Small Group Safari

Kamchatka Brown Bear & Volcano Safari

Travel to one of the world’s most wild and picturesque places in search of brown bears, volcanoes and spectacular landscapes. Kamchatka is an essential destination for anyone interested in frontier travel.

Duration 12 days
Price From $8,417
When Jul 2019
Destination Russia

Safari Overview

Push the boundaries on your next safari and join this frontier small group journey to Kamchatka, located in the far east of Russia’s Far East. The peninsula contains fewer than 200 miles of paved road in an area larger than Great Britain, which is just one indication of how truly wild and remote this region is. Embarking on this safari will see you traversing the rugged landscape by helicopter – often the only viable form of transportation here – before first making camp on the banks of a running river, then the shores of an idyllic lake surrounded by greenery-covered mountains that scrape the sky. In both locations you’ll become acquainted with the European cousin of North America's iconic grizzly bear on daily photographic excursions, before climbing an active volcano and taking in high-altitude views of this awe-inspiring region.

What makes this trip extraordinary

  • Travel to Russia’s isolated Kamchatka Peninsula, a vast strip of wilderness that was off-limits to foreigners until the 1990s.
  • Take a tour around Petropavlovsk-Kamchatsky, an historic seaside city on the very edge of Russia.
  • Explore one of the world’s most wild and picturesque places in search of Kamchatka brown bears, volcanoes and spectacular landscapes
  • Fly in by helicopter to Kuril Lake, a body of water teeming with salmon that attracts hundreds of bears.
  • Spend your time watching and photographing these magnificent mammals.
  • Ascend one of Kamchatka’s 29 active volcanoes.
  • A contingency day allows flexibility for no-fly days due to possible adverse weather conditions.

Dare to step out of your comfort zone and discover why the little-known Kamchatka is one of the world’s most extraordinary safari destinations.

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Day by day

Day 1

Jul 25: Arrive Petropavlovsk-Kamchatsky

Upon arrival in southern Kamchatka, you’ll be transferred by minivan to your guesthouse in Yelizovo, just a short drive from the airport. After meeting your guide, they will accompany you on a four-hour tour of nearby Petropavlovsk-Kamchatsky to help you adjust to the local time, stopping at a selection of landmarks along the way that make for great photo opportunities. Make sure to have your camera ready! Here in Kamchatka's largest city you'll be able to visit the scenic viewpoint above the port, the monument to Vladimir Lenin in Lenin Square, the memorial to those killed in defence of the city in the Crimean War, and the Vulcanarium, a museum opened in 2017 dedicated to Kamchatka’s volcanoes. After a walk around Petropavlovsk-Kamchatsky’s historic centre and lunch at a local café, return to your guesthouse to enjoy an early dinner and prepare for tomorrow’s journey, when you’ll begin your safari in earnest.

Day 2

Jul 26: Petropavlovsk-Kamchatsky – Kambalnaya River

After an early breakfast, make sure to depart in plenty of time for the 15-minute drive to the heliport so that you’re ready for a scenic flight to the South Kamchatka Sanctuary. Your destination is the Kambalnaya River, but there are plenty of sights to see along the way. The landscape of Kamchatka is like something pulled from prehistory: sparsely populated, often with little or no sign of human habituation, the region is one of intense geothermal activity with its towering volcanoes, hot springs and geysers, as well as forests as far as the eye can see and rivers, lakes and wetlands drawing wildlife from all around. Make the most of your helicopter's vantage point before you land at your camp on the banks of the Kambalnaya, where you’ll settle in to your modular cabin, your home for the next few days. In the afternoon you’ll begin exploring your spectacular surroundings, and make your first brown bear sightings!

Days 3-4

Jul 27-28: Kambalnaya River

The Kambalnaya River will be the staging grounds for two full days of wildlife-viewing, during which you’ll explore this waterway as well as the open taiga in search of the many bears found in the area. The Kamchatka brown bear is one of the largest of all brown bear subspecies, almost rivalling the grizzlies of Kodiak Island in Alaska. Here at the Kambalnaya in July, large males can often be seen fishing for salmon at the riverside. Mothers and cubs can also occasionally be seen as they come to feed on the prodigious fish stocks here. Due to the spectacular scenery and the fact that these bears are unaccustomed to humans – meaning they do not fear our presence – this is one of the best places in the world to photograph bears in their natural habitat.

