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18 days - Highlights of Kamchatka with a focus on nature and culture.
This expedition to Kamchatka will take place in late August. Climatically this is one of the best times to travel and appreciate the spectacular scenery with the first signs of the brilliant autumn colours. In order to experience the richness of the region's flora, fauna and geology we plan to visit as many habitats as possible, including the central valley with the Kamchatka River, Tolbachik, Ksudach, Mutnovsky and Gorely volcanoes, and Kurilskoye Lake and the hot Khodutka River in the southern tundra. Kurilskoye Lake is part of a Nature Reserve and one of the best places in the peninsula to see Brown Bears and Steller's Sea Eagles.
To reach it we shall fly by helicopter via the crater of the Ksudach volcano to a comfortable lodge where we shall spend a few days watching the bears feeding on the berries and the spawning salmon. We plan to swim in the hot Khodutka River and land - weather permitting - in the crater of the Mutnovsky volcano with its geysers, fumaroles, mud pools, spectacular rock formations and vivid colours. Further north we explore the Tolbachik volcano with its new lava cones and fields, bathe in hot pools, gather berries and enjoy the delicious fresh local food.
We spend some time in the small settlement of Esso where we shall meet the local people and then stay overnight with nomadic reindeer herders in their summer camp in the mountains. The ancient volcano, Mutnovsky, is scenically one of the most beautiful places in Kamchatka. There will be plenty of time to savour the atmosphere of Kamchatka and follow our own interests whether they are ornithology, botany, geology, Volcanology, photography or walking.
We shall visit Petropavlovsk and learn about its fascinating history and, from our Russian guides, we shall be able to learn about life in Kamchatka today and experience their kindness and hospitality.
The pace will be leisurely. The walks are not difficult and are entirely at the discretion of the individual.
- Day 1
- Arrival into Petropavlovsk-Kamchatsky
- Day 2
- Helicopter flight to volcano and then Kurilskoye Lake
- Days 3 - 4
- Activities at Kurilskoye Lake
- Day 5
- Bathe in the thermal hot water of the Khodutka River and fly over Mutnovsky active Volcano
- Day 6
- Reserve day for bad weather - Avacha bay excursion
- Day 7
- Visit the Cossack settlement of Milkovo and camp in the wilderness
- Day 8
- Camp on the slopes of Tolbachik volcano
- Days 9 - 10
- Visit the craters of Tolbachik and other volcanic sites
- Day 11
- Drive to Esso and enjoy a local dancing performance
- Day 12
- Visit with the Evens Reindeer Herders
- Day 13
- Helicopter back to Esso
- Day 14
- Driving back to Petropavlovsk
- Day 15
- Bathing in Verkhne-Paratunskie thermal springs & Avacha bay by boat
- Day 16
- Day trip to the active crater of Mutnovsky Volcano
- Day 17
- Optional day trip to ascend Gorely Volcano
- Day 18
- Depart Petropavlovsk-Kamchatsky
- Start/End Place
- Petropavlovsk, Russia tours
- Destinations Visited
- Russia tours
- Kamchatka tours
- 18 Days
- Group Size
- 6 - 16
Transfers by coach, 6WD truck-bus & helicopters MI-8
- Kurilskoye Lake fees and photography fees
- All meals during tour
- Accommodation in a variety of styles - hotels, lodges, resort, cabins and tents.
- English-speaking guide to meet you upon your arrival and departure in the PKC airport
- Transfers by coach, 6WD truck-bus, helicopters MI-8 and marine excursion (6 hours)
- Evens folk concert in Esso
- City tour and museums fees
- Guides, interpreter and cook services
- Invitation letter and visa registration
International flight tickets, single rooms, drinks with meals, activities, gratitudes and meals beyond listed in program, optional helicopter flight to the Valley of the Geysers.
Day 1 - Arrival into Petropavlovsk-Kamchatsky
You will be greeted at the airport by an English-speaking guide and then transferred to Hotel Petropavlovsk. In the afternoon there will be a city tour. Petropavlovsk-Kamchatsky is a remote Russian outpost with little infrastructure. There will be a welcome dinner to meet your guides and group this evening.
