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Kamchatka Peninsula - the unknown Far East
Russia's Wildlife Paradise
Kamchatka Peninsula Wildlife Expedition
volcanos, geysers, bears, salmon and eagles
Aug 22 - Sep 01
This expedition to Kamchatka will take place in the early fall, which is by far the best time to see brown bears fishing for salmon. 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 and Mutnovsky volcanoes, 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 world to see Brown Bears. To reach it, we fly by helicopter via the crater of the Mutnovsky volcano to a wooden lodge where we 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 in the crater of the Mutnovsky volcano with its geysers, fumaroles, mud pools, spectacular rock formations and vivid colours.

Further north we explore the lunar landscape of Tolbachik volcanos with their new lava cones and fields, scroll in lava tunnels, gather berries and enjoy some fascinating views.
We spend some time in the small settlement of Esso where we shall meet the local people and visit nomadic reindeer herders in their summer camp in the mountains. There will be plenty of time to savour the atmosphere of Kamchatka, both on land and sea, and follow our own interests whether they are ornithology (puffins!), botany, geology, volcanology, photography or walking.

*Note: due to the nature of this expedition, success depends on weather and the skill of our Expedition Leader. Itinerary is subject to change depending on weather conditions, which may mean more or less time allowed for certain activities.
Popular combinations: Amur Tigers Extension
Detailed itinerary:
Aug 22 Petropavlovsk/Lake Kurilskoye
  Although many of us will have arrived at least one day ahead of schedule, our trip officially begins this morning at breakfast (8AM), where we will have a short meet and greet and briefing, before loading our luggage and transferring to the town's helipad between 9 and 10am. Time and weather conditions allowing, this is our first attempt to reach Lake Kurilskoye. Approximately one hour flight time due south in an M-8 helicopter, we'll land right at the footsteps of our accommodation beautiful, rustic accommodation. The lodge is a large, wooden, two-story building, with 3 large guest rooms, each catering for 5-6 people (bunk-style), dining room and a wooden deck, no showers and composting toilets. After taking our rooms, we'll start with a short briefing from the ranger stationed at Kurilskoye. Although we'll most likely arrive late in the afternoon, we'll push for an afternoon's excursion, and hopefully have our first bear encounter before dinnertime!
  Accommodation: Grassy Point Lodge
Aug 23 Lake Kurilskoye
  This morning will find us on the shores of one of the most picturesque lakes of the world. The main wildlife attractions that brought us here are the browns bears and the spawning salmon, but there is also other exciting wildlife like fox, and Stellar Sea Eagles. For the next two days, we have several possibilities to explore and enjoy unparalleled wildlife encounters, from walking excursions across open tundra, crossing rivers, boat trips and spending time on fixed viewing platforms. Weather, wildlife movements and park personnel will determine our schedule.
  Accommodation: Grassy Point Lodge
Aug 24 Lake Kurilskoye
  Keeping our fingers crossed for a clear sunrise, the very keen wildlife photographers and nature observers can get up around 6am and enjoy the beautiful colors that often dance across the lake in the wee hours of the day, while the rest can sleep in until breakfast. After breakfast, we take off to explore yet another part of the lake area. Again expect unparalleled wildlife encounters and a schedule that is predicated upon weather, wildlife movements and park personnel.
  Accommodation: Grassy Point Lodge
Aug 25 Khodutka River/Petropavlovsk
  Our helicopter departure will depend on the weather conditions, which may or may not allow for a morning activity. In most cases, we will stay at the lodge till an early lunch, before the weather is clear enough for our helicopter to fly. After departure, en route, we will fly over the Khodutka River, which runs through a volcanically active area and produces some of the most enjoyable open-air thermal hot waters of the world. We will attempt to land near this natural phenomenon and spend at least a long our in the welcoming waters, relaxing our bodies after the long hikes and excitement of the previous days. This is the largest wild hot spring of 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 we can find the location where the temperature is right for us to take a relaxing bath. Once we have refreshed ourselves, we get back in the helicopter and fly over the crater of Mutnovsky Volcano – an active volcano, with excellent views and photography opportunities. Shall conditions allow we will even attempt to land in the crater. From here we fly to Petropavlovsk, take our hotel room and have a short break before dinner. After dinner we retire early for a well-deserved rest with proper bed and proper showers.