Day 5

Jul 29: Kambalnaya River - Kuril Lake

Today you’ll fly by helicopter from Kambalnaya to the spectacular Kuril Lake. Upon landing at your camp on the lakeshore, near the mouth of the Ozernaya River, your guide will introduce you to the camp’s inspector who will speak to you about the area and provide a full safety briefing. You’ll be brought up to speed on the rules to adhere to while at the lake, and you'll also hear suggestions that will ensure you have a safe and enjoyable time here in this beautiful locale. Subject to group movements, you may be able to head out on your first bear-viewing excursion today! After dinner in the mess hall cooked by the group's personal chef, your guide and inspector will meet with the tour leader to organise a plan for the coming day.

Days 6-7

Jul 30-31: Kuril Lake

Days will be entirely dictated by the activity of the bears, which at this time of year is governed by the tides. Days will therefore not follow a rigid structure, but we will aim to spend at least three hours a day out with the bears. Kuril contains more sockeye salmon than any lake in Eurasia, which makes this prime bear-viewing territory. Following revised park rules introduced in late 2018, the South Kamchatka Sanctuary management allow for only three groups on site at a time, with only one photography tour group to be out on the lake at any one time. The key bear fishing spots around the 29-square-mile lake are rotated between groups, assuring all groups secure uninterrupted viewings of Kamchatka’s photogenic brown bears during your 3-night stay here. By rising early you can catch the morning light so sought after by photographers, to capture the gorgeous views of the lake and Ilyinsky Volcano from camp. With a total of five hours of boat use available during the course of your stay here, you’ll have good opportunities to capture Kuril’s bears on camera.

Day 8

Aug 1: Kuril Lake - Petropavlovsk-Kamchatsky

Today you’ll fly back to the heliport outside Petropavlovsk-Kamchatsky around noon. You will then transfer to your base in Yelizovo for a relaxing day going through your photographs before enjoying dinner and preparing for tomorrow’s journey to Avachinsky Volcano.

Day 9

Aug 2: Avachinsky Volcano

Swapping the helicopter for a 4x4, today’s late-morning departure takes you to the outer slopes of Avachinsky, one of Kamchatka’s 29 active volcanoes. Avachinsky is one of the most active stratovolcanoes on the Kamchatka Peninsula. It consists of a younger cone inside the rim of an older caldera. Avachinsky has been classified as a Somma volcano based on its similarities with Vesuvius.

Day 10

Aug 3: Ascend Avachinsky Volcano

Set off early with your guide for the ascent of Avachinsky Volcano. You’ll be ascending from an elevation of 1,400m to the summit of 2,741m, in what is a steep but non-technical climb. Enjoy the panoramic views from atop the volcano, which take in Petropavlovsk-Kamchatsky, Avacha Bay, and the sprawling network of rugged tundra and mountain ranges which characterise this spectacular corner of Far East Russia. After descending Avachinsky, return by 4x4 to your guest house in Yelizovo.

Day 11

Aug 4: Contingency Day / Yelizovo

A contingency day allows for flexibility in case there is a no-fly day during the course of your stay. Make the most of your remaining time here with a range of optional excursions (at additional cost), or simply relax at your leisure at your guesthouse. One example of the aforementioned excursions is a group tour to the Valley of Geysers, where you'll board a helicopter and soar over the spectacular steaming scenery, including the Karymsky, Zhupanovsky, Avachinsky and Dzendzur volcanoes. You'll also be able to visit the Uzon Caldera to walk through this surreal volcanic landscape, before flying to Nalychevo Nature Park for a swim in the natural hot springs. Another example is a boat tour to Avacha Bay and Starichkov Island, where you'll be able to spot numerous seabird species including auklets, cormorants, gulls, common murres, tufted puffins, black-legged kittiwakes and Steller's sea eagles.

Day 12

Aug 5: Depart Petropavlovsk-Kamchatsky

Your Kamchatka safari is now at an end, but there's still time to soak in as much of Far East Russia as you can before flying over the landscape for the last time (at least for now) on your international flight home.

Trip Details

Trip Dates & Prices

This is a small group safari departing on a single set date in July 2019.

Please note that the pricing shown is based on a minimum of 6 and a maximum of 10 travellers, and is subject to change. A single supplement can be paid for the nights in Yelizovo only. Guests must share in all other locations.

2019 Departure Price
Jul 25 - Aug 5 £6,980
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