Kamchatka travel advice

Birdwatching

Advice on birdwatching

Cassia Jackson, Sales Manager at our top supplier, Heritage Expeditions, is a fountain of knowledge when it comes to Kamchatka travel advice:
“I think a lot of people have a preconception of bird watching that it’s not very interesting, but it entirely depends on the birds; I’m not a birdwatcher, but I have an interest in nature and the birdlife in Kamchatka is something else. Being on a Zodiac cruise and watching an enormous sea eagle survey from its perch and then take off and fly over you is completely captivating. Along the peninsula there is quite a deep marine trench and a huge amount of seabirds gather there, so there’s potential to see many other bird species too. The end of May to beginning of June is the best time for birders to come and visit.”
Wrangel Island wildlife

Advice on Wrangel Island wildlife

“Kamchatka's Wrangel Island, a UNESCO World Heritage site, is home to a large polar bear population, as well as Pacific walruses, Arctic foxes, snowy owls, snow geese, musk ox, reindeer and more. It is also believed to be the last home of the woolly mammoth. Mammoth tusks and bones are regularly unearthed in the riverbeds and interior of the island. When I was on Wrangel Island, I was lucky enough to spend some time with a group of mammothologists (best job title ever!) learning about their fascinating work uncovering more details about Wrangel Island's former inhabitants.”
Advice on local culture

Advice on local culture

“There is a strong sense of identity in Kamchatka and the proud locals consider themselves as very separate from the rest of Russia; when the time zone was amended to keep Kamchatka slightly more in line with Moscow, there were a lot of protests – they’re fierce about their independence. The Chukchi people are very much the native people of Kamchatka and they live slightly further north in the Chukotka area. They still have a very active local culture; on our voyages to Anadyr, we visit various settlements that are still very much steeped in tradition; they still hunt traditionally and produce a lot of carvings. To experience the indigenous culture is a very interesting addition to a wildlife cruise and one that I would recommend.”
what to pack

What to pack

“Your packing requirements will vary depending on what time of year you visit Kamchatka. Our expedition cruises explore the Kamchatkan Coastline in summer. The weather can be quite variable, so the key is to pack layers, right through from light t-shirts to a warm, waterproof jacket. Heritage Expeditions provides a full suggested packing list for each journey. The wildlife of Kamchatka is incredible so you will want to make sure that you have spare camera batteries and memory sticks so that you don’t miss that perfect shot of a Kamchatka brown bear patrolling the shoreline, or a Steller’s sea eagle perching majestically in the trees of the Zhupanova River!”

Our top Kamchatka Vacation

Chukotka and Wrangel Island cruise, Russia

Chukotka and Wrangel Island cruise, Russia

Authentic Arctic Festival & wildlife including Polar Bears

From US $9500 15 days ex flights
Small group travel:
2019: 8 Jul
Helpdesk
Hello. If you'd like to chat about Kamchatka or need help finding a vacation to suit you we're very happy to help. Rosy & team.

Health & safety in Kamchatka

HEALTH

Contact your GP around 8 weeks before your trip to check whether you need any vaccinations or other preventive measures. Travel insurance is mandatory when traveling to Russia and if cruising, you may be barred from embarkation if you have no proof of insurance. This should include full Medical Evacuation/Repatriation Insurance. If you require hospitalisation or medical treatment including evacuation, all costs associated with this are your full responsibility, so please check that your policy (particularly if it is issued by your credit card provider) covers this and covers any pre-existing medical conditions. Double check that your travel insurance covers all activities that you may partake in such as landings, Zodiac cruising, charter flights, hiking and kayaking. If you’re traveling in cold conditions, dress in comfortable, loose layers. For anyone out in the cold, it is far better to wear layers of relatively light, loose clothing than one thick, heavy item. Between each layer there is a film of trapped air which, when heated by your body, acts as an excellent insulator and keeps you from overheating. Bring good quality, protective sunglasses and sunscreen. It might feel colder than it is and the sun’s rays can be harsh – made fiercer by reflecting off ice, snow and water. Tour operators will provide detailed trip notes and packing lists. Follow them. If you’ll be spending several days at sea, seasickness is a possibility. Look into remedies before you depart – there are patches, wristbands, tablets and of course, good old ginger. Being in reasonable shape is highly recommended to get the most out of your Kamchatka trip -boats have steep stairs and boarding zodiacs down a steep gangway is physically challenging, as are other activities such as kayaking and trekking across uneven volcanic landscape – all will be enjoyed more if you are fitter, so prepare your body before you go!

SAFETY

Kamchatka is generally very safe – your biggest threats are active volcanoes and hungry bears! Listen to your guide at all times and exercise caution when hiking across uneven ground. Polar bears are one of the most dangerous animals on earth. Obey your guide and never wander off alone – you will be safe if you respect the wildlife and listen to advice, but these are wild animals in their own habitats, so the threat of an encounter is real. Other wildlife, including walrus and musk ox, may not have the polar bear’s fearsome reputation, but are still incredibly dangerous. Never approach any wildlife without instruction, and always follow your guide’s instructions. For cruise passengers a lifeboat drill is held within 24 hours of embarkation on each voyage. Attendance at these drills is mandatory, so listen out! For further information on health and safety in Kamchatka, please visit the FCO or the CDC websites.

Kamchatka tips from our travelers

At Responsible Travel, we think the best people to advise our travelers are often... other travelers. They always return from our tours with packing tips, weather reports, ideas about what to do - and opinions about what not to.
We have selected some of the most useful India travel tips that our guests have provided over the years to help you make the very most of your vacation - and the space inside your suitcase.
Don't worry about the weather and simply enjoy the most beautiful trip of your life.
– Lidia Ghilardi
“1. Mosquitos are real - not everywhere, but take a hat and net (you can buy on Kamchatka but best to take your own). Plus plenty of repellent. 2. Helicopter trip - cash € or $ may be easier for you than taking a fistful of roubles. All three currencies accepted (cash only). 3. Weather is unpredictable - do follow that advice on layers and gloves. 4. Diesel generator provided campsite charging - so taking a power pack isn't necessary but gives your camera and phone (etc.) more flexibility. Don't bother with a solar charger. Mobile reception practically zero away from towns. Weather is what it is on Kamchatka - expect some rainy days during your trip and maybe some of the segments will be affected.” – Charles Woodward

“The hiking on days 2 and 3 are hard. Be sure to prepare for this and get in shape before the trip. I had to give up on day 2, so missed the fumaroles and boiling mud. Be prepared to complain: we had a Russian couple with us who made sure our first guide got replaced when he proved sub-standard. Wifi is widely available; you will also get a mobile signal almost everywhere! You will pong....there are no washing facilities at the camp sites (except a river, of course). Take toilet roll and be ready to 'go' in the bushes. The longest without a wash is 3 days. Buy snacks when you can: juice, nuts, fruit, etc. You are outdoors all day.” – Alastair Giddings
Be prepared for lots of walking on the tundra. Also understand that the ship does not have stabilizers so even a mild swell rocks the ship. Bring a good layering system as temperatures and ice conditions can vary greatly.
– Marian Herz
Written by Polly Humphris
Photo credits: [Page banner: Harald Deischinger] [Stellar Sea Eagle from zodiac: CKovsyanikova - Heritage Expeditions] [Reindeer: Kovsyanikova - Heritage Expeditions] [Native peoples: NJRuss - Heritage expeditions] [Looking through binoculars: Bmercer - Heritage Expedition] [Group travel: Einar Fredriksen]
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