  Accommodation: Hotel Petropavlovsk
Aug 26 Tolbachik Volcanos/Lunakhodchikov
  Today, after several days of flying to the most amazing natural scenes by helicopter, is our chance to get on the road and experience the Russian Far East up close. We will get up very early, with the rising sun and start driving north in the central valley of the peninsula (at 6 am), towards the Cossack settlement of Milkovo. After our arrival on this 300 km section, a meal will be prepared for us in a local restaurant and a few minutes of free time will be spent in the village to see and experience the local lifestyle. Yet we can’t stay too long, because after crossing the Kamchatka River by ferry at Kozyrevsk, another 200 km stretch is ahead of us – now we will drive along Kamchatka River for a while, until we divert off towards the real lunar landscape of the area of the Tolbachik volcanoes. Our goal today is Lunakhodchikov Base Camp: some old empty research huts at the foot of the volcanoes. We are going to spend the next two nights here, exploring the breathtaking area on foot/6WD and taking pictures of and admiring this landscape where the first Soviet "lunar roving vehicle" was tested. After our arrival, we set up our own tents and gather around the picnic tables for a hearty camp dinner.
  Accommodation: tents at Lunakhodchikov Base Camp
Aug 27 Tolbachik Volcanos
  Today is another day for us when our own legs and energy will be the only means of transportation and exploration for the most part of the day. This is a lunar landscape with several volcanic cones around us. The Tolbachik volcano area is famous for its landscapes and its formation, and most recently the largest basalt eruption of recorded history. The Tolbachik eruption of the century is called the Big Cleft Tolbachinsky eruption and it is considered one of the largest basalt eruptions ever known in the volcano belt of the Kuril Islands and Kamchatka. It lasted for one and a half years (1975 - 1976) and was included in the list of the six most powerful cleft eruptions ever happened on Earth. The events were evolving in a forest 18 km south from the Plosky Volcano. The flaming "candle" reached 2,5 km in height, and the ash cloud was 12 km long. In sequence, new clefts evolved one after another, and as a result four new cones of the Tolbachinsky volcanoes were formed (from 100 to 300 m high). The enormous territory around them turned into a burnt desert, the forest captured by the ash fall dried off to the root. Lakes and rivers disappeared. Those animals that had survived left the area. We will be captivated and mesmerized by the lunar landscapes of the Tolbachik volcano. Today we are heading, as part of a whole-day trip, to the northern cones. From the top of the northern cones we will have magnificent views of the Klyuchevskaja group of volcanoes: the Ostry Tolbachik, the Plosky Tolbachik, the Klyuchevskoj volcano, the Malaja, the Bolshaja Udina and the Bezymyanny volcanoes. The Klyuchevskoj volcano (4850 m) is considered to be the highest volcano in Eurasia. We will take a packed lunch with us on this whole-day excursion in order to be able to visit not only the new cones but the petrified forests and some lava tunnels, as well, and will return to our base camp for the evening for an excellent camp dinner and a good night sleep.
  Accommodation: tents at Lunakhodchikov Base Camp
Aug 28 Tolbachik Volcanos/Evan Reindeer Herders
  This morning, after our early breakfast, we quickly pack our belongings and get back on the road. Our goal for tonight is a nomadic reindeer herder camp of the local Even (Lamut) people. Once we reach Esso town (about 6 hours trip from Tolbachik) we drive to the local helipad and get on a MI-8 helicopter once again. We fly out to the open tundra, looking for the nomadic reindeer herding camp. The first mention of Even in Kamchatka is dated to the middle of 19th century. The Even are indigenous people that traditionally lived a nomadic life on the western shore of the Okhotsk Sea between Aian and Izhigin. Forced to enlarge their territory by the famine that raged in 1830-40 around Kolyma and Indigirka