Kamchatka: Nature’s Tour de Force
Tour Date: 9 July 2017 – 27 July 2017
Tour Duration: 19 days
Tour Cost ($AUD): $16,950
Single Supplement ($AUD): $2,270
Closed to the outside world until 1993, both Vladivostok and the Kamchatka Peninsula remain largely untraversed by the mass tourism that so often destroys what were once unique destinations. This is at once a journey that explores both a unique indigenous culture as well as an astounding ‘tour de force” of nature.
The tour starts in one of the least visited capitals of Asia, Seoul, where centuries-old palaces sit comfortably with modern, glitzy shopping malls. But it is the day that we head to the 38th parallel that steals the show. The border that separates North Korea (DPRK) with South Korea is undoubtedly one of the most tense in the world. Entering the Demilitarised Zone and the Joint Security Area, we walk around the negotiating table to briefly enter the DPRK! From Seoul we take a short flight to the Russian Far East and the beautiful city of Vladivostok, home to the massive Russian Pacific Fleet and the easterly starting point of the Trans-Siberian railway line. Flying north to Petropavlovsk, capital of the Kamchatka Peninsula, we experience a dizzying introduction into one of the great show-stopping sanctuaries on the planet. Here, in this fish-shaped region known as the ‘Land of Fire and Ice’, are found 159 volcanos, 29 of which are active. A magnificent mingling of these volcanoes, mountains, glaciers and taiga forests, forms an artistry of landscape and beauty that is both overwhelming and exhilarating. Laced with incomparable fauna and flora which includes vast populations of the Kamchatka Brown Bear, as well as fascinating indigenous peoples, the Kamchatka Peninsula manages to exhaust all superlatives.
Tour Fitness Level: Active
- Visit to the 38th parallel, border between North and South Korea
- Boat trip on Vladivostok’s Golden Horn Bay
- Visit to Siberian Tigers Rehabilitation Centre
- Stroll through Vladivostok’s historic rail station, the eastern starting point of the Trans-Siberian railway line
- Fly into Kamchatka’s capital, Petropavlovsk, ringed by mountains, volcanoes and the Pacific Ocean
- Explore Avacha Bay, with its rare bird-life and killer whales
- See Petropavlovsk’s magnificent skyline from Starichkov Island
- Journey overland to the heart of Kamchatka
- Stay three nights in the Switzerland of Kamchatka, Esso
- Visit the indigenous community of the Koryak and Even people at Anavgay
- Take a helicopter flight into a remote nomadic reindeer breeding settlement
- See Kamchatka’s amazing panorama of volcanoes at a remote mountain lake
- Enjoy a two-night stay at Dvuhyurtochnoye Lake and see Kamchatka bears feast on salmon spawn
- Explore the alpine larch forests of Esso
- Take a scenic helicopter flight into the ‘Valley of the Geysers’
- All flights between Australia and Petropavlovsk (inc domestic from your preferred capital city)
- All accommodation (twin-share)
- All ticketable air taxes (may be subject to change)
- All transfers
- Two Helicopter flights within Kamchatka
- All meals as specified
- Travel Directors’ tour leader throughout
- Expert local guides
- All entrance fees in specified sightseeing
- All visas and courier fees
- All tips and gratuities
Please note that whilst every effort will be made to adhere to the above pricing, currency fluctuations beyond our control can affect final costs. A booking form is to be completed by all passengers, and a non-refundable deposit of AUD $3,000 per person paid at the time of booking. All escorted tours are based on a minimum group size of 10 people travelling.
09/07/2017 Australia – Singapore
Depart Australia from your chosen capital city on the flight to Singapore.
10/07/2017 Singapore – Seoul (LD)
On arrival in Singapore we connect with our flight to Seoul.
Depart Singapore SQ 608 00.10
Arrive Seoul 07.45
After clearing customs we transfer to our hotel in the trendy district of Itaewon. Almost flattened during the Korean War, Seoul has risen from the ashes to become one of Asia’s great cities. As the political, financial, and cultural hub of South Korea, Seoul’s busy streets are lined with boisterous nightclubs, trendy stores and budget-friendly restaurants. Yet reminders of Seoul’s patrician past still linger on beneath the high rises and 12-lane freeways. Centuries-old royal palaces, imposing gateways and ornate pagodas provide visitors with an inside peek into Seoul’s aristocratic society. Our city tour this afternoon takes in all the major sights of this bustling city.
