Brown bears cubs catching fish in the lake
bear
Eruption. Klyuchevsoy volcano.
Bears of Kamchatka5
breakfast bear
Bears of Kamchatka8

Location: Kamchatka / Russia
Duration: 12 nights / 13 days
Group Size: Max 8
Level of fitness required: Easy

Join Tatra Photography for a trip of a lifetime photographing Brown Bears in Kamchatka, one of the world’s last truly great natural wildernesses.

Our tour is based on the remote shores of Kuril Lake Kamchatka, which is a pristine natural habitat for Bears. The remote volcanic peninsula is also home to the rare Steller’s sea eagle and puffins that roam the geysers and snow- covered volcanoes. The second part of our tour is based at Kambalnaya river, we will fly by helicopter to Kambalnaya and our lodge located directly next to the river.

We will have opportunities to photograph the Bears with cubs playing, fishing for salmon, front lit and backlit shots with amazing backdrops including the Kamchatka volcanoes, jagged mountains, glaciers, wild rivers & waterfalls.

Our days will be entirely dictated by the activity of the bears, which at this time of year is itself governed by the tides. Our days therefore will not follow a rigid structure but we will aim to spend at least 8 hours per day out with the bears.

When we are out we will be accompanied at all times by an experienced guide who will know, and have extensive experience and knowledge of every individual bear. The guides will also know about each bears history and their likely patterns of behavior and movement so we will always have the very best information to hand.
Safety is of course of paramount importance, as is the welfare of the bears. As such we will always work as a group, moving quietly and slowly, so the bears continue to feel comfortable in the presence of people. It’s important to note however that when there is an opportunity you will always be able to photograph.

One of the many advantages of this spectacular location is our freedom of movement, how we position ourselves for the best light and the best backdrops. Andrew Parkinson will use his extensive experience to get you into the very best positions and he will be always liaising with the guides to establish what is, and what isn’t possible.

After our Bear photography we will head back to the hotel to relax and look over all the incredible images we have captured on the previous days shooting. A trip to Kamchatka isn’t complete without a visit to a Volcano, we will travel in specially modified 6×6 vehicles for a day visit to the heart of Mutnovsky volcano.
On our last full day in Kamchatka we have a Marine cruise on Avacha Bay and Starichkov Island to capture the bird’s rockeries from a boat, the mixed colonies of guillemots, black-legged kittiwakes and cormorants all located on the coastal rocks. The Pacific seagulls are nesting at the top of the island in thickets of grasses. The pair of Steller’s sea-eagles (rare birds included in the Red Book of Russia) annually nest on the Guard Cliff. This experience will be one that you’ll never forget.

Andy Parkinson profile

Your tutor for this workshop is Andrew Parkinson. Andy is a feature contributor to National Geographic magazine and a multi-award winning wildlife photographer. His images have been awarded three times in Wildlife Photographer of the Year, three times in the European Wildlife Photographer of the Year and in 2016, as well as winning two categories he was also named as the overall winner in Bird Photographer of the Year. He is also the most successful photographer in the history of the British Wildlife Photography Awards with over 30 awarded images and three category wins. In 2012 he was named the Nature Photojournalist of the Year with a portfolio of 12 images captured whilst working on assignment for National Geographic.

Andy works exclusively with wild animals and birds and has also appeared on various TV and radio shows, most notably on Countryfile when he attempted to show comedian Jo Brand how to capture images of wildlife. He is also becoming known as much for his writing as he is for his images and among others he writes regularly on wildlife/environmental/ethical issues for his regular Opinion piece in Outdoor Photography magazine.

His images are marketed all over the world by a network of the world’s leading international agencies including Getty images, Nature Picture Library, RSPB Images, FLPA and NHPA/Photoshot and his images have been sold in more than 50 countries worldwide. He also produces regular photo features for some of the world’s most prestigious magazines including National Geographic, Audubon, Geo and Terre Sauvage. He is also the UK’s most prolific feature contributor to BBC Wildlife magazine having completed 9 photo stories for them, often on subjects which he finds close to his Derbyshire home. His images have also appeared in magazines such as New Scientist, National Geographic Traveller, Geographical and Natural History, newspapers such as the New York Times, Daily Telegraph, Times, the Guardian, Independent as well as online media such as HuffPostUS, on the home page of search engine Bing and on the Discovery Channel.

He lives in Derbyshire with his wife Claire and their two dogs.

Our Itinerary

Day 1: Departure from London Heathrow to Petropavlovsk

Day 2: Arrival and transfer to the hotel in Paratunka, workshop introduction – single rooms, breakfast.

Antarius HotelAntarius is small cosy hotel located in the area of Paratunka river in the suburbs of Termalny and Paratunka villages. Each room has en-suite shower unit, telephone, television & minibar. The hotel has a restaurant, bar, pool table, sauna, massage rooms, and a multi-media television room with wifi connection. The hotel has it’s own open-air swimming pool with a thermal water. Credit cards are accepted in the restaurant.

