Zegrahm takes guests through 'fire and ice'

SEATTLE -- Zegrahm Expeditions here launched two combinable land-cruise itineraries to Alaska, the remote Kuril Islands and Russia's Kamchatka Peninsula.

Designed for nature enthusiasts, the programs, dubbed Fire & Ice I and II, are slated for departures in June and July.

The itineraries are aboard the Clipper Odyssey, a 128-passenger expedition ship carrying a fleet of Zodiac boats which allow participants to come ashore and explore the ports of call.

Shore excursions are led by marine biologists and expert guides who help passengers spot wildlife and identify the local flora.

The first itinerary, Fire & Ice I, Kuril Islands and Kamchatka Peninsula, sails from June 18 to 30. The 13-day journey begins in Sapporo, Japan, and ends in Anchorage.

Highlights during the Kuril Islands portion of the tour include a visit to Aleutka Bay to study the archaeological remains of an 18th century village. Clients also will explore the volcanic island of Onekotan with its circular crater lake and waterfalls.

Participants can bird-watch in the Ushishir Islands, which boast such species as northern fulmars, guillemots, black-legged kittiwakes and the rare whiskered auklet.

The island of Kamchatka is home to some 300 volcanos (29 of which are active), coastal forests and the bird-abundant Zhupanova River.

While in Kamchatka, clients will have the option of taking a helicopter excursion to the Valley of the Geysers, a hotbed of geothermal activity complete with hot springs, mud kettles and mini-volcanoes.

Toward the end of this journey is a stop in Petropavlovsk, Russia, a town dating back to 1740.

The second trip, Fire & Ice II, Kamchatka Through the Aleutian Chain, sails from June 28 to July 11. This 15-day journey begins and ends in Anchorage.

Highlights of this trip include a visit to the village of Nikolskoye on Russia's Bering Island, where visitors will learn about local culture and attend an Aleut dance performance.

Clients will go on nature walks in the Aleutian Islands to study different plant species and to view Minke whales, sea otters and several species of birds.

A stop along the Alaska Peninsula includes Kukak Bay in Katmai National Park and Preserve to view Mount Katmai, one of the park's active volcanos, and to look for bears as they dig along the beaches for food.

Participants disembark in Seward and head to Anchorage for an overnight stay before departing.

Rates for Fire & Ice I start at $6,490 per person, double. Rates for Fire & Ice II start at $7,990 per person, double.

The price includes hotel and ship accommodations, all meals, the services of guides, shore excursions, transfers and taxes. Air fare is extra.

The two trips can be combined for a discount of 6%, and are commissionable at 10%.

For more information on these tours or for reservations, call (800) 628-8747, e-mail [email protected] or visit the Zegrahm Web site at www.zeco.com.

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