rivers, many of their clans fought their way through the Pengin Koriaks to the unpopulated parts of Kamchatka. There they found huge grazing grounds for their reindeer, rivers rich in fish and plenty of prey to hunt. Many others followed. In the beginning Evens tried to minimize contacts with local people and settlements. They feared they would be forced to leave as intruders, which is one of the reasons they are, to date, one of the most traditional tribes in the world. A visit to the reindeer herders is one of the most unique and genuine cultural experiences you can imagine, and our activities will be predicated upon their needs. Throughout the day we will experience their lifestyle, learn their traditional ways of surviving far out on the tundra. Because weather conditions can change quickly, we will bring a small overnight bag of essentials, and tents for overnight accommodation.
  Accommodation: Tented accommodation
Aug 29 Even Raindeer Herders/Esso Village
  Our hard-core photographers will get up with the rising sun at our camp to take images of the local people and the environment, or to simply go and pick blueberries (truth be told, when you see the luscious dark blue morsels, its difficult to decide which is more appealing!). Our helicopter will then take us back to the nearby village of Esso, where we enjoy the nicest accommodation on our trip complete with a thermal pool. After arrival, we take a leisurely afternoon, relax ourselves in the pool and explore the local museum of indigenous tribes of Kamchatka. Afterwards, we'll check if the local, though world famous, traditional dance group is in town and can provide a beautiful performance for us this evening.
  Accommodation: Esso Hotel
Aug 30 Esso Village/Petropavlovsk
  As usual, rising with the sun will give us an excellent photo opportunity for our serious photographers to capture breathtaking and unique images, or if you prefer, you can listen to the sounds of life from inside, and sleep in a bit. After breakfast, we say good bye to our hosts and get on our 6WD overland truck to face another long day on the road – all the way back to Petropavlovsk, with lunch en route in Milkovo. Upon arrival, taking our rooms, gathering in the now very familiar dining room for an excellent dinner and having a late but much-deserved night.
  Accommodation: Hotel Petropavlovsk
Aug 31 Petropavlovsk
  A Danish navigator in the service of the Russian Navy founded the city of Petropavlovsk. The name "Petropavlovsk" is after his two ships, the St. Peter and the St. Paul. The city itself is full of beautiful and intriguing monuments, statues, and soviet architecture. Depending on the order of operations over the past 10 days, none at all, or part of the day may be spent exploring the town and/or enjoying another excursion to the nearby volcanoes. Either way, we will enjoy an excellent Farewell Dinner at Hotel Petropavlovsk, and our last night on the incredible Kamchatka Peninsula.
  Accommodation: Hotel Petropavlovsk
Sep 1 Avacha Bay marine cruise/Petropavlovsk/departure
  After breakfast, we take off for an activity we haven’t experienced on this trip yet: a full morning boat excursion around Avachinskaya Bay -the bay surrounding Petropavlovsk. En route, we'll see "the three brothers" -large rock formations believed to protect the harbor from tsunamis, and attempt to reach Starichkov Island -home to a pair of Stellar Sea Eagles. Along the way, we'll have a chance to see sea birds and mammals including Tufted Puffins, Guillemots, Seals and 100's of gulls. We are taking packed lunch with us and spend a noon siesta somewhere under the blue skies of Kamchatka. We arrive back to the hotel area late afternoon, re-pack our belongings and get ready for our flight out of Petropavlovsk. End of program, have a nice flight home.
Russia, Kamchatka Trip mapCopyright © WantExpeditions

Trip price: in double room: USD 7,920
  in single room: USD 8,580

Elizabeth H.F. from St Leonards:
"A Greater Kudu"

Trip images:

Trip price: in double room: USD 7,920
  in single room: USD 8,580
Price includes:
· all accomodation
· all meals
· all activities mentioned in the program
· all land transportation
· Water in transport vehicles
· all airport and local transfers
· all national park fees
· all camping gear except sleeping bag
· all local guiding fees
· international tour leader
· all government taxes and levies
· all helicopter flights
· all boat excursions

Price excludes:
· international flights
· travel insurance
· personal expenses at accommodation
· departure taxes at airports
· visa fees
· any other items not mentioned above