polar bear in Arctic

World’s First: A permit signed by Putin, 200 polar bears and a visit to Wrangel Island

The mission brief was simple: pull together a dream team of polar specialists, plan a “World’s First” itinerary and leave a taste for expeditions that will leave the clients gasping.

With just under a month allocated for this private yacht expedition to the Russian Far East and the Bering Sea, we had a broad canvas on which to work. The technical challenges were just that—challenging. The political ones were quite a bit tougher! How does one get to be the first non-Russian flagged vessel to be allowed to visit Wrangel Island, the polar bear capital of the world?

The team at EYOS Expeditions took a long-term approach. For a year before the voyage, we worked with team members in Russia to secure the holy grail: a permit to visit these sensitive areas signed by Vladimir Putin himself.

The effort paid off.  When our 193m private yacht visited Wrangel Island, we saw more than 200 polar bears over three days; a spectacular achievement by any measure.

The foundation to any successful expedition is preparation: obtaining permits and permissions, undertaking skilled analysis of weather records and navigation charts, doing the logistics and support work. But all of these crucial, time-consuming and often complex tasks fall into the distant past when a polar bear is leaning up against the bow, or standing up to peer through lower portholes.

It’s the hard yards involved in planning that enable an expedition to be successful, but it’s the memories of special places and their rare inhabitants that make that success last.