Day 3: Transfer to the heliport, fly to Kurilskoye Lake. Check in to the accommodation, afternoon photographing the Bears – shared tents, breakfast, lunch & dinner.

Tents Kurilskoye lakeCamping with an organised, well-equipped expedition is one of the most splendid ways to experience the serene beauty of Kamchatka. Territory of central cordon is fenced by electric fence, which protects researchers and tourists from numerous bears.

Days 3-6: Bear photography Kurilskoye lake – Shared tents, breakfast, lunch & dinner.

Day 6: Fly to Kambalnaya river. Check in to the accommodation lodges, afternoon photographing the bears. Shared cabin (4 people each cabin) – breakfast, lunch & dinner.

LodgesThe cabins are located next to the river where we will focus on photographing the bears. There are assorted options along the river stream to track bears with our guide. Breakfast, lunch & dinner is served in a separate cabin.

Days 6-8: Kambalnaya river – breakfast, lunch & dinner.

Day 9: Fly back to Elizovo, transfer to the hotel Antarius – Single rooms, breakfast

Day 10: One day excursion to Mutnovsky volcano, breakfast

Mutnovsky vulcanoMutnovsky volcano is a complex volcano and one of the most active volcanoes of southern Kamchatka; the latest eruption was recorded in 2000. At the foot of the Mutnovsky lies a geyser field, popularly known as the Lesser Valley of Geysers. The absolute height of the Mutnovsky volcano is 2323 m.  It has two craters, the first one is called Central, and its dimensions are 2 km x 1,5 km. One of its slopes is covered with a  glacier. The second crater is smaller, but shows strong fumarole activity. The last eruption took place in 2000. Due to the volcanic activity, some part of the glacier melted and a volcanic lake has appeared. But even in quiet periods, the volcano excretes large amount of energy in the form of fumarole gases and numerous powerful thermal springs.

Ice CaveAfter breakfast in the hotel, we board the 6×6 off-road vehicle and drive to Mutnovsky volcano. Road will take 3-4 hours, and upon the arrival the guide will lead the group into the crater of the volcano and approach the “active funnel”. After 2 hours’ approach, we will enjoy the views of the fumarols and mud pots, pass the acid lake, which may be still covered by snow and get on the bridge from which we will have an overview of the active funnel of the volcano. After exploring the area, we will head back, making a stop on the way near the Opasny (Dangerous) waterfall that drops into one of the canyons of the Mutnovsky volcano. After exploring the crater of the volcano we will have lunch. Return to the hotel.

Day 11:  Avacha Bay and Starichkov Island marine cruise,breakfast,lunch.

Starichkov islandThe group will leave the hotel in the morning and go to the port of Petropavlovsk- Kamchatsky. We board the ship and go along the costline of Avacha Bay out into the Pacific ocean towards the Starichkov Island. On the way to the island we will pass famous Three brothers rocks and the Devils finger rock. The ship will approach the island, near the Starichkov island the ship will make a stop and while the lunch is prepared we will get a chance to enjoy fishing. The trip will lasts 6-7 hours. After the trip we can visit the Regional Museum.

Avacha Bay is situated on the Pacific coast of the peninsula. It cuts into the land for 20 km and is considered to be one of the most beautiful and efficient sea harbors in the world. Avacha Bay is vast, well protected from dangerous seas and weather, but also convenient for travel to and from the open seas of the North Pacific. Avacha Bay has a basically round shape and presents a vast and deep closed gulf connected to the Pacific by a narrow strait. Its area is 215 sq.km. The bay coast is winding, cut with numerous inlets of which the most convenient and famous are Tarya, Tikhaya, Rakovaya, Babya, Petropavlovskaya, Seroglazka and Mokhovaya.

tufted puffinStarichkov Island is a nature reserve of a regional value founded in 1981. The
 area of the island makes 93 acres. It is surrounded by 3-mile security sea zone 
beginning from water border during the maximal low tide.
 The nature reserve “Starichkov Island” is located 30 km from the city 
Petropavlovsk-Kamchatsky in the Avacha Gulf of the Pacific Ocean, 12 km from
the south of the entrance to the Avacha Bay. The north-western part of the 
island is elevated for 147 meters above sea level. The coast is abrupt and steep.
 The island is mainly inhabited by two species of birds nesting in holes all over 
the surface: tufted puffin and common ancient murrelet. Nowadays, it is the largest known place of nesting for these species in the coastal waters of Kamchatka. The so-called bird’s rockeries – the mixed colonies of guillemots, black-legged kittiwakes and cormorants are located on the coastal rocks. The Pacific seagulls are nesting at the top of the island in thickets of grasses. The pair of Steller’s sea-eagles which included in the Red Book of Russia annually nest on the Guard Cliff.

Day 12: Transfer to the airport, breakfast.

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