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Amur Tiger - the largest and most endangered subspecies!
An amazing venture into the unknown Russian Far East
Amur Tigers Extension
Aug 16 - Aug 22
2012
The Sikhote-Alinskiy Nature Reserve, just east of Vladivostok in the Russian Far East, is one of the last remaining habitats of the largest tiger subspecies, the Siberian or Amur Tiger. Over 40 endangered Siberian Tigers live in the reserve, making it the best place on Earth to observe them in their natural habitat. In conjunction with the local authorities, WANT Expeditions has managed to arrange the first ever visit to this reserve and a chance to see the Tigers in their natural habitat. This trip is a once-in-a-lifetime chance to see these amazing creatures and a perfect extension to our Kamchatka Expedition.
Detailed itinerary:
Aug 16 arrive at Vladivostok
  Our day is dedicated to our international arrival at Vladivostok airport, on any flights arriving before 4:00 pm. Upon landing, we will be greeted by our representative and transferred to our mid-range, clean tourist hotel (with private facilities) in downtown Vladivostok. At 6:00 in the evening, we will all meet for a Welcome Orientation, which will be followed by our welcome dinner at our hotel. After dinner, we better retire early, so that we reserve our energies for the long and exciting days that lie ahead.
  Accommodation: Mid-range tourist hotel with private facilities
Aug 17 Vladivostok/Sikhote-Alin Reserve
  Today we have nearly 700 km ahead of us, which will take up to 10 hrs of driving, even though the entire way is paved. We are planning to have breakfast as early as 6:00 am and start our interesting road trip by 7:00. Our destination for the day is Sikhote-Alin Reserve, the last remaining homeland for the extremely rare Amur Tiger. Russian laws require nature reserves to remain largely undeveloped for tourism and to serve as places for strict wildlife protection, rather than ‘entertainment centers’ for people, which means roads will be less maintained as we approach the reserve, and our accommodation, while clean and fun, will be less comfortable. After a light lunch in a roadside café, we will reach the boundaries of the park at around 4:00 in the afternoon, and shall be at our accommodation by 5:00. This basic but lovely research hut (located just 3 km from Lake Blagodatnoe) will be our base of exploration for the next 4 nights, so after arrival we spend the rest of the evening with settling in and familiarizing ourselves with the surroundings. While our friendly local staff prepares dinner, we set up the ‘banya’, the always-present Russian sauna, and will treat ourselves in it after the long road trip. Dinner will be served in the community dining area.
  Accommodation: Researchers hut with shared facilities
Aug 18 Sikhote-Alin Reserve
  We are going to spend the entire day exploring Lake Blagodatnoe and Udobnaya Bay on foot. Blagodatnoe is a large brackish lake, divided from the Japanese Sea by narrow sand dunes only, through which larger waves can easily reach the lake during storms and very high tides. Apart from the seaside, picturesque mountain peaks, creating an amazing habitat for plants and animals alike, surround the lake. Of the famous mega fauna, Brown Bears, Elk and Roe Deer are very common, and the coastal mud plains are dotted with enormous footprints of the Amur Tiger. Seeing the elusive cat on foot is unlikely, but not impossible, so we will walk very slowly and will keep our eyes open all day long. The lake area is home to over one hundred species of birds, and the nearby meadows are not only favorite grazing grounds for the Brown Bears but also habitat of an endemic flower, the Palibin’s Edelwiss. After a romantic picnic lunch on the lakeshore, we will climb to the lower platform of one of the mountains, where remains of human settlements will make our walking tour even more exciting. We will only cover about 5 kilometers on foot today, but since the habitat is so unique and there are so many things to see and photograph, we will be out all day, only returning to our accommodation for dinner and to enjoy the luxury of the ‘banya’.
  Accommodation: Researchers hut with shared facilities
Aug 19 Sikhote-Alin Reserve
