The vast wilderness of Russia’s Kamchatka peninsula is perhaps one of the great unknowns for even experienced outdoor enthusiasts. Understandably, too; as well as being pretty remote (it’s a 4,000 mile, 10 hour flight from Moscow) little more than a decade ago it was a military zone almost completely closed to outsiders. Considering it’s about as big as Austria, Germany and Switzerland rolled into one, this photography tour will make you wonder how the Russians managed to keep Kamchatka a secret for so long.
Luckily for you, the curtain of the cold war has lifted to reveal one of planet the world’s most vast and spectacular natural destinations. On this photography tour you and your camera will be exposed to incredible wildlife, from roaming bears to reindeer, wolves and rare birds. The water isn’t bad too: rivers are packed with fish and the open ocean is home to marine mammals aplenty.
But for all the wildlife, Kamchatka’s biggest draw is without doubt the landscape. Sure, plenty of countries have volcanoes, but on this peninsula you’ll find about 300, along with thermal springs, geysers, thousands of lakes, and more scenic rivers than you can count.
Our aim is to take you deep into Kamchatka’s great wilderness, on a journey into uncharted territory alongside expert photography guides. Where better to improve your photography skills than in a land with every subject you could dream of?
So here’s the plan. Over the course of two unforgettable weeks, we will visit as many of Kamchatka’s photogenic sights as possible with our specially modified 6WD off-road vehicle. Expect shoots of imposing volcanoes, optional hiking trails through lava fields, and the opportunity to get up close to the local brown bears. We will also enjoy a day onboard a luxury boat, photographing the shores of Kamchatka and the magnificent ocean wildlife, with whales, seals, and a number of rare sea birds.All of this will be in the company of a team of skilled professionals, including a driver, a local guide, a chef and a ranger. Not to mention an English-speaking photography expert, who will hold daily workshops and discussions to ensure you make the most of your time here.
Your two week adventure will begin with an arrival in Petropavlovsk and check-in at the Blue Lagoon hotel. Once the group has has got together, we’ll talk about the plan and take some time to discuss our hopes and ambitions for the days ahead.
Depending on the level of experience within the group, we’ll show you the finer points of shooting and give a crash course to beginners. For the more experienced members of the expedition, we’ll have talks prepared on photo processing and the commercial side of things, from working with magazines and publishers to printing and sponsorship issues.
The second day is when the adventure begins for real. Our first stop is Leningradskaya station on the southern side of the Ostry and Plosky Tolbachik volcanoes. For the next two days we will camp in the area and explore the Tolbachiks. It’s a long way up, but the views along the journey are remarkable, and the moon-like earth may still be hot with lava fresh from the 2013 eruptions.
Our camp will include an enormous kitchen tent, complete with tables and chairs, accommodation and a clean water supply
The majority of our travel will be in a comfortable 6-wheel-drive converted truck. On the inside, it’s not much different to a typical tourist coach. Importantly, there are electricity sockets to keep everyone’s cameras charged, and a water supply to keep everyone refreshed. But please bear in mind that there are a limited amount of plugs on board, so we recommend that you bring as many spare batteries as possible. The last thing we want is for you to miss out on the shots of a lifetime.
Most of the nights will be spent in our very own mobile camp, but there are four nights in hotels, if everything goes to plan. These are nights 1 and 2, one night in the middle point of our trip and the final evening. We’ve chosen comfortable hotels with great reputations, and there are even hot spring nearby for those who fancy a relaxing dip.
In terms of food, everything is included in the price of the trip. The group’s personal chef will be with us throughout our adventure, and our mobile camp is complete with a kitchen for creating hot and delicious local food. If you are vegetarian or have any other dietary requirements, don’t worry! We can prepare a special menu for you.
Kamchatka can be a dangerous place if you go wandering off alone. There are plenty of bears around and the group will need to be vigilant. We don’t anticipate any problems as the bears tend to keep to themselves, but just incase we will be escorted by a park ranger. He will prioritise our safety at all times, leaving the group to focus on photography. We’ll give you a full safety briefing before the trip starts, and recommend that you stick together in small groups.
Throughout the trip we don’t anticipate that you’ll need to carry around heavy backpacks whenever we venture out. All you need on a day-to-day basis will be your photography equipment and some alternative clothes if the weather changes. Besides, base-camp will always be closeby, so you can keep the bulk of your stuff there.
Now, let’s talk about the weather. This part of the world is renowned for being unpredictable, so it’s best to have clothing that can help in all eventualities. A couple of days in the itinerary have been left empty under the expectation that the weather might hold us back, but rest assured that we will have plenty of alternatives planned if our priorities become unavailable.
To secure a spot on this photography tour you will need to place a deposit of $1000. Our policy is pretty straightforward.
- In the unlikely event that we have to cancel the tour due to unforeseen circumstances beyond ours or your control, such as a volcanic eruption, the entire deposit will be refunded.
- In any other case it is non-refundable. This is to ensure that the tour goes ahead for those who do wish to come, and to discourage people from dropping out at the last minute from what will be a highly sought-after place on an unforgettable Kamchatka tour.
- The rest of the payment must be transferred three months before the start of the tour.
Feel free to get in touch if you have any questions regarding this. We recognise that this represents a once-in-a-lifetime adventure for our groups, and are always keen to make things run as smoothly as possible.
We strongly recommend you to get a Trip Cancellation & Travel Insurance after booking your trip.
If you cancel and the Workshop is otherwise filled, we will refund you the full amount you have paid towards the tuition, minus a $300 service charge. If you cancel and the Workshop does not fill, then you will be refunded according to the following schedule, based on the full fee of the Workshop:
Greater than 90 days from the start date of the Workshop: full refund minus $300 service fee.
75 days or more: 75% refund
60 days or more: 50% refund
Less than 60 days: no refund
Refunds will be paid by the same method that the original payment was made.
We highly recommend that you get a travel and medical insurance. Your own domestic government medical insurance and private health scheme will not cover you whilst you are overseas.
The tour is always dependent on weather, as the Icelandic weather can indeed be highly unpredictable. Likewise, visits to ice caves are dependent on favorable conditions, and indeed the ice caves themselves are not permanent. When it comes to the Northern Lights, while they are most likely to be seen between September and April, there is no guarantee that they will appear on a given day.