Friday - travel from home to Anchorage, Alaska:
Most of our guests coming from the continental United States get to Kamchatka through Anchorage, Alaska, which generally requires flying in one day early and spending the night prior to leaving the United States. Other options include routing through either Moscow or Seoul. If you are traveling via Moscow or Seoul, you will most likely be departing on this same day as well (though some Seoul itineraries may require a Thursday departure).
Saturday - Anchorage to the River:
Departure on Yakutia Air is early in the morning. Check in usually opens around 5:30 a.m. (two hours before departure) and it is advised you arrive around this time. The flight lasts about 4.5 hours, and crosses the International Dateline. Thus, you arrive to Kamchatka on Sunday morning. Arrival from Anchorage is 8:00 a.m. Arrival from Moscow is 9:30 am. Arrival from Seoul is 11:15 am. After passing through customs and immigration, fishermen collect luggage and are greeted by Andrey Konovalov, our handler for Zhupanova trips, who will be greeting the incoming groups. Once all of the guests heading to the Zhupanova Float are through customs, Andrey and his helpers will help you load your gear onto two micro-buses waiting outside the small terminal. They will then drive to the offices of Purga, where Andrey will take your passports briefly to make photocopies to fill out the paperwork required for your fishing license as well as the paperwork that will be required for departure from Russia at the end of your trip. They will also request at this time the $100 (payable in $US Dollars is okay) for the weekly fishing license. The Purga offices are located adjacent to the heliport in Yelisovo. As soon as the pilots get the okay to fly, they will load your gear onto the helicopter board for the incredible flight into Zendzur Lodge.
The first few hours in Kamchatka are always an exercise in patience. Understand that this is Russia, and communication from the helicopter companies is often lackluster at best. Keep in mind that the outfitters want you to get into camp as much as you do, and they are often at the whim of the helicopter companies. Everyone’s priority is to get you into camp…safely. Mornings in Kamchatka are frequently foggy, and the helicopters cannot fly until the fog clears. If the weather is clear in the morning, you will head straight to the heliport. If the weather creates a delay, Andrey will give the group the option to travel to the nearby Old Castle Restaurant, which has very good food (and local draught beer, Kamchatksi #1). Lunch and/or drinks at the restaurant are not included in the package price, but typically range from $20-$30. They do not accept US dollars, but they do usually accept credit cards and Andrey will be on hand to help trade Dollars for Rubles. Don’t forget to call your Credit Card Company to tell them you will be traveling in Russia, to avoid issues while traveling. Depending on the weather, the flight into the Zhupanova can be as short as 30 minutes or as long as 50 minutes; either way you’ll pass dramatic mountains and towering volcanoes – enjoy the ride! The helicopter will most likely land first at Zendzur Lodge and drop off those anglers, then continue on upriver to Camp One on the Zhupanova Float. Upon landing, guests will meet the guide staff, who will assist in gathering your luggage from the helicopter and showing you to your cabins. The head guide will give everyone a quick orientation and fishing talk, and the guides will help you set up and organize tackle. For those wanting to fish, there is some great water right in front of the camp, and many guests are able to hook their first fish of the trip before dinner.
Monday through Friday – 5 full fishing days: After a leisurely breakfast each day at 8:00 am, you will be assigned a guide and begin the day’s float. The crew employs a guide rotation system so anglers and guides have a chance to fish with and get to know one another over the course of the week. Angling boats are organized over the day’s section of river either on a beat system, or by ‘leap-frogging’ each other, with the effect that everyone casts to un-fished water all week long. During the morning, the cook floats past anglers in his raft and prepares lunch at a predetermined gravel bar where all three rafts meet for lunch before continuing on downriver. In total there are 48 river miles covered over the course of the trip. Between 5:00 and 7:00 p.m., boats arrive to the night’s camp and dinner is served at around 8:00 p.m. Showers are always hot, cabins are cozy, food is good and plenty of electricity lights the camp during the few hours of darkness each evening.
Sunday - Returning home: On the final morning, guests have time to dry clothes and waders, re-pack their bags, and prepare for the trip home. If you want to fish this last day there is ample time in the morning for several more hours of fishing around camp. The helicopter will arrive sometime between 12:00 pm and 4:00 pm (depending on weather clearance), and will transfer you back to Petropavlovsk in time to catch the 8 p.m. flight back to Anchorage. Andrey will meet you again and transfer you to the airport. If there is time, the bus can also take the group to a nearby store for souvenir shopping. Andrey will get everyone the departure paperwork at this time, which you will need to present along with your passport and visa at immigration before boarding the flight home. The flight lasts about 4.5 hours. Although you depart Russia on Saturday evening, you also cross the dateline again, thereby arriving in Alaska at 5:55 a.m… on Saturday morning! Customs and immigrations in Anchorage is very quick and easy, and you’ll have the whole day to connect back home, or to other fishing in Alaska. If you are traveling home via Moscow or Seoul, you will have to arrange an overnight in Yelisovo (we can help coordinate this) to catch the morning departure the following day.