Hokkaido – Japan's Wild Island (16 Days)

Cruise Line: Zegrahm Expeditions
International Dateline (Crossing) to Tokyo, Japan
Dates: 19 May 2018 - 03 Jun 2018

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Tour Segment  Cruise Segment
19 May 2018
Air travel
International Dateline (Crossing)

Board your independent flight to Japan, crossing the International Date Line en route.
Arrive in Tokyo and transfer to the ANA Crowne Plaza Narita hotel for dinner and overnight.

20 May 2018
Air travel
Tokyo, Japan

After breakfast, set out on an introductory tour of Japan's cutting-edge capital city. Discover modern and ancient highlights alike before lunch at a local restaurant. Then board one of Japan's famed shinkansen (high-speed trains) for the ride to Niigata. This evening, embark the Caledonian Sky and set sail for Hokkaido.

21 May 2018
Tokyo, Japan
Niigata, Japan

During a relaxing day at sea, join our naturalists on deck to search for wildlife and attend engaging lectures on such topics as Hokkaido's natural history and traditional Japanese culture.

22 May 2018

Hokkaido's dynamic capital Sapporo is famous for its ski slopes, ice-sculpting festival, green spaces, and great culinary scene. For a scenic overview, head southwest to Mount Moiwa and ride the cable car to the summit's observation deck. Lunch at a local restaurant offers the chance to try Sapporo's famous beer and perhaps some local seafood before browsing the busy fish market. Birders set out from Otaru to explore the surrounding foothills in search of resident Japanese pygmy woodpeckers and varied tits, as well as blue-and-white flycatchers and other migrant species.

23 May 2018
Otaru, Japan
Sapporo, Japan
Otaru, Japan

The northwestern island of Teuri is the seasonal home to tens of thousands of rhinoceros auklets; the largest breeding colony in the world nests in burrows atop the steep cliffs of this island. The nearby island of Rishiri—known locally as Rishirifuji due to its resemblance to Mount Fuji—rises majestically from the ocean, and offers a variety of trekking opportunities.

24 May 2018
Teuri Island, Japan
Rishiri, Japan

Along with neighboring Rishiri, Rebun Island forms part of the popular Rishiri-Rebun-Sarobetsu National Park. Between late-April and mid-September, the "Floating Island of Flowers" is blanketed in fields of wildflowers, and your visit is timed to enjoy the blooms before the annual flood of tourists arrive.

25 May 2018
Rebun, Japan

A former military post and penal colony, Korsakov serves as your gateway to Sakhalin Island's capital, Yuzhno-Sakhalinsk. Founded as a small Russian settlement in the 1880s, the city was a Japanese prefect capital from 1905 until the end of WWII. Visit a Russian Orthodox church, the Regional Museum—housed in an impressive former Japanese mansion, and the bustling market. You'll also enjoy a performance of traditional Cossack song and dance from a colorfully costumed local choir. Alternatively, join your ornithologist for a day of birding around the southern end of Sakhalin. Watch for Latham's snipes, white-tailed sea eagles, common cuckoos, yellow-breasted buntings, and long-tailed rosefinches.

26 May 2018
Korsakov, Russia
Yuzhno-sakhalinsk, Russia
Korsakov, Russia

Fishing is one of the main industries of Abashiri, and your first full day here offers tasty seafood and a choice of tours. A scenic geological expedition to the south visits a number of calderas and volcanic features, including Lakes Kussharo and Mashu and the Mount Iwo Sulphur Springs. Then try on a surprisingly heavy sumo apron at the Taiho Sumo Museum, before lunch in Kawayu Onsen. Or, choose a nature tour in Utoro where you will take a cruise to look for brown bears, white-tailed eagles, and spectacled guillemots. Then drive up to the 2,425-foot-high Shiretoko Pass (weather permitting) for stunning views of Mount Rausu, returning via Lake Tofutsu and Koshimizu Gensei-kaen, a 12-mile-long stretch awash in some 40 species of wildflowers.

27 May 2018
Abashiri, Japan
Lake Kussharo, Japan
Lake Mashu, Japan
Mount Io, Japan
Kawayu Onsen, Japan
Abashiri, Japan

Abashiri Kando Asaichi, Abashiri's buzzing morning market, is the first stop on your city tour, followed by Ryuhyo Garasu-kan to shop for unique glass-craft gifts. Learn about the Ainu, Inuit, and other indigenous cultures at the Hokkaido Museum of Northern Peoples before a short walk around scenic Cape Notoro. If time permits, a visit to the Okhotsk Sea Ice Museum offers hands-on insights into the sea ice that encircles the region during winter. Alternatively, join a natural history tour to explore along the shore of Lake Abashiri and Komaba Kinohiroba Park. This afternoon, be on deck as the ship navigates the scenic Nemuro Strait to search for minke, orca, and sperm whales, as well as Pacific white-sided dolphins and Dall's porpoises.

DAY 10
28 May 2018
Abashiri, Japan
Cape Notoro, Japan
Abashiri, Japan
Nemuro Strait, Japan

Two thousand species of flora and fauna are found in Kushiro Marsh, Japan's largest peat swamp and wetland reserve. A Ramsar-registered site and national park, Kushiro provides sanctuary to the red-crowned crane, a symbol of luck and longevity in Japan. Thanks to successful conservation efforts, Hokkaido is now home to 1,500 of these rare birds. Enjoy spectacular scenery while you search for them in their marshy breeding grounds. A visit to the Kushiro City Museum offers insights into the lifestyle of the Ainu through a small, but excellent exhibit.

