This is our most popular trip to this Russian outpost. Ringed by mountains and situated in an ancient volcano crater, Kurilskoye Lake is one of Kamchatka's trademark destinations. Stay in a quaint, wooden lodge on the lake's shores and take part in some of the best bear viewing on the peninsula. Watch the massive pink salmon run and take walking excursions on the lake to view Stellar sea eagle's nesting. After Kurilskoye Lake you'll join our "Geologists and Volcanologist tour of Kamchatka" on the plateau of Mutnovsky Volcano and can take a spectacular helicopter flight north of the peninsula to visit the famous Valley of Geysers and caldera Uzon volcano.
Enjoy this guest video - it has amazing bear footage!
|Tour Provider||50 Degrees North|
|Number of Days||
Cycling/Trekking, Nature and Wildlife, Walking
|22 Jul 2019||31 Jul 2019||Fully Booked||AUD $6,724|
|25 Jul 2019||03 Aug 2019||Fully Booked||AUD $6,724|
|28 Jul 2019||06 Aug 2019||Available||AUD $6,724|
|31 Jul 2019||09 Aug 2019||Limited availability||AUD $6,724|
|12 Aug 2019||21 Aug 2019||Available||AUD $6,724|
|18 Aug 2019||27 Aug 2019||Available||AUD $6,724|
|02 Sep 2019||11 Sep 2019||Available||AUD $6,724|
Arrival in Petropavlovsk-Kamchatsky. Transfer from the airport to a hotel. Petropavlovsk-Kamchatsky is a remote town with little infrastructure, in a dramatic and beautiful setting. You will be welcomed to Kamchatka this evening with a group dinner in a city restaurant.
Leave this morning on a flight by MI-8 helicopter to Ksudach Volcano (1hr). Make an excursion to the crater lake of Schtubelya (situated inside Ksudach Volcano) and visit a lovely waterfall where water cascades out of the crater. There is time to visit hot springs that create a "hot beach" on the lake's shore.
Following your dip, there is another 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 5 people each on the second floor. One, 5-person bunk room and a dining room 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. There will be time to enjoy excursions along the lake's pumice rock beach and you will briefed about the next day's activities here.
Today is a day to view Kamchatka brown bears, Stellar sea eagles and salmon spawning places. Recently 150 bears were spotted during this trip.
We will enjoy taking a motor boat excursion and walking excursions with local wardens to a nearby bear viewing platform (250 metres 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.
This morning we have more time to enjoy walking excursions with local wardens to a nearby bear view platform (250 meters from the lodge). Our evening helicopter MI-8 flight will stop for us to 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. The helicopter lands near our tent camp on Mutnovsky Volcano plateau, where our 4 or 6WD truck and Russian team will wait for you. Accommodation this evening is in a tent camp.
A day trek to the Mutnovsky volcano is an enjoyable adventure for everyone. The volcano walk is on a single trail there and back, and the highlight is a walk into the caldera. You will be guided throughout this walk as some spots can be hazardous.
There are two options for this walk depending on the group's ability. One walk is nearly 7 km, with a rise of less than 600 m, into the main caldera. A gentle stroll soon starts to climb steadily on the bedded pyroclastics of the Mutnovsky slopes beside a stream which emerges from the caldera exit gorge ahead.
The other option is a walk that is longer but with less to climb. A 6WD bus gs as far as possible on a track below the two hills of Skalisty and Dvugorby, which are volcans more than 20,000 years old of pale rhyolite lavas and pyroclastics. Beyond the track, a foot-trail climbs past more old bore holes spouting steam, to the pass between Mutnovsky and Dvugorby, from where Asacha (left), Opala and Gorely (right) are seen ahead. The route then makes a long traverse of the hillside, on a mix of rough tundra, blocky andesite lava and banks of airfall ash and pumice reworked by the wind; it crosses three broad snow-fields, before a final rise to the mouth of the caldera exit gorge.
Picnic lunch is taken at some spot away from the fumaroles that are active at the time of the visit. The caldera floor is at an altitude of about 1540 m, which is still 800 m below the ice-capped summit of the Mutnovsky volcano.
Return to the campsite back along the outward route. Dinner will be enjoyed at camp.
