Kamchatka, Russia Photosafari from 1-13th Sept 2020

Kamchatka, the Land of Fire and Ice.

Kamchatka is one of the most spectacular regions in Russia. The peninsula occupies an area that is equivalent to the size California. This area has more than 160 volcanoes out of which 29 are active. Geysers and hot springs marked the land. In fact it lies in the Great Pacific Rim of Fire. The large variation in climatic zones encourages the growth of a great variety of flora and fauna. Brown bears and other animals also call this place home.

Until 1990, no foreigners are allowed to visit this place. It was in 1991 that this place was eventually opened to tourists and foreign visitor. Exploring Kamchatka used to be reserved for the rich. There are no roads, tracks or railway. The only way you can see Kamchatka then was to hire a helicopter.

Today, Kamchatka has opened up, roads and tracks were built into the interior and lodging houses with modern facilities started sprouting up. This place is still unspoilt and not many foreigners have visited it. Here is your chance to take part in this adventure of a lifetime.

We will be moving from one place to another by 6WD vehicles (Kamaz) remodelled into comfortable buses. The team will be led by two experience photographers, a local nature guide, a professional chef, a camp assistant and a local hunter armed with rifle. We are trying to make this tour as comfortable, well equipped, self-contained, and safely as possible.

We will also be visiting the famous Bear Reserve at Kurilskoe Lake where you can watch the brown bears catching migrating salmons at close range.

Kamchatka – UNESCO Heritage Site

This is one of the most outstanding volcanic regions in the world, with a high density of active volcanoes, a variety of types, and a wide range of related features. The six sites included in the serial designation group together and most volcanic features of the Kamchatka Peninsula. The interplay of active volcanoes and glaciers forms a dynamic landscape of great beauty. The sites contain great species diversity, including the world’s largest known variety of salmonoid fish and exceptional concentrations of sea otter, brown bear and Stellar’s sea eagle.

Tolbachik Volcano Reserve

Tolbachik Volcanic Complex has a long history of volcano eruptions. On November 27, 2012 a strombolian type eruption started from two fissures. Basaltic lava flows move relatively fast, and quickly flooded buildings 4 km away. The eruption continued for more than a month, as lava continued to flow from the fissures. Lava flowed up to 20 km (12 miles) from the line of fissures on the volcano’s southern flank. 

The stark volcanic landscape after this eruption is what photographers come for. This area provides for good landscape opportunities of the volcanic eruption not seen in many parts of the world.

Kurilskoe Lake Brown Bear Reserve

Kurilskoe Lake or Kurile Lake is located about 500km from Petropavlovsk-Kamchatsky. We will have to cross a few rivers by ferries in order to get there. This is where the largest brown bear population in the world is located. Summer and early autumn are the times where the brown bears feed and fattened up on their diet of salmons. You can witness large groups of bears along the river catching their food.

Please note that the Kurilskoe Lake Park Entrance Fees of $650US per person for 3 days at the park and the boat ride fees to places of photography together with armed Rangers are $170US per person. These National Park entrance fees and boat fees are not included in our price. You will have to pay for it six (6) months before departure. Armed Park Rangers will accompany the group inside this Bear Reserve.


Kamchatka is a relatively new National Park. Although there are road tracks being constructed, tourism has not reached this area. There are a camping stations being established within the national park to make it as comfortable for visitors as possible.  Two person tents are provided for each participant, Kitchen and Mass Hall Tents are included. Also provided are sleeping bags (please bring your own sleeping bag if you want to have a personalised sleeping bag), mattresses, and drinking water.

We will hire a cook to cook all our meals when we are out in the national park. A modern day camping experience will be provided. We will also hire a camping assistant to help us set up tents and other service work where necessary.

An outdoor camping shower will be set up and other camping comforts. Most nature reserved campsites will provide rudimentary toilets, Generators are provided for charging the batteries at the campsites.

However, there will have a few nights that we will be staying in Hotels city or lodging houses in villages.

Temperatures in the evening will drop to sub-zero deg. C. So be prepared with your warm clothing.

Food and drinks

Cooked food and bottled water will be provided during the camping period. If you have any special diet requirements, please let us know. It is advisable that you bring along some comfort food like instant noodles, biscuits, chocolates, canned foods, sambal prawns etc.

What equipment do you need?

  • A backpack
  • Camping lights
  • Raincoat
  • Warm clothing
  • Warm gloves and scarves
  • Sleeping bag – optional unless you want your own personalised sleeping bag.
  • Comfortable trekking shoes.
  • Slippers for taking showers etc.
  • Rubber boots for walking near the lake
  • Crampons for walking on glaciers
  • Hat or cap
  • Water bottle
  • Trekking stick if you have.
  • Mosquito netting and repellent. There are less mosquitoes towards September

Photography Equipment Required

  • Camera and a spare body.
  • Ultra-wides for landscape photography
  • It is best if you have any telephoto lens that is longer than 500mm for wildlife photography
  • A 70-200mm with a tele converter will be suitable if you do not have anything more than 400mm in focal length
  • Charger
  • Power banks
  • Tripods
  • Lots of spare batteries

Trip difficulty

The trip difficulty is moderate. There will be some trekking up to the volcanoes and places of interest. However, this is optional. For those who do not want to join the trekking, you can shoot around the campsite. This trip is like going back to the basics to enjoy the raw and virgin environment where not many people have thread. For those who love the great outdoors and nature, this is a trip not to be missed.

