Kamchatka – The Lost World

Сomprehensive tour of Kamchatka: bears, volcanoes, reindeer herders
© Photo by Anton Petrus
Take a walk on the wild side! Travel back in time to a place where giants bears and mighty volcanoes rule the earth, and nomads tend their reindeer herds in the tundra.
Discover everything that makes Kamchatka paradise for nature lovers and intrepid adventures whose dream is to wander far from the well-trodden path. Our comprehensive Kamchatka adventure tour takes place over 18 of the most memorable days you’ll ever experience. With almost three weeks to explore the peninsula, this uncommon journey allows you to traverse vast distances to remote lands and explore all the most breathtaking highlights of Russia’s mythical Far East. Staying in a mix of hotels, wooden cabins, and spectacular campgrounds and travelling by helicopter and 4WD, we visit as many unique habitats as possible. Feast your eyes and cameras with the volcanic ranges and lava fields of the Pacific Ring of Fire, untouched swathes of old growth forest, mountain hot springs, majestic coastline and the wind-swept tundra where Kamchatka’s last nomads make their summer camps alongside their reindeer herds.

Kamchatka Adventure in a Lost World Highlights:

  • Fly to Kurilskoye Lake via helicopter. During salmon season, Kuril Lake is one of the few places you can observe brown bears in their natural habitat at close proximity. To get the best chance of heart-stopping close encounters and amazing photos ops, we’ll watch the bears feeding along the shore from a motorboat, as well as on-land from a viewing platform overlooking prime fishing territory
  • Travel cross-country on remote roads to Central Kamchatka, home of the Even and Koryak tribes, the “people of the reindeer”, who set up their summer camps near the village of Esso. You’ll be granted the extraordinary privilege of experiencing traditional nomad life, spending a night camped out with the herders in their tents
  • Embark on a full day trek to the summit of Mutnovsky, a hike containing some of the of the scenically beautiful landscapes in Kamchatka. Feel as if you’re witnessing the earth’s creation as you gaze down from the rim of the crater upon glaciers and mineral lakes and the torches of sulphur spewing fumaroles
  • Visit the eerily beautiful Dead Forest and lava fields beneath Tolbachik volcano. The result of an enormous eruption between 1975 and 1976, the larch trees at the volcanoes foothill have become petrified ghosts of their former selves
  • Trek to the top of Mount Gorely (1,829m), one of the most active volcanoes in Russia. Enjoy a picnic lunch on a rock ledge just below the crater, with magnificent views of the volcanic lake and steaming fumaroles below

Few other places can summon such a profound sense of leaving civilisation far behind quite like Kamchatka – a place of prehistoric landscapes, thriving wildlife and ancient indigenous cultures.

Our Kamchatka adventure tour takes place in late August, one of the best times to enjoy the spectacular scenery, with the first signs of autumn colour starting to appear in the alpine forests. It’s also the ideal time for viewing wildlife, including Kamchatka’s most famous giant brown bears, which flock to the shallow waters of Kuril Lake at the height of the summer salmon run. Part of a pristine nature reserve, Kurilskoye is also a prime habitat for Stellar’s sea eagles. To reach Kuril Lake, we’ll embark on a spectacularly scenic helicopter flight via the crater of Ksudach volcano. And to maximise our time with the bears, we’ll spend two evenings in a basic but cozy wooden lodge close to the lake.

We’ll once again take to the air on the Russian MI-8 helicopter, dropping us off at the Khodutka River hot springs for a soothing swim before flying back to the capital Petropavlovsk-Kamchatsky. Further north, we’ll explore Tolbachik volcano with its newly formed lava cones and fields, taste local delicacies foraged from the forest and spend an evening camped with nomadic reindeer herders. Finally, we’ll make expeditions to the summits of two of Kamchatka’s most famously beautiful (and highly active) volcanoes, Mutnovsky and Gorely.

You’ll have plenty of time to savour the atmosphere of Kamchatka and follow your own interests - wildlife watching, birding, botany, geology, volcanology, photography, or trekking. On this Kamchatka adventure tour, there are two free days with optional activities available – a helicopter flight over the Valley of Geysers and a day cruise on Avacha Bay to spot whales, sea lions and seabirds.

