Heritage brings tourists to Russian Arctic | Polarjournal
Wrangel Island, located in the Arctic Ocean, is without exaggeration the “capital of polar bears”. Because the island is home to numerous seals and other animals, polar bears also find slightly better conditions here than elsewhere to survive the summer. Picture: Michael Wenger

For almost 1.5 years, the entire polar travel market has been in the grip of the pandemic. The whole market? No, a New Zealand company defied the virus last Antarctic season and was able to wow curious Kiwis with the beauty of New Zealand’s sub-Antarctic islands. Now Heritage Expeditions has also been able to secure its Arctic season in the Russian Far East, offering anyone willing to travel the opportunity to experience one of the most remote and fascinating Arctic regions first hand.

The New Zealand expedition company has announced that they have received all the necessary permits from the Russian authorities to operate from the Sea of Okhotsk to Wrangel from the end of June onwards. “Our ship, the Spirit of Enderby, also known as Akademik Professor Khromov, is flying a Russian flag and has a Russian crew. That makes a lot of things easier when you’re operating in Russia,” explains company partner Aaron Russ. The fact that they have already been successfully visiting these regions for years proves him right.

Even the current pandemic and its restrictions are not stopping the New Zealanders from having an expedition season. This is because COVID figures are much lower in the Russian Far East than in the rest of Russia, thanks to the remoteness of the regions. In particular, the Autonomous Region of Chukotka, where the majority of the trips are made, had hardly recorded any cases of infection in recent weeks. Furthermore, Heritage has an already tested safety concept on board. “The current concept includes full vaccination of the crew and team. Guests who are not vaccinated must present negative PCR tests, which are also required for entry into Russia,” Aaron Russ explains further. In addition, the now standard reinforced hygiene measures are carried out on the ship.

An important aspect of the Heritage trips are the visits to villages along the route and experiencing the Chukchi and Inuit culture in the region. Since most of the places are difficult to reach, hardly any tourists or out-of-towners come here. As a result, most places in Chukotka had only low case numbers so far. Picture: Michael Wenger

Overall, Heritage sees little risk, even when visiting communities that are part of the travel experience. For in Chukotka the number of cases is very low and in recent weeks has even been zero. This is due to the remote location of the region, which can only be reached by boat and plane. And to ensure that this remains the case when visiting localities, Heritage will work with the authorities to keep a close eye on the situation and implement appropriate hygiene and distance measures when the situation makes this necessary. “People and their health are at the top of our list, and we try to keep any risks to a minimum,” Heritage explains.

The outermost tip of the Eurasian continent is Cape Deshnev. Here is also an old Soviet station, which was responsible for the surveillance of the Bering Strait. The entry to Chukotka is easier today and is done via Moscow to Anadyr. Picture: Michael Wenger

To enjoy an expedition trip to the Russian Far East, you need a tourist visa as usual. Countries officially allowed into Russia include Switzerland and Germany, from where there are also direct flights to Moscow. In addition, Russia requires a negative PCR test no more than 72 hours old, issued in either Russian or English. “All domestic flights from Moscow operate without restrictions,” Heritage writes in a press release. That’s why the connections to Anadyr are possible. According to Heritage, on the following departure dates nearly all cabin types are still available on the nearly two-week voyages. More information can be found via the link at the end of the article.

Departure from Anadyr Type of trip

Dr Michael Wenger, PolarJournal

Link to further information in German:



Or directly to Heritage Expeditions:


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