Taking a Kamchatka Photo Tour is one of those experiences that change the life of any photographer.
Kamchatka is an extremely beautiful region full of contrasts, where you can find volcanoes that get lost in the sky, vast otherworldly landscapes, valleys full of life and wildlife, glaciers and ice caves, fumaroles, and countless natural wonders.
Besides, it is still an unknown place for the vast majority of people and photographers on earth, which makes this destination a unique place where the protagonist is the pristine nature and untamed wilderness.
Our Kamchatka photography expedition will take place between August 21st to September 3rd, during the best time of year to capture the vibrant fall colors in the tundra and the ice caves.
During this Kamchatka photo tour, we will mainly focus on shooting landscapes and occasional wildlife
In terms of landscapes, Kamchatka is a photographer’s paradise and everything is on a different scale. We will shoot a great variety of scenery, such as martian-like volcanic landscapes, dead forests, lush valleys surrounded by snow-capped volcanoes, ice caves, waterfalls, fumaroles, etc. We will visit the Klyuchevskoi Nature Park, where we’ll enjoy pristine landscapes with the highest active volcanoes in Eurasia in the background.
In terms of wildlife, Kamchatka offers great photo opportunities to capture impressive animals like the mighty brown bear, wolverines, foxes, eagles, etc, so you should have your camera ready because there might be photo opportunities at any time.
Unlike other traditional photography tours, this is a trip of true adventure, where most of the days we will sleep in tents in the middle of nature and where we will see landscapes and scenarios that have hardly been explored and photographed before.
During the tour, we will have the support of a local team that will prepare all the equipment, meals, and logistics so we can focus on our goal of discovering and photographing the landscapes of Kamchatka.
Our Kamchatka photo expedition will cover the most spectacular areas of Kamchatka; The famous “Valley of the Giants” in the Klyuchevskoya National Park, where you’ll see the highest volcanoes in all of Eurasia, and the Southern area of the Mutnovsky and Gorely volcanoes, where there is an intense volcanic activity with huge fumaroles, glaciers and ice caves.
The itinerary is fixed, but some locations may vary according to weather conditions. The weather in Kamchatka is unpredictable and we will adjust the planning and locations if necessary to make the most of the conditions that we will find during the route.
Our Kamchatka photo tour starts on August 21st. During this day, we will meet and greet with the rest of the group and have a welcome speech and an orientation explaining the planning of the trip.
You must arrive at Petropavlovsk airport, where we will pick you up and take you to the hotel in Paratunka, where we will spend the first night of the tour.
On the second day of our Kamchatka Photo adventure, we will set out towards the impressive Klyuchevskoi National Park.
Most of the time, we will drive through dirt roads as the infrastructure and roads in Kamchatka are rudimentary. We will spend the day reaching Kozyrevsk, a small town at the entrance to the National Park from where we’ll see the first volcanoes. Here we will have a welcome dinner and spend the night.
During the third day, we will leave Kozyrevsk towards the first area that we will explore inside the National Park; the South area of the Tolbachik Volcano.
This area went through one of the most famous volcanic activity episodes in recent history when Tolbachik exploded back in 1975. This, and the most recent 2012 eruption, have shaped some of the most spectacular landscapes on earth, with a vast scenery full of giant volcanoes, small cones, petrified lava flows, etc.
Once we arrive at our location, the team will install the camp, and we will photograph the sunset from one of the impressive volcanic cones, where we will enjoy a spectacular panoramic view of the main volcanoes in a landscape that seems taken from another planet.
On the fourth day of our Kamchatka photo tour, our goal will be to shoot one of those unforgettable moments in any photographer’s life; the sunrise over the Kamchatka volcanoes.
From this area, and under the right conditions, you can see the famous sea of clouds, a spectacular phenomenon where only the summits of the main volcanoes are visible above 10,000 ft. (3000 mts).
Next, we will head towards the “Death Forest“, a forest that was covered by ash in the great Tolbachik eruption of 1975, and where you can still see the remaining skeletons of the trees. Due to the conditions in which it happened, it is a unique forest in the World with lots of photo opportunities.
Finally, we will photograph the sunset in the lava fields of the last Tolbachik eruption in 2012, where you can still feel the heat and see the smoke of the eruption at some points.
