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Sightseeing tours of Kronotsky Reserve and South Kamchatka Sanctuary


Two types of tourism have been identified as priorities of the Kronotsky Reserve — informative (research) and instructive (ecological education). Excursions are organized to leave the Reserve land untouched and preserve its natural face.

“Geysers of the Kronotsky Reserve” — a one-day guided tour

The geyser field of the Kronotsky Reserve is one of the most spectacular in the world. More than 30 large geysers are concentrated in a small area. There is no comparable area in any part of our country’s mainland. In contrast to the geyser fields of Yellowstone, Iceland, and New Zealand, the Kamchatkan Valley of the Geysers is very compact. Enclosed by nature in a deep and inaccessible gorge, it was only discovered in 1941 by Reserve geologist Tatyana Ustinova and her guide Anysyfor Krupenin.

The eco-informational focus of the tours involves observation of nature in a unique geothermal region. Here, visitors to the Kronotskiy Reserve will see steam fountains erupting from geysers in a beautiful mountain landscape, thermal fields, colorful earthen chambers, many jets of water, noisy hot springs and small geysers, streams, and waterfalls.

Tourists learn about the causes and consequences of the catastrophic landslide from 2007 and see Geyser Lake.
A tour guide describes the nature of volcanism and geothermal activity, the mechanism of the geyser action, different types of geysers, and plants’ and animals’ adaptation to the special microclimate in the geothermal region. Often, groups are able to spot the Kamchatkan brown bear — king of this territory.

Time on the Kronotsky Reserve territory: 2–2.5 hours
Level of difficulty: a generally accessible route for people with full physical mobility. Special sports training is not required.

Important!

• The tour travels along flat paths and must be accompanied by a Reserve inspector and tour guide.
• The tour’s operation is restricted to May and June. Specific dates are outlined every year.

Additional services: Souvenirs and printed material are available for purchase in the Valley of the Geysers.

Getting there: Tourist agencies throughout Kamchatka organize tours to the geysers of the Kronotsky Reserve. For more information, call the Kronotsky Reserve’s Division of Ecological Education and Tourism at +7 (41531) 7 16 52.

The tour’s contribution to the development of protected areas: all proceeds will be used to improve the protection area and grow ecological tourism.

“Uzon’s steaming earth” — a one-day guided tour

As far as contemporary volcanism is concerned, the Uzon Volcano caldera is a unique spot in all the world. The Itelmen call Uzon “Steaming Earth.” Walking over its wooden platform, visitors feel the gigantic energy trapped in the Earth’s bowels. Uzon amazes you with the wealth and forms of its volcanic manifestations.

It’s a veritable museum of nature, where the “collection” consists of almost everything for which Kamchatka is known: hot springs and cold rivers, earthen chambers and clear lakes, tundra berries, the “dancing birch forest,” mountains and marshes, beasts and birds. Whether you’re a geologist or a botanist, geochemist or microbiologist, zoologist, volcanologist, or simply a nature-lover — in this incomparable place, you’re sure to find something new and interesting for yourself.

In Uzon’s hot springs, as in a laboratory crucible, natural materials are born. The youngest oil on the planet is found here. Scientists observe the processes of mineralization and find unique metal compounds.
Incredible algae and bacteria live in the scalding liquid live incredible algae and bacteria. For them, poisonous boiling water is the most desirable environment.

Stepping onto this land, you will plunge into the magical world of Uzon with its myths and legends.
The eco-informational focus of the tours involves observation of nature in a unique geothermal region. Along the way, visitors will see the Bannoye, Chloride, and Figure Eight Lakes, Murky Geyser, earthen chambers, and mud volcanoes, and view different panoramas.

Time on the Kronotskiy Reserve territory: 2–2.5 hours

Level of difficulty: a generally accessible route for people with full physical mobility. Special sports training is not required.

Important!
• The tour travels along flat paths and must be accompanied by a Reserve inspector and tour guide.
• The tour’s operation is restricted to May and June.

Getting there: Tourist agencies throughout Kamchatka organize tours to Uzon Caldera of the Kronotsky Reserve. For more information, call the Kronotsky Reserve’s Division of Ecological Education and Tourism at +7 (41531) 7 16 52.

