Saipan, Commonwealth of the Northern Marianas –
The Northern Mariana Islands are a chain of tropical islands in the western Pacific Ocean, and Saipan is the largest of the Marianas. The area is a wealth of World War II sites, such as the Last Command Post, where Japanese troops made their final stand against the invading US forces. Nature lovers may spot some of the endemic bird species, including the Mariana Fruit Dove and the endangered Mariana Moorhen, Mariana Swiftlet and Nightingale Reed-warbler.
Maug Islands, Commonwealth of the Northern Marianas –
Maug is made up of three small elongated islands that mark the outer rims of its largely submerged 2.5-km-wide caldera (the cauldron-like depression formed by a volcano). It is not unusual to spot dolphins at the southern entrance of this beautiful harbour created by the caldera, as well as over a dozen species of seabirds, shore birds and even land birds.
Chichi-Jima, Ogasawara Islands, Japan –
The Ogasawara Islands have earned the nickname “Galapagos of the Orient” for the unique plant and animal species that have evolved here, and as such is a UNESCO World Heritage site. The “father island,” is the largest in the Ogasawara family and another fantastic avian destination. Minamijima has a much-photographed natural stone arch reflected in a small turquoise blue lagoon.
Yakushima, Japan –
Yakushima was named Japan’s first UNESCO World Heritage site in 1993, and is famous in botanical circles for its many dwarf plants, which have evolved to grow smaller than their mainland cousins. Yakusugi Land is a nature park populated by a number of the island’s ancient cedar trees, including the Buddhasugi, a 2500-year-old cedar.
Hiroshima and Miyajima, Japan –
Pay your respects at the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park in central Hiroshima. This was Ground Zero for the Atomic Bomb dropped on August 6, 1945. The Peace Memorial Museum surveys the history of Hiroshima and the advent of the nuclear bomb. The nearby small island of Miyajima (“The Shrine Island”) is home to the Floating Torii Gate. Built in the water, the Torii Gate leads to the Itsukushima Shrine and at high tide it seems to float.
Okayama, Japan –
Okayama is home to the renowned Koraku-en Garden. Although severely damaged by bombs in WWII, the descriptions and paintings from the Edo period permitted an exact reconstruction to its original, elegant state. This rebuild has earned the site the designation of “Special Scenic Location.” Okayama is also home to the Ohara Museum, the first Japanese museum to permanently exhibit western art.
• Stand at Hiroshima Ground Zero and experience the sombre history of this and other crucial World War II sites.
• Step lightly through Japanese gardens in multiple locations, world-renowned for their unique elegance and design.
Wildlife Watch List:
• Birds: Bridled and Golden White-eye, White-throated Ground Dove and Mariana Fruit Dove, Mariana Moorhen, Mariana Swiftlet, Nightingale Reed-warbler, Micronesian Megapode, Micronesian Starling, White-collared Kingfisher, Short-tailed Albatross
• Bottlenose and spinner dolphins
• Marianas fruit bat, coconut crab, Yaku monkey, Yaku deer
• Sperm whales, green sea turtles
Please note: Expedition highlights and wildlife listed here are possible experiences only and cannot be guaranteed. Your Expedition Leader and Captain will work together to ensure opportunities for adventure and exploration are the best possible, taking into account the prevailing weather, wildlife activity and ice conditions. Expedition Team members scheduled for this voyage are subject to change or cancellation.
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