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The Best of Kamchatka - Volcanoes and the Inhabitants of the Peninsula

 

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Preliminary Tour Itinerary

Itinerary: Petropavlovsk-Kamchatsky, Paratunka Valley, Avacha Volcano, Mutnovsky and Gorely Volcanoes, Village of Pimchakh, Lake Kuril.
Duration: 15 days

Day 1: Arrival in Petropavlovsk-Kamchatsky and tour of Paratunka. 
On the morning of the arrival to Petropavlovsk-Kamchatsky, the capital of the Kamchatka Region, an IBEX representative will greet you, and you will transfer by bus to Paratunka, a resort village famous for its numerous thermal springs and located about 15 miles from the airport. The Paratunka Valley, just a 45 minute drive from Petropavlovsk-Kamchatsky, is a wonderland of geothermal activity including hot springs, mineral pools and sprouting geysers. After a welcoming lunch you will have the opportunity to tour the city of Petropavlovsk-Kamchatsky. In the evening, the group will dine at a local restaurant, and afterwards you may want to relax in the thermal pool before retiring for a restful night in the resort hotel.

Day 2. Tour the Valley of Geysers (optional).

Breakfast at the hotel.Tour the Valley of Geysers* Today, you will take a helicopter tour to the Valley of Geysers, including a flight over Karymsky (4875 ft) and Maly Semyachik Volcanoes (5118 ft). Stroll through this wonder world of nature's treasures hidden deep in the mountains of Kamchatka. A lunch-picnic is included. The helicopter flight to the Valley of Geysers takes about 75 minutes. The valley's geysers include a few with large but brief periodic eruptions, and many more which produce hot water spouts frequently or almost continuously. The boardwalk snakes over the Valley. Accommodations at the Antarius Paratunka Valley Hotel.

* Optional, additional fee. In 2012 the price for this one-day excursion was about $1,000.

Day 3. Drive South alongside the Sea of Okhotsk.
After breakfast, you will set out on a two-day drive to Lake Kuril. The all-terrain bus will travel along on the beautiful coast of the Sea of Okhotsk. On the way, you will experience ferry crossings over several major rivers, explore the coastal terrain and see abandoned fishing villages. That night you will sleep in comfortably rustic accommodations in a tent camp.

Day 4. Drive to the Lake Kuril.
Continuing south along the coast of the Sea of Okhotsk, you will arrive at Pauzhetka, where you will -in the area on an optional and tour the geothermal power plant operating since 1966 to learn about local green energy resources. You will also have the opportunity to visit fumaroles in the area on an optional excursion, or you may choose to stay back and relax at the camp.

Day 5.Drive to Lake Kuril.
Start the morning with a hike to Lake Kuril on a 6.5- mile scenic path along the river that brings you to the base camp on Lake Kuril. Your luggage will be transferred to the base camp on the lake.

In the afternoon, a guide will lead an ecological excursion along Lake Kuril. You will explore the unique ecosystem of the South of Kamchatka and learn about sustainable nature use. Masses of red salmon gather in the shallow water before going to the spawning grounds, and you will observe this natural phenomenon from the observation bridge at the viewing grounds.
The salmon also attract a great number of birds of prey and waterfowl, including the Steller's sea eagles and mergansers, and mammals -- bear, otter, fox, ermine, and glutton. In the afternoon, you will arrive at the source of the Ozernaya River at Kuril Lake, where the field station of the Kamchatka Institute for Fishery and Oceanography is located.

You will learn first-hand about the work of ichthyologists and rangers of the nature sanctuary engaged in protecting the salmon spawning grounds and bear population.

Day 6. Tour Lake Kuril.
Excursions on Lake Kuril guided by an English-speaking guide biologist and a ranger of Nature Sanctuary. Photograph brown bears fishing salmon. Some changes in the excursion program may be made depending on weather conditions and other local factors. During the excursions, you will have an occasion to observe and photograph bears in different habitats: along the riverbanks, spawning grounds, tundra, etc. The guides will acquaint you with the major methods of field observations of brown bears. During the daily excursions and talks, you will learn about various aspects of bear ecology and behavior in wild nature. In the evenings, there will be an opportunity to discuss the findings of your field observations. Overnight at the tented camp.

Day 7. Tour Lake Kuril.
Observe marine birds, seals and (with luck) sea otters. Easy trekking in mountains. In the evening, excursion to the geothermic power station. Hike back to the boundary of the Nature Sanctuary along the river Ozernaya and then short drive by 6WD bus to Pauzhetka. Swimming in warm river. Dinner and overnight in the tented camp on the river bank.

Day 8. Transfer to Petropavlovsk- Kamchatsky.
This will be a long day. We will travel almost 300 miles and cross several rivers. Transfer to the village of Ozernovsky. Drive to the Okhotskoe shore. Observe marine birds, seals and (with luck) sea otters. Continue to Paratunka along the sea coast through the fishermen village of Oktyabr'sky. Dinner and overnight in the hotel with thermal pool.

