Group Trip Kamchatka – Bears, Salmon and Volcanoes
Kamchatka, if this rings a bell at all, it is most probably because of the boardgame Risk. You might remember, it was the peninsula at the very right of the board that allowed you to travel to Alaska, on the far left side. Far away from everywhere, just as in reality. There is not a single road connecting Kamchatka with Russia’s mainland. The only way to get here is by plane or by boat. And Moscow is at least 10 hours by plane away! It is a land of forests, tundra and extreme geology. Kamchatka is a wilderness of more than half a million square kilometres. Comparable with the size of Germany, Austria and Switzerland together. Parts of Kamchatka look like the days the earth was still fierce and empty. Geysers, hot mud pools, volcanoes. Of the latter there are more than 300, of which 30 are regularly active. Then you will find thermic baths, praised for their healing powers. And more than 100,000 lakes and rivers, all filled with salmon and other fish. Rare eagles, sea birds and mammals living on the shores. Bears, reindeers and wolves are wandering in parks the size of European countries. This is the peninsula Kamchatka, a miracle of nature and a breathing destination for those who love wilderness and adventure.
From 28 July to 6 August 2019
From 18 to 27 August 2019
From 11 to 20 September 2019
€ 4,300 per person
This price includes:
✓ Accommodation in hotels on double sharing basis (+ breakfast)
✓ Accommodation in huts and tents
✓ Transfers to and from the airport in Petropavlovsk-Kamchatky
✓ All meals
✓ Kitchen utensils
✓ English speaking guide, assistent-guides and cook
✓ Transfers per bus, jeep and MI-8 helicopter
✓ City Tour in Petropavlovsk-Kamchatky and entrances to museums
✓ Letter of Invitation Russia and visa registration
✓ Entrance to the Kronotsky N.P.
✓ Permits and camera surcharges
This price does not include:
✓ Return flight from Europe to Petropavlovsk-Kamchatky (approximate price is € 800)
✓ Optional excursion to the Valley of Geysers, on Day 09. Additional costs € 745 per person.
✓ All personal expenses like phone bills, insurances, medical costs, extra luggage etcetera.
Maximum 12 persons
This trip will start in Petropavlovsk-Kamchatky. It is, therefore, important, to be there on 28 July, 18 August or 11 September 2019 (either at the airport or in the hotel). This way, you surely will not miss the beginning of this fascinating trip. It is best to check out Aeroflot, as they normally have the best offers. Moreover, flying with Aeroflot gives you the opportunity to make a stop in Moscow or St Petersburg.
Group Trip Kamchatka – Day by Day
Day 01: Arrival in Petropavlovsk-Kamchatky Day 02: To Ksudach Volcano and Kurilskoye Lake Day 03 and Day 04: Around Kurilskoye Lake Day 05: Khodutka River and Mutnovsky Volcano Day 06: Mutnovsky Volcano Walk Day 07: Gorelo Volcano Walk Day 08: Boat excursion to Avacha Bay Day 09: Excursion to Geyser Valley (optional) Day 10: Back Home
Group Trip Kamchatka in Detail
Day 01 – Arrival in Petropavlovsk-Kamchatky
The representative of Eastward Travels is waiting for you at the airport. Transfer from there to your hotel. The rest of the day you can relax, explore the city and prepare yourself for the trip. In the evening you will meet the rest of the group during a welcome dinner in a restaurant somewhere in the city.
Day 02 – To Ksudach Volcano (by MI-8 Helicopter) and Kurilskoye Lake
A one hour flight by helicopter will bring you to the Ksudach Volcano. (If the weather is not cooperating, this flight will be scheduled on Day 5). From the helicopter you will see the crater lake of Schtubelya (situated inside the Ksudach Volcano) and a lovely waterfall, where water cascades out of the crater. A short distance away is Kamchatka’s famed Kurilskoye Lake. Here you can visit hot springs that create a ‘hot beach’ on the shores. The night you will spend in a small cosy wooden lodge on Grassy Point. The lodge is a two stories building with 2 bunk rooms accommodating 8 people each. A ‘wrap around’ deck offers gorgeous views of Kurilskoye Lake and the surrounding mountains. Often it is possible to watch bears fishing along the lakeshore without even making the effort of leaving the territory of the lodge.
