Located in Russia’s far east and situated between the Pacific Ocean to the east and the Sea of Okhotsk to the west, Kamchatka is home to the highest concentration of active volcanoes on earth. Its landscape of lava fields and craters stands in sharp contrast to the lush forests and lakes located in the peninsula’s lowlands. Among Kamchatka’s dramatic landscape live its ethnic tribes and remarkable wildlife. This workshop will get you closer than you ever imagined to geysers, active volcanoes, herds of reindeer, and wild bears.  A trip to Kamchatka is truly a photographic opportunity of a lifetime. 

After your arrival and day of rest in the capital of Petropavolosk-Kamchatsky, we begin our adventure with a helicopter flight over the Valley of Geysers. From an aerial perspective, we photograph a landscape of geysers, steaming hot springs, and active volcanoes. Our helicopter then lands in the cauldron-like caldera region, where we photograph at close range mineral lakes, mud pots, and bubbling geysers. 

We then travel north into the heart of Kamchatka where we spend the next several days photographing the Even and Korak ethnic tribes. We visit Esso, a small village of wooden houses with lush gardens, and then travel by helicopter to photograph the nomadic Evens, Kamchatka’s reindeer herders. The Evens utilize everything from their deer; skin for clothing and footwear, meat for food, horns and hooves for tools. The Evens live with their extended families and still maintain their tradition of living off the land and sea, and open fire cooking. 

During the next two days we photograph among a chain of 11 craters that include the Gorely and Mutnovsky volcanoes. To really experience the Gorely volcano, we ascend its 6000-foot (1829-meter) summit during a seven-hour round-trip hike. From the summit we photograph the lava flows and clouds of fumaroles rising from Gorely’s crater. The next day we ascend the 7,621-foot (2323-meter) Mutnovsky a second 6- to 7- hour round-trip hike. The Mutnovsky volcano area features glaciers, hot springs, and a glacial ice cave. 

Our next destination is truly reminiscent of the Soviet era. We journey to Bechevinskaya, an abandoned military city that was home to a former submarine base. This “secret town” is only accessible by sea or air, and we reach it by a private sleeper ship. Our overnight stay in Bechevinskaya presents a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to photograph unusual exteriors and interiors, scenes that serve as stark reminders of the bygone Cold War era. 

From Bechnevinskaya we cruise slowly back to Petropavlovsk-Kamchatsky, our workshop starting point.  A final helicopter excursion takes us to Lake Kurilskoye at the southern tip of the peninsula. Here we photograph close up the enormous Kamchatka brown bears. 

We end our Kamchatka adventure in Paratunka’s Russo-Balt Hotel, where you can arrange a horseback ride or take a final bath in the hotel’s hot springs or work on your photography. 

This workshop features

 - Photographing ethnographic tribes & villages
 - Photographing the nomadic Evens reindeer herders
 - Helicopter flights to the Valley of the Geysers
 - Hike up the Gorely & Mutnovsky volcanoes
 - Photograph the deserted military town of Bechevinskaya
 - Photograph close up Kamchatka’s famous brown bears 

Who Should Attend

This workshop is for the serious amateur and professional photographer or videographer. Participants should be self-motivated, technically self-sufficient, capable of navigating in foreign cultures, and physically fit.  Participants must be able to walk unaided on uneven terrain. Hiking up the volcanoes is optional. No special climbing gear is required for our hikes. 

The workshop fee is $ 14,500.00 and includes shared accommodation, all regional transportation, all helicopter flights, cruise ship, private touring, a private full time English speaking guide and local guides, most meals, photography fees and all gratuities for our guides and drivers. A $2,500.00 deposit must accompany your registration to secure your place in this workshop. After registering, all future correspondence, billings and financial transactions will be handled directly by Arlene. Final payment is due February 1, 2014. 

Not included are international flights, airport taxes, visas, personal expenses, and photography fees when photographing individuals, and some meals and beverages. The single supplement charge is $650.00. Trip cancellation and interruption insurance is mandatory. 



