Kamchatka Photography Expedition

© Denis Budkov

There’s simply no better place on Earth to photograph volcanic landscapes and wildlife than this remote World Heritage listed region.

On this Kamchatka photo expedition, stay on the shores of the iconic Kurilskoye Lake and take part in some of the best bear viewings on the peninsula, as the bears gorge themselves during the annual salmon run. Hike some of Kamchatka's active volcanoes for thrilling shots of steaming vents, acid lakes, and smoking craters.

Your aim – to return to "Earth" with images of alien landscapes and wild nature worthy of the pages of National Geographic. Experiencing the Kamchatka wildlife and environment offers travellers a unique and beautiful perspective of what Russia is truly all about. This tour will suit the professional and amateur photographers, active and adventurous travellers. We’ll climb several volcanoes during the trip, although all are easy to moderately strenuous hikes, with no special climbing gear involved. This Russia photo tour involves a mix of hotel stays, camping, off-road driving and trekking, with an average height of 1,200m above sea level.

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Petropavlovsk - Kamchatsky

Petropavlovsk - Kamchatsky

Mixed (hotels, cabins, tents)


Action rating

Group size

14 days / 13 nights


8-12 people

Itinerary View map

Day 1:Welcome to Kamchatka

The Kamchatka Photo Expedition
begins with a meet and greet at the
airport close to Petropavlovsk-Kamchatsky.
A small city nestled on
scenic Avacha Bay, the people here
live beneath the shadow of five
majestic volcanoes. From the airport
you'll be transferred to the cozy hotel
in Paratunka village.
Meet a team on the group dinner at
the hotel, where you will be able to
ask the questions to prepare
yourself and your equipment for the
epic photographic journey ahead.

Day 2:6WD journey to Pauzhetka village

Full day’s drive (12 to 14 hours) by 6wd Russian Kamaz to Pauzhetka village. The road runs along the western coast of Kamchatka and includes river fording. In the evening, accommodation for the night in the guest houses. Today's expedition begins
with a full day's off-road drive by a
Russian Kamaz (6wd vehicle) to the
tiny settlement of Pauzhetka, located
between Okhotskoye Sea and
Kurilskoye (Kuril) Lake.
We'll cover a total distance of 450km –
the drive is on unsealed roads and
takes roughly 10 to 12 hours. The road
runs along the western coast of
Kamchatka and includes 2 river
fordings. In the evening,
accommodation for the night in the very
basic guest house.

Day 3:Welcome to Kuril Lake

In the morning, the car will take us to the ferry on the river Ozernaya. The main cargo will be delivered to the cordon Kuril Lake by a boat, the group (with photo-backpacks) will walk 12 km to the cordon on Kuril Lake. Brown bears photo-shooting after lunch. The territory of the Kronotsky Nature Reserve starts here.
We will stay on the shores of Lake Kuril for the next few days in a base camp, with daily boat trips to the different lake's locations in
search of the perfect shots of the majestic Brown Bears.
This evening we will spend strolling along the shores and get acquaintance with the area. We will visit the «bridge», where we take our first photos of these mighty animals.

Day 4-5:Brown Bears Photoshooting

Kurilskoye 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 is devoted to observing these mighty mammals as they hunt the salmon that gather here in their millions during the summer months. The Kamchatkan brown bear is one of the largest subspecies of brown bears,
rivalling the famous Kodiak bears of Alaska in size. In summer, large numbers of
brown bears make their way to Kurilskoye Lake, where the water teems with
millions of spawning Pacific salmon. Watching these incredible animals in their
natural environment is one of the world's great wildlife experiences. The bears
are totally preoccupied with fishing, allowing for tantalisingly up-close viewing
and amazing photo ops, bear-watchers are accompanied by an experienced
armed ranger.

Day 6-7:Way back to the city

Transfer back to the Paratunka's hotel same way we arrived to Kuril Lake. After 2 and a half days of photoshooting of these incredible creatures, we jump
into the Kamaz for a long transfer back to the city, the same way we arrived at
Kuril Lake. On the evening of day 7, we arrive at the hotel in Paratunka village.
Sort your pictures or rest in the thermal pool, get ready before your next
days adventure.

Day 8:Marine trip to the Russkaya Bay

We’ll enjoy the day cruising and discovering the wildlife-rich waters of Russkaya bay, visitng Starichkov Island - the incredible birds colony. Be prepared to photoshoot killer whales, otters, sea lions and enjoy fresh caught seafood. Very early in the morning, we are heading out from Paratunka to the
Petropavlovsk seaport (appx 1h en route). We'll board a boat and spend a full day
exploring the wildlife-rich waters of Russkaya Bay, a remote and spectacular cove
on the south-western side of the Avachinsky Gulf. Regarded as one of the most
pristine natural areas in the region, Russkaya's crystal clear waters are ringed by
forested hills and snow-dusted mountain peaks. As well as taking in the scenery
and serenity of the bay, we'll be on the lookout for Russkaya's wild inhabitants in
the air and sea, including whales, seals, sea lions, otters, Steller's sea eagles and
an abundance of fish and birdlife.
During the trip, a lunch of fresh fish will be served for you. In the evening we are
heading back to our hotel in Paratunka.

