Etceterra Photo tours

Kuril Lake. Killer whales and ice caves of volcano Mutnovsky

Dates of the photo tour: August 12 – August 17, 2019 (Kuril Lake) + August 18 – August 23, 2019 (Ocean and Mutnovsky Volcano)

Conditions of participation  Photo tour program  General information

Have you dreamed to be among bears and to make their unique photos? Then this program is for you!
What awaits us:

– Close contact with animals, observing them in their natural environment.
– Living on the cordon of the South Kamchatka Federal Reserve of Tikhon Shpilenok. In the heart of the land of bears! We will go daily by motorboat and walk to the spawning rivers, where dozens of bears go fishing. Photographing takes place throughout the daylight hours.
– We will observe the bears from a fairly close distance, accompanied by an inspector of the reserve.
– We will live among volcanoes. Some of us can walk to Ilyinsky volcano area.

The travel format is expeditionary, which means that we will live part of the time in 2-3-person tents, which will allow us to get closer to wildlife and see its severity and beauty. There will be overnight stays at the hotel. Throughout the journey we will travel by jeeps. We will have all the necessary equipment with us: generator, kitchen tent, gas, boilers.



Photo Tour Location: Kamchatka
Dates of the photo tour: August 12 – August 17, 2019 (Kuril Lake) + August 18 – August 23, 2019 (Ocean and Mutnovsky Volcano)
Participation fee: $ 2890 (10 people) ,Ocean $ 668 + Mutnovsky and Gorely Volcano $ 858. If the group is smaller, the cost will be different. Discount -20% till 12 May
Prepayment: 500$ deposit to the Visa Card. The place is reserved if you have received confirmation of availability and paid the deposit. 100% deposit is held for 30 days before it starts. If the tour is canceled by guide due to extreme force majeure circumstances, then the money will be returned in full.
Number of days: 6 days / 5 nights + 6 days / 5 nights
Number of participants: 12 people
Type of photography: wildlife, landscape and night photography
Type of tour: photo tour
Difficulty level: easy
The professional level of the photographer: basic, knowledge of your camera, possession of manual camera settings
Training: Master classes in wildlife, landscape and night photography, lectures on photo processing
Photoguide: Elena Pakhalyuk
Guide: Maxim Fesyunov
Movement: car 4×4, boat
Accommodation: hotels and campings
Food: hotel and camping
We will visit: Halaktyrsky Beach, Pauzhetka, hot springs, Kuril Lake, Mutnovsky volcano, ice caves, Gorely volcano, Starichkov Island, Russian Bay




Day 1. Arrival. Meeting at the airport Elizovo. Hotel accommodation . Dinner.
Arrival and meeting at the airport Elizovo. Transfer and accommodation at the hotel. A trip to the Pacific Ocean, If desired, and acquaintance with the team: photo guide Elena Pakhalyuk, Kamchatka guide Maxim Fesyunov. Briefing and introductory lecture about the nature of Kamchatka. In the evening, if the weather conditions allow us and if the group desire we will walk along the ocean shore, along the black volcanic sand beach overlooking the majestic “home” volcanoes! Near the hotel there is a large selection of cafes where you can have a dinner.

Arrival at any time. The most convenient flight from Moscow by Aeroflot with arrival in Petropavlovsk-Kamchatsky at 10 am or by the Russian airline arriving at 11:45.
Accommodation: Hotel

Day 2. Journey to the Kuril Lake.
On the way there are 3 crossings. The first two ferry crossings and depend on the tides. The third – by ford. The road will take all day. In the evening – accommodation for the night in one of the guest houses with a great swimming pool. Dinner. Early in the morning, after breakfast at the hotel, we begin our journey to the country of bears – to Kuril Lake!
We will move to the village Pauzhetka. The road will pass along the western coast of Kamchatka and along the Sea of Okhotsk. We will force the Kamchatka rivers three times on special watercraft and another, fourth river (we will cross by ford) – by our 4×4 drive cars. An exciting road takes all day. In the evening – arrival to the village Pauzhetka and accommodation in a guest house with a fantastic thermal pool. Introductory lecture about the conservation of the fauna of the Kuril Lake.