This Kamchatka adventure is truly a once-in-a-lifetime expedition, showing you Kamchatka from land, from the air, from the sea and through the eyes of its people.

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Arrival

Departure

Accomodation

Trip style

Petropavlovsk-Kamchatsky

Petropavlovsk-Kamchatsky

Mixed (hotel, wooden cabins)

Trekking, Wildlife, Culture

Duration

Action rating

Group size

Type of tour

18 days / 17 nights

     

6-16 people

Guaranteed Departures

Itinerary View map

Day 1:Arrival to Kamchatka

Arrive in Petropavlovsk-Kamchatsky, the administrative, cultural and industrial centre of Kamchatka and home to around 180,000 people. It is a remote city with little infrastructure, in a dramatic and beautiful setting, built on a series of high hills on the Pacific harbour of Avachinskaya Bay. The township is surrounded by a chain of five towering volcanoes, two of which are still active.

From the airport, you’ll be transferred to your hotel in town, where you will take your time to relax and acclimatise. You’ll be welcomed to Kamchatka this evening with a group dinner in a city restaurant.

Day 2:Helicopter flight to Kuril Lake

Flight by MI-8 helicopter to Kurilskoye Lake, with a stopover at the Ksudach Volcano for a short walk and a relaxing dip in the hot springs.

We’ll take a walking excursion visiting the deep blue crater lake of Schtubelya, situated inside the volcano, and then on to a lovely waterfall cascading from the crater. Volcanic hot springs create a ‘hot beach’ on the lake’s shore, where it’s possible to take an invigorating swim. Following your dip, our chopper flight continues the short distance to Kamchatka’s famed Kuril Lake. Our home for the next three nights is in a basic but cosy wooden lodge. In the afternoon, you’ll have time to enjoy excursions along the lake’s pumice rock beach, where you’ll be briefed about the next day’s activities.

Days 3-4:Bear watching on Kuril Lake

Kuril Lake is without a doubt one of the best places on earth to spot and photograph brown bears in their natural habitat, so the next two days are devoted to observing these mighty mammals as they hunt the salmon that gather here in their millions during the summer months.

We’ll use a mix of a motorboat and walking excursions with experienced local wardens in order to maximise our chances of seeing bears up-close and observing different behaviours. The bear viewing platform (250m from our lodge) is located at the mouth of the many rivers that drain into the lake, providing awesome opportunities to take Nat Geo worthy photos of the bears fishing for migrating salmon.

Our longer walking excursions will lead us to a lush summer meadow where the bears feed on wild berries and visit other spawning streams further from the lodge. Along these streams, you’ll be able to see the spawning salmon in shallow water and many signs of a large number of birds in the area. There’s a good chance of spotting bears fishing only metres away as you walk along the banks of the streams.

Day 5:Helicopter flight back to Petropavlovsk

In the morning we’ll take a final stroll around Kurilskoye Lake and head up to the bear-viewing platform for a final opportunity to bag a prize-winning shot of the magnificent beasts in their element.

Our afternoon MI-8 helicopter flight will drop us off on the banks of the Khodutka River for a bath in the thermal hot water springs – the largest in Kamchatka. The water bubbles out on to a section of tundra located just under the Khodutka Volcano, forming a small stream. Further from the source, the water slowly cools, so bathers are able to find a location where the temperature is just right for a warm, soothing swim. We board the MI-8 once more for a flight over the crater of Mutnovsky volcano plateau, before heading back to the city.

Day 6:Valley of Geysers (optional)

Today the choice is yours to either enjoy a free day exploring Petropavlovsk at your leisure or join an optional* scenic helicopter flight to the World Heritage site of the Valley of the Geysers and the crater of the mighty Uzon volcano.

The Valley of Geysers is the only geyser field in Eurasia and the second largest concentration of geysers in the world. This cluster of around 90 geysers, fumaroles and hot springs in this valley were only discovered in 1941. They lie above the marginal fractures of the oldest Uzon caldera and periodically expel hot water in spectacular jet streams.

