Kamchatka, Russia Photosafari from 30th Aug to 10th Sept 2019

Kamchatka, the Land of Fire and Ice.

Kamchatka is one of the most spectacular regions in Russia. The peninsula occupies an area that is equivalent to the size California. This area has more than 160 volcanoes out of which 29 are active. Geysers and hot springs marked the land. In fact it lies in the Great Pacific Rim of Fire. The large variation in climatic zones encourages the growth of a great variety of flora and fauna. Brown bears and other animals also call this place home.

Until 1990, no foreigners are allowed to visit this place. It was in 1991 that this place was eventually opened to tourists and foreign visitor. Exploring Kamchatka used to be reserved for the rich. There are no roads, tracks or railway. The only way you can see Kamchatka then was to hire a helicopter.

Today, Kamchatka has opened up, roads and tracks were built into the interior and lodging houses with modern facilities started sprouting up. This place is still unspoilt and not many foreigners have visited it. Here is your chance to take part in this adventure of a lifetime.

We will be moving from one place to another by 6WD vehicles (Kamaz) remodelled into comfortable buses. The team will be led by two experience photographers, a local nature guide, a professional chef, a camp assistant and a local hunter armed with rifle. We are trying to make this tour as comfortable, well equipped, self-contained, and safely as possible.

We will also be visiting the famous Bear Reserve at Kurilskoe Lake where you can watch the brown bears catching migrating salmons at close range.

Kamchatka – UNESCO Heritage Site

This is one of the most outstanding volcanic regions in the world, with a high density of active volcanoes, a variety of types, and a wide range of related features. The six sites included in the serial designation group together and the majority of volcanic features of the Kamchatka Peninsula. The interplay of active volcanoes and glaciers forms a dynamic landscape of great beauty. The sites contain great species diversity, including the world’s largest known variety of salmonoid fish and exceptional concentrations of sea otter, brown bear and Stellar’s sea eagle.

For those who are interested in photographing birds, there are the stellar sea eagle, golden eagle, peregrine, rock ptarmigan, willow ptarmigan, black-billed capercalive, long-tailed hawk, owl, swans and others.

We will be taking a boat ride off the coast of Petro Kamchatka to capture the ocean wildlife like whales, seals and various types of birds like the puffins, seagull, etc

Camping

Kamchatka is a relatively new National Park. Although there are road tracks being constructed, tourism has not reached this area. There are a camping stations being established within the national park to make it as comfortable for visitors as possible. Two person tents, Kitchen and Mass Hall Tents are provided. Also provided are sleeping bags (please bring your own sleeping bag if you want to have a personalised sleeping bag), mattresses, water and solar lights.

  • We will hire a cook to cook all our meals when we are out in the national park. A modern day camping experience will be provided. We will also hire a camping assistant to help us set up tents and other service work where necessary.
  • An outdoor camping shower will be set up and other camping comforts.
  • Most nature reserved campsites will provide rudimentary toilets
  • Generators are provided for charging the batteries at the campsites.
  • However, there will have a few nights that we will be staying in Hotels city or lodging houses in villages.
  • Temperatures in the evening will drop to sub-zero deg. C. So be prepared with your warm clothing.

Food and drinks

Cooked food and bottled water will be provided during the camping period. Most meals in the city will be on your own. It is advisable that you bring along some comfort food like instant noodles, biscuits, chocolates, canned foods, sambal prawns etc.

Kurilskoe Lake Brown Bear Reserve

Kurilskoe Lake or Kurile Lake is located about 500km from Petropavlovsk-Kamchatsky. We will have to cross a few rivers by ferries in order to get there. This is where the largest brown bear population in the world is located. Summer and early autumn are the times where the brown bears feed and fattened up on their diet of salmons. You can witness large groups of bears along the river catching their food.

Please note that the Kurilskoe Lake Park Entrance Fees of 40,500 Rubbles per person for 3 days at the park and the Park transfer fees by boat (13km) to the campsite and return is 130,000 Rubbles per boat (amount to be shared by number of participants). These National Park entrance fees and transport charges are not included in our price. You will have to pay for it six (6) months before departure. An armed Park Ranger will accompany the group inside this Bear Reserve.

What equipment do you need?

  • A backpack
  • Camping lights
  • Raincoat
  • Warm clothing
  • Warm gloves and scarves
  • Sleeping bag – optional unless you want your own personalised sleeping bag.
  • Comfortable trekking shoes.
  • Slippers for taking showers etc.
  • Rubber boots for walking near the lake
  • Crampons for walking on glaciers
  • Hat or cap
  • Water bottle
  • Trekking stick if you have.
  • Mosquito netting and repellent. There are less mosquitoes towards September

Photography Equipment Required

  • Camera and a spare body.
  • Ultra-wides for landscape photography
  • Telephoto zooms for wild life photography. A 70-200mm with a tele converter will be suitable if you do not have anything more than 400mm in focal length
  • Charger
  • Power banks
  • Tripods
  • Lots of spare batteries

Trip difficulty

The trip difficulty is moderate. There will be some trekking up to the volcanoes and places of interest. However, this is optional. For those who do not want to join the trekking, you can shoot around the campsite. This trip is like going back to the basics to enjoy the raw and virgin environment where not many people have thread. For those who love the great outdoors and nature, this is a trip not to be missed.

