“Mesdames, messieurs, get out of bed because there are Northern Lights.” Captain Marchesseau interrupts a quiet and pitch dark night to announce this exceptional natural phenomena. Aurora Borealis in Kamchatka, at sea, during a cloudless night, youâ€™ll have to wake up for this, n’est pas? The bridge, which is almost always open to all passengers, is crammed with sleepy guests. The captain himself, dressed in his white bath robe, is watching the show with a content look on his face. “Pretty exceptional to see it here.” Says one of the naturalists. That nature is the protagonist here in Kamchatka. We also notice the next morning in the Bay of Dezneva. Walrus, hundreds, in the water, packed, close together, almost on top on one other, at the end of the beach.
In separate groups we venture out with the Zodiacs, quietly, not too close so the animals are not offended. Even from afar you can hear them, an almost primal sound, all grunting and puffing under their own wobbly weight. In the water they are poking their heads out, curious, observing and peeking at the rubber boats. They feed on shells, shrimps and worms with a muzzle wich has greater suction than 10 Dyson together. The tele lenses and binos are out, all our focus is on these gigantic creatures. Since nature decided today that the show is not over yet, there are grey whales in the bay. The Dutch Florence, our Zodiac driver and naturalist, drives more carefully in the calm bay. “I once had a whale under my boat, and that’s enough.” She laughs. The grey whale pops up here and there, sometimes right next to our boat.
To digest all that natural beauty, L’Austral sail in the afternoon to Bukhta Natalii. The autumn colours and blue sky remind us we really are in the right place at the right time. We land with the Zodiacs on a lonely beach covered with dark boulders and hike along a river in a quiet valley that explodes with Rhododendron camtschaticum and other colourful mosses, plants, berries and trees growing in this Siberian climate. After this perfect day we all retire to our cabin for a hot shower and an apero afterwards… life can be sweet in the most far-away parts of the world.