Day 7:On the way to Klychevskoy Nature Park

Today begins with a full day’s journey to a typical Russian village of Kozyrevsk. We’ll cover a total distance of appx 500km – the drive is on unsealed roads and takes roughly 8 to10 hours.

Along the way, we pass the old Cossack village of Milkovo where we stop for lunch and a stroll around the village to get a feel for typical Russian rural life. From here we head further to the wilderness along the banks of the Kamchatka River, Kamchatka's largest river, which runs northward through the central valley of the peninsula. On arrival to Kozyrevsk, we will stay for overnight in very basic wooden cabins.

Day 8:Heading further to Tolbachik volcano

Travelling further 75 km, from where we stayed overnight, we arrive at our first base camp located on a slope of Tolbachik volcano plateau.

Tolbachik volcano is located in the Klyuchevskoy Nature Park, which was registered into the UNESCO World Cultural and Natural Heritage List in 1999. It covers an area of 376,000 ha with Eurasia’s most grand and active Klyuchevksaya group of volcanoes in its centre. It consists of 13 volcanoes, including 4 active ones (Klyuchevskoy, Plosky Tolbachik, Besymyanny, Ushkovsky) and 9 extinct ones (Kamen, Krestovsky, Ostry Tolbachik, Ovalnaya Zimina, Ostraya Zimina, Bolshaya Udina, Malaya Udina, Sredny, and Gorny Zoub).

Once the camp is set up, we can relax and enjoy the surrounding wilderness and wildlife.

Days 9-10:Tolbachik volcano: lava fields and dead forest

Stroll above Tolbachik's solid lava flows of 2012-2013 eruptions, where you can see lava formed into various shapes, many moon slag cones, and moon-like sceneries.

We also visit the "Dead Forest" - an area that was destroyed by ash clouds in 1975. The territory around turned into a burnt desert, lakes and rivers disappeared, and the animals that had survived left the area for the best. Devoid of life, the ancient larch trees here are now eerie skeletons of their former selves, surrounded by a burnt desert landscape and set against the backdrop of the magnificent Tolbachik.

Day 11:Esso village

Get ready to jump on board our truck as we are heading to Esso village, a remote settlement in Central Kamchatka. The drive will take up to seven hours. On arrival, we'll check into the hotel, finally take a hot shower and relax in the thermal pool.

Esso is a charming village of about 1,500 residents nestled in the Central Mt. Range and inside of the Bystrinsky Nature Park, the largest of the Volcanoes of Kamchatka’s Nature Parks. The village is known for spectacular setting and unique population of Russians and Kamchatka aboriginal people. You'll be welcomed by cosy accommodation, complete with a hot pool warmed by natural geothermal waters.

After some rest, we'll head into the village to enjoy a traditional folk performance and enjoy an evening of Koryak and Even culture and hospitality.

Days 12-13:Reindeer herders

After breakfast at the hotel, explore Esso's surroundings or relax in the thermal pool. In the afternoon we will board a helicopter for a flight to the reindeer herders camp, where we will stay in tents for overnight.

At camp, we'll learn about the construction of their "chums", the cone-shaped, portable tents they call home. This is a rare opportunity to experience a way of life that is now in danger of completely dying out as modernisation reaches even the furthest parts of the world. In the morning of day 13, we fly back to the village of Esso, where we will stay overnight.

Day 14:On the way back to Petropavlovsk

Having spent a week in the wilderness, it’s time for a brief return to civilization. We embark on a drive back to the city of Petropavlovsk. Along the way, we’ll make another pit stop at Milkovo village. Retire for a well-earned rest at our hotel.

Day 15:Avacha Bay and Starichkov Island cruise (optional)

An *optional boat trip (6 hours) out into the bay is a very relaxing way of gaining an alternative view of the splendid setting of Petropavlovsk and its dramatic volcanoes.