DAY 11
29 May 2018
Kushiro, Japan
Kushiro Shitsugen National Park, Japan
Kushiro, Japan

Its two namesake lakes—along with hot springs and great hiking—make Shikotsu-Toya National Park a popular escape from Sapporo. Your tour of this UNESCO Global Geopark includes stops at various viewpoints to appreciate Lake Toya, a nearly circular caldera lake; on a clear day, it is backdropped by Mt. Usu, an active volcano that often billows smoke.

DAY 12
30 May 2018
Muroran, Japan
Lake Toya, Japan
Muroran, Japan

Hakodate was one of the first ports in Japan to open to foreign trade in 1854, and around the waterfront you'll find many western-style buildings such as churches, warehouses, and the Old British Consulate. Start your day like a local at the Hakodate Asaichi (morning market), which overflows with displays of fresh seafood, produce, and traditional snacks. Then climb aboard the cable car and ascend Mount Hakodate for magnificent views over the city.

DAY 13
31 May 2018
Hakodate, Japan

Nature rules in the Akita Prefecture, known for its rice farming, traditional festivals, and treasured dog breed of the same name. At the center of its capital lies Senshu Park, built from the ruins of Kubota Castle, a former samurai fortress. Lotus flowers now fill the remnants of old moats, and tree-lined walking trails lead to its watchtower, temple, and shrine. The city's Museum of Art houses "Akita no Gyoji", one of the largest canvas paintings in the world. Akita also boasts Lake Tazawa, Japan's deepest lake.

DAY 14
01 Jun 2018
Akita, Japan

Disembark in Niigata and board the bullet train back to Tokyo. Participate in a city tour, visiting highlights such as the 2,080-foot-high Skytree—the world's second-highest tower, and the beautiful Meiji Shrine. Or, join a birding tour in Kasai Rinkai Park, a third of which is a designated seabird sanctuary. Dinner and overnight at the Hotel Okura Tokyo.

DAY 15
02 Jun 2018
Niigata, Japan
Tokyo, Japan

Transfer to the airport for your independent homeward flight, arriving in the USA the same day.

DAY 16
03 Jun 2018
Tokyo, Japan
Air travel
Hokkaido – Japan's Wild Island map

Virtuoso Voyages Benefits


$100 of apparel and gear from the Zegrahm Expeditions Gear Shop

Virtuoso guests receive $100 voucher per-person for the purchase of apparel and gear from the Zegrahm Expeditions Gear Shop.

Restrictions may apply, please see Booking Instruction Terms & Conditions for details.

About the Ship

Red Fox
Caledonian Sky

The 100-guest Caledonian Sky is a spacious, yet intimate, expedition vessel. Refurbished in 2012, public spaces include a single-seating dining room, a large lounge, elegant bar, panoramic viewing deck, sun deck, library, and small gym. All suites have an ocean view, a sitting room, and en suite bathroom. The Caledonian Sky carries a fleet of Zodiacs.

What's Included


  • All gratuities; accommodations as outlined in the itinerary; all onboard meals and group meals ashore, including soft drinks, beer, and wine with lunch and dinner; arrival and departure transfers on group dates; services of the expedition staff including lectures, briefings, slide/film shows; all group activities and excursions; landing and port fees; and medical expense coverage and emergency evacuation insurance.

Not Included

  • All air transportation (except where noted); optional estensions and excursions as noted in the itinerary; excess baggage charges; airport arrival and departure taxes; transfers for independent arrivals and departures; passport and/or visa fees; travel insurance; items of a personal nature such as laundry, bar charges, alcoholic beverages (other than listed above); e-mail/internet/fax/telephone charges.

About Us

With over 25 years in expedition travel, Seattle-based Zegrahm Expeditions Inc. is a leading adventure travel company specializing in small-ship expedition cruises, tours, and safaris to remote and intriguing destinations around the world. Led by expert guides and lecturers, Zegrahm itineraries are carefully crafted and all-inclusive, feature deluxe accommodations, and operate in all seven continents.

Insider Tip

Virtually everything is included: gratuities, transfers, group hotels, wine and beer with lunch and dinner, and a variety of excursions including snorkeling and birding.

Terms & Conditions

Please read our complete set of Terms and Conditions on our website. In order to confirm your participation, it is important that you carefully read and electronically sign the acknowledgement form for your trip. You can select the applicable trip option from our website.

The trademarks VIRTUOSO, the Globe Swirl Logo and SPECIALISTS IN THE ART OF TRAVEL are registered trademarks of Virtuoso, Ltd. Virtuoso, Ltd. has a U.S. copyright registration for the Globe Swirl Logo, ©2000. All rights reserved. Virtuoso CST#2069091-50. California CST# 2069091; TA# 808 - Registered Iowa Travel Agency; Washington UBI # 601 554 183. Registration as a seller of travel does not constitute approval by the State of California.


Shore Excursions

Tokyo, Japan - 20 May 2018

Tokyo, Japan - 21 May 2018

Lake Mashu, Japan - 27 May 2018

Nemuro Strait, Japan - 28 May 2018

Tokyo, Japan - 02 Jun 2018

Tokyo, Japan - 03 Jun 2018

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