In terms of composition, it is one of the places that offer more opportunities with the patterns created by the lava. This is one of those secret corners that you will discover during this photography trip to Kamchatka.
Conditions are very changeable in Kamchatka, so we will reserve this day in case we cannot make any of the previous plans due to bad weather.
If the weather is good and we can see and photograph all the above locations, we will go to other new spots in this area, like the South Tolbachik base and new volcanic cones offering “great vistas”.
After a last sunrise photo shoot among the giant volcanoes, the team will set out the camp, and we will travel back to Kozyrevsk, where we will have about half a day off to relax and rest in the sauna/pool. We will sleep in our wooden cabins before heading to the next area.
During the seventh day of our Kamchatka Photo Tour, we will head towards the second area of the Klyuchevskoy National Park: the Northern area of the Tolbachik volcano.
Although this area is in the same national park, the landscape changes drastically. We will move from the Martian and desolate landscapes in the first area to large meadows full of tundra, lagoons, and wildlife.
From this camp, we will have an astonishing view of the most famous volcanoes in the Park: the highest active volcano in Eurasia, Klyuchevskoy, the northern face of the Tolbachik volcano, the giant Kamen volcano, and the active Bezymianny.
We’ll have a plethora of photography possibilities with the tundra at its fall color peak. All the ground will be like a carpet full of red, yellow, green, and orange vibrant colors, and the giant volcanoes will be the perfect background for our images
This is also one of the best areas for wildlife sightings such as grizzly bears, wolverines, foxes, and partridges.
We will shoot the sunset in a small lake near the camp where, if there is no wind, you will enjoy an incredible scene with the snow-capped Tolbachik volcano reflected on the water.
The next day of our photography workshop in Kamchatka, we will return to this lake at dawn. This time we will shoot the North volcanoes and, with a bit of luck, you will see the activity if the skies are clear.
During the day, we will hike a short trail to explore the valley. Also, there is an optional longer hike to visit a lava canyon.
We will return to the camp to shoot the sunset again from the lake. The conditions are very changing, and it is very likely that the view and light are very different from the previous day.
In the morning, we will shoot the last sunrise from the lake and surroundings near the camp and set out the camp to start our route towards the South.
The next area that we will explore during our Kamchatka Photo Tour is around the Southern volcanoes: Mutnovsky and Gorely.
The trip is long, so we will make a stop to sleep in the middle of the route in the same hotel where we started the tour in Paratunka, where we can recharge our batteries in one of the hotel thermal pools.
We will depart from Paratunka to the new base camp. On the way, we will go through a photogenic mountain pass with spectacular views, where we will stop for lunch and for shooting Vilyiuchik Volcano.
The pyramid shape and location surrounded by wildflowers or tundra make this one of the most photogenic volcanoes in Kamchatka, so we will take the time to capture Vilyiuchik from different angles and perspectives.
In the afternoon, we will arrive at the base camp and start exploring some of the natural ice caves on the slopes of Mutnovsky Volcano.
This is one of the most spectacular natural wonders in Kamchatka, with big ice caves full of blue and turquoise colors and, sometimes, even running water and waterfalls inside.
* The caves change every year in shape, size, and location, and while this is the best time of year to see ice caves in Kamchatka, the chances to see them will depend on the conditions we encounter once in the area.
The 11th day of our Kamchatka Photo Tour will be completely focused on Mutnovsky Volcano, one of the most active and geologically important volcanoes in Kamchatka.
We will hike to its crater, where we will pass through vast and stunning fumaroles, mountains painted in colors by the sulfur, and hot springs.
On our way back, we will visit the Opazny waterfall, located in an enormous ravine at the foot of the volcano.
In the evening, we will take another ice cave photography session if the conditions are good.
During the following day exploring the southern volcanoes, we will visit Gorely Volcano.
This volcano is totally different from the rest of the volcanoes already seen during the trip; it’s one of the most active in the peninsula and has more than 13 craters that are continually changing depending on the activity.
This is one of the most photogenic areas in our Kamchatka photo tour and a paradise for landscape and drone photography.
In some of the craters, you will see small lakes with intense colors due to the mix of volcanic elements and water.
From some of the craters, you will also enjoy spectacular panoramic views of the entire valley with Vilyuchik volcano in the background.