After breakfast, you pack your overnight bag and sleeping bag, roll up your camp-mat, and put them all in the vehicle before setting out for the day's walk. Have an anorak, extra sweater and woolly hat on, or in a day bag.
Today we enjoy a day trek to Gorely volcano. Again the volcano walk is on a single trail, there and back, where members can walk as far as they wish and then return down the same trail. You will be safely guided on this trail.
From the campsite, the 6WD bus heads north to the track round the edge of the large lake that lies in the unfilled eastern crescent of the Gorely caldera. From the lake flats, the walk up the volcano is about 5 km, climbing steadily to gain 750 m in height. The walk up the huge shield volcano is over a mixture of rough grassy tundra with very low dwarf willow and bare stripes of basaltic lava. Some lava flow structures are recognizable, and there are also patches of volcanic ash redistributed by the wind.
The picnic lunch is on the shelf just below the top with wonderful views out and in front there is a sudden, unguarded, vertical descent into the active crater. Over 100 m down, a hot acidic lake has active fumaroles and solfataras around its margin and beneath the surface. The recent eruptions of Gorely have been largely steam events produced when these vents heat up and therefore increase their output.
Return along the outward route to the bus by the lake. The bus heads back out of the Gorely caldera, and then returns to a hotel in the Paratunka Valley. Rest and swim in a pool with thermal hot water.
Breakfast in the hotel. Leave in a conventional bus for the journey back to Petropavlovsk.
Today we go on a boat excursion in Avacha Bay. The boat trip (6 hours) out into the bay is a very relaxing way of gaining an alternative view of the splendid setting of Petropavlovsk and its dramatic volcans. Departing from a pier near the center of town, the expanse of the hilly city soon falls into perspective. Further toward the middle of the bay, both Koryaksky and Avacha volcans come into view behind the city. When Avacha erupted in 1991, people living in Petropavlovsk could watch the red stream of lava coming down the slope towards the city, while hot ashes were shooting into the skies 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. The harbor is open to shipping year round, and is also well protected from the dreaded tsunami waves that are created by earthquakes around the Pacific Ocean margins. The boat heads towards the mouth of the bay, allowing views of the Northwest side of Petropavlovsk and the many boats that make their home in these ports. 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 seabird. Hot lunch is aboard.
In the afternoon, we visit the Volcanology Institute. The Institute is on the old main road out of Petropavlovsk. 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 Tolbachik in 1975/6, which was predicted after precursor earthquakes, and which brought instant volcanic fame to Kamchatka. There is an opportunity to see the small museum, with its spectacular photographs of most of the volcans. Specimens are labeled in Russian, so provide a fun identification challenge. Don't miss the huge mass of black sulphur (looking like dull basalt glass) that came from Bann Lake at Uzon.
Return to the Petropavlovsk Hotel some time in the afternoon, and take your own walk in Petropavlovsk. Dinner is in the hotel.
Breakfast in hotel. The day is free to explore Petropavlovsk, or join an optional helicopter excursion to the Geysers Valley and caldera Uzon volcano.
The optional helicopter flight to the Valley of Geysers takes about 75 minutes, and visits the Valley of Geysers and Uzon volcano. The cluster of geysers, fumaroles and hot springs in this valley were only discovered in 1941. They lie above the marginal fractures of the oldest Uzon caldera.
The helicopters land in front of the timber lodge that is the access point for all visitors to the trails into The Valley of Geysers (Dolina Geyserov) within the Kronotsky Nature Reserve. Walkabouts in the valley are not allowed, so we will stay in a group. The boardwalk leads to the lip of the valley for a fine overall view. The upper slopes of the valley expose cliffs of pumaceous tuffs, some eroded into earth pillars. The valley floor has lush green plant cover, except where active banks of geyserite have not yet been colonized.
A trail on the terrace above the valley floor provides views down onto the Fountain Platform, and also passes various hot pools, blue with suspended clay, and boiling mud pots, red with iron oxides. Lunch is scheduled at the Valley of Geysers lodge.
Return by helicopter to Yelisovo, and by bus to the Petropavlovsk Hotel. Dinner is at the hotel.
Tour ends Petropavlovsk with a transfer to the Petropavlovsk-Kamchatsky airport.