“Miracles of Kamchatka” — a three-day walking tour of the Uzon-Geyser area

For those who prefer to measure miles of earthly beauty with their own steps. Two of the Kronotsky Reserve’s main thermal fields — the Uzon Volcano caldera and the Valley of the Geysers — are connected by a thin path that runs along picturesque riverbanks. You can get acquainted with the tundra’s plants, many of which are listed as endangered and see butterflies fluttering over such incredible blooms as phyllodoce, loiseleuria, dryas, sanguisorba, and saxifraga. In addition, you will have the opportunity to see brown bears in their natural habitat and, perhaps, view falcons and sea eagles.

Length of excursion: 3 days.

Level of difficulty:
the route is not rated for difficulty, but it does require some athletic training and basic hiking experience.


Important!
Stops for the night are possible at the Glukhoy River (field station), the Sestrenka River (camp), and in the Valley of the Geysers (visitor center at the ranger station).

Additional services: Souvenirs and books about Kamchatka and the Kronotsky Reserve are available for purchase at Uzon and in the Valley of the Geysers.

Getting there: Tourist agencies throughout Kamchatka organize tours to the Reserve territory. For more information, call the Kronotsky Reserve’s Division of Ecological Education and Tourism at +7 (41531) 7 16 52.

The tour’s contribution to the development of protected areas: all proceeds will be used for the preservation of natural systems, research of the territories, and growth of environmental education.

“Death Valley” — a one-day guided tour

The site with the sinister name “Death Valley” was only discovered in 1975, although it’s located only seven kilometers from the Valley of the Geysers, which was found in 1941. Death Valley lies at the foot of the Kikhpinych Volcano, where many animals are killed every year by toxic natural gases. Because of its particular environment, dead animals are preserved unusually long here, creating a kind of odditorium.

Natural phenomena like that occurring in the Kamchatkan Death Valley exist in other parts of the planet, but the particular poisonous “cocktail” found in the Kamchatkan Death Valley is much more complex than that found in a typical valley of death. This natural “gas chamber” is only dangerous from a height of 30 cm from the ground; watching from the viewing platform is completely safe. You’ll see a colorful panorama, and the guide will describe the valley’s discovery and other interesting facts associated with this strange place.


Length of excursion:
40 minutes — 1 hour.

Level of difficulty: a generally accessible route. Special sports training is not required.

Important! The tour’s operation is restricted to May and June. Specific dates are outlined every year.

Getting there: Tourist agencies throughout Kamchatka organize tours (bringing visitors and food to the Kronotsky Reserve territory, etc). For more information, call the Kronotsky Reserve’s Division of Ecological Education and Tourism at +7 (41531) 7 16 52.

“The Kingdom of Salmon and Brown Bear” — a one-day guided tour

An introduction to the Kuril Lake ecosystem is a fascinating journey, giving you the opportunity to see the cycles of wildlife in one of the most beautiful and unspoiled corners of the earth. Kuril Lake is located in the territory of the South Kamchatka Sanctuary, 150 miles from the town of Yelizovo.

It is the largest reservoir of fresh water on Kamchatka and the largest spawning ground for Pacific salmon. In some years, up to 10 million individual fish arrive there. This massive salmon run is always an impressive sight. Such an abundance of fish attracts bears. Kuril Lake is the gathering place of a record number of brown bears and sea eagles. On the lake, you can learn about the life of bears and observe their fishing.

The tour is focused on giving comprehensive information about the unique ecosystem that has emerged in the Kuril Lake region. The guide describes the South Kamchatka Sanctuary, Kuril Lake itself, and interesting historical facts. Visitors will learn about the features of local nature in the winter, islands, volcanoes, birds, animals, and much more.

Time on the Sanctuary territory: 1.5–2.5 hours

Venue:
the tour can take place in grassy or coastal areas.

Level of difficulty: a generally accessible route. Special sports training is not required.

Important!
• The tour travels along flat paths and must be accompanied by a Reserve inspector and tour guide.
• For safety reasons (protection from bears), visitors are separated from the territories by an electric fence; leaving the protected area alone or without notice is strictly prohibited by the state inspector.
• The tour’s operation is restricted to May and June.