Days 03 and 04 – Around Kurilskoye Lake
For two days you can view the brown bears of Kamchatka, Stellar sea eagles and salmon spawning places. Take a motor boat excursion, and walk to a nearby bear view platform located at the mouth of the rivers that drain into Kurilskoye Lake. Here you will have a good chance of taking great, closeup shots of bears fishing for migrating salmon. The local guides know, as well as the bears, that the salmons pause briefly in the lake and then make their way from the lake into the streams where they spawn. During longer walking excursions you will see bears feeding themselves with wild berries and you will visit other spawning streams further from the lodge. You will be impressed with the number of bears in this area. But, luckily enough, the bears will not care at all about you. Simply, because there are only salmons in their minds.
Day 05 – Khodutka River and Mutnovsky Volcano
In the morning you will make another excursion to see the great bears of Kamchatka hunting for salmons. Then, late in the afternoon, you will take a helicopter flight to the Khodutka River. On your way you will stop for a bathe in the thermal hot water of the Khodutka River, the largest wild hot springs in Kamchatka. Do not try to bath next to the source, as the water is too hot there. But further from the source the water is cooler enabling you to find a place where it is convenient for you to swim. The helicopter will land near one of the tent camps on the Mutnovsky Volcano plateau. From there you will be driven, by 4 or 6WD truck to the camp. The night you will spend in a tent.
Day 06 – Mutnovsky Volcano Walk
After breakfast you will head for the Mutnovsky Volcano. Wear something warm (or pack an extra sweater and hat in your day bag). From the Osvystannye campsite, the walk is nearly 7 km, with an ascent of approximately 600 meters. From the Dachnye campsite, the walk is longer but less steep. The two routes meet above a short descent into the gorge. Above the steep wall to the south, the steam plume of the volcano can be seen rising above the active crater. Looking eastwards, you can see cinder cones and tuff rings over flank vents on the Gorely slopes. Picnic lunch is taken at an altitude of about 1,540 meters, still 800 meters below the ice-capped summit of the Mutnovsky volcano. After lunch the walk continues up the western snow-fields and after a steep scramble aided by roped hand lines you will find yourself on a knife-edge ridge between the caldera and the active crater. Enjoy the splendid views, you deserve it! Return to the campsite along the outward route. Dinner at camp. The night you will again spend in your tent.
Day 07 – Gorely Volcano Walk
After breakfast you will depart for the Gorely Volcano by 6WD bus, which will drive you northward to a large lake. From here, the walk up the volcano is about 5 kilometres, climbing steadily to gain 750 meters in height. Long gently graded snow-fields provide the easiest route up (and certainly the best way to come back down) and lead to the main crater complex. The first large crater contains a cold lake about 100 meters below. Continue beyond the crater to a broad shelf that extends inside the very large old central crater. Picnic lunch on the shelf. Just ahead, there is a sudden, unguarded, vertical descent into the active crater. Over 100 meters down, you will see another lake. But this one is not icy, it is steamingly hot. Because of the recent eruptions of the Gorely Volcano, the steam have been largely steam events produced when these vents heat up and therefore increase their output. Return to the bus that is waiting for you at the lake. The bus will drive you to a hotel in the Paratunka Valley. Here you can rest and swim in the pool with thermal hot water.