11/07/2017 Seoul – DMZ (BLD)
Perhaps one of the most exciting trips in the world today is a visit to Panmunjom, the Demilitarised Zone with North Korea. North and South Korea were the last two divided countries in the world and armies totalling two million men line this border. Tensions are always high here. We enter the Joint Security Area and even walk around the negotiating table into North Korea!
12/07/2017 Seoul – Vladivostok (BD)
This morning we transfer to the airport for our flight to Vladivostok.
Depart Seoul Korean Airlines KE 981, 10.10
Arrive Vladivostok 13.50
After completing customs and immigration formalities we transfer to our hotel in the heart of Vladivostok. During the years of Soviet rule, Vladivostok was a closed city. For that reason, tourism in this far eastern Russian city is still in its infancy. The city was discovered in 1859 and quickly became a military outpost protecting Russia’s eastern frontier. The port’s natural inlet is called Golden Horn Bay, due to its resemblance to Turkey’s Golden Horn in Istanbul.
13/07/2017 Vladivostok (BLD)
In the morning we explore this beautiful city, which has often been likened to Naples and San Francisco. After lunch we take a boat ride around the harbour. There are three distinct harbour areas: the fishing harbour, naval base and the commercial port, which stretches along Golden Horn Bay. Afterwards we head to Amursky Bay for a panoramic view of Vladivostok.
14/07/2017 Vladivostok (BLD)
Today we drive 60km out of Vladivostok to Primorsky Safari Park. Originally designed as a safe haven for injured animals, the park, which is 40,000 square kms, welcomes visitors to see Siberian tigers, Siberian stag, dappled deer, roe deer, wild boar, black bear, brown bear, wolf, fox and other wild animals in their natural habitat.
15/07/2017 Vladivostok – Petropavlovsk (BD)
Depart Vladivostok Siberian Airlines SU 5616, 12.50
Arrive Petropavlovsk 18.05
After breakfast we transfer to the airport for our flight to the capital of the Kamchatka Peninsula – Petropavlovsk. As our flight begins its descent into Petropavlovsk, we are treated to the astounding sight of the city surrounded by mountains and punctuated by three snow-capped three volcanoes. On our arrival we transfer to our hotel.
Nachalnik Kamchatki Hotel
16/07/2017 Petropavlovsk (BLD)
The city of Petropavlovsk was founded by Vitus Bering, the leader of the First Kamchatka Expedition, in 1740. Home to the Russian Pacific Fleet, a major submarine base, the whole area was one of the most secret and restricted in the Soviet Union. It was closed to foreigners and Soviet citizens until 1993, but today it is a city of 250,000 people. This morning we start to explore the capital of Kamchatka.
17/07/2017 Petropavlovsk – Esso (BLD)
After breakfast we start our 530km journey through the extraordinary Kamchatka peninsula. We stop at Milkovo, a quaint Cossack village perched on the banks of the mighty Kamchatka River. The village is the warmest spot in Kamchatka and after lunch we visit the old Cossack fort before continuing to the alpine town of Esso. Here an abundance of geothermal activity allows free heating for all residents throughout the town and ensures that it is a wonderful destination in both summer and winter.
18/07/2017 Esso (BLD)
Known as the Switzerland of Kamchatka, Esso is a beautiful town of 2,500 people, where Russian Cossacks live alongside the indigenous people of the Peninsula – the Koryak and Even. As a result, a vibrant culture thrives and offers a fascinating glimpse of a way of life that has been astonishingly well preserved. After exploring Esso we continue on to the nearby settlement of Anavgay, which is almost exclusively the home of the Koryak and Even people. These people believe that the universe is divided into upper, middle and lower worlds and that constellations are like people. Their dwellings represent a mythological model of the world, particularly the pole-ladder, which stands in the middle of the home and symbolises the connection between the lower and upper worlds. In the late afternoon we return to Esso.