  Today we are heading to the source of the largest river in the reserve: Yasnaya. After breakfast at our accommodation, we first take a national park jeep northbound, to Ternei village, and then continue another 30 km west, deep into the reserve, until we reach a lovely, tiny hut, also named Yasnaya. From here, we carry on by foot, even further into the mixed deciduous-cedar forest, which is home to a great population of Musk Deer, as well as bears and the majestic Tiger. Again, seeing one by foot is unlikely, but we will enjoy fantastic forest views, lots of endemic plants, the source of River Yasnaya and many other types of smaller animals and birds. This walk is 3 km each way and will take about 3 hrs, so by the time we return to the hut, we will be more than ready for our packed lunches. After lunch, we will spend some more time around the hut, looking for wildlife and some great compositions of the forest and some of the endemic plants, before we get back on our vehicles and return to our base at Lake Blagodatnoe. Evening entertainment will be provided again by the ‘banya’ and our local chef.
  Accommodation: Researchers hut with shared facilities
Aug 20 Sikhote-Alin Reserve
  Today we have two shorter, yet absolutely interesting and exciting excursions ahead of us. In the morning, we are going to visit the largest congregation of the rare and endemic Larga Seal, at Northern Cape. After breakfast, we take a trail into the forest, right from our accommodation, and within an hour, reach the low peaks of Mt. Severny. After a short break, we descend to the seashore through interesting meadows, until we reach the Cape and a point from where we can observe and enjoy these large, endemic seals. For lunch, we will return to our accommodation on the same trail, and will soon after meet the representative of the Russian-American Siberian Tiger Project. We will spend the entire afternoon with him, learning about his work, learning everything we can about Siberian (Amur) Tigers, and will help him to radio-track collared specimen and record all collected information in a large database. Despite the radio tracking, we still only have a small chance to really see a wild tiger, however, we will not give up hope and could be the lucky ones. We will only return to our accommodation in the evening, for one last farewell dinner and Russian bath in the nature reserve.
  Accommodation: Researchers hut with shared facilities
Aug 21 Sikhote-Alin Reserve/Vladivostok
  We will be on the road as early as 6:00 am this morning, in order to cover the 450 km to Spassk-Dalniy before lunch. After a short lunch break at a lovely roadside café, we continue just a little bit further on to Gaivoron, to the biological research reserve of the Russian Academy of Sciences. It is here where we are going to have the privilege of visiting a private woodland enclosure, with currently … Amur Tigers in it. By the 1940’s, only 30 of these majestic felines remained in the wild, and while large portions of their natural habitat had been set aside and protected, the subspecies would not have survived without a carefully-planned captive breeding program. This research facility has served as the center of the global breeding program for decades, and still features a few families, which live in semi-natural environment, giving us an unparalleled opportunity for great photographs. Dr. Yudin, the manager of the facility will personally guide us through the station and will help us get the best images. Once we have used our assigned window of visit, we will get back on the road and drive yet another 250 km back to Vladivostok. After check in at our now-familiar hotel, we gather for our final recap and a delicious, traditional Russian Farewell Dinner.
  Accommodation: Researchers hut with shared facilities
Aug 22 Vladivostok/departure
  Our day is dedicated to our departures from Vladivostok. Those of us who continue to our Kamchatka Peninsula Wildlife Expedition, will be transferred to the airport together in one group, while those of us who only joined this extension, will be free to chose any flight departing the city throughout the entire day. Thank you for traveling with us, have a safe ongoing journey.
 

Trip price: in double room: USD 2,797
  in single room: USD 2,797

Trip images:

Tour leader: Hajnalka KOVACS
Trip price: in double room: USD 2,797
  in single room: USD 2,797
Price includes:
· all accomodation
· all meals
· all activities mentioned in the program
· all land transportation
· bottled water in transport vehicles
· all airport and local transfers
· all national park fees
· all camping gear except sleeping bag
· all entrance fees
· all local guiding fees
· international tour leader
· all tips
· all government taxes and levies

Price excludes:
· international flights
· travel insurance
· personal expenses at accommodation
· departure taxes at airports
· visa fees
· any other items not mentioned above