Zendzur Lodge sits on a shoulder of the lower Zhupanova River amid a thick forest of Kamchatka stone birch, in the shadow of snow-capped Karimsky volcano.
Exceptionally large rainbow trout, untamed wilderness, and deluxe accommodations define this sensational flyfishing safari. Anglers at Zendzur target an ancient, trophy-sized strain of rainbow trout that average 24 - 26 inches and reach a jumbo maximum in the 33 - 35 inch range. Like all Kamchatkan trout, they regularly crush skated mouse patterns, swung streamers on sink-tip lines, and, occasionally in July, traditional dry flies. From late July through August, huge Asiatic kundzha char also pour into the river from the North Pacific. In other rivers of Kamchatka these fish are small and river-resident, but the sea-run "Super Kundzha" of the Zupanova are remarkable gamefish that can reach a yard in length. They take flies well and put up a strong, charging battle. Sea-running Dolly Varden char are available all season and average 12 - 18 inches, run in massive schools, and readily take dry flies. As a bonus, anglers in late August and September will have the opportunity to catch chrome-bright silver salmon.
Every morning, each two anglers head out with their guide in powerful "Alaskan-style" jet-boats, accessing over 20 miles of classic big-river freestone riffles and runs. They cast to holding or free-rising rainbows, many of which will be among the largest they have ever taken. For those that haven't had enough after a full day, there is a great home pool in
front of the lodge.
Zendzur Lodge itself is a beautiful, traditional Russian wilderness outpost, staffed with a combination of talented American and Russian professionals. Lodge amenities are surprisingly deluxe given the remote nature of the operation and include double accommodation suites and cabins, each with private bath and sitting rooms. One of the highlights of Zendzur is the fabulous on-site natural hot-springs, enclosed in a banya cabin just down from the lodge on the riverbank.
The food at Zendzur Lodge is excellent. Guests enjoy regional cuisine, and more familiar fare. Expect savory dishes of seafood, fresh fish and meats, Kamchatka dacha-grown vegetables, and home-baked breads, pastries and snacks. When salmon and Dolly Varden are in season, hot delicious shore lunches are served daily on the river, guaranteed to leave you refreshed and ready for a fish-filled afternoon.
The style and quality of fishing accommodations at Zendzur Lodge is, by quite a wide margin, the best in Kamchatka. This, combined with gigantic trout, world-record kundzha char, prolific salmon runs and abundant wildlife, makes Zendzur Lodge an experience of a lifetime.
Each week-long stay is limited to a maximum of 6 anglers.
Reservations & Rates
Package Cost: The cost of the week-long Zendzur Hot Springs Lodge package is $6995 per person
• Kamchatka, more than any destination in the world, attracts adventurous single anglers. There is no surcharge to come alone. What's more, many people opt for two-week trips. In this scenario, the Zendzur Lodge can easily be combined with the Zhupanova Float Trip for a two week package price of $11,995.
Inclusions: Included in your angling package at the Zendzur Hot Springs Lodge is all ground and air transportation once in Kamchatka and all food, accommodation and guides.
Non-Inclusions: Not included in your angling package at Zendzur Hot Springs Lodge are airfare and travel expenses from your home to Kamchatka, Russian visitor's visa, fishing gear, flies, fishing license, medical evacuation insurance (required), and alcohol.
The Fly Shop® is not in the insurance business, but we recommend Travel Guard coverage as a service with a desire to see your best interests protected. It is impossible to know when an unfortunate situation (loss of luggage, fly rods, illness in the family, or an accident) may occur. However, such things can and do happen, and this insurance can provide a means of recourse against non-refundable financial losses. Click HERE for Travel Guard's Policies and more information
The flyfishing experience at Zendzur is about "quality" of fish, not "quantity."
