After a busy few days of expedition travel, Tuesday morning offered a calm and quiet opportunity for rest and reflection while traveling at sea. A voyage-worthy ship on the ocean is a beautiful thing – National Geographic Orion steams toward our afternoon destination natural history staff peer through binoculars on the bridge, seeking out wildlife on wing, and under sea. Kittiwakes, a common gull species in this region, soar over waves, while penguin-like murres hunt from the water line. Keen eyes keep a lookout for cetaceans and pinnipeds, but though sea conditions are calm, there are none to be seen. Meanwhile, in the lounge, our National Geographic photographer Michael Melford educates folks with a presentation about the technical use of advanced camera systems. Useful tips fly around the room, as a photo breakout session occurs immediately after. The ship carries on, bound for Tymlat.
Tymlat is a small village, occupying a position on the Koryak coast. This is a region of Kamchatka which is particularly wild, named after a group of indigenous people divided into two groups – marine mammal hunters and reindeer herders. With a population of roughly 600 townspeople, most of the local livelihood seems to be based on subsistence hunting and fishing. The guests arrived on a riverside beach, with a short walk to a cultural performance. This performance was amazing! Children and adults alike danced in the native Koryak way, with adorned reindeer pelts covering their bodies and drumbeats playing their melodies. Town-side, folks went about their day. Friendly locals waved from Toyota pickups rolling along dirt roads. Mothers walked with their children, laundry was done, soccer in the street. Stray dogs, friendly and happy to meet, wandered the streets (or just stayed at their post in the middle of the road). As guests and staff meandered through the older wooden buildings that made up the town’s infrastructure, locals said hello and exchanged introductions.
At the end of the ship’s daily operations, folks filtered back down to the riverbank to make it home, as the full fleet of zodiacs waited onshore for the trip back to the ship. Another beautiful day exploring the Kamchatka peninsula in the books with a recap and dinner ending the day on a fantastic note as National Geographic Orion sails toward the next great destination.