Day 3. Arrival to the Kuril Lake.
In the morning, after breakfast, we will have a long journey to the border of the South Kamchatka Federal Reserve, included in the UNESCO List of Natural Heritage, and crossing over the Ozernaya River. Here we will leave our jeeps, load our things on the boat and go on a walking tour (12 km) to the Ozerny cordon, which is located on the shore of the Kurilskoe lake. Those who are not ready to hike through the forest full of bears 😉 can cross the lake by boat. The walking is carried out by guides and inspector, equipped with special protection.
We have lunch and set up a camping. After that, we will get acquainted with the surroundings at the cordon and go on an excursion to the fish-counting fence – a place that was chosen by brown bears. We photograph and observe the bears. Dinner.
Meals: breakfast, lunch, dinner.
Accommodation: Camping

Day 4. Bears on the Kuril Lake. Shooting day
On this day, we will hike along the coast of the Kuril Lake and visit the northern bays of the lake. In the afternoon, we will take a boat ride along the coast so that our photos were taken not from a single angle =).
Kuril Lake, being the third largest lake in Kamchatka, it is a home to the most significant breeding ground for sockeye in the world. The Kamchat NIRO observation station, which is located near our camp, takes into account the fish entering the lake, watching the fry. As a result of a rich forage base, during the period of spawning of red fish, the population of brown bears here reaches several hundred, which is more than anywhere else in the world. Bears are accustomed to people, so communication with them is very close, of course, under the supervision of our guides, experts and park inspectors.
Dinner at the cordon and night in camping.
Meals: breakfast, lunch, dinner.
Accommodation: Camping

Day 5. Kuril Lake and Pauzhetka
Before lunch, we will photograph the bears. Once again we go to the fish-counting fence to observe the bears again. Next we have lunch and go to Pauzhetka. On the way, we visit the nature monument, the weathering cliffs of Kuthina Bata.
After arriving by jeep in Pauzhetka, visiting thermal and mud volcanoes, excursion to Pauzhetskaya geothermal station. Bathing in hot springs.
Dinner and overnight in the village of Pauzhetka, in a guest house with a thermal pool.
Meals: breakfast, lunch, dinner.
Accommodation: guest house.

Day 6. Return to Petropavlovsk.
Breakfast. Departure to the city. The journey back will also take all day. Arrival is possible late at night.
After breakfast and morning thermal baths, we set off in jeeps back to Petropavlovsk. We will make several short stops along the way, lunch will be on the way. Return to Petropavlovsk-Kamchatsky and check-in at the hotel.
Depending on the time of arrival in the city and the degree of fatigue, for dinner we will go to one of the nearest cafes near the hotel or lie down to rest and gain strength.
Meals: breakfast.
Accommodation: Hotel



Day 7. Sea trip.
*Group minimum 10 people.
2 days (Day 7 and 8).
Food and overnight at the camping – included.

Breakfast and early departure to the starting point of the sea journey to the Island of Starichkov and to the Russian Bay. At 8 am, we will more out from the pier on our pleasure boat and headed for the exit from the Avacha Bay to the Pacific Ocean. Observation of bird markets. Along the way, fishing and lunch. In the afternoon we will already be able to see the rookery of sea lions and we will photograph killer whales. The probability of seeing killer whales on our route is high.
In the picturesque bay of Russian, we will go ashore. For the night we will find a cozy and peaceful place, drop anchor for the night parking. Dinner on the boat and night at the campsite.
Meals: breakfast, lunch, dinner. Will be fresh crabs and fish.
Overnight: camping on the beach



Day 8. Sivuchi and Killer Whales in the Pacific
We dedicate this day to observing marine life, large quantities of sea lions. Seals, sea roars, killer whales, porpoises (dolphin-like animals, but related to the suborder of toothed whales) and even humpback whales are also found in these waters. Those interested can dive into the ocean with a mask. The water in the Pacific Ocean is cold, about 3 – 7 degrees, so diving is recommended only in a wetsuit (we will rent for you wetsuits for your application). As an alternative to snorkeling, you can put on a mask and from the stern area of our vessel you can briefly dive your head under the water, appreciating the local underwater life.
Lunch on the boat. Return to Petropavlovsk and check-in at the hotel. Dinner in a cafe.
Meals: breakfast, lunch
Accommodation: Hotel.

