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
The cost of the week-long Zendzur Hot Springs Lodge package is $6,995.00 USD 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.
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.
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.
• Travel Guard Insurance
Seasons at Zendzur Lodge
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 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
Sunday – travel from home to Anchorage:
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 itineraries may have an earlier departure, and when traveling via Moscow we often recommend planning an extra day or two to experience that city en route to the remote fishing grounds in Kamchatka.
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.
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 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 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 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. 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 Zendzur 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 Zendzur 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. 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 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 Zendzur’s on-site natural hot springs 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.
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. 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 dining hall.
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 at Zendzur Lodge
The first and last days of your trip allow for half-days of fishing. In between are five full fishing days (some September weeks include an additional day of fishing!).
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.
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 18 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.
What Makes This Destination Special and Unique?
• The Zhupanova River is home to the oldest, largest rainbow trout in Kamchatka. The average trout on this river is 24-28 inches, and trout over 30 inches are hooked weekly on the river. There may be no better river on Planet Earth to catch the largest trout of your life.
• In addition to monster rainbows, Zhupanova is home to a rare strain of sea-run kundzha (Siberian white-spotted char). This is one of the only places in the world where you can target these fish, and they can grow to gargantuan proportions here!
• Guests at Zendzur enjoy deluxe accommodations at a full service wilderness lodge. There is no need to pack your bag every morning here, as you’ll base out of the comfortable lodge for the duration of your week. Enjoy cozy beds, a hot shower and flush toilet, and some of the finest meals in the Far East.
• Zendzur features a natural hot springs, with wooden bath house style enclosure, at the lodge. There is no better way to cap off an epic day of trophy trout fishing than a soothing soak in these natural springs. It is simply euphoric.
• Guides based out of Zendzur utilize jet boats to access to over 24 miles of river for easy access to the best water every day. The Zhupanova is a big river in these lower sections, and with the added mobility of the jet-boats the guides are able to access every inch of the water, and rotate beats and fishing areas so that you’ll be in fresh water every day and rarely, if ever, repeat a fishing area.