Monday – depart Anchorage on Yakutia Air
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. You arrive to Kamchatka on Tuesday morning.
Tuesday -- Morning arrival to Petropavlovsk, transfer to camp.
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 the Zhupanova trips, who will be there greeting the incoming groups.
Once all of the guests heading to the Zhupanova Float, Zendzur and Cedar Lodges 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 to fill out 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 directly adjacent to the main heliport in Yelisovo/Petropavlovsk. They have a lounge area with chairs, and will set out hot water for tea, instant coffee, and usually some snacks while you wait for weather clearance. Sometimes they may drive you an additional 20 minutes to a different heliport, depending on where they can get weather clearance first. As soon as the pilots get the okay to fly, they will load your gear onto the helicopter, then the group will load up for the short, incredible flight into Cedar 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. The helicopter companies don’t get paid unless they fly, so their priority, too, is to get you into camp…safely. Mornings in Petropavlovsk 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.
Depending on the weather, the flight into Cedar 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! Upon landing on the helipad in front of the lodge, you will meet the Cedar guide staff, who will assist in gathering your luggage from the helicopter and showing you to your rooms.
Once you’ve settled in to your rooms, 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 lodge, and many guests are able to hook their first fish of the trip before dinner.
Wednesday through Sunday – 5 full fishing days.
After a leisurely breakfast each day at 8am (no need to beat the crowds here!) you and your partner will be assigned a beat and a guide and head out on the river in “Alaska style” jet-equipped river boats. Cedar Lodge organizes anglers on the river according to a beat system. There are three beats, ‘upper,’ ‘middle,’ and ‘lower,’ each consisting of about 8 miles of water. Guides typically stay on their beat as anglers rotate through each day. In this way fishermen get to fish each beat twice and with each guide twice during the week. With just six anglers in camp, the feeling of solitude on such an expansive amount of world-class, trophy trout water cannot be overemphasized.
Lunch is prepared on the river, and often features fresh salmon or char, caught in the morning and grilled streamside over a fire, along with assorted breads, meats, cheese, and fresh fruit and vegetables. Around 6 p.m. you’ll return to the lodge for dinner, hot showers, and relaxation. A nightly soak in Cedar’s on-site banya is a sublime way to end the day.
Monday: 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 11:00 am and 3:00 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 immigrations before boarding the flight home.
The flight lasts about 4.5 hours. Although you depart Russia on Monday evening, you also cross the dateline again, thereby arriving in Alaska at 5:55 a.m…on Monday 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.