Day 9. Mutnovsky volcano and famous ICE CAVES of volcano.
*Minimum 4 people.
4 days (Day 9-12)
Camping and meals included.

Early rise, breakfast. Departure to the volcano Mutnovsky. Radial exit to the crater and to the fumarole field. Visit the waterfall Opasny. Setting the camp near the house “Vakina”.
Meals: breakfast, snack, dinner.
Accommodation: camping.

Day 10. Shooting snow caves near Mutnovsky volcano.
Those who wish can climb Gorely volcano.
Meals: breakfast, snack, dinner.
Accommodation: Camping

Day 11. Shoot the dawn and return to the city.
Shooting dawn. Breakfast and return to the city. Dinner at the Cafe.
Meals: breakfast
Accommodation: Hotel.

Day 12. Transfer to the airport. Departure.
Breakfast. Airport transfer. On the way we visit the fish market, where you can buy high-quality Kamchatka seafood. Visiting the market is also possible on the first day.
Departure home.
Meals: breakfast.




The tour includes:

• accommodation in hotels and campings
• transport in accordance with the program: 4×4 off-road cars with air conditioning and experienced drivers, all transfers, fuel
• breakfasts, lunches, snacks and dinners
• equipment for fishing
• guide services, drivers, cooks
• rent of tourist equipment
• master class (Photo Workshop) – landscape, night, panoramic and macro shooting
• photo processing lectures
• photo guide services


Not included:

• medical insurance
• flight to Petropavlovsk-Kamchatsky and back
• Lunches and dinners in cafes that are not listed in the program.
• single occupancy
• alcohol
• extra travel days.
• boat on the Kuril Lake

IMPORTANT! On the Kuril Lake we will photograph bears from the traditional place to the breeding ground, where the boat will take us, and from the non-traditional places that are located along the shore and in the forest. Depending on the nature of the reserve and weather conditions, our route may vary. Permit issued already in place. Therefore, the ADDITIONAL boat for the transfer to the spawning area is paid separately on arrival at the lake. For the whole group the cost of the additional boat is 1040$.


You must take with you:

• Clothing sets for the weather conditions, including light clothing sets (shorts, T-shirts) and warm clothes (fleece, pants, wind-proof jacket), as well as long-sleeved shirts
• thermal underwear
• hats for different weather conditions: a baseball cap / sun hat and a mountain cap with a windstop for climbing
• buff
• bathing suits / swimming trunks
• rain cover
• trekking indoor shoes for climbing and comfortable lightweight shoes (sneakers) for walking
• Sleeping bag at a comfort temperature of 0 / + 5 degrees
• Personal care products
• Personal Medicines
• sun and wind protection products (cream), sunglasses
• anti-mosquito hat (optional)
• repellents: sprays, creams
• a large backpack for things (or a suitcase)
• small backpack for radial exits (25 – 30 l)
• trekking poles
• Head Torch
• Photo and video equipment, spare batteries
• germopaket (desirable)
• thermos (optional)


What Photo equipment to bring with you:

Wide and telezum lenses
Macro lens
Trigger cable
Polarizing filter
Gradient filter
ND filters
Be sure to protect the camera from moisture (fog, rain, waves at sea), if it requires it!
2-3 batteries
2-3 flash cards with a total capacity of at least 64 GB
Optical cleaners
Photo backpack
You can take a laptop

For any questions please contact:

Elena Pakhalyuk
Ambassador Olympus
Member of Union of Wildlife Photographers of  Russia

 ATTENTION! Depending on the unpredictable weather conditions, as well as the general decision of the group, the program of the photo tour can be changed! 


Join now! It will be very interesting!


*Special thanks to our guide Maksim for the photos of bears!!!