sakhalin and the kuril islands
pacific waves, japanese heritage, volcanic rumbles and soviet allure
Yuzhno-Sakhalinsk – Cape Aniva – Kunashir
Regular monthly departures: this tour is offered regularly once a month from May to September. Let us know your desired departure month by clicking on the ask-us button below and we will match your preferences with the relevant scheduled group departure. If you are unsure about the month you wish to travel in, then simply tell us a period or a season of the year and we will give you a wide range of scheduled group departures: just pick up yours!
Our scheduled group departures don't suit your plans? If you are travelling with friends and there are 5 or more of you, you can set your own dates and we will organise a tour just for you without charging any additional fee. If you are travelling solo or with less than 4 companions we will organise a slightly more expensive tailored tour according to your time schedule and specific geographical preferences.
The following itinerary refers to our most popular route in the Sakhalin Oblast. This vast and diverse island, a very Soviet version of Northern Japan, greets its curious guests with a cornucopia of natural, historical and cultural wonders. In case you are interested in a particularly remote area, secretive ethnicity, unusual activity and/or off-the-beaten-path attraction within the Sakhalin Oblast or if you are just looking for an hit-and-run visit to Yuzhno-Sakhalinsk and its surroundings, we will easily meet your needs with a unique tour individually designed according to your preferences. Thanks to our deep knowledge of the territory and longstanding collaboration with independent local guides we are able to offer you a wide range of tailored routes and bespoke itineraries across and beyond the rumbling volcanoes and the unruly waves cities of the Sakhalin Oblast. We also regularly cater for biologists, conservationists, ethnologists, historians and documentarists alike interested in conducting field research in the region. Get in touch for more info on our private tours to the Sakhalin Oblast!
Day 1 - Yuzhno-Sakhalinsk
Our guide will meet you at Yuzhno-Sakhalinsk International Airport and drive you to our hotel of choice (exact hotel name and address will be communicated well in advance per email).
Introductory briefing about the region, the route and the set of rules to observe while travelling around Sakhalin.
Short city tour and acclimatisation after your long flight to arrive to this extremely remote island.
Traditional Russian-Japanese fusion dinner.
Overnight in Yuzhno-Sakhalinsk.
Day 2 - Soviet Vessel
Today we'll head to the southern port town of Korsakov, a gritty Soviet harbour, where we'll board our vessel to the Island of Kunashir in the Kuril Archipelago.
The ship will navigate along the coastline of the Aniva Peninsula, a narrow strip of land covered with green meadows and dense spruce-fir forests.
On our way to the open sea we'll also pass by the eery remnant of the Aniva Lighthouse, a holy grail for urbex photography: first built by the Japanese in 1939 and later used by the mighty Soviet Pacific Fleet, this highly photogenic armoured-concrete lighthouse lies now abandoned as a sad remainder of a bygone era.
Beyond Cape Aniva the Sea of Okhotsk will open in front of our eyes and flocks of seabirds and dolphins will accompany our ship all the way to Kunashir.
Lunch, dinner and overnight on the ship.
Day 3/4/5/6 - Kunashir Island
Early in the morning when approaching the island, you will enjoy the breathtaking view of the magnificent Tyatya Volcano: stand on the deck to marvel at its beauty and power.
We will be met at the seaport of Yuzhno-Kurilsk, the administrative centre of the Kurils, and transferred to the hotel.
We will then spend four full days on the island exploring its untamed wilderness and sublime landscapes.
Highlights of your stay on Kunashir will include: the Devil's Gate rock formations, driving and trek across the big fumarole fied of Medeleev Volcano, hike the Golovnin Volcano, relaxing, bathing and swimming in Kipyashcheye and Goryacheye volcanic lakes, climbing up to Cape Stolbchaty (UNESCO natural site), plunging in hot mud springs and rockpooling along the fauna-rich shores of the island.
During your time on the islands you'll have also the chance to meet with the local inhabitants, especially the fishermen, who will share with you their food, their home and the secrets of their remote every day life
Dinners and overnights in Yuzhno-Kurilsk.
Day 7 - Soviet Vessel
Today we'll say goodbye to Kunashir and head back to Sakhalin.
Slowly navigating across the dark waters of the Northern Pacific you will have time to relax and process the once-in-a-lifetime views and experience you've just had on Kunashir.
Lunch, dinner and overnight on the ship.
Day 8 - Yuzhno-Sakhalinsk
After lunch we will dock at Korsakov.
Quick city and railway tour around Korsakov and transfer to Yuzhno-Sakhalinsk.
Dinner and overnight in Yuzhno-Sakhalinsk.
Day 9/10/11 - Wild Wild Sakhalin
We'll enjoy three full days on the main island of Sakhalin, entirely devoted to its superb nature and fascinating history.
During this time you will: tour the city of Yuzhno-Sakhalinsk, where Soviet shapes blend together with architectural leftovers of the Japanese Empire, admire Japanese Tori gates and Shinto temples scattered all over the island, search for amber along the East Coast of the Sea of Okhotsk, taste fresh caught crabs in the village of Vzmorye, admire a diverse and breathtaking coastal landscape of lagoons, grottoes and ravines, home to rookeries of cranes and sales, lock for bizarre sea inverts, search for medicinal herbs and super-rare edelweiss, look in awe at the rumbling waves of the Great Pacific, have a traditional lunch with archetypically Soviet fishermen, explore Cape Giant and Bird Cape, party through the night with a wild bunch of locals and oil expats in Yuzhno-Sakhalinsk, fish your own dinner out of the sea and - of course - indulge in exclusive gastronomic pleasure such as royal crabs garnished with fresh caviar.
Dinners and overnights in Yuzhno-Sakhalinsk.
Day 12 - Flight back home or transfer to further destinations
After enjoying a last Sakhalin-style breakfast together we'll take care of your transfer to the airport/train station of choice.
For those flying out, we will arrange transfer to Yuzhno-Sakhalinsk International Airport.
For those wishing to take the ferry to reach further destinations, we will arrange transport to either Kholmsk or Korsakov ferry terminal.
End of the tour.
4 to 9 participants: 2560 €
The price includes: double/twin room accommodation (breakfast included; single supplement: 20 euros/night), private transport in the region (jeep or minivan + ship), entrance fees to the attractions listed in the itinerary, guiding and translation service.
The price does not include: international flights and any other flight not explicitly included in the tour price and itinerary, meals, drinks and tips, visas if required, entrance to attractions not listed in the itinerary, insurance.
The route of this tour has been carefully designed after several research trips in the region. It is, however, always possible to slightly modify the itinerary according to the needs and the suggestions of the participants. Our motto is flexibility.
where the heck am i travelling to?
BELOW you can see the different tour stages marked on a map of the region you are going to explore with us
POSSIBLE TOUR COMBINATIONS FOR THIS ITINERARY INCLUDE
Kamchatka and/or North Korea