How do you get there?

There is a flight from Kuala Lumpur to Incheon, Korea from there, you need to book another flight from Incheon (ICN) to Petropavlovsk-Kamchatsky (PKC). This was the route we took during our last trip.

KUL – Incheon
Incheon to Kamchatka


Day 1 (1st Sep) Petropavlovsk-Kamchatsky (D)

  • Arrive at Petropavlovsk Airport
  • Check-in Hotel at Petropavlovsk
  • Visit Volcano Studies Museum, a unique museum dedicated to Volcano studies
  • Welcome Dinner
  • Briefing and discussion of finer points of photographing in Kamchatka.

Day 2 (2nd Sep) – Petropavlovsk – Tolbachik (B,L,D)

  • Breakfast
  • Start of adventure
  • Travel to Tolbachik Volcano Reserve (8 hours)
  • Lunch on the way
  • Set up camp
  • Dinner
  • Briefing on next day’s program

Day 3 (3rd Sep) Tolbachik Volcano Reserve (B,L,D)

  • Sunrise shoot
  • Breakfast
  • Visit the dead zone.
  • Lunch
  • Visit more areas around the dead zone.
  • Dinner
  • Briefing for next day’s program

Day 4 (4th Sep) Tolbachik Volcano Reserve (B,L,D)

  • Breakfast
  • We will visit the volcano lava flows
  • Lunch
  • Sunset shoot
  • Dinner

Day 5 (5th Sep) – Tolbachik to Kozyrevsk (B,L,D)

  • Very early breakfast
  • Break camp
  • Check in to lodging house at Kozyrevsk
  • Lunch
  • Go around Kozyrevsk village
  • Dinner

Day 6 (6th Sep) – Petropavlovsk-Kamchatsky (B,L,D)

  • Breakfast
  • Kozyresvsk to Petropavlocsk-Kamchatsky
  • Lunch
  • Relaxing day at PK
  • Dinner

 Day 7 (7th Sep) – Kurilskoe (B,L,D)

  • Breakfast
  • Drive to Kurilskoe Lake
  • Lunch on the way
  • Camp on the way or Pauzhetka depending on the timing.

Day 8 (8th Sep) – Kurilskoe (B,L,D)

  • Breakfast
  • Travel to Kurilskoe Lake Bear Reserve
  • Lunch on the way
  • Arrive at Kurilskoe Lake
  • Set up camp
  • Dinner.

Day 9 (9th Sep) – Kurilskoe (B,L,D)

  • Breakfast
  • Today we will use a motor-boat on the lake waters to the brown bears fishing places. You will witness the Far Eastern salmon migration and watch bird colonies. This lake located in the Southern Kamchatka Peninsula is included as part the UNESCO World Heritage Site.
  • On one side of the lake, there is the gorgeous Ilyinskiy volcano of almost perfect shape. During the eruption, lava streams were going down right inside the Kuril Lake changing the landscape and creating picturesque coves and bays. In the center of the lake, there is a rocky island “Heart of Alaid resembling a heart in shape. On the islands in the middle of the lake, there is one of the biggest colonies of the Pacific seagullsin the fresh waters.

Day 10 (10th Sep) – Kurilskoe Lake (B,L,D)

  • Breakfast
  • Transfer to another place in the bear reserve where there are lots of opportunity to photograph the brown bears feeding on the migrating salmon.
  • Dinner

Day 11 (11th Sep) – Kurilskoe Lake – Pauzhetka (B,L,D)

  • Breakfast
  • Break camp
  • Transfer to Pauzhetka lodging house. This place has a hot spring.
  • Lunch
  • Explore Pauzhetka village. This village was set up when they were building the geothermal electric plant.
  • Dinner

Day 12 (12th Sep) Petropavlovsk-Kamchatsky (B,L,D)

  • We will start early in the morning for Petropavlovsk-Kamchatsky
  • Lunch on the way
  • Check-in hotel on reaching PK
  • Last minute shopping at PK
  • Farewell dinner

Day 13 (13 Sep) – Departure for home (B)

  • Breakfast
  • Departure for home.

There are only 10 places available. If you are interested, please contact, [email protected] for reservation and further details.

Photo Gallery

Tolbachik Volcano Reserve
Sunrise at Reserve
Tolbachik Volcano Reserve
Friendly marmot at the volcano reserve
Tolbachik Volcano Reserve
6 Wheeler Army truck (Kamaz) converted into a comfortable transport
Milky Way shot at campsite
Mother and baby brown bears shot at Kurile Lake Bear Reserve
Brown bear catching salmon
Brown bears fattening itself before the long winter
Brown bear up close
Bear cubs
Camping experience.