In the evening, we will explore new ice caves in the surroundings of the base camp.
During the last day of our Kamchatka Photo expedition, we will reserve the morning to repeat one of the Mutnovsky or Gorely volcanoes hikes if weather conditions were bad.
In the afternoon, we will pick everything up and we will head back to Paratunka, where we will rest in the hotel and we will conclude the tour.
Make sure you book your return flight by September 3rd. The transfer to the airport is included in the price.
Deposit: $1,500 USD
A $1,500 USD non-refundable deposit is required to reserve your spot for this workshop. You can also pay in full at any time. The remaining balance is due on May 1st, 2022. If the remaining balance is not paid in full by the due date, you will lose your spot.
A 100% refund is guaranteed if we have to cancel the tour because of COVID-19.
This workshop is mainly focused on landscape photography.
What you learn during the workshop will vary according to your goals and skills. Your instructor is a professional photographer with extensive experience who will help you take your photography to the next level.
During the tour you’ll have the opportunity to learn:
Some of the photography basics you can learn during the workshop are:
Some of the post-processing techniques that you can learn with the included videotutorials are:
Your instructor on this Kamchatka Photo Tour
Dan Zafra will be the tour leader throughout this Kamchatka Photo Tour, and he will make sure that you get the best photography results and experience from this tour. He will help you with composition, technique, and post-processing in your landscape, wildlife, & aerial images and use the best methods according to your skills.
He is based in California and has explored the higher latitudes of our planet over the years in places like Kamchatka, Alaska, Canada, Iceland, and Northern Norway. He has been on previous photography expeditions to Kamchatka and is very knowledgeable not only about the best locations but also about the best time and lighting to photograph them.
Dan is a renowned travel photographer who enjoys educating other photographers with photo tours, workshops, and tutorials. His online photography courses have helped more than 400 photographers over the last few years. Joining him for this workshop will provide you with a great opportunity to learn how to best capture the highlights of Kamchatka.
You’ve probably seen Dan in…
*Some cameras and lenses can be very expensive, so we always recommend the option of renting a lens for the trip. We always rent our camera gear through Lensrentals. You can find more information on how Lensrentals works and get a discount here.
We planned our Kamchatka Photo Tour for this time of year since, statistically, it offers the greatest opportunity for clear skies without rain. Please bear in mind that the weather in Kamchatka is unpredictable and it can rain and even snow at higher elevations at any time.
The average temperature in Kamchatka at the end of August/September varies between 60ºF (16Cº) of maximum and 48ºF (9Cº) of minimum, with lower temperatures in higher altitudes near the volcanoes. Therefore, we recommend being well-prepared and bringing winter clothing. Some of the things that will be useful for this Kamchatka Photo tour are:
A complete list with the best recommendations will be sent before the photo tour.
The currency of Kamchatka is the Russian ruble (₽). We recommend bringing rubles from your country, although if it were not possible, it could also be changed at Petropavlovsk airport.
All meals during the trip and all the equipment are included, so you only need rubles for everything not included in the tour such as personal expenses, not included beverages, tips, etc.
Most countries require a tourist visa to visit Russia. Some countries, like most Europeans, also require mandatory health insurance.
Even so, we recommend purchasing health & travel insurance for all participants regardless of whether it is mandatory or not. We will assist in the process of buying this insurance if you need our help.
The only citizens exempt from visas are those of Argentina, Chile, Peru, Ecuador, Brazil, Colombia, Venezuela, and Israel, so if you are a citizen of any of these countries, you will not need any visa.
Each participant must process the tourist Visa in advance. We will also help you with this process by providing the Visa support letter and guiding you through the steps to get it.
The price of flights to Kamchatka varies depending on the area of the world from where you are traveling. Normally there is a layover in Moscow.
As a guideline, the average price of a ticket from Europe or the United States ranges between $1100 and $ 1,500.
Meals during our trip to Kamchatka will be included.
Pre-and post-tour meals are not be included, nor as meals traveling between cities such as Paratunka-Kozyrevsk.
The entrance fee price to the National Parks is included in the price of the Tour.
Our Kamchatka Photo Tour is aimed at those who love pristine nature, adventure, and otherworldy scenery and wildlife in a remote place far from herds of tourists and photographers.