Additional services:
If you prefer, you can use the kitchen and dining room.

Getting there: Tourist agencies throughout Kamchatka organize tours to the teritory of the South Kamchatka Sanctuary. For more information, call the Kronotsky Reserve’s Division of Ecological Education and Tourism at +7 (41531) 7 16 52.

The tour’s contribution to the development of protected areas: all proceeds will be used for the preservation of natural systems, research of the territories, and growth of environmental education.

“Guests of the Brown Bear” — multiple-day guided tour

Kuril Lake attracts many mammals and birds of prey. Here, you’ll meet white-tailed sea eagles, golden eagles, and Steller’s eagles, the largest in the world. Salmon feed them all.

Undoubtedly, the most interesting inhabitant of this area is the brown bear. Kamchatka’s largest groups of these animals are gathered in the Reserve and, primarily, on the shores of the Kuril Lake.
August and September present a unique opportunity to see bears fishing in the wild. Brown bears are natural fishermen — even without rod or tackle, they’re able to catch fish within a few seconds.

The ecological education program aims to gain a deeper understanding of the Kuril Lake ecosystem, the behavior of brown bears during the salmon spawning period, and the special features of the salmon population in Kuril Lake. There are boat tours of the lake, explorations of the islands, visits to fish research facilities near the river source, and strolls on the pumice flats beside the bay and tundra.

A special platform has been built for tourists. From it, they can observe the behavior of animals in safety and comfort. Biologists, zoologists, ornithologists, ichthyologists, videographers and photographers might be interested in this tour.

Length of excursion: 1 day. If you wish to extend your stay in the South Kamchatka Sanctuary, it’s possible to purchase additional tours for each day.

Venue: the tour can be based in grassy or coastal areas.

Hiking and boating possibilities in the Kuril Lake region:

1. “The Kingdom of Salmon and Brown Bear”, a one-day walking tour in the South Kamchatka Sanctuary territory (Kuril Lake, grassy or coastal base)
2. “Kutkh’s Boats”, a one-day walking tour of pumice deposits in the South Kamchatka Sanctuary territory (coastal base)
3. “Bird’s-eye View”, an ascension of Domashniy Hill, South Kamchatka Sanctuary (coastal base)
4. “Bears in the North”, walking tour of the north bay, South Kamchatka Sanctuary (coastal base)
5. “Riddles of Khakytsyn”, a walking tour of pumice deposits in the South Kamchatka Sanctuary territory (grassy base)
6. “Bear Meadow”, a walking tour of the tundra in the grassy cape region, South Kamchatka Sanctuary (grassy base)
7. “Secrets of Kuril Lake”, a boat tour of the waters of Kuril Lake, South Kamchatka Sanctuary (grassy or coastal base)

Level of difficulty: a generally accessible route for people with full physical mobility. The walking paths require basic physical fitness.

Important!
• All walking routes travel along forest paths and must be accompanied by a Reserve employee.
• The tour’s operation is restricted to May and June.
• For safety reasons (protection from bears), visitors are separated from the territories by an electric fence; leaving the protected area alone or without notice is strictly prohibited by the state inspector.

Necessary equipment: Bring rain boots! In addition, you will need clothing that is waterproof, windproof, and warm, mosquito repellent, sunscreen, and sunglasses.

Additional services:

• You can buy souvenirs, books, and photo albums of the nature of South Kamchatka Sanctuary.
• Tickets for the boat tour of Kuril Lake are sold on site for a period of 30 minutes to six people.

Getting there: Tourist agencies throughout Kamchatka organize tours to Kuril Lake in the South Kamchatka Sanctuary. For more information, call the Kronotsky Reserve’s Division of Ecological Education and Tourism at +7 (41531) 7 16 52.

The tour’s contribution to the development of protected areas: all proceeds will be used for the preservation of natural systems, research of the territories, and growth of environmental education.