Anglers should not expect obscene numbers of trout each day. For that, you'll want to look at one of our either Alaska other Kamchatka destinations such as the Sedanka Spring Creek, Wilderness Floats, or Savan River. What you can expect is a challenging, trophy rainbow trout fishery where an angler with beginner to intermediate experience can tie into 3 to 6 trout per day that average 4 to 8 pounds, and are occasionally double that size. Advanced anglers skilled in reading water, wading, and casting, and who have a modest level of self-sufficiency usually encounter considerably more action. Almost all anglers land the largest trout of their lives during a week at Zendzur.
There are two flyfishing methods commonly used on the lower Zhupanova River:
Real mice slip and fall into the river from overhanging limbs and grass and then swim like a cork at a down-and-across angle. As they do, they throw small V-wakes off their backs which the trout key to. Anglers replicate this action by plopping their flies against the opposite bank and skittering them out across the river, on tension and under control. What follows has got to be the most exciting thing in freshwater flyfishing. Since a live mouse in the stomach of a rainbow trout can do considerable damage, the fish tend to take the fly with a ferocious, bone-crushing chomp. All this, of course, takes place on the surface, totally visible to the angler. The skill comes in controlling your nerves to NOT set the hook when the fish merely swirls behind it - sometimes 2, 3, 4 or more times - before actually committing.
Salmon smolt and other juvenile fish make up a significant portion of Kamchatka trout and chars' diets. Woolly buggers, string leeches, baitfish and sculpin patterns, 3-6 inches long, all work very well on the Zhupanova throughout the season. Small fish elicit a chase response from their predators, so often it is best to give the fly a little movement as it swings through the water column. When probing for a strike, it's cast to likely structure in the river (tree roots, riffle-pools, rocks, undercut banks, etc.) that offer rest areas adjacent to heavier currents where fish can surprise-attack their food.
Unlike in other parts of the world, the number and size of rainbows you're likely to hook on a
given day in Kamchatka is not seasonally dependant.
Instead, in picking a specific week to visit Zendzur should be based on your preferences for weather, for the different methods used during July, August and September, and whether or not you are interested in a variety of species or only rainbow trout.
July is the warmest month of the year in Kamchatka and typically has the most reliable weather, with daytime temperatures between 60 and 80 degrees. Rain and 50 degree days, however, can happen any time of the year. Mouse and streamer fishing is consistent in the Zhupanova drainage from the beginning to the end of the summer. The Zhupanova gives up limited traditional dry fly fishing in July when mayfly and caddis hatches are at their heaviest. In fact, there is probably no river in the world where a larger river-resident, native rainbow can be caught on a caddis pattern! There are no salmon in the river at this time, but sea-run Dolly Varden do show up toward the end of the month. By the last week of July the famous "Super Kundzha," a sea-run char species found only in the Zhupanova River, begin to pour in from the sea. They are big, powerful sportfish that take the fly well and put up a fight comparable to a king salmon or steelhead. Though the Zhupanova is the least mosquito-intense river in Kamchatka, there are plenty of them around in July. If you have a low mosquito tolerance level, consider a trip later in the season.
August is the middle of the season. Chum and sockeye salmon enter the river and the cycle of life is laid out in full magnificence. Rainbows are targeted with mouse and streamer flies throughout the month. The first two weeks of August, too, are the peak time to intercept the Super Kundzha. By the middle of the month the mosquitos, black flies and no-see-ums are completely gone and the weather transitions toward fall.
September is fall in Kamchatka. It can be chilly, in the 50-degree range. Sunny weather (which is quite common) makes for beautiful fishing days, but brings with it frosty nights. It is also the most photogenic time of year to be amid the sub-arctic taiga and tundra foliage as it turns to blazing yellows, reds and oranges with a backdrop of snow-capped volcanoes. Trout are taken with surface skaters and with "big nasty" leech and baitfish patterns. The latter, fished on a sink-tip line, become more important as water temperatures drop.
Getting To Zendzur Lodge
Starting in 2012, getting to Kamchatka is a snap. With Yakutia Air's renewed service between Anchorage, Alaska and Petropavlovsk-Kamchatka, Russia's most pristine, bountiful trout streams are just a few hours from breakfast in the United States.