This trip is not a traditional Photo Tour, but a Photo expedition with a large dose of adventure where we will drive many hours on unpaved roads, sleep in tents for many days and where there will be hardly any room for comfort and luxury.
The organization is designed to make the trip as comfortable as possible, but keep in mind all the circumstances since this trip may not be for you.
But do not just think about uncomfortable and unpleasant conditions, these small sacrifices are the price to pay for being in one of the remotest and most beautiful areas on earth, and I guarantee 100% that it is worth it!
Whether you are experienced or just starting out in photography, you are welcome, and I am convinced that you will progress quickly. Together, we will send you home with a thorough knowledge of many photography areas, from the basics to multiple advanced techniques.
Once you sign up for the workshop, we will discuss your skills and goals for this tour, and I’ll organize a teaching plan so you can make the most of this experience.
Although there are no long or strenuous hikes on this Kamchatka photo adventure, we will shoot some of the sunrises and sunsets from the top of volcanic cones and areas where a minimum physical level is required.
Longer treks, such as the Mutnovsky or Gorely volcanoes, are hikes no longer than 2 hours.
The trek to the lava canyon is the longest in the tour, and it will be optional; So there will be a plan B if you can’t or don’t feel like doing it.
We will travel in the famous “Kamaz,” 8WD Russian vehicles designed to move across any type of terrain.
From outside they look like traditional trucks, but inside they will have all the conveniences of a regular bus.
We will stay in a hotel at the beginning, middle, and end of the tour in Paratunka in double shared rooms.
Before and after the Klyuchvskoy Nature Park days, we’ll stay in a guesthouse with wooden cabins in a double shared room.
During the rest of the trip, we’ll stay in double shared tents close to the best locations. (The setup and camping ammenities are provided by the local team).
The common accommodation has a shower. The accommodation in Kozyrevsk also has a pool and sauna.
During the route in the field, we will prepare a portable shower with hot water, so you have the option to take a shower if you like.
Kamchatka is a paradise for aerial photography & filming and you can fly your drone anywhere with no restrictions in the areas that we’ll visit during the trip.
Giant volcanoes, craters, lakes, fumaroles, waterfalls, canyons…Kamchatka is a place to fly drones like no other.
We’ll also have a generator to recharge your drone batteries every day, and Dan is an experienced drone pilot that can help you with your drone photography.
We will have generators to charge our camera, drone batteries, as well as other devices during the route.
All the areas where we install the camp have private latrines.
During the beginning and most part of the summer, mosquitoes can be very annoying in Kamchatka.
At the end of the summer and with the drop in temperatures (which takes time during our trip), most disappear. Even so, we advise you to take a mosquito repellent.
In Kamchatka, bears are not dangerous as long as you take basic precautions.
In addition, the time when we travel takes place during the berry and salmon season, so most bears will be busy looking for food.
We will take precautions like always moving in groups of 3 or more people in the locations, keeping the food properly stored at night, and all local staff members and photo guides will take bear spray and flares in case there is an unlikely encounter.
Although we will be in one of the remotest areas on earth, we will have a satellite GPS with the possibility of receiving weather reports, as well as receiving and sending emergency calls and SMS.
In the unlikely event of any serious emergency, there are several areas prepared for helicopter landings.
In this trip, we will be more connected with nature than with the internet and social networks. That said, in the hotel of Paratunka and the village of Kozyrevsk, there will be access to free Wi-Fi.
The main goal is to visit and photograph as many locations as we can.
However, if the weather creates dangerous conditions or if there is a big storm with no photographic possibilities, we will take editing & processing lessons and photography talks in the basecamp.
Regardless of the conditions, the tour includes access to two post-processing videotutorials with images from Kamchatka.
Kamchatka is one of those few places on earth where you can still find pristine and untamed wilderness. This vast territory has been preserved for millennia and closed to tourism until recently, which makes it an ideal destination to explore and shoot away from the herds of tourists and photographers common in other places.
This adventure will make you feel like you’re in another world, going from Martian-like landscapes to some of the most spectacular scenery that you can see on our planet.
Discover the best of Kamchatka with us – this is an adventure of a lifetime!
I’ve had the opportunity to work with and help countless photographers over the last few years. Sharing and teaching photography is my passion, and I love doing this both online and in the field.