19/07/2017 Esso – Reindeer breeders – Esso (BLD)
This morning we board our helicopter for an amazing flight over a surreal and spectacular landscape, to visit the nomadic reindeer breeders. Here, in this pristine wilderness area, the nomadic ‘Even’ people still cling precariously to their traditional way of life. The Evens came to the Kamchatka peninsula from the Okhotsk region with a small number of reindeer and were hunters and fishermen. However they soon understood the lucrative business of reindeer breeding, and today they rely on the reindeer for their core survival which includes food, clothing, shelter and transportation. We have a unique opportunity to interact with these extraordinary people, visiting their cone shaped homes that are known as chums, which are very similar to the tepees of the American Indians.
20/07/2017 Esso – Azabache Lake (BLD)
This morning we leave Esso and drive to Azabache Mountain Lake. As we ascend towards the lake, a magnificent panorama unfolds before us, as the Klyuchevskaya volcano group, and volcanoes Shiveluch and Alney Chashakondzha, come into view. After lunch we walk to the shore of the lake where we may see bears catching fish. We also have the chance to bath in the nearby hot springs. Tonight we feast on freshly caught salmon.
Tourist wooden chalets
21/07/2017 Azabache Lake (BLD)
The Kamchatka bear can weigh up to 600kg with a length of 2.5 metres. Their extreme dark brown colour is due to their salmon diet, which is rich in oils and minerals. They also eat berries and small rodents. Kamchatka peninsula has more than 14,000 rivers and streams which support six species of sockeye salmon, the food base of the brown bear. The spawning season is from July to March – an extraordinary length of time – resulting in Kamchatka having the highest concentration of bears in Russia. Large groups can often be seen patrolling the shoreline of the lake.
22/07/2017 Azabache Lake – Esso (BLD)
This morning we make our way back to Esso and in the afternoon we hike into the nearby larch forests. The riverbeds are lined with alder trees and willows as well as Japanese pine. In fact, more than 1,000 species of plants thrive in the short summer of this alpine environment.
23/07/2017 Esso – Petropavlovsk (BLD)
This morning we return to Petropavlovsk arriving at lunchtime.
Nachalnik Kamchatki Hotel
24/07/2017 Petropavlovsk – Starichkov Island – Petropavlovsk (BLD)
This morning we leave Petropavlovsk by boat to explore Avacha Bay and Starichkov Island. The major sea gate to Kamchatka, Avacha is one of the largest bays in the world and is home to the Russian Pacific fleet. Here, in one of the most beautiful aquatic icons of Kamchatka, large seals, whales and killer whales can be found. We continue on to the southern section of the bay to where Starichkov Island is located. Bounded by the Pacific Ocean, the island is home to massive colonies of sea birds such as the rare red-faced cormorant, sooty guillemot and murrelet.
25/07/2017 Petropavlovsk – Valley of the Geysers – Petropavlovsk (BLD)
Perhaps the centrepiece of our Kamchatka experience is the day spent at the Valley of the Geysers. A 90-minute helicopter flight brings us to perhaps the most active regions of the so called ‘Pacific Ring of Fire’. Here a landscape of taiga forests, rivers and lakes combine with the fantastic grandeur of mountain ranges and active volcanos. The valley is hidden inside a wall of a canyon where mud pools, geysers and thermal springs erupt through the valley floor. We thread our way through this unbelievable biosphere via boardwalks, which allow us to explore a world that was discovered only in 1941. The ‘Volcanos of Kamchatka’ World Heritage site continues to astound researchers and visitors from all over the world. In the evening we return to Petropavlovsk.
26/07/2017 Petropavlovsk – Vladivostok (B)
After breakfast we transfer to the airport for our homeward flight.
Depart Petropavlovsk Siberian Airlines S7 3212, 09.35
Arrive Vladivostok 11.05
Depart Vladivostok KE 982, 14.50
Arrive Seoul 16.30
Depart Seoul SQ 603, 23.20
27/07/2017 Singapore – Australia
Arrive Singapore 04.40
In Singapore we connect with the flight to our chosen destination in Australia.