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Kamchatka: nature and culture

Welcome to Kamchatka!!!


This expedition to Kamchatka will take place in the middle of August. 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 volcanoes, Kurilskoye Lake and the hot Khodutka River in the southern tundra. 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.

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.
We shall visit Petropavlovsk and learn about its fascinating history and we shall be able to learn about life in Kamchatka today and experience their kindness and hospitality.

Day 1.
Arrival to Petropavlovsk-Kamchatsky. Meet and assistance and transfer to Hotel Petropavlovsk. City tour in the afternoon. Welcome dinner, overnight in the Hotel.

Day 2.
Flight by MI-8 helicopter to Ksudach Volcano (1hr). If weather permits (if bad weather, we will try to landing in Ksudach on Day 5th), we will make an excursion to the crater lake of Schtubelya (situated inside Ksudach Volcano) and will see a lovely waterfall (from air) where water cascades out of the crater. Or visit hot springs that create a «hot beach» on the lake’s shore. Short flight to Kamchatka’s famed Kurilskoye Lake.
Accommodation in a small cozy wooden lodge on Grassy Point. The lodge is two stories with 2 bunk rooms of 8 people each on the second floor. A dining room and shower/WC 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. Make an excursions along the lake’s pumice rock beach. In-camp instruction. Electricity and hot shower available in lodge from 7PM till 11PM daily.

Days 3-4.
View Kamchatka brown bears, Stellar sea eagles, salmon spawning places from a motor boat and take walking excursions with local wardens to a nearby bear view platform (800 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.

Day 5.
Take walking excursions with local wardens to a nearby bear view platform (800 meters from the lodge). Evening helicopter MI-8 flight to back Petropavlovsk. Stop for 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 for taking pictures. Return to Petropavlovsk. Hotel.

Day 6.
Optional helicopter flight to the Valley of the Geysers and Uzon Volcano caldera*. Hotel.

Day 7.
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).

Day 8.
Drive to the volcanic plateau of Tolbachik volcano (60km) base camp (this will be base for the next 2 nights) in tents. This place, reminiscent of the Moon, is famous because it was here that the first Soviet «Lunar roving vehicle-1», was tested.

Day 9.
Visit the new craters of Tolbachik formed in 20th century and monument of nature Dead Forest that was a result of eruption of 1975, newly formed lava tubes, watch new hardened lavas of 2013 eruption and other volcanic sites. Camp.

Day 10.
Drive west from Tolbachik to the hotel in the village of Esso, biggest Evens people settlement in Kamchatka in the biggest Bystrinskiy Natural Park. Enjoy a performance from the local dancing group, the participants of which are people of different Kamchatka indigenous tribes, the Koryak, the Even, the Itelmen.

Day 11.
Explore the area around Esso. Fly by helicopter to the camp of Evens Reindeer Herders. The number of reindeer in a herd is from 500 to 2500 heads. You will stay in the old Medium Volcanic Range of Kamchatka, surrounded by ancient glacier altered volcanoes and beautiful alpine tundra. Stay overnight in tents.

Day 12.
Return to Esso by helicopter. Overnight in hotel.

Day 13.
Drive back to Petropavlovsk, stay for lunch in Milkovo settlement. Overnight in a hotel.

Day 14.
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.

Day 15.
Depart Petropavlovsk.

Price includes:

Full board
Kurilskoye Lake fees and photography fees
Twin-bedded accommodation in hotels
Accommodation in lodge, Yurta and tents
English-speaking rep at the arrival and departure in the PKC airport
Transfers by coach, 6WD truck-bus, helicopters MI-8
Avacha Bay marine excursion, 6 hours
Evens folk concert in Esso
City tour and museums fees
Guides, interpreter and cook services
Invitation letter and visa registration

Additional charges:

Optional helicopter excursion to the Geysers Valley*.
Flight to/ from Petropavlovsk-Kamchatsky.
Optional excursions and activities.

Grade B

Walking Grades and Fitness
Grading is a somewhat difficult topic as much depends on the individuals own perception of his or her abilities. The following is intended as a general guide to our grading system. The levels of difficulty are divided into categories B/C/D. Although the trekking is not at great altitude, it occasionally traverses rough terrain and involves some long days and steep climbs.

Grade B walks (Moderate): are for those of any fitness level who are able to traverse moderately hilly terrain. Walking is limited to day excursions from a central location to which you will be transported. These day hikes are normally no more than 6 hours in duration and all walking may be done with no backpack or with a light day pack.
Grade C walks (Strenuous): are for the more serious hill walker and a higher level of physical fitness is required. However, no special physical preparations should be needed. Walking days are normally 6-8 hrs and may involve up to 900m of ascent and descent. You should be prepared for several consecutive days of walking, sometimes at higher altitudes, so stamina is important. However, occasionally rest days in the course of the trek will be included.
Grade D walks (Tough): require that you are very fit and previous trekking experience is strongly recommended. Grade D includes long walks with steep uphill and downhill gradients. There will be some hiking at high altitudes (up to 4000m) and corresponding cold weather conditions. These treks will also involve several long days (up to 8-9 hours) of trekking continuously without a rest day.