How do you get there?

There is a flight from Kuala Lumpur to Incheon Korea from there, you need to book another flight from Incheon (ICN) to Petropavlovsk-Kamchatsky (PKC). This was the route we took during our last trip.

 

Itinerary

Day 1 (30 Aug) Petropavlovsk-Kamchatsky (D)

  • Arrive at Petropavlovsk Airport
  • Check-in Hotel at Petropavlovsk
  • Visit Volcano Studies Museum, a unique museum dedicated to Volcano studies (Optional)
  • Welcome Dinner
  • Briefing and discussion of finer points of photographing in Kamchatka.

Day 2 (31 Aug) – Petropavlovsk – Mutnovsky (B,L,D)

  • Breakfast
  • Start of adventure
  • Travel to Mutnovsky-Gorely Volcano (about 4 hours)
  • This are is south of Petropavlovsk
  • Lunch
  • Set up camp
  • Sunset shoot
  • Dinner
  • Briefing on next day’s program

Day 3 (1 Sep) Kronotsky Nature Reserve (B,L,D)

  • Sunrise shoot
  • Breakfast
  • Visit lava fields and areas where the lava still flows.
  • Mutnovsky Volcano
  • Dinner
  • Briefing for next day’s program

Day 4 (2 Sep) Kronotsky Nature Reserve – Petropavlovsky (B,L,)

  • Breakfast
  • We will visit the ice caves and the glacier
  • Afternoon travel back to Petropavlovsky
  • Check-in hotel at PK.
  • Dinner on your own

Day 5 (3 Sep) – Petropavlovsky – Pauzhetka (B,L,D)

  • Very early breakfast
  • Drive to Pauzhetka
  • This is a long drive with many river crossing by ferries.
  • Check-in lodging house at Pauzhetka

Day 6 (4 Sep) – Kurilskoe Lake (B,L,D)

  • Breakfast
  • After breakfast, travel to Kurilskoe Lake Bear Reserve.
  • Payment for park entrance permits and boat ride to the camp
  • Set up camp
  • If time allows, we will photograph around the camp.
  • Dinner

 Day 7 (5 Sep) – Kurilskoe (B,L,D)

  • Breakfast
  • Today we allocate the whole day to watch the biggest population of brown bears catching salmons, birds and sockeye salmon spawning areas.
  • Back to the camp for dinner

Day 8 (6 Sep) – Kurilskoe (B,L,D)

  • Breakfast
  • Today we will use a motor boat on the lake waters to the brown bears fishing places. You will witness the Far Eastern salmon migration and watch bird colonies. This lake, located in the Southern Kamchatka Peninsula is included as part the UNESCO World Heritage Site.
  • On one side of the lake, there is the gorgeous Ilyinskiy volcanoof almost perfect shape. During the eruption, lava streams were going down right inside the Kuril Lake changing the landscape and creating picturesque coves and bays. In the center of the lake, there is a rocky island “Heart of Alaid resembling a heart in shape. On the islands in the middle of the lake, there is one of the biggest colonies of the Pacific seagulls in the fresh waters.

Day 9 (7 Sep) – Kurilskoe – Pauzhetka (B,L,D)

  • Breakfast
  • Break camp and drive back to Pauzhetka
  • There are some hot springs located around the village.
  • Check-in to lodging house

Day 10 (8 Sep) – Petropavlovsky-Kamchatsky (B,L)

  • Early breakfast
  • Drive back to Petropavlovsk-Kamchatsky
  • This is a long drive with a few river crossings by ferries.
  • Packed lunch
  • Check-in hotel at PK.
  • Dinner on your own

Day 11 (9 Sep) – Petropavlovsky-Kamchatsky (B,L)

  • Breakfast
  • Boat tours in the Avacha Bay.
  • We will start early in the morning from Petropavlovsk-Kamchatsky and continue North along the shore looking out for whales, seals, birds. We will have a diver on-board to get us fresh fish and crabs.
  • Lunch – Our chef on board will cook them for us.
  • We will get back to our hotel just in the evening.
  • Dinner on your own

Day 12 (10 Sep) – Departure for home (B)

  • Breakfast
  • Shopping at City’s Fish Market (if time permits)
  • Departure for home.

If you are interested in this trip, please contact Maxby at [email protected]

Photo Gallery

Volcano treks

Friendly marmots

Ice caves

Active volcanoes at Kamchatka

Sunrise

Six wheel drive Kamaz for transport

 

Wild brown bears on the Kuril Lake, Kamchatka, Russia

The bear was caught and eat fish salmon^ Kuril Lake, Kamchatka

Bear looks for fish in water, Kuril lake, Kamchatka

Active volcanoes

Camping at Kamchatka

Sunset

Milky way at campsite

Seals at Avacar Bay

Freshly caught King Crabs for lunch

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