Day 2 - Helicopter flight to volcano and then Kurilskoye Lake
Leave this morning on a flight by MI-8 helicopter to Ksudach Volcano (1hr). Make an excursion to the crater lake of Schtubelya (situated inside Ksudach Volcano) and visit a lovely waterfall where water cascades out of the crater. There is time to visit hot springs that create a "hot beach" on the lake's shore.
Following your dip, there is another short flight to Kamchatka's famed Kurilskoye Lake. Accommodation is in a small cozy wooden lodge on Grassy Point. The lodge is two stories with 2 bunk rooms of 5 people each on the second floor. One, 5 person bunk room and a dining room are situated on the first floor. A "wrap around" deck affords a gorgeous view of Kurilskoye Lake and surrounding mountains. Often it is possible to watch bears fishing along the lakeshore without even leaving the territory of the lodge. There will be time to enjoy excursions along the lake's pumice rock beach and you will briefed about the next day's activities here.
AccommodationWooden lodge on Grassy Point
Days 3 - 4 - Activities at Kurilskoye Lake
Today is a day to view Kamchatka brown bears, Stellar sea eagles and salmon spawning places. Recently 150 bears were spotted during this trip.
We will take a motor boat excursion and walking excursions with local wardens to a nearby bear view platform (250 meters from the lodge) that is located at the mouth of the many rivers that drain into Kurilskoye Lake. Here you'll have a good chance of taking great, close-up shots of bears fishing for migrating salmon. The salmon pause briefly in the lake and then make their way from the lake into the streams where they spawn.
Take longer walking excursions to a large meadow where bears feed on wild berries and visit other spawning streams farther from the lodge. Along these streams you'll see spawning salmon and many signs of the large number of bears in the area. There's a good chance you'll see bears fishing just a few yards away as you walk along the banks of streams.
AccommodationWooden lodge on Grassy Point
Day 5 - Bathe in the thermal hot water of the Khodutka River and fly over Mutnovsky active Volcano
The day is spent on walking excursions with local wardens to a nearby bear viewing platform (250 meters from the lodge).
In the late afternoon, there is a return helicopter MI-8 flight back Petropavlovsk. The helicopter will detour to allow you to enjoy a bathe in the thermal hot water of the Khodutka River. This is the largest wild hot springs on Kamchatka. The water bubbles out on a section of tundra located just under Khodutka Volcano and forms a small stream. Farther from the source the water slowly cools and you can find the location where the temperature is right for you to take a swim. Then fly over the crater of Mutnovsky active Volcano, awesome for taking pictures. Return to Petropavlovsk for an evening in town.
Day 6 - Reserve day for bad weather - Avacha bay excursion
Today is a reserve day in case of bad weather. Free day in town.
For those who need more volcanoes, there is an optional helicopter flight to the Valley of the Geysers.
Day 7 - Visit the Cossack settlement of Milkovo and camp in the wilderness
Drive by 4 or 6WD bus to the old Cossack settlement of Milkovo (306 km). Here, lunch will be prepared in a local restaurant and there will be a chance to stroll around the village to get a feel for Russian rural life. Continue driving north of Milkovo and camp out in the wilderness in a mixed evergreen and deciduous forest along the banks of the Kamchatka River (Kamchatka's largest river which runs northward through the central valley of the peninsula).
Transportation7 -9 hours depending on road conditions. Kamchatka is remote and road conditions are rough.
AccommodationCamp out in the wilderness
Day 8 - Camp on the slopes of Tolbachik volcano
Continue further north to a camp on the slopes of Tolbachik volcano (70 km over forest road). Tent camp.
Days 9 - 10 - Visit the craters of Tolbachik and other volcanic sites
Two days will be spent exploring this remote area. We will visit the new craters of Tolbachik, the dead forest and other volcanic sites. There is plenty of time to enjoy nature at its best.
Day 11 - Drive to Esso and enjoy a local dancing performance
We will drive west from Tolbachik to the hotel in the village of Esso where we will enjoy a performance from the local dancing group.
Esso is known as the 'Switzerland of Kamchatka', surrounded by snow-capped mountains and evergreens. It has one of the finest museums in Kamchatka, the Bystrinsky District Ethnographic Museum. This area is very interesting, culturally, and a little less remote. You can go to a cafe for coffee if you need!