Day 08 – Boat excursion to Avacha Bay
After breakfast you will depart for Petropavlovsk by ordinary bus. From here you will take a boat trip (6 hours) out into the bay, a very relaxing way of gaining an alternative view of the splendid setting of Petropavlovsk and its dramatic volcanoes. Departing from a pier near the centre of town, the expanse of the hilly city soon falls into perspective. Further toward the middle of the bay, both the Koryaksky and the Avacha volcano can be seen. When Avacha erupted in 1991, the inhabitants of Petropavlovsk could see the red stream of lava coming down the slope towards the city, while hot ashes were shooting into the sky above the summit crater. Avacha Bay is geographically as perfect a bay as a city could hope for. It is large and deep, with a narrow opening which keeps out foul weather and ice. This protects the city from the dreaded tsunamis that are created by earthquakes around the Pacific Ocean. Near the mouth of the bay, the Three Brothers are tall finger-like sea stacks, whose rock faces rise vertically out of the water. The cliffs around the bay house many colonies of seabirds in their natural habitats, and puffins are commonly seen among many other types of seabirds. Hot lunch is provided aboard. Back in Petropavlovsk you will visit the Volcanology Institute. The place on Kamchatka to learn more about the active volcanoes on the peninsula. A visit includes a short video and presentation by one of the volcanologists to outline the volcanic features of the Kamchatka peninsula. Emphasis is on the huge eruption of the Tolbachik Volcano in 1975/76, which brought instant volcanic fame to Kamchatka. There is an opportunity to see the small museum, showcasing spectacular photographs of most of the volcanoes.
Day 09 – Optional Helicopter Excursion to the Geyser Valley and Uzon Volcano
Departure by bus to the heliport Yelisovo, approximately 45 minutes from the city centre. The helicopter flight to the Valley of Geysers, only discovered in 1941 (!), takes about 75 minutes. The allweather eastern route heads round the southern and eastern flanks of Avacha, flying at heights of just a few hundred meters above the earth, if required to stay below any thick cloud cover. Obviously, you will have splendid views of the taiga landscape and the brown bears. The helicopter will land in front of the timber lodge that is the access point for all visitors to the trails into The Valley of Geysers. The boardwalk leads to the lip of the valley for a fine overall view. A branch to the left ends at the Bolshoi (Big) and Maly (Small) Geysers. An eruption of Bolshoi, about once per 75 minutes, throws water about 10 meters high amid clouds of steam, for about 10 minutes. Maly Geyser throws water out at 45° for about 8 m, in eruptions lasting 5 minutes on a 35 minute cycle. Immediately west of the helicopter pad, Bannoe Lake, about 30 meters deep, is a pool of liquid sulphur with a temperature of 140oC. Nearby, trails wind across the marsh ground on the caldera floor to a variety of hot springs, boiling lakes and mud pots. Several of the hot springs have associated sulphur, opal, pyrite and mercury deposits. Return by helicopter to Yelisovo, and by bus to your hotel in Petropavlovsk. Dinner in the hotel.
Day 10 – Back Home
Depending on your time of departure you might have time to discover more of the city. In any case, you will be driven by private car to the airport, well before your plane will take off.
Kamchatka is nothing but nature. Therefore, you will stay in huts and tents in nature. These places are well taken care of and without doubt the best way to experience / be part of the fabulous surroundings. However, the night in the capital Valley you will spend in a good hotel. Most of the time it will be the hotel mentioned below. However, if this one is not available the alternative hotel will be of a similar standard.
Petropavlovsk-Kamchatky: Hotel Petrapavlovsk-Kamchatky
Almost all foreign nationals are required to have a visa to travel to Russia. A visa to Russia is a document, permitting to stay in Russia for a specific period of time. A visa lists entry/exit dates, some personal information, passport details and information about the inviting party. The procedure to obtain a visa for Russia differs per country, so it is advisable to visit the website of the Russian Embassy or Consulate in your country. Click here for an overview of Russian Embassies and Consulates in the world.
To obtain a tourist visa to enter Russia, in general, the following documents should be submitted to a Russian Embassy or Consulate:
✓ Your original passport with at least 2 blank visa-designated pages (passport must be valid for at least 6 months after intended departure date from Russia)
✓ One or two copies of a Russian Visa Application Form, completed and signed
✓ Two passport-size photos signed on the back
✓ Prove of (medical) insurance
✓ Invitation letter
Once again, do check the requirements indicated on the website of the Russian Embassy / Consulate in your country. Do also note that the price of a Russian visa differs per country and per nationality. A tourist-visa is valid for a maximum of 30 days and cannot be extended.