Detailed Itinerary follows:

Allow two days for travel to Petropavlovsky-Kamchatsky

June 29 & 30 travel days

Day 1 arrive in Petropavlovsk-Kamchatsky          Bel-Kam Hotel

Tues. July 1  transfer to Paratunka’s Bel-Kam Hotel, this afternoon is free time to relax or take a city tour of Petropavlovsk’s sites including Avacha Bay; the monuments to Vitus Bering, Charles Clarke & scenic viewpoint & fish market.

 Welcome cocktails & dinner (D)

 Day 2   Paratunka                                           Bel-Kam Hotel

Wed. July 2 after breakfast we board a MI-8 helicopter* for our one hour flight to The Valley of the Geysers, designated a UNESCO World       Heritage Site. We fly over two active volcanoes Karymsky and Maly Semyachik before landing in the valley for a hour and a half long trek. We walk on elevated boardwalks, stopping to photograph bubbling hot springs and rising steam from the geysers. We return to the helicopter for a 10-minute flight over the enormous Uzon caldera. After landing we disembark to photograph a landscape of mineral lakes and mud pots. After a 30-minute flight we stop in Dzendzur for a late lunch by the banks of the Zhupanova River. Here you can also bath in the hot springs                                                         A 40-minute flight returns us to Petropavlovsk-Kamchatsky. We return to our hotel by 6 pm.    (B & L)                            

Day 3 Petropavlovsk – Esso                    Hotel Paramushir

Thur. July 3 we spend the day driving 600 km or about 7 hours to the Esso ethnic village, stopping for lunch in the village of Milkovo. At approximately 6 pm we arrive at our Paramushir Tour hotel.      (B, L & D)                                          

Day 4  Esso   Hotel Paramushir

Fri. July 4 today we board our helicopter to visit the nomadic Evens reindeer herders. The Even reindeer breeders still practice traditional methods of hunting and fishing. We photograph the reindeer-breeding farm, and dine with the Evens in their cone shaped, portable tents they call ‘Chums’. After a full day with the Evens we return to our hotel.      (B, L & D) 

Day 5  Esso     Hotel Paramushir (home stay)

Sat. July 5 today we visit the Museum of Ethnography and after lunch we are hosted by the Menedek people. Their settlement is located in a nature reserve surrounded by hot springs. That evening we dine with a family in a yurt.  And overnight with a local family  (B,L,D)                                           

Day 6  Esso – Petropavlovsk –  Snegnaya Dolina (Snow Valley Lodge)

Sun. July 6 today we drive about 6 – 7 hours returning to Petropavlovsk- Kamchatsky with a stop at Milkovo village for lunch. Late day transfer to Snegnaya Dolina, near the Mutnovsky and Viluchinsky volcanoes.     (B, L & D) 

Day 7Snegnaya Dolina  - Paratunka      Bel-Kam Hotel

Mon. July 7 an early morning hour and a half drive in all terrain 6 x 6 jeeptakes us to the active Mutnovsky Volcano for our 6 - 7 hour round trip trek. No climbing gear is required just wear your hiking boats. Mutnosky has spectacular views of the surrounding glacie capped peaks and ice caves. Picnic lunch and late day return to our hotel.   (B, L & D) 

Day 8   Snegnaya Dolina       Bechevinka/ Ship

Tue. July 8 today we board our ship for a 5 – 6 hour cruise to the abandoned military city of Bechevinka. On route photograph orca whales, seals, walruses and numerous bird colonies This afternoon we photograph the Soviet style architecture of decaying exteriors and crumpling interiors.              (B, L & D)

Day 9      Bechevinka - Petropavlosvky       Bel-Kam Hotel

Wed. July 9 we spend the day cruising back to Petropavlosvky-Kamchatsky     (B & L)

Day 10    Petropavlosky – Kamchatsky      Russo Balt Hotel        

Thu. July 10 today we travel by helicopter to Lake Kurilskoye located in the southern part of the peninsula to photograph the famous Kamchatka brown bears. Our helicopter lands in the heart of bear territory for a once-in-a-life-time opportunity to photograph the  bears close up.                                      With our armed ranger as our guide we will hike to a watch tower from which we can photograph the bears as they swim, play and fish for salmon.        Next we fly to the Khodutka hot springs for lunch and a swim in the Goryachaya River.   (B & L)                                           

