Kamchatka is a vast wilderness perched on Russia’s far eastern frontier, jutting out into the Pacific Ocean. Renowned for its unspoilt landscapes, its fantastic wildlife and its spectacular natural phenomena, it represents one of the most untouched, and certainly least visited, places on our planet. On this trip we take in the very best of the region, with opportunities to visit the breathtaking Valley of the Geysers, climb up active volcanoes, and meet some of Kamchatka’s original inhabitants, the Even. Kamchatka is one of the last frontiers of travel. Explore it now.
Fitness ●●●●○ | Off the Beaten Track ●●●●● | Culture ●●○○○ | History ●●●○○ | Wildlife ●●●●○
- Take a helicopter ride over the splendid Valley of the Geysers
- Climb active volcanoes
- Share the opportunity of fishing on the Bystraya River with Brown Bears
- Meet the Even, some of Kamchatka’s original inhabitants
- Enjoy the solitude and grandeur of this magnificent unspoilt area
Accommodation: Mix of comfortable hotels and camping
Included Meals: Daily Breakfast (B), plus Lunches (L) and Dinners (D) as shown in the itinerary.
Group Size: Maximum of 12
Start Point: Petropavlovsk-Kamchatsky
End Point: Petropavlovsk-Kamchatsky
Transport: Specially designed 6 wheel trucks or caterpillar type / motorboat / internal flights
Tour Itinerary Notes
While our intention is to adhere to the day-by-day itinerary as printed below, a degree of flexibility is built in. Overnight stops may vary from those suggested and on occasions alternative accommodation, of a similar standard to that named below, will be used.
Our guides are a key strength, chosen for their knowledge of and passion for the areas in which they work. All of our guides are carefully hand-picked, and are not just passing through these countries, but are usually locally born. Unlike some companies it should be noted we do not send a guide or tour leader from Undiscovered Destinations in the UK as we have every confidence in our locally appointed representative who is responsible for operating the tour on our behalf. Where possible you will have the same guide throughout your trip but on occasions it may be necessary to change the guide at one or more points during the tour.
Day 1 – Petropavlovsk-Kamchatsky
Arrive in Petropavlovsk-Kamchatsky and transfer to your hotel. The rest of the day is free to relax after your long flight. Overnight at Geyser Hotel or similar (D)
The improbably named Petropavlovsk-Kamchatsky is the main settlement of the Kamchatka region, and was founded in 1741 by the Russian explorer Vitus Bering. The name ‘Petropavlovsk’ means ‘Peter and Paul’, as the city is named after Bering’s two ships, the St Peter and the St Paul. The architecture of the city itself is typical of the Soviet style, and is surrounded by mountains and volcanoes, which periodically erupt. During the Crimean War, this far flung outpost of the Russian Empire was attacked by Anglo-French forces, but never fell. Petropavlovsk-Kamchatsky is the second largest city in the world that cannot be reached by road, after Iquitos, Peru. Today its source of wealth comes mainly from the fishing industry.
Day 2 – Avachinskaya Bay - Mutnovsky Volcano
We take boats into Avachinskaya Bay with excellent opportunities for spotting sea mammals including whales, dolphins and seals. Later we drive to Mutnovsky Volcano, considered the most impressive in the area, and permanently active. Camping overnight. (BLD)
Day 3 – Mutnovsky Volcano
We ascend the crater of Mutnovsky volcano (2322 m), which is one of the most outstanding volcanic phenomena in Kamchatka, with its powerful gas and steam spurts and boiling mud cauldrons. Today our trek will be about 12km and is anticipated to take around 8 hours. Camping overnight. (BLD)
Day 4 – Gorely Volcano
Ascend Gorely volcano (1829 m) and view its acid and freshwater crater lakes, before heading to Paratunka to spend the night. Today our trek will be about 18km and is anticipated to take around 6 hours. Overnight at Helios Lodge or similar. (BLD)
Day 5 – Paratunka
Today is a free day to relax or take an optional helicopter excursion over the jaw-droppingly impressive Valley of the Geysers. In the evening we transfer to Malki Hot Springs. Camping overnight. (BD)
Valley of the Geysers
The helicopter excursion to the Valley of Geysers includes a flight around Karymsky (1486m) and Maly Semyachik (1560m) volcanoes, as well as a walking excursion through the valley itself. This valley cannot be compared with anywhere else as it has more than twenty large geysers in the vicinity. Some gush forth every 10-12 minutes, while others may erupt once in 4-5 hours. The plumes of steam, fountains of boiling water, incredible colours of the slopes with hot water streaming along them and profuse vegetation create an enchanting spectacle. Lunch is served in the valley.