Before heading for the Embassy or Consulate you need to have an Invitation Letter. Without this the Embassy or Consulate will never grant you a visa for Russia. In spite of horror stories that Invitation Letters are difficult to obtain, the contrary is rather true. It is easy and pretty straightforward. The best and cheapest way is to ask the hotel of your choice to send you an invitation letter. Most hotels can do this without any problem. In case your hotel does not offer this service, it is also possible to arrange this through online-agencies. There are several agencies that can create your virtual letter of invitation, all of them do it in a communicative, reliable and quick manner. Click on one of the links for further information:
To obtain an Invitation Letter through one of these agencies you should do the following:
✓ Register on their website
✓ Choose the appropriate Visa Invitation, normally a Single-Entry will do
✓ Indicate the starting date and the end date of your trip. If you already have tickets it is advisable to indicate these dates here
✓ Indicate where you will apply for your Visa
✓ Choose the recipient for the Visa
✓ Provide your personal information
✓ Pay with your credit card
During Russian working hours, for many nationalities, the Invitation will be ready and be sent to you within one working day after payment has been received. Then, just head for your Embassy or Consulate to apply for your visa.
Health & Safety
Medical care is readily available in Russia but it depends on where you are travelling. The biggest cities have the widest choice and especially Moscow and St Petersburg are well served. Still, prevention is the key to staying healthy.
Before you go:
✓ Compose your personal medical kit
✓ Check your health insurance
✓ Consult your government’s travel-health website
✓ Buy a DEET-based insect repellent, especially if you travel to Siberia or the Far East
✓ Visit a specialized travel-clinic to be informed about recommended vaccinations
Good medical treatment is not cheap in Russia, so take out a good and trustworthy policy. Find out in advance if your insurance plan will make payments directly to providers (preferable) or reimburse you later. Self-treatment may be appropriate if your problem is minor and you are carrying the relevant meditation. However, if you suspect you may potentially have a serious disease do not waste time. Just travel to the nearest quality clinic.
Some golden prevention rules:
✓ Never drink tap water
✓ Do not drink water from lakes or rivers
✓ Check your body if you have been walking through potentially tick-infested areas
✓ Follow the crowd, go there where the locals eat
✓ Give yourself a few days to get used to the local cuisine
In general, early summer and autumn are the best moments to travel around in Russia. By May the snow has usually disappeared and temperatures are pleasant, while in autumn (September and early October) the colours of nature are fantastic. July and August are the hottest months. Yes, it can also be hot in Moscow and Siberia. Still, logically this is the high season to travel in Russia, simply because it is holiday time. Winter is cold, sometimes extremely cold. But if you are prepared for it, travelling in winter is highly rewarding. The snow makes everything picturesque and the insides of buildings are kept pleasantly warm.
Click here to find out more about the Russian weather.
Russians love children and travelling here with them can be fun as long as you have a relaxed attitude and a degree of patience. In Moscow you can head for Gorki Park, for a rollercoaster ride in summer or ice-skating in winter. Or go to a circus, they are fantastic in Russia. In St Petersburg there are plenty of museums that your child will love. Take, for example, the Oceanarium home to sharks and seals. Or the Artillery Museum with its huge collection of tanks. In both cities there are plenty of parks, both Moscow and St Petersburg are really green cities, where your child can run around without boundaries.
Costs & Money
Moscow has the reputation to be one of the most expensive cities on the planet. And it is true, you can easily spend a fortune here. On the other hand, if you pay a bit of attention, you can also manage to spend less than a fortune. It is all up to you. After all, millions of Muscovites survive in this city on less than € 800 per month. Like in many other cities the restaurants around the tourist highlights are expensive but by far not the best. The same can be said about terraces. Just head a bit out of the center of the center and you will find great restaurants and terraces where your beer or meal is cheaper and better.
ATMs are readily available all over Russia, even in the smaller cities. Be wise though and do not wait till your last ruble before stocking up. Credit Cards are commonly excepted in the bigger cities. But if you are travelling in Siberia or the Far East it is better to not solely rely on them.