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Kamchatka’s Critters and Craters

©Photo by Denis Budkov

Walk among Kamchatka's giants – brown bears and active volcanoes, immerse yourself in the semi-nomad culture and explore wildlife-rich waters of the Pacific Ocean.

This Kamchatka nature and wildlife tour will take place in the prime summer wildlife viewing season where you’ll experience the incredibly rich of flora, fauna, and geology of the region. The Kamchatka summer tour kicks off in spectacular style with a flight over the Ksudach volcano, followed by several days observing the salmon fishing bears of Kurilskoye Lake in the Kronotsky Reserve. We plan a helicopter landing at the crater of the Mutnovsky volcano before heading further north to see the new lava cones of Tolbachik volcano in Klyuchevskoy Nature Park. We'll also take it one step further and experience Kamchatka by spending time in the settlement of Esso, staying overnight with nomadic reindeer herders in their summer camp in the mountains.
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Arrival

Departure

Accomodation

Petropavlovsk-Kamchatsky

Petropavlovsk-Kamchatsky

Mixed (hotels, cabins, tents)

Duration

Action rating

Group size

15 days / 14 nights

     

6-16 people

Itinerary View map

Day 1:Petropavlovsk-Kamchatsky city tour

Meet and greet at the Petropavlovsk airport. After a comprehensive city tour, check into the city hotel and rest before the great adventure ahead! 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, it’s 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. Meet a guide for a tour of Petropavlovsk, quick shopping for rubber boots
and face mosquito net, and a short briefing on a tour ahead. You’ll be welcomed to Kamchatka
this evening with a group dinner in a city restaurant.

Day 2:Ksudach volcano by helicopter

Flight by MI-8 helicopter to Kurilskoye Lake, with a stopover at the Ksudach Volcano for a short walk and bathing in the hot springs. This morning our journey to the Kingdom of Brown Bears kicks into high gear, with a morning
flight by MI-8 helicopter to Kurilskoye (Kuril) Lake, deep in the heart of brown bear country! One
hour into our flight we’ll make a stopover at the Ksudach Volcano (if weather permits). We’ll take
a walking excursion visiting the deep blue crater lake of Schtubelya, situated inside the volcano,
and to a lovely waterfall where water cascades 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 two nights is in a very basic but cosy wooden lodge. A
wraparound deck affords a gorgeous view of the lake and surrounding mountains. It’s quite
often possible to watch bears fishing along the lake’s edge without even leaving the grounds of
the 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:Kurilskoye Lake: brown bears watching

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 is 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 motor boat 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 the 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:Flight over Mutnovsky volcano

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
bathe 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 city.

Day 6:Valley of Geysers (optional)

Today the choice is yours to either enjoy 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.
The MI-8 helicopter will take you on a flight (about 1h 15min) over Karymskiy (active) volcano
and Malyi Semyachik volcano with its spectacular acid crater lake, and finally will land 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 eruption of the biggest geysers, look into the “Gates
to hell”, enjoy the views of the pots with boiling red clay.
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. Don’t forget your swimmers! 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 5:30pm.

Day 7:Kluchevsky 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 450km – 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 of 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 or tents
(depending on weather). Enjoy real Siberian sauna (banya) and a stunning night starry sky.

Day 8:Tolbachik volcano

On arrival we set up our base camp at the foot of Tolbachik volcano. Relax and enjoy the surrounding wilderness and wildlife. Klyuchevskoy Nature Park 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 center. 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).
Travelling further 75 km, about 5h drive from where we stayed overnight, we arrive to our first
base camp location on a slope of Tolbachik volcano plateau. After the camp is set up, we will
enjoy walking along solid lava flows from the 2012-2013 eruption on a short 3km hike. Here
you’ll have a chance to capture iconic images of crackling red liquid lava streams oozing around
the freshly cooled black volcanic rock.

Days 9:Lava fields and dead forest

Stroll above Tolbachik's solid lava flows of 2012-2013 eruptions, where we 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. Today we explore the "Dead Forest" – an area that was destroyed by enormous eruption
between 1975 and 1976.
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 10:Esso village

Transfer to the settlement of Esso, home to the Evens, one of the 4 indigenous peoples of Kamchatka. Enjoy a folklore performance of a local dance group. Get ready to jump to our 4/6wd truck as we are heading to Esso settlement in Central
Kamchatka (route will take up to 7h). Here we will 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. This
village’s spectacular setting and unique population of Russians and Kamchatka aboriginal
people welcomes visitors to a cozy accommodation, warmed by natural geothermal waters.
After rest in the hotel, enjoy a traditional folk performance and immerse yourself in the Koryak
and Even people culture

Day 11/12: 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. Here, we will visit their chums, the cone shaped, portable tents they call
home, and experience a way of life that is now in danger of completely dying out. In the
morning of day 12 we will fly back to the village of Esso, where we will stay for overnight.

Day 13:Return to Petropavlovsk-Kamchatsky

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 14:Avacha bay 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.
When Avacha erupted in 1991, people living in Petropavlovsk could watch the red stream of
lava coming down the slope towards the city, while hot ashes were shooting into the skies
above the summit crater.
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.
This day, we also visit the Geology Museum with its spectacular photographs of most of the
volcanoes. Specimens are labelled in Russian, so provide a fun identification challenge; don't
miss the huge mass of black sulphur (looking like dull basalt glass) that came from Bannoye
Lake at Uzon.
Return to Petropavlovsk some time in the afternoon.

Day 15:Departure

It's time to say goodbye to Kamchatka! Transfer to the airport for your departure back home.

Inclusions

Accommodation

  • “Petropavlovsk” hotel in the city (5 nights)
  • “Paramushir tour” hotel in Esso village (2 nights)
  • wooden lodge on Kuril Lake (3 nights)
  • wooden cabins in Kozyrevsk (1 night)
  • base camp at the slope of Tolbachik volcano (2 nights)
  • camp in the reindeer herders location (1 night)

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

Activities and sights

All activities indicated in the itinerary:

  • Petropavlovsk-Kamchatksy city tour
  • Brown bears watching on Kurilskoye Lake
  • Tolbachik volcano trekking: dead forest and lava fields
  • Cultural immersion: folk show in Esso village
  • Visit the reindeer herders camp

 

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. 
15 Aug - 29 Aug 2018
Guaranteed Departures
Sold outUS $5,450US $620
25 Jul - 8 Aug 2018
Guaranteed Departures
Limited spacesUS $5,450US $620Reserve
15 Aug - 29 Aug 2019
Guaranteed Departures
AvailableUS $5,450US $620Reserve
15 days
Petropavlovsk-Kamchatsky
from
$
5,450
USD
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If you have any urgent questions or enquiries, please give us a call +61 2 9388 9816