Volcanoes and Bears of Kamchatka. Ecological tour
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.
Arrival in Kamchatka in the morning (local time). Bus transfer to Petropavlovsk-Kamchatsky, the capital of Kamchatka (about 40 min.). Short sightseeing tour of the city with a visit to the Museum of local lore. Lunch at the café .
Transfer to Paratunka (a resort village not far from Petropavlovsk, famous for its numerous thermal springs), accommodation at the hotel (two comfortable hotels with thermal pool and small aquapark; double rooms; in one hotel, facilities are in the rooms, and in the other on the floor). Dinner at the restaurant. Free afternoon, 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. 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 drive and then hike 12 km (with luggage) to the Kuril Lake (the territory of the South Kamchatka State Nature Sanctuary). The route is easy and passes along the river Ozernaya. 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 tent camp 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 fishing brown bears at 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.
Hike 12 km back to the boundary of the Nature Sanctuary along the river Ozernaya and then short drive by 6WD bus to Pauzhetka. Swimming in warm river. Dinner and overnight in the guest lodge with private thermal pool, as per Day 2. Banya (Russian steam bath) can be organized at additional fee.
Transfer to the village of Ozernovsky and a visit to a fishery plant. Drive to the Okhotskoe shore. Observe marine birds, seals and (with luck) sea otters. Easy trekking in mountains. In the evening, excursion to the geothermic power station (this station is the first in Russia, ecologically clean and provides electricity for fishery plants). Excursion to the powerful thermal fields with fumaroles around the village of Pauzhetka. Overnight, as per previous day.
Transfer back to Paratunka along the sea coast through the fishermen village of Oktyabr’sky. Dinner and overnight in the hotel with thermal pool.
Breakfast at the hotel. Transfer by 6WD bus to the cauldron between the Mutnovsky and Gorely volcanoes (about 4 hrs). The road passes by the Vilyuchinsky volcano, a favorite place for downhill skiing for Kamchatka dwellers (quite often snow lays there even in July). Picnic lunch.
Hiking excursion and ascend to the chain of craters of the Gorely volcano.
Gorely volcano presents the unique collection of craters - a chain, which lies across the top. The chain begins with the West crater, no longer active and surrounded by rather low rocky walls. The crater's bottom is occupied by a glacier. Next is the chain composed by craters of different age. Most of volcano's activity is concentrated in the Central crater. On its walls and bottom, there are permanently active fumaroles; their deposits color the crater's walls. The biggest and the most beautiful crater is the Blue Lake. Its bottom is occupied by a lake of tender-blue water where blocks of ice float. The last in the chain of top craters is the Cup. This crater is on the top of a rather low and perfectly regular cone. On its bottom a shallow lake of violet water is situated.
If the weather if favorable, all the craters can be visited in a single day. The hiking distance is 20 km; the route is not complicated. Excursion will take about 8 hrs; according to the visitors’ wishes it is possible to return to the base camp earlier.
Dinner, overnight at the base tented camp.
Hike (without backpacks) to the Mutnovsky volcano and further into its crater through a crack in the volcano's edge.
Mutnovsky active volcano being a nest of merged craters, is perhaps the most beautiful volcanic phenomenon of Kamchatka. The view is alarming and fantastic: eastward a glacier descends the crater's wall to end in a bluff eaten by fumaroles; opposite it rises a sheer rock, here and there columns of water vapor are curling upward. The appearance of this crater is changeable. The crater contains a lake of bitter whitish water and two groups of powerful fumaroles. One of the fumaroles throw off small drops of melted sulphur, the other - powerful jets of vapors, water and sulfurous. Near the crater, there are vast mud pits.
Excursion into the crater takes about 12 hrs.
Lunch en route. Return to the base camp. The total distance of hiking during this day is about 24 km. Lunch there. Dinner, overnight in tents.
(*Note: The total distance of the hikes may vary in accordance with the weather conditions. If the snow level is high the 6 WD bus will not be able to drive next to the volcano).
Motor boat cruise to the Russkaya bay (10 hrs). Observe a rookery of northern fur seals, highest chances to watch orca whales at a distance of few meters. On the way, we will pass by the Avachinskaya Bay and Starichkov island famous for its colonies of sea birds, enjoy a majestic view to snow-capped volcanoes towering over the bay. Observe numerous sea birds (puffins, auklets, cormorants, gulls, etc.). There are high chances to watch a pair of Steller’s sea eagles. Bus transfer back to Paratunka.
Reserved day for the case of improper weather during previous days.
If the weather is favorable, transfer to the bottom of Avachinsky volcano (one of the “Kamchatka domestic volcanoes”) by 6 WD bus (2 – 2, 5 hours). Easy trekking in the surrounding area without the assent on the volcano summit, nice view of Avachinsky and Korykasky volcanoes.
Another option: helicopter excursion to the world famous Valley of Geysers, Kronotsky Nature Reserve (at additional fee – about 48000 roubles per person).
Transfer back to Paratunka. Overnight in the hotel.
Bus transfer to the airport (visit a fish market on the way), departure to Moscow. Arrive in Moscow, transfer to the international airport for the flight home.
Trip cost: 175 700 rubles per person in a group of 10 pax
- all excursions and tours according to the program,
- accommodation during the tour to south Kamchatka,
- transportation (6WD, motor boats on the Lake Kuril),
- meals three times daily during field part of the tour (except for Petropavlovsk and Paratunka),
- services of a Russian-speaking guide (English-speaking guide is available at additional fee),
- services of a cook,
- fees for visiting especially protected nature areas, museums.
Price does not include:
- Moscow program,
- visa support,
- international and domestic airfares, insurance (we provide all above, if necessary),
- accommodation and transfers in Petropavlovsk and Paratunka (we will help you to book all that according to your selection),
- meals in Paratunka and Petropavlovsk,
- alcohol, items of personal nature,
- helicopter excursion to the Valley of Geysers and Uzon and other additional excursions at your wish.
- 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.
- According to your wish, we can organize for you additional programs in Kamchatka, for example: a 5-days trip to Tolbachik volcano area and “dead forest”, one-day helicopter excursion to the Valley of Geysers, 1-day or 3-days rafting down Malkinskaya Bystraya river, fishing trip, etc.
- 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.