Mutnovsky: Fire & Ice

The volcanoes of Kamchatka are a large group of volcanoes situated on the Kamchatka Peninsula in eastern Russia. Sculpted by 160 volcanoes and 450 glaciers, the Kamchatka River and the surrounding central side valleys are breathtakingly unique.

 

Of the 29 active volcanoes dotted across the peninsula, Mutnovsky (a complex volcano), is one of the most active in southern Kamchatka.  If you look at it from the shore of Avacha Bay, to the left from Vilyuchinsky, you will see constantly rising columns of billowing steam! Situated about 75 km south of the regional capital, Petropavlovsk-Kamchatsky, Mutnovsky is 2322 meters above sea level.

 

Ascent to Mutnovsky is a popular activity for both locals and tourists. The hike isn’t difficult as the main goal is to explore the ruined crater, not to reach the summit. Visitors will find that the volcano doesn’t even pretend to be dormant. Greeted by steam and hissing fumaroles (vents from which volcanic gases are emitted), the land is literally breathing, belching dangerous gases and reeking of sulphur.

 

On one of Mutnovsky’s slopes, there is a magical cave where fire meets ice…

 

Incredibly beautiful, the interior of the ice cave is jaw-droppingly surreal. Formed by a hot water spring flowing beneath the glacial ice fields, the glaciers have melted to the point where the roof of the cave is so thin that sunlight penetrates through it. With the colors of the rainbow illuminating the eerie yet mystical icy structures within, the massive caverns are reminiscent of a stained glass cathedral.

 

Interested in visiting Kamchatka? Want to see the two sides of Mutnovsky in person? Check out the upcoming Bears of Kamchatka tour with Expedition Travellers!

Kamchatka Cuisine

While Kamchatka’s famous for the abundance and size of its brown bears, Kamchatka’s amazing rivers also contain the world’s greatest diversity of salmonid fish. Thanks to its uniquely suitable environment, biologists estimate that a fifth of all Pacific salmon originate in Kamchatka!

 

The main staple of local cuisine is Pacific fish, such as sockeye salmon, hunchback salmon, coho salmon, chinook salmon, scallops, squid and the famous Kamchatka crab. Kamchatka’s cuisine is bound to delight any pescatarian’s palate. Besides enjoying typical Russian fare, such as borscht, pelmeni and pirozhki, you’ll experience salmon cooked in ways you’ve never imagined. Warm your body and soul with some of their delicious fish and seafood soups!

 

The red king crab, also called Kamchatka crab or Alaskan king crab, is the largest species of king crab. Able to grow as large as 28 cm with a leg span of up to 1.8 m, these giant crabs are capable of reaching weights of 10 to 15 kg! If it’s size that you’re after then this is the crustacean for you. Highly sought after for its delicate flesh, they’re delicious and similar to lobster.

 

If you’re a fan of fish roe, indulge in caviar from different types of salmon. Ranging in various colors and sizes, locals can easily spot good caviar and identify the particular type of salmon it comes from at a glance! From the delicate carrot color of caviar from small pink salmon and medium sized chinook salmon, to the bright red of a large chum’s caviar, to the purplish red of caviar from a small sockeye salmon and medium sized coho salmon - try them all! Feeling extra fancy? Treat yourself to their most expensive caviar - coho salmon roe. Because how can you not feel extravagant when eating phenomenal caviar?

 

Are you a fan of seafood? Interested in visiting Kamchatka? Check out the upcoming Bears of Kamchatka tour with Expedition Travellers and prepare your tastebuds for the freshest seafood you’ve ever tasted!

Kamchatka Peninsula: The Russian Far East

Kamchatka is a peninsula, roughly 1,250 km long, located in the Russian Far East. Easily Russia’s most scenically dramatic region, Kamchatka is a vast volcanic peninsula that’s almost entirely wilderness; a place of extraordinarily primal beauty with a plethora of rushing rivers and snow-capped peaks. Extremely geographically active, it has numerous volcanoes, geysers, hot springs and even a deadly lake of acid!

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A unique land where fire meets ice, there are few places in the world that can enthrall quite like Kamchatka. In Russia’s barely touched Kamchatka Peninsula, you can see the largest active volcano in the northern hemisphere and brown bears scooping leaping salmon out of rushing rivers at the same place. Hike across the ash fields of active volcanoes, visit the Valley of Geysers, spend leisurely hours soaking in natural hot springs, or go fishing in wild rivers or off the coast! Kamchatka offers a variety of epic experiences to satisfy your adventuring spirit.

 

Despite being covered in snow and ice most of the year, this sub-Arctic finger of land contains some of the most pristine habitats and abundant wildlife on Earth. Traveling to the distant land of Siberia’s wilderness may prove difficult as transportation is scarce and roads are even scarcer, but the trip is certainly worthwhile and few visitors leave feeling anything besides awestruck. Visitors come either to see the most impressive collection of volcanic features in the world, or to see an abundant amount of remarkably peaceful brown bears feasting on millions of salmon.

 

Interested in visiting Kamchatka? Check out the upcoming Bears of Kamchatka tour with Expedition Travellers!

Kamchatka Brown Bears

All grizzlies are brown bears; not all brown bears are grizzlies...

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Although “grizzly bear” is often used interchangeably with “brown bear”, the term “grizzly bear” really refers to any brown bear found in interior North America.

If you’re a fan of the majestic grizzly bear then you’re sure to love the gigantic brown bear residing across the Bering Strait from Alaska!

