To the Kingdom of Salmon and Bear. Ecotour to the south of Kamchatka Peninsula
Lake Kuril, the second largest freshwater lake in Kamchatka, located on the territory of the South Kamchatka Nature Sanctuary, is the biggest salmon spawning ground in the peninsula. Every year since August to December, about 2,5-5 mln individuals of the most valuable Ozernovsky population of red salmon come to the lake for spawning along the river Ozernaya. Since 1964, a scientific stationary of the Kamchatka Institute for Fishery and Oceanography is established there, where censuses and population studies of salmon are carried out. In August, the visitors can observe mass accumulation of red salmon in shallow water before going to spawning grounds. This is a fantastic sight not only for ecologists and naturalists, but also for Kamchatka dwellers! The spawning grounds of red salmon are located along the lake shore and in numerous rivers and streams flowing into the lake. They attract a great number of birds of prey and waterfowl (including the Steller’s sea eagles and mergansers) and mammals (bear, otter, fox, ermine, glutton). During this period, the animals feed almost only on salmon and its larvae.
The shores of Lake Kuril and surrounding areas are well known as the area of the highest concentration of Kamchatka brown bears. According to the results of air censuses of local bear population, there are more than 100 individuals! During the excursions on the lake, visitors will have an opportunity to observe behavior of these animals in their natural habitat and film unique shots of bear fishing. There is also an opportunity to observe several pairs of Steller’s sea eagles nesting on the lake. The lake is famous for highest concentration of rare species of raptorial birds (Steller’s and white-tailed sea eagles, golden eagles, etc.) in winter time: several hundred individuals can be found there since January to February.
Arrive in Kamchatka in the morning (local time). Transfer to Paratunka (a resort village not far from Petropavlovsk, famous for its numerous thermal springs), accommodation at the hotel with thermal pool.
Bus transfer to Petropavlovsk-Kamchatsky, the capital city (about 40 min.). Short sightseeing tour with a visit to the Museum of local lore. Lunch at the restaurant.
Transfer back to Paratunka, dinner at the restaurant. Rest in the thermal pool.
Transfer by 6WD bus to the village of Ozernovsky in the southern part of Kamchatka (about 500 km), meant for the whole day. First, the road passes by the town of Ust’-Bol’sheretsk and a fishermen village of Oktyabr’sky. Further on, we drive along the Western shore of Kamchatka Peninsula (the sea of Okhotsk) and cross three rivers (on two of them, we will use ferries or barges). During this way, if the weather permits, we enjoy a majestic distant view to a chain of volcanoes of Southern group. Observe marine birds, seals and (with luck) sea otters. We are likely to see fishing numerous salmon in the rivers and in the sea. In Ozernovsky, two biggest fishery plants are located. From Ozernovsky, we will have a short (25 km) transfer to the village of Pauzhetka established around the first in former Soviet Union geothermic power station. Overnight there in simple guest lodges. Relax in thermal pools.
Short hiking route to explore magnificent area around the village Pauzhetka, visit the powerful thermal fields with fumaroles. Excursion to the geothermic power station (this station is first in Russia, ecologically clean and provides electricity for fishery plants). Overnight, as per previous day.
Short drive and then hike 12 km to the Kuril Lake, the territory of the South Kamchatka State Nature Sanctuary. The route is easy and passes along the river Ozernaya.
(* Note: all personal luggage will be transported to the camp by motor boat, visitors will not have to carry it. Additional transfers by the same motor boat can be organized to bring visitors to the camp, so, they will not have to walk the whole distance. The motor boat can accommodate 6 passengers at once). On the way, we will enjoy a distant view to the fantastic pumice cliffs called Kutkhiny Baty and Ilyinskaya Sopka volcano towering over the Kuril lake. Probably we will observe brown bears crossing the river and fishing salmon on the river banks.
We arrive to the source of the river Ozernaya at the Kuril lake, where the field stationary of the Kamchatka Institute for Fishery and Oceanography and the rangers’ lodge are located. Excursion to the scientific stationary, make acquaintance with the work of ichtyologists and rangers of the Nature Sanctuary engaged in protection of the salmon spawning grounds and bear population. Observe mass salmon migration from the bridge with viewing grounds. Overnight in a stationary tent camp (high camping tents surrounded by the electric fence).
Guided hiking ecological excursions along the shore of Lake Kuril, the South Kamchatka Nature Sanctuary, meant for the whole day.
Visitors will have high chances to observe numerous brown bears fishing at very close distance. The guides will make you acquainted with the major methods of field observations of brown bears. During the daily excursions and talks, you will learn about various aspects of bear ecology and behavior in wild nature. Overnight in the tent camp surrounded by the electric fence.
Continue observation brown bears in various locations on Kuril Lake. In the afternoon, hike (or transfer by ATV or motor boats) 12 km back to the boundary of the Nature Sanctuary along the river Ozernaya. On the way, we will visit legendary pumice cliffs Kutkhiny Baty. Short drive by 6WD bus to Pauzhetka. Swimming in warm river (stream from thermal springs flow there). Dinner and overnight in the guest lodge with private thermal pool, as per Day 2. Banya (Russian steam bath) can be organized.
Transfer back to Paratunka along the sea coast through the fishermen village of Oktyabr’sky. Dinner and overnight in the hotel with thermal pool.
- Additionally to visiting the Lake Kuril, you can take several hiking routes in its surroundings. Possible options: hike to the natural fountains and White waterfalls, hike to miraculous Stone City (a local “place of force”), ascend to the bottom of Rocky Peak, visit the fumarole fields with boiling clay, South-Kambal’ny Central thermal field, volcano Black Rocks. Incredible panoramic views to the Lake Kuril and surrounding volcanoes, Ozernaya River valley, rock Eagle’s Wing, volcanoes Kosheleva and Kambalnaya Sopka, Pauzhetka Geoelectric power station, Yavinsky and Golyginsky ridges. These routes will take additionally from 1 to 3 days.
- All visitors should have warm, windproof and waterproof clothes, high rubber boots (jackboots), warm sleeping bags (for the temperature up to 10 Centigrade below zero), sleeping maths, sun glasses. According to the preliminary agreement, it is possible to rent some sleeping bags and maths at place.
Price includes: accommodation as per itinerary, transportation (6WD, motor boats on the Lake Kuril, transfers in PK), meals three times daily during field part of the tour, guiding and interpretation services, services of a cook, fees for visiting especially protected nature areas, excursions, museums.
Price does not include: Moscow program, visa support, international and domestic airfares, insurance (we provide all above, if necessary), meals in Paratunka and Petropavlovsk, alcohol, items of personal nature, helicopter excursion to the Valley of Geysers and Uzon.