Departing from a pier near the centre of town, the expanse of the hilly city soon falls into perspective. Further toward the middle of the bay, both Koryaksky and Avacha volcanoes come into view behind the city. Near the mouth of the bay, the Three Brothers are tall finger-like sea stacks, whose rock faces rise vertically out of the water. The cliffs around the bay house many colonies of seabirds in their natural habitats, and puffins are commonly seen among many other types of seabird. Hot lunch is aboard.

Once we back to the seaport, we jump into the truck for a drive to Mutnovsky and Gorely Volcano plateau (150km). On the way, we stop at the Verkhne-Paratunskie thermal springs, where we can take a quick dip. We pass Viluchinsky Volcano and waterfall and finally reach the Mutnovsky volcano plateau, where we set up a base camp.

Day 16:Mutnovsky volcano

After breakfast at the camp, we set out for a full day trek up the Mutnovsky volcano (2,939m). Near Mutnovsky’s summit is a nest of merged craters, among the most beautiful volcanic phenomenon in Kamchatka.

We hike to the rim of the craters via a crack in the volcano’s side. With a bit of courage, you can climb to the crest of the craters. Standing at the top, at the edge of a deep cavity, gazing down upon glittering glaciers, the torches of sulphur spewing fumaroles far below and the columns of vapour rising from the active funnel crater.

Day 17:Gorely volcano

After breakfast, we’ll embark on another adventure. Today’s destination is Mount Gorely (1,829m), one of the most active volcanoes in Kamchatka. The walk up the huge shield volcano, we’ll cross a mix of grassy tundra with dwarf willows and bare strips of basaltic lava and lava flow formations.

Our picnic lunch will be laid out on the shelf just below the top. The magnificent panoramic view in front of us looks out over a sudden, vertical descent into the active crater. Over 100m down, a hot acidic lake has active fumaroles around its margin and beneath the surface, thanks to Gorely’s recent steam eruptions.

Afterwards, we’ll return to Petropavlovsk-Kamchatsky, where you can choose to attend a dinner with a local farmer, enjoying traditional Russian food and toasting with the local vodka to celebrate your final day in Kamchatka.

Day 18:Departure

Our epic journey has come to a close and it's time to say goodbye to Kamchatka! Transfer to the airport for your departure back home.

Inclusions

Accommodation

  • 3* hotel accommodation (8 nights)
  • wooden cabins (4 nights)
  • tents (5 nights)

Meals

All meals during the tour

Transportation

All transportation on tour according to the itinerary (coach, 6WD truck-bus, helicopters, boats)

Guides

Local English-speaking guide, helper, chef, experienced drivers

Other

  • Kuril Lake photography fees
  • Permits in Kluchevksy Nature Park and Kronotsky Reserve
  • Russian visa support documents

*Russian visa can be arranged by 56th Parallel for an additional cost (for Australian citizens only). Apply for comprehensive visa service here.

Not included

Flights, travel insurance, visa, optional excursions, individual transfers, tips

Dates & Prices

DatesAvailabilityPriceSingle sup. 
3 Aug - 20 Aug, 2019
Guaranteed Departures
Available US $5,890 US $580 Reserve
24 Aug - 10 Sep, 2019
Guaranteed Departures
Available US $5,890 US $580 Reserve

Testimonials

Wendy LongshawAustralia

The trip was great!

Oksana was the best guide/ interpreter and all the other staff were great! Meals were terrific!

Unfortunately, the weather was unkind to us though and our walking to Mutnovsky and Gorley volcanoes had to be abandoned. We were nearly blown away in our tents! However, we returned to PKC a day early and went to a thermal pool and the Volcano museum. The weather was also too bad for the Avacha bay trip - something I was going to do on our last day as didn't leave till 9 pm. Guess the only complaint would be the very poor toilet facilities at the Tolbachik camp. This was completely out of your's hands I know. With 50-100 people there a night to the shallow dug facilities was shocking.

 

 

18 days
Petropavlovsk-Kamchatsky
from
$
5,890
USD
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If you have any urgent questions or enquiries, please give us a call +61 2 9388 9816