Day 9. Avacha Bay.
The city Petropavlovsk-Kamchatsky grew next to the almost ideal deep-water seaport the Avacha Bay. The bay is large and deep, with a narrow opening that keeps out foul weather and ice. The harbor is well protected from storms and dreaded tsunami waves and open to shipping year round. Enjoy spectacular views of the Northwest part of Petropavlovsk-Kamchatsky along with a variety of boats that make their home in the port. Both Koryaksky and Avacha Volcanoes are clearly seen behind the city. Explore nesting places of sea birds at the Babushkin Kamen (Old Woman's Stone) Island,Tri Brata (Three Brothers) Island.

 

Day 10. Mutnovsky and Gorely Volcanoes.
Breakfast at the hotel. Transfer by 6WD vehicle to the caldera between the Mutnovsky and Gorely Volcanoes (about 4 hrs). The road passes by the Vilyuchinsky Volcano, a favorite place for downhill skiing for Kamchatka dwellers (quite often you may see snow even in July). Lunch en route. Dinner, overnight at the tented base camp.

Day 11. Mutnovsky and Gorely Volcanoes.
Breakfast. Hike (without backpacks) to the Mutnovsky Volcano (about 12 hours). Hike into the crater of the Mutnovsky active volcano through a crack in the volcano's edge.
The Mutnovsky active volcano, being a nest of merged craters, is perhaps the most beautiful volcanic phenomenon of Kamchatka. The view from its top is magnificent: steep walls surrounding the vast and deep crater cavity, glittering of firm and sparkling glaciers split by cracks, torches of fumaroles oscillating far below and drawing a translucent view over the northern crater, the southern crater under its armor of ice and above all this a column of vapor rising from the Active Funnel crater, surrounded by a cogged crest. The crater contains a lake of bitter whitish water and two groups of powerful fumaroles. Near the crater, there are vast mud pits. The total distance of hiking during this day is 14 miles. Picnic lunch. Return to the base camp. Dinner, overnight in the tented base camp.

Day 12. Mutnovsky and Gorely Volcanoes.
Breakfast. Ascend and hiking excursion to the chain of craters of the Gorely Volcano. The Gorely is a massive shield volcano with three separate craters. At the end of the Pleistocene, all that was left from Gorely was a huge 8- by 7-mile caldera filled with lava from earlier eruptions. Between 6,000 and 2,000 years ago, Gorely became a quiet volcano with occasional explosive eruptions and a few lava flows. Gorely has a height of 1,097 feet and comprises three merged cones, about 11 craters and 40 volcanic vents. During the historical time, the volcano has erupted about 10 times. The latest eruption in 1986 was characterized by weak activity. Currently, the most intensive fumarolic activity is concentrated in the central crater of the volcano. The Central crater has a telescopic structure with steep walls up to 300 feet high composed of lava rock. Located atop the Gorely volcanic massif on the bottom of the active funnel, an acid lake impresses visitors with the intense blue color of its water. Following a picnic lunch, an afternoon hiking excursion will lead you to the chain of craters of the Gorely Volcano. All the craters can be visited in a single day, when the weather is favorable. The hiking distance is 12 miles, but the route is not difficult. The excursion takes about 8 hours. In the afternoon transfer by 6WD car to Paratunka.

Day 13. Avachinsky volcano.
Transfer by 6WD vehicle to the bottom of the Avacha Volcano along the Sukhaya River. The Avacha Volcano, also known as Avachinskaya Sopka, is an active stratovolcano that provides breathtaking backdrop to the capital of the Kamchatka Krai, Petropavlovsk-Kamchatsky. It is one of the most active volcanoes on the Kamchatka Peninsula that began erupting in the middle to late Pleistocene era. It has a horseshoe-shaped caldera, which formed 30,000 to 40,000 years ago in a major landslide. The landslide covered 193 square miles south of the volcano, including the land underneath the city of Petropavlovsk-Kamchatsky. Reconstruction of a new cone inside the caldera occurred in two major eruption phases, 18,000 and 7,000 years ago. From the plateau, you will take a leisurely 5- to 6-hour hike to the 8,953-feet high Avacha Volcano by a gradual slope to the top. You can walk at your own pace as you climb about 5,900 feet on a well-marked single trail. At the end of the trail, you will enjoy lunch on the edge of the crater with the stunning panorama of the Avacha Volcano, the Pacific Ocean, Petropavlovsk, the Koryaksky Volcano and the Nalycheva Valley. Dinner, overnight in a log cabin.

Day 14. Reserved day
Itelmens (Kamchadals).

The Itelmen, also known as Kamchadal, is an ethnic group of the original inhabitants living on the Kamchatka. Much reduced by conquest and epidemics, they have been largely Russianized since the 18th century and only about 3,000 now live on the peninsula. Traditional dancing and rituals are preserved by small group of enthusiasts.

Day 15. Transfer to the airport.

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