AccommodationTourist hotel in Esso
Day 12 - Visit with the Evens Reindeer Herders
This morning we fly by helicopter to the camp of Evens Reindeer Herders. The reindeer herders, who inhabit this area, stay away from the towns and modern amenities. They carefully keep their traditions. You will experience their lifestyle where every day is a struggle for survival, and get to know their culture.
You will stay in the old Medium Volcanic Range of Kamchatka, surrounded by ancient glacier-altered volcanoes and beautiful alpine tundra.
AccommodationOvernight in tents
Day 13 - Helicopter back to Esso
We return to Esso by helicopter and further explore Esso's museums and attractions.
AccommodationTourist hotel in Esso
Day 14 - Driving back to Petropavlovsk
Today is a driving day, heading back to Petropavlovsk. Lots of stops and beautiful scenery will keep you happy.
Transportation8 hours - 10 hours depending on road conditions
Day 15 - Bathing in Verkhne-Paratunskie thermal springs & Avacha bay by boat
Optional excursion around Avacha bay by boat with fishing and Ukha (fish soup). Visit Starichkov Island to view sea birds and mammals (6 hours in total). This tour is a unique opportunity to see the fascinating surroundings of Petropavlovsk from the sea, to explore the shores of the Avachinskaya bay, and to watch colonies of seabirds in their natural habitats.
Drive to Mutnovsky and Gorely Volcano plateau by 6WD bus. Bathe in Verkhne-Paratunskie thermal springs (optional). Drive along Viluchinsky Volcano and pass Viluchinsky waterfall. Further drive to Mutnovsky volcano plateau (1 hour). Distance between PKC and Mutnovsky is 150 km.
AccommodationOvernight in tents.
Day 16 - Day trip to the active crater of Mutnovsky Volcano
Day trip to the active crater of Mutnovsky Volcano. Snack lunch in the crater. Follow the narrow canyon to the crater. Steep walls surround the vast and deep crater cavity with its glittering glaciers split by cracks and torches of fumaroles. The outing lasts 6-7 hours. This does require a climb up to the crater. Overnight in tents.
AccommodationOvernight in tents.
Day 17 - Optional day trip to ascend Gorely Volcano
Optional day trip to ascend Gorely Volcano (1829m) - no extra cost. A chain of 11 craters across its peak makes for a unique sight. Drive to Petropavlovsk and farewell evening party.
AccommodationOvernight in a hotel
Day 18 - Depart Petropavlovsk-Kamchatsky
After breakfast, you will be escorted to Petropavlovsk-Kamchatsky airport for your international flight.
All prices listed are per person.
10 Sep 2020
Please note that travel around Kamchatka is very dependent on the weather, so be prepared to be flexible. Kamchatka is a wild and remote place, so you need to be prepared for rough conditions such as drop toilets, rubbish and stretched facilities.
Once in Kamchatka, there will be limited shopping options - the infrastructure is very limited. Please bring high quality camping/hiking snacks with you, although you can buy them on arrival at a more basic standard. You also will need to bring a sleeping bag with you or you can hire one there for EUR40. Bring mosquito protection and long hiking clothing. It can be colder than you expect so please bring thermals.
You also need to bring waist high rubber boots but we recommend buying these on arrival (approx. $15). We also suggest that your over jackets & pants are natural colours if possible.
We also suggest bringing or buying a storage bag so you can keep some of your extra clothing at the hotel. You return several times so can swap things as you need.
Interactive Tour Map
Please note for China, Mongolia and Russia, you will need to arrange your visa before you go. We have supplied links to these visa applications within our Visa section. It is your responsibility to do this before your trip but please don't hesitate to speak to us if you need any assistance. It isn't unusual for our guests to have questions particularly about the Russian visa so please call us if you are in any doubt.
On Arrival Petropavlovsk-Kamchatsky airport
You will be met at the Petropavlovsk-Kamchatsky airport and transferred to your hotel. Please make sure you advise us of your arrival flight details if you have not purchased the flight with us.
Travel insurance is compulsory for all tours with 50 Degrees North. Please ensure that you have this organised as we will need to see proof of this upon issuing your tour documentation. Please contact us for a quote or visit http://www.suresave.net.au/