Day 11    Petropavlosky – Kamchatsky      Russo Balt Hotel        

Fri. July 11 Our last day is spent around the Russo Balt where you can horseback ride, visit the town of Petropavlosky or work on your photographs. (B & L) 

Day 12  Petropavlosky - USA

Sat. July 12  Depart Russia (B) 


Should weather conditions not be suitable the above itinerary may be changed at any time. Climbing the volcanoes is optional, and other activities could be provided with advanced notice. 

Physical Activities 



Flying to Kamchatka

Moscow and St. Petersburg, Russia offer the most flights to Kamchatka. 


US citizens must have a visa to enter Russia. In New York City Arlene obtains her Russia visa through Panorama Russia Travel Services 212 741-0033, 989 Sixth Ave. & 36 st. 21Stfloor. New York, NY 10018

For more information contact Arlene Collins  studio@arlene-collins.com 





Terms and Conditions for Destinations Workshops

1. Reservations & Payments

A deposit as indicated on the registration page is required to confirm your reservation for the workshop.  Final payment in full is due 45 days prior  to the date of departure for your workshop.  Maine Media Workshops + College (“Maine Media”) reserves the right to cancel a reservation if full payment has not been received by the due date.

2. Cancellations

All cancellation notices must be received in writing and will become effective as of the date of the postmark, or upon receipt of an email providing notice of cancellation. If you provide written notice of cancellation  60 days or more prior to the departure date for your workshop, your deposit, and any additional payment, will be refunded in full, less an administration fee of $55.00. If you provide written notice of cancellation less than 60 days prior to the departure date for your workshop, your full deposit will be forfeited; any additional funds paid to Maine Media for the workshop will be refunded.  No refunds of any amount will be made to persons who (i) fail to provide written notice of cancellation, or who (ii) begin a workshop, but fail to complete the workshop.

3. Basis of Rates

All prices are quoted in U.S. dollars; all payments must be made in U.S. dollars.

4. Insurance

It is strongly advised that you purchase Trip Cancellation, Baggage, Emergency Medical Evacuation, and/or Accident and Sickness Insurance Protection. Camera equipment, computers, and baggage are carried entirely at the owner’s risk. Maine Media shall have no responsibility for any lost, damaged, or delayed property, or for an individual student’s medical needs, accidents, injuries or illnesses.

5. Itinerary Changes

The itinerary for your workshop is subject to change without prior notification.

6.  Passports and Visas

A valid passport is required for all travel. You are required to notify Maine Media as to the nationality under which your passport is registered. If you are a U.S. citizen, Maine Media will notify you if your destination requires a visa.  Non-U.S. citizens are required to contact the appropriate consular office for entry requirements for their workshop. Participants are responsible for obtaining their passports and visas. To participate in the workshop, you must have a passport that is valid until at least six months after the date on which your trip is scheduled to be completed.

7. Medical Issues

All participants must be in good health.   You must advise Maine Media of any health condition, physical condition, or emotional or mental condition that may require special attention or that may adversely impact the other participants in your workshop. All students are required to complete a “Waiver of Liability” form and submit it at the time of registration.  This document may be found on the course description page.

8. Liability Waiver

Every participant is required to sign Maine Media’s Waiver of Liability before departure for their workshop.   Click here to download.

9. Responsibility & Photography

To ensure a safe photographic experience, you are required to obey local customs and be considerate when photographing people or sensitive locations.  The faculty member for your workshop has the right to expel any person from the workshop for behavior that is in violation of the law; that is disruptive; or that compromises the group’s safety or enjoyment.  No refunds will be made to any person expelled from a workshop. Maine Media shall have no obligation to pay any costs incurred by a person as a result of that person being expelled from a workshop. 

Sign and Return Waiver Form


Course Dates

This course is not offered at this time.
Check our full workshop listing for other alternatives.

Please email us or call 1-877-577-7700 with any questions.



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