Typical Weekly Itinerary
Friday & Saturday - travel from home to Anchorage, depart Anchorage on Yakutia Air
The day before departure to Kamchatka, you'll need to arrive in Anchorage, AK and overnight. If you are traveling via Moscow or Seoul, you will most likely be departing on this same day as well (some Seoul itineraries may have a Thursday departure. Included in the general Kamchatka Travel Planner is some additional information on lodging options and eateries in both Anchorage and Moscow. Departure on Yakutia Air from Anchorage is early in the morning on Saturday. 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 Sunday morning.
Sunday: 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 Zhupanova trips, who will be greeting the incoming groups.
Once all of the guests heading to the Zhupanova Float and Zendzur Lodge 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 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 PK 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.
Zendzur Lodge: Monday through Friday - 5 full fishing days
After a leisurely breakfast each day at 8am, you will be assigned a beat and a guide and head out on the river in "Alaska style" jet-equipped river boats. Zendzur 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 each day, so that anglers get to fish each beat and with each guide.
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 Zendzur's on-site natural hot springs is a sublime way to end the day.
Zhupanova Float: 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 6:00 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.
You must bring a sleeping bag for the float trip
Sunday: Returning home (for 1 week guests), or transfer to your second week's fishing
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 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.
Lodging at Zendzur Lodge
Zendzur Lodge's location was specifically chosen for its convenient access to the legendary fishing beats of the lower Zhupanova, and for the serene hot springs that are on the property.
A small banya cabin has been built up around the springs to contain them in a 10' x 12' rock-floored basin. It is very relaxing place to soak, trade fish stories, and sip a cold Russian home-brewed beer at the end of a long day on the river.
Zendzur offers by far the most deluxe accommodation in Kamchatka and is comparable to the fine lodges of Western Alaska. It is a beautiful structure, originally built by our Russian outfitting partner as a wedding gift for his daughter. There is a main lodge with 4 suites, and a sitting room, as well as two stand alone cabins and a separate
The guest suites are spacious and appointed with comfortable beds and bedding, a sitting table, chairs and shelves for stowing gear and clothing. Each has a private bathroom and an entry/wader area.
With a skilled kitchen staff of 3, the food at Zendzur is as good as you will find in all of Russia. Appetizers, soups, main courses, desserts and breakfast pastries are all made from scratch on-site, featuring fresh ingredients from the PK markets, from the local greenhouse, and of course from the river.
Fishing Day at Zendzur Lodge
The first and last days of your trip allow for half-days of fishing. In between are six full fishing days.
The program at Zendzur utilizes "Alaska-style" 18' aluminum skiffs, powered by 40hp 4-stroke jet motors. You and one other angler are shuttled from wade-spot to wade-spot by your guide. Most anglers prefer to wade-fish, but for those that prefer to fish from a boat, the guides are very accommodating.
Sample Day: 7 am: coffee and tea 8 am: breakfast 9 am: on the water 1 pm: lunch on the river 6 pm: back to camp for drinks and a soak in the hotsprings. 7 pm: dinner
• For midnight-sun junkies there is a modest sized home pool in front of the lodge.
All Kamchatka programs employ a guide rotation system, so each group of two anglers spends two days with each guide. Staff
consists of one Western Guide and two seasoned Russian guides. Our head guides are talented professionals with years of Russian and/or other international camp management experience, and years of prior experience guiding in other International destinations.
Our Russian guides come from varied backgrounds, usually associated with biology, wildlife management, hunting, trapping or commercial fishing. Flyfishing being a relatively new sport to Russia, our guides come equipped with varying levels of pure flyfishing knowledge. Some are exceptional, having been with us for 10 or more years. Others have been brought on board for their skills as woodsmen and watermen, whose technical abilities are still evolving, but who are in rhythm with the lives and habits of rainbow trout.
Every staff member works to see the smile on your face when you hook up.
Making Reservations to Zendzur Lodge
To make a reservation, please give us a call at 800-669-3474 during business hours any day of the week. We can give you the answers you need, detailed explanations to questions you might have, or check on availability and confirm your reservation in minutes.