The Galapagos of the Orient

Trip code: SOV001
Expedition Rating: Adventure Travel
Leaving: 24 Apr 2019 Starts: Saipan
Returning: 13 May 2019 Ends: Tokyo

Hiking, Birding, Photography, Botany, Cultural, History

From the “Galapagos of Antarctica” (which is the title of the book by Alexs Terrauds and myself on the Sub Antarctica Islands of NZ and Australia) to the “Galapagos of the Orient”. Although I have been through the “Galapagos of the Orient” before, I am excited about going back and spending more time exploring these Islands. 

There are three groups of Islands south Tokyo, from south to north they are the Kazan or Iwo Islands, then the Ogasowara or Bonin Islands and then the Izu Islands. All of these Island groups were affected in some way or another during the Second World War as the fighting between USA and Japan escalated. The battle for Iwo Shima in the Kazan group is legendary, every student of history knows the story.   All the Islands in this group are uninhabited except for Iwo Shima which has a Japanese military base on it. Landings are not permitted on any of the Islands.  

It is the Bonin or Ogasowara Islands that are sometimes referred as the “Galapagos of the Orient”. Because of their geographical isolation all of the Islands in this group, and there are 30 of them, have a high degree of endemism.  The islands enjoy a tropical/subtropical climate and although they are Japanese the atmosphere couldn’t be more different from mainland Japan. The high degree of endemism in their flora and fauna has earned them UNESCO World Heritage status as well as Japanese National Park Status.  Only two of the Islands in the group are inhabited. We are planning to have local guides take us to some of the other islands in the group to explore both the unique terrestrial and marine environments.   

The southernmost Island in the Izu Islands is Tori Shima, where conservation efforts have ensured that the Short tailed or Steller’s Albatross has not only survived but thrived. This Island has been declared a scientific reserve and landings are not permitted but we should see the albatross at sea as we cruise close by. The remaining nine Islands in the Izu group lie further north all of them are of volcanic origin most are inhabited and each one is unique in their natural and cultural history. Again we plan to use local guides to show us their islands. 


It is over 1250 Nautical Miles from Saipan to Yokohama but we have planned 17 days for this expedition and hope this allows plenty of time ashore on the various Islands. It will never be enough time but there is so much of the world to see and the northern summer in Russia will be calling.   



$7150.00 USDpp

Trip Info

Proposed expedition leader: Rodney Russ
Visas required: Japan, Saipan Islands

Requirements may vary depending on what passport you are travelling with. It is your responsibility to check to ensure you are compliant.

Trip Map

Map for trip: The Galapagos of the Orient

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