“Secrets of Kuril Lake” — a boat excursion to the islands and archipelagos

The peninsula’s southernmost point, steep cliffs, and impenetrable thickets have long kept the nature of this “magical lake” from strangers. In terms of size, Kuril Lake holds a silver medal. Above these huge volcanic waters rises Ilyinskaya Hill, one of the youngest active stratovolcanoes with a height of 1600 meters. Its fiery lava streams flowed directly into a lake and created a picturesque bay.

All the islands — Chayachy, Alaid’s Heart, and Samang archipelago — are volcanic domes born from sticky magma during a powerful eruption 8,400 years ago. Alaid’s Heart, a rocky islet in the shape of a heart, is connected to a romantic legend. Forty-seven thousand Pacific gulls live beside this freshwater lake. See it all up close with your own eyes, photograph the sights, and learn many interesting facts by taking the boat tour “Secrets of Kuril Lake”.

Length of excursion: up to 2 hours.

Level of difficulty: a generally accessible route.

Important! Tickets for boat tours are sold on site for a period of 30 minutes to six people. Cash (rubles) only.

Getting there: Tourist agencies throughout Kamchatka organize tours to Kuril Lake in the South Kamchatka Sanctuary territory. For more information, call the Kronotsky Reserve’s Devision of Ecological Education at +7 (41531) 7 16 52.

The tour’s contribution to the development of protected areas: all proceeds will be used for the preservation of natural systems, research of the territories, and growth of environmental education.

“Winter’s Tale” — a snowmobile or ski tour to the Kipeliye springs

The Levaya Shchapina River, flush to the foot of the Kizimen Volcano on the south and the Ashachny mountain range, greets visitors at the reserve’s border. Snowmobile tracks wind between the majestic and silent fir trees. Their snow-covered branches bring to mind the well-known and beloved Russian fairy tale “Father Frost.” And then — the sparkling expanse of the tundra and a view of the Kizimen Volcano, which is currently active. With its beautiful, almost spiky, peak, its summit ridged from petrified lava, and its constantly steaming vents, this volcano always makes an impression.

The Kipeliye springs themselves are similar to the Narzan in the Caucasus, and their medicinal waters have long made them popular with the population of the Kamchatka River valley.

Length of excursion: 3 days.

Level of difficulty: a generally accessible route.

Important! Passes to the “Winter’s Tale” tour and permission to visit the Reserve territory can be obtained in Yelizovo or directly at the Ipuin base.

Additional services: A delivery service is available for an extra fee. Snowmobile rental is not available.

Getting there: Tourist agencies throughout Kamchatka organize tours to the territory. Public transport: a bus from Yelizovo to Atlasovo village leaves daily at 12:30; the trip’s duration is about 7 hours (more schedule and station information available in Yelizovo). The distance from Lazo village to the Kronotsky Reserve territory is 84 kilometers. The snowmobile route takes about 6–8 hours. For more information, call the Kronotsky Reserve’s Division of Ecological Education and Tourism at +7 (41531) 7 16 52.

The tour’s contribution to the development of protected areas: all proceeds will be used for the preservation of natural systems, research of the territories, and growth of environmental education.

“Lake in the High Mountains” — a one-day tour on the Kronotsky Lake

Kronotsky Lake is called the Kamchatkan Baikal. This freshwater lake is the largest and one of the deepest on the peninsula: its area is about 242 square kilometers and its depth is 148 meters. The crystalline lake is shielded on all sides from winds and bad weather. Ten kilometers to the south stands Krasheninnikov Volcano and ten kilometers to the northeast is Schmidt Volcano. Kronotsky Mount is one of the most beautiful volcanoes in the world, with a height of 3,528 meters above sea level.

Kronotsky’s clear waters are inhabited by a rare form of salmon called kokanee, numbering 30 million, and a group of three kinds of trout found only on Kamchatka in this lake. In the summers, the lake hosts a huge colony of Pacific gulls. Here they breed and raise their young. Ichthyologists, botanists, ornithologists, and geomorphologists may be interested in this tour.

Length of excursion: 1 hour.

Level of difficulty:
a generally accessible route.

Getting there: Tourist agencies throughout Kamchatka organize tours to Kronotskoye Lake in the Reserve territory. For more information, call the Kronotsky Reserve’s Division of Ecological Education and Tourism at +7 (41531) 7 16 52.