Helicopter Excursion – RUB37000 payable locally
The helicopter excursion can only be booked and paid for locally. It is subject to the weather conditions on the day and the minimum numbers of passengers. We are aware that this is a lot of money to carry around with you and that it is not very practical. However, despite our best efforts, we have been unable to come to an alternative arrangement.
If you choose not to go to the Valley of Geysers (or it is unavailable) you may take an optional half-day trip (to be booked on the eve of the day and paid in RUB cash only on the spot) by car along the shores of Avacha Bay to the Pacific Ocean, or a guided city tour and/or a visit to the Local Lore museum which is home to an interesting ethnography exhibition.
Day 6 – Great Tolbachik Fissure - Lunokhodchik
Today is a long drive (460km) by 4WD bus towards the Klyuchevskaya volcano group, stopping for lunch in Milkovo settlement (payable locally). We cross the Kamchatka River by ferry and continue off-road to the foothills of one of the most beautiful and majestic volcano ranges – Ploski Tolbachik and Ostry Tolbachik. Camping overnight in tents at Lunokhodchik camp, so called because the first Soviet lunar vehicles were tested here. (BD)
Day 7 – Ploski Tolbachik Volcano
As a result of the 2013 eruption, the lava flowed underground through caves and tunnels, creating stone sculptures from the hardened lava. Today our trek will be about 24km and is anticipated to take around 10 hours. Camping overnight. (BLD)
Day 8 – Tolbachik region
Travel in an off-road vehicle to the northern cones which are a collection of miniature smoking volcanoes boasting incredible colours. We will also see the Dead Forest which was killed by the ash and stones in 1975. Camping overnight. (BLD)
Day 9 – Kozirevsk
Drive to Kozirevsk (90km) which is situated on the shore of the River Kamchatka. Take a walking excursion to one of the oldest Kamchatka settlements, founded by the Even people in the 18th century. Visit the national crafts workshop and enjoy the panoramic outlook from the viewing platform. Overnight in local tourist houses. (BLD)
The Even people, closely related to the similarly named Evenki, are the original inhabitants of this land. Their traditional way of living was centred largely on reindeer and their religion is based upon shamanism. Numbering around 17,000 only, they lived largely nomadic lives, following the reindeer which were their source of meat, clothes and many other day to day items. Like other smaller ethnic groups their customs and culture are being gradually eroded in today’s Russia.
Day 10 - Malka settlement
After breakfast, we travel by 6WD bus towards Malka with a stop for lunch in Milkovo (payable locally). On arrival we start the rafting part of the journey that takes place among the mountain ranges. The river Bystraya is rather quiet and has a few gentle rapids, which are safe for total beginners. The camp will be set up on the bank of the river. Dinner will be cooked over the fire. Camping overnight. (BD)
Day 11 – Rafting along the Bystraya River
Today we will continue rafting along the Bystraya River where there is a high probability of seeing bears fishing for salmon. During stops on the banks of the river we can fish (every raft will have 1 fishing rod), as well as picking mushrooms and berries. We may be lucky and see Brown Bears ashore or spot a Steller’s eagle in flight. Dinner will be cooked over the fire. Camping overnight. (BLD)
Day 12 – Petropavlovsk-Kamchatsky
Enjoy our last morning of rafting along the Bystraya River before transferring back to Petropavlovsk-Kamchatsky. Overnight in Geyser Hotel or similar (B).
Day 13 - Departure
After breakfast, check-out and transfer to the airport. If there is time on the way we will visit the local fish market.
Please note that the order of this itinerary may change according to departure date. Changes often occur en route due to the nature of travel in these remote areas and this itinerary is only a guideline of the activities possible on each day.
Services of English speaking guide / tour leader
Meals as listed (B – Breakfast, L – Lunch, D – Dinner)
Entrance fees for sites listed as part of the itinerary
Any airport taxes