largha seal and ringed seal. You’ll also get a chance to spot bears, who roam on some of the islands. 
We’ll spend evenings in comfortable lodges on the shore sharing our day’s experiences and emotions. 

Note: The problem of Killer whale capturing is extremely relevant in Shantar sea. One of our goals is bringing people’s attention to this unethical activity. By organizing ecotours to this region we hope to make a difference in the fight against whale capturing. 

We will swim with whales and seals, fish for trout and salmon, explore new lands. We will become pioneers and plunge into a completely different world. 

Departure & Return Location

Okhostsk – Russia

Trip Date


Price Includes

  • transfer from\to Nikolay bay, meals on the way, tents for the stay on the Amgun river;
  • accomodation in lodges (4 people per room). Single accommodation in tents if required;
  • meals at the camp (breakfast, lunch, dinner);
  • paddle boat, diving weight belt rental fees;
  • guiding services;
  • border area and reserve entrance permits.
  • Photography workshop

Price Excludes

  • Airfares
  • accommodation in Khabarovsk;
  • emergency insurance covering helicopter evacuation;
  • emergency evacuation with no insurance coverage;
  • additional expenses caused by bad weather conditions, changes in schedules of flights, breakage of personal gear and equipment through the fault of the public visitors, illness, or other unforeseen circumstances.

Please bring

  • comfortable waterproof shoes 2 sets (trekking boots, sneakers);
  • thermal underwear;
  • flashlight;
  • Camera / GoPro
  • insect repellent;
  • waterproof pants, jacket;
  • hat, woolen socks, gloves, jacket;
  • towel
  • personal medication;
  • wetsuit, mask, snorkel, fins, gloves, socks. No need for long blade fins for the bowheads
What to Expect

This trip is a real adventure! it is meant for those who do not mind long travel times in trucks and nights in a tent. This location is one of a select few locations where it is almost guaranteed to encounter Bowhead whales. 

This is a real Expedition! Getting to the camp requires a 6 hour bus ride followed by another 1.5 days in a big truck (comfortable but bumpy). The night spent on the truck is in a tent. 

Once in camp – there are heated huts and hot water.

  • Water temperature from +4С to +8С, surface temperature from +10С to +25С
  • There is little no mobile coverage in the area. We recommend you to bring your own satellite phone. If you don’t have one, the crew can provide you with satellite connection (expenditures not included

We recommend a 5-7mm wetsuit (a good 5mm open cell freediving suit will likely be ok as the time spent in the water is brief.

We will use Speed boats to move between bays to follow the whales and once there – we will use Stand up paddle boards to approach them. When opportunity comes – we will be able to slide gently into the water and swim with the whales, 

Animals we are likely to encounter
  • Bowhead Whales
  • Orca
  • Gray whales
  • Bears
  • Seals
  • Beluga

Day 1 (12 July)Departure from Khabarovsk.

Long-haul transfer with an overnight stand at a campsite in tents at the bank of Amgun river.

Day 2 (13 July)Transfer to Nikolay bay

Speed boat transfer to the Vrangelya harbor. Check in to the lodges.

Days 3-12 (14 - 23 July)Whale Camp

Tours around the tourist sights of the Okhotsk sea near Nicolay bay and Vrangel harbor. Observing bowhead whales, orcas, seals, spawning salmon and most likely even bears. Approaching whales on paddle boards for those who don’t want to disturb the peace of these marine giants and free diving with the whales for those willing to get as close as they can. Cruising around Shantar islands and local bays. Trekking around the islands.

Day 13 (24 July)Speed boat transfer to Nicolay bay.

Transfer to the Amgun river with an overnight stand at a campsite in tents.

Day 14 (25 July)Long-haul transfer back to Khabarovsk.

1.5 day long truck ride with overnight sleep in a tent.

Please note

The itinerary is designed for favorable weather conditions and might require adjustment due to changes of the latter. Also it might get adjusted in accordance with the physical fitness of the group members.


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