The tour’s contribution to the development of protected areas: all proceeds will be used for the preservation of natural systems, research of the territories, and growth of environmental education.

“Crystal Waters” — a boat excursion of Kronotskoye Lake

Kronotskoye Lake is a huge bowl filled to the brim with waters from pristine rivers and springs. A perfect triangle, like a blue scarf, is thrown three dozen kilometers from the Valley of the Geysers over the eastern part of the peninsula. On a calm day, the lake forms a mirror in which islands and islets gaze.

Here, accompanied by an inspector in a motorboat, you will be able to snap beautiful photographs of landscapes painted by nature in soft pastel colors. Ichthyologists, botanists, ornithologists, and geomorphologists may be interested in this tour.

Length of excursion: up to 3 hours.

Level of difficulty: a generally accessible route.


Important!
Tickets for the “Crystal Waters” boat tour are sold on site for a period of 30 minutes to six people. Cash (rubles) only.

“To the Deep-sea Dwellers” — a tour of the sea waters

The sea may seem mysterious to the mind of someone dreaming of adventures, but it seems even more so to someone faced with the waters of the Kronotsky Reserve or the South Kamchatka Sanctuary. But everyone, from tourists and nature lovers to professional photographers and naturalists, will discover here the secret life of marine animals in their natural habitat.

You will see the breeding grounds of sea lions. Sailing beside whales, you will feel the full power of the Pacific and be dazzled by the birds flying by. Accompanied by an inspector in a motorboat, you will be able to take beautiful photographs of landscapes…You and nature will seem one and the same.

Marine biologists, ichthyologists, botanists, ornithologists, geomorphologists, and any lovers of photography may be interested in this tour.

Length of excursion: up to 10 days.

Venue: the waters of the Kronotsky Reserve: Olga Cove, Kozlova Cape, Kamenistaya Cape. The waters of the South Kamchatka Sanctuary: Vestnik Cove, Utashud Island, Lopatka Cape.

Level of difficulty: a generally accessible route.

“There in the Fog” — a multiple-day excursion on Kambalnoye Lake (South Kamchatka Sanctuary)

Kambalnoye Lake shows harsh and wild Kamchatka as it was 500 years ago, before the arrival of early Russian expeditions on the peninsula. Here you’ll find yourself in a different atmosphere full of spicy fog. Although for many, mists seem mournful, here they create the unique ambiance of Kambalnoye Lake. At once thick and dense as wool and weightless and translucent as gossamer, fogs create the incomparable landscape in this part of the world.

The lake is small and surrounded by all sides by hills. Hiking beside the paths that bears use, you’ll feel the primeval force of nature. In this part of the world, the bear rules the forest…And he’ll become the focus of your own photographs, videos, stories, and even artwork. In addition to temporary lodgings to accommodate visitors, the only building on the lake is the old shack kept by Canadian writer Charles Russell, author of the book “Grizzly Seasons.” In it, he described his life among bears on the shores of the Kambalnoye Lake.

Length of excursion: 1 day. If you wish to extend your stay in the South Kamchatka Sanctuary on the Kambalnoye Lake, it’s possible to purchase additional tours for each day.

Possible hikes by the Kambalnoye Lake:

1. Ring hike around the Kambalnoye Lake (8 km).
2. Downstream hike on Kambalnoye River from its source to its rapids (6 km).

Level of difficulty: a generally accessible route.

Important!
• All walking routes travel along forest paths and must be accompanied by a Reserve employee.
• The tour’s operation is only from July to September.

Necessary equipment: Bring rain boots! In addition, you will need clothing that is waterproof, windproof, and warm, mosquito repellent, sunscreen, and sunglasses.

Getting there: Tourist agencies throughout Kamchatka organize tours (bringing visitors and food to the South Kamchatka Sanctuary territory, taking away garbage, etc) to the Kambalnoye Lake. For more information, call +7 (41531) 7 16 52.

Did You Know

The graceful fir grove has been known for more than two and a half centuries it's origin is still a mystery, and scientific interest in the botanic phenomenon is high.