The Kuril Lake

The federal reserve of South Kamchatka is washed by both the Pacific Ocean and Sea of Okhotsk and includes the largest volcanic-origin body of water, namely the Kuril Lake. It occupies a large caldera and is 314m deep.

The Kuril Lake ranks among the most prominent spawning spots for salmon – not just in Kamchatka but worldwide. Sockeye salmon run up the river Ozyornaya to spawn there, and water looks like it were literally boiling when it happens – what a sight! Many salmon runs number up to eight million fish.

Of course, such abundance of fish will attract bears. The predators normally avoid each other, but salmon-spawning season makes them forget old grudges and gather together around the lake. You can see up to eighteen individuals at a time; normally they are omnivorous, but specifically in Kamchatka these giants feed primarily on fish.

Tour programme 

Day 1: Petropavlovsk to Pauzhetka

Driving (450km distance) will take all day, crossing the entire width of the peninsula and including embarking on a barge twice to the cross the rivers Bolshaya and Opala and then a southbound journey along the Okhotsk shore. Come evening, arrive and settle in Pauzhetka, an inhabited place, in a Spartan guesthouse (cots, sleeping bags). Thermal pool next to the cabin. Delicious hot supper with local seafood. Rest.

Day 2: Pauzhetka to Kuril Lake

Drive to the river Ozyornaya, ride the vehicle across the mountain river. Protected area begins and car is met by reserve official whose task is to ensure that visitors are safe in the reserve and abide by the rules. All equipment and personal belongings are loaded on quad bikes. The reserve is off limits for cars, so our cozy jeep will have to be left parked there.

Hike 13-kilometre forest road to the lake to arrive at research base and check-point surrounded by electric fence where you can relax and feel safe. Set up camp on the bank of the Kuril Lake (you are kindly expected to pitch your own tents), two guests per tent. Dinner in canteen, rest.

Day 3: Watching bears

Ride motor boat, see the island with gull rookeries. Arrive at the Travyanoy check-point. Walk 6km along the river Khakytsin is an adventure in itself, taking about 2.5 hours. Snack and watch wild bears in natural surroundings. Return to motor boats and back to the camp. The entire day’s itinerary takes eight to nine hours. Supper. Sleep in tents.

Day 4: Hike to Kutkhiny Baty rock formations – cross the Kuril Lake – back to Pauzhetka

Break camp. Set out on foot from Ozyorny check-point. Hike 5km down a forest road, cross the river on a specially prepared and delivered boat. Kutkhiny Baty, a weird-shaped rock formation, is located just across the river. See and photograph the gigantic white-coloured shapes. Cross back and hike the remaining 7km to the parking place. Drive to Pauzhetka and revisit the guesthouse. Bathe in thermal pool, supper, rest.

Day 5: Pauzhetka to Petropavlovsk

Set out from Pauzhetka. Picninc midway, in the forest or on sandy beach at the Sea of Okhotsk. The journey back, with all the barge river crossings, will take the whole day.

• Time available: late July through early September
• Duration: 5 days / 4 nights
• Number of participants: up to four (or more, but then the price is increased)

Price per person: 75000 RUB


What to pack: wind- and waterproof jacket with a cape, hiking boots, fleece, headgear, gloves, sunglasses, sunscreen, repellent, small backpack for climbing (30 to 50 litres) camera, spare batteries.


Yevgeny Kostyukov​

phone .: +7-914-625-33-99


skype-400 evgeny.kostyukov