Day 9:Mutnovsky volcano

Transfer to the foot of the volcano Mutnovsky. From our base camp we set out to visit two waterfalls and enjoy the views. Astonishingly, the population of Petropavlovsk-Kamchatsky live less than 30km
from five volcanoes, but the locals consider these ominous figures to be friendly
giants. One of them is Mutnovsky (2323m, 70 km away from the city). After a
breakfast in the hotel, we jump into our Kamaz and heading towards this beautiful
giant (appx 6h en route). The base camp here is our resting place for the next 2
As our tour leader says: «Mutnovsky volcano is the heart of Kamchatka. This
heart is literally beating and you can feel it, while the earth is slightly moving under
your feet».
This giant is calm but showed its power 15 times in the century. The entire massif
comprises four cones of the volcano. On the top of this mountain, you can see a
big snow-white glacier, a little sulphur sandy river and the biggest femoral field in
the world.

Day 10:Climb to the crater of Mutnovsky volcano

Hike from our base camp to the crater of Mutnovsky (2,322m). The brave can climb the crest of the crater for dizzying up-close shots of the volcanic action. It's time to tackle the mighty volcano head-on with a hike to its steaming craters.
Near Mutnovsky's 2,323m 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 the deep cavity, you feel as though
you're witnessing the earth's creation, gazing down upon glittering glaciers, the
torches of sulphur spewing fumaroles far below and the columns of vapour rising
from the active funnel crater. Reaching the craters involves a moderate hike (appx
10 km, 5-6h, with an elevation of 500m).
At the foot of the mountain, sculpted by eruptions and shifting glaciers is one of
Kamchatka's hidden jewels – the Mutnovsky ice caves. Our guide will lead you
deep inside an extraordinarily beautiful and rarely seen ice cave, where dazzling,
Disneyesque rainbow hues appear to light up the walls, created by reflections from
an underground river. Only discovered in 2012, this ethereal place is the scene of
some of the most mesmerising images of volcanic landscapes ever captured.
We'll also visit a waterfall in Opasny (Dangerous) Canyon. In the evening we head
to the next base camp on the slope of nearby Gorely volcano.

Day 11-12:Gorely volcano

Today’s destination is Gorely (1,829m), one of the most active volcanoes in Kamchatka.
From our campsite, the 6WD heads north around the edge of a large lake that lies
in the unfilled eastern crescent of the Gorely caldera. From the lake flats, the walk
up the huge shield volcano is about 5km, with a steady 750m height gain. We’ll
cross a mix of grassy tundra with dwarf willows and bare strips of basaltic lava and
lava flow formations.
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.
On the next day, we re-join our vehicle and hit the road, rambling south back to
Paratunka. Check into hotel and enjoy a relaxing evening and swim in a pool filled
with thermal hot water.

Day 13:Optional helicopter tour to the Valley of Geysers

Today we left as a free day (in case of bad weather during our tour), so the choice is yours to either enjoy free day exploring Petropavlovsk at your leisure, or join an optional* scenic helicopter tour to the World Heritage site of the Valley of the Geysers - the only geyser field in Eurasia and the second largest concentration of geysers in the world. The choice
is yours to either enjoy free day exploring Petropavlovsk at your leisure, or join an
optional* scenic helicopter tour to the World Heritage site of the Valley of the
Geysers - 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, which lie above the marginal fractures of the oldest Uzon caldera and
periodically expel hot water in spectacular jet streams.
The MI-8 helicopter will take a group of 25 people on a flight (about 1h 15min) over
Karymsky and Maly Semyachik volcanoes, before landing in the valley. The
walking route (1h 30 min) goes along the wooden decking of the paths to the main
observation points, from which you will see the eruption of the biggest geysers.
After that, the helicopter will take you to Uzon Caldera (5-10min flight). During the
excursion (40- 50min) you will walk along the Eastern thermal field to observe
moon landscapes and volcanic activity. From here, you will fly (40 min) to the
beautiful Nalychevo Valley where you will have lunch and a relaxing soak in natural
thermal pools. Another 20 min flight and you will back to the heliport. Approximate
tour duration is 6-7 hours, you’ll be back to the hotel at about 5:30 pm. Enjoy a
farewell group dinner at the hotel.

Day 14:Departure hugs

Today marks our final day in Kamchatka. After breakfast in the hotel, transfer to the airport and head home to admire an award-worthy treasure trove of images that capture the strange, savage beauty of the land at the end of the earth – Kamchatka. Please note, the hotel check-out is at 12 pm, so have it mind when planning your
flights. The private transfer, as well as late check-out, can be organised upon
booking a tour.



  • 3* hotel accommodation in Paratunka village
  • Kurlskoye Lake base camp (tents)
  • Base camp at the foot of Mutnovsky and Gorely volcanoes (tents)


All meals during the tour


Group airport arrival and departure transfers, all transportation on tour according to the itinerary (coach, 6wd truck-bus, boats)


Local guide pro-photographer, helper, chef, experienced driver, ranger on Kuril Lake

Activities and sights

  • Kurilskoye Lake: brown bears photography
  • Mutnovsky and Gorely volcanoes: landscape photography
  • Russkaya Bay cruise: marine wildlife photography


  • Russian visa support documents
  • Kuril Lake photography fees
  • Kronotsky Reserve fees and permits

*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. 
09 July - 23 July 2018
Guaranteed Departures
Sold outUS $5,245US $780
23 July - 6 Aug 2018
Guaranteed Departures
Sold outUS $5,245US $780
6 Aug - 20 Aug 2018
Guaranteed Departures
Sold outUS $5,245US $780
27 Aug - 9 Sep 2018
Guaranteed Departures
Limited spacesUS $5,245US $780Reserve
3 Sep - 17 Sep 2018
Guaranteed Departures
Sold outUS $5,245US $780
14 days
Petropavlovsk - Kamchatsky
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If you have any urgent questions or enquiries, please give us a call +61 2 9388 9816