 

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Closely related to the Alaskan brown bear and possibly an ancestor of the Kodiak bear, the Kamchatka brown bear (Ursus arctos beringianus) or the Far Eastern brown bear, typically have dark brown fur with a violet tint. The largest carnivorans in Eurasia, they grow to be around 2.4 metres in length, weighing up to 700 kg or more. With a broad forehead and fur that is long, dense and soft, their claws are about 4 inches in length. These lumbering beasts of wiry muscle can reach speeds of up to 30 miles per hour if necessary!

Primarily found throughout the Kamchatka Peninsula, Kamchatka is home to the densest population of brown bears in the world. Except when mating, Kamchatka brown bears are typically solitary individuals. In September or October, about 30 days prior to hibernation, they begin building their dens (typically under tree roots on dry slopes); they may spend up to 6 months in hibernation.

Compared to the aggressive and predatory American grizzly bear, Kamchatka brown bears are generally not dangerous to humans. Unfortunately, these gentle creatures are among the most prized trophies in the Russian hunting industry.

Is photography your hobby or passion? Interested in visiting Kamchatka? If you’d like to visit Kamchatka for an extraordinary chance to photograph Kamchatka brown bears in person, check out the upcoming Bears of Kamchatka tour with Expedition Travellers!

Learn how to attract Birds of Prey

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As a birds of prey photographer, the most important issue most complain about is the unpredictable nature of the birds – they’re fast creatures that can disappear in the flash of a second. With experience and years of taking snaps of birds of prey, professionals have some skills and techniques to share with the younger or inexperienced photographers to learn how to attract birds of prey.

Origin of Birds of Prey

What type of creatures are birds of prey? These are the kind of birds that are carnivorous in nature as they eat animal flesh. They usually have sharp, pointy beaks and a pointy tail. A few examples of birds of prey include falcons, eagles, vultures, hawks, etc.

Falcons are usually found in Europe, Africa and some are also found in Asia. Vultures, on the other hand, are found on every continent except for Australia and Antarctica. Their mostly found near deserts and dry areas as well. Bald eagles are found in North America, Canada, going all the way to Mexico.

Did you know? Whenever these birds shake their tail, it’s a sign of contentment, which shows they’re relaxed.

Attract Birds like a Pro

In order to attract these kinds of birds, it’s best to wear camouflage colored clothes as birds of prey like a hawk, and eagles are attracted to these kinds of colors. If you’re trying to take a picture of a hawk, it’s best to keep an owl on the camouflage-colored drape. This is because the owl will stand out with such a colored background and hawks and owls are competitors as they compete for the same food. Because of this, hawks would want to hunt down owls as, like any other bird, they wouldn’t like someone else competing with their food.

Moreover, attracting these kinds of birds with natural foods or feeding stations is the best way as they are always on the hunt. Making small nest boxes with dead animals or birds’ meat will make these birds fly to the nesting boxes. You can put this nesting box in any place you want to take the pictures of the bird.

Bird Photography Workshops with Professionals

Now that you have an idea and knowledge of some of the skills to attract birds of prey, why don’t you try it for yourself and experience it in our workshops with professional trainers? At Expedition Travellers, we offer the best bird photography tours and packages to our clients, and we would love for you to not just get the best photograph results, but also enjoy the experience while learning and practicing skills with our professional trainers. Some of our bird photography tours include Hummingbird photography in Ecuador.

For more information, please visit Birds of Prey.

Bird Photography Workshop

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Anybody can go outside and try to take a picture of a bird sitting on their bird feeder or their fence, but the real question is – what makes a great bird photo? Let's think not just from a photography standpoint, but also a composition and aesthetic standpoint. Almost anyone would agree that the first most important element is having a really interesting subject. Not many people would be interested in looking at pictures of common, everyday birds they come across in their lives. 

It’s common knowledge that a person would be more interested in the unseen or unexpected, compared to the odd everyday subjects. 

Expedition Travellers is a tour operating company, with a special interest in photography workshops. We give our photographers the chance to take pictures of a variety of birds of prey including a bald eagle, golden eagle, snow owl, barn owl, and many more. We understand that birds are small, fast-moving subjects that are a focus challenge, and one can never get close enough. Hence, we have hired an expert bird photographer as the tutor of the workshop who is dedicated to helping our photographers capture the best possible images of 7 to 8 beautiful birds.

In addition, we at Expedition Travellers have retained the service of falcon trainers in Slovakia. Every photographer – whether young or old – struggles with taking pictures of fast-moving subjects like birds, and so, our falcon trainers will always be available at the workshop to help our attendees during the process. These professional trainers have their special techniques to control birds, so our attendees don’t need to be worried of receiving any surprises during the process, because they will be informed in advance of the specific places and times that the birds will be flying in from. This is a huge advantage to all photographers attending this workshop because they wouldn't have to worry about dragging their heavy equipment while chasing after each bird-like in any wildlife photography sessions – trying to get the perfect shot. Because of our expert trainers, every attendee is guaranteed to have good pictures, especially when incorporating a model session.

Bird photography requires certain skills and patience, along with perfect lighting – all of which are available if you attend the bird photography workshop with Expedition Travellers. Space is limited for our special bird photography workshops because we want every attendee to have polished their photography skills with the help of our expert tutor and professional trainers. Moreover, we also want our valued photographers to have one on one time with our tutor, so all their questions are answered, and they leave our facility satisfied with fine quality photographs. So, anyone interested in this workshop should book their spots, because who would want to miss out such an amazing opportunity to capture desired photographs of beautiful birds of prey.  

For more information, please visit https://www.expeditiontravellers.com/birds-of-prey

Hummingbird Photography

Nature photography enthusiasts are often attracted to ventures that involve hummingbird photography since it is a demanding yet rewarding experience. Hummingbirds are both small and extraordinarily fast, which make it a challenge for photographers to get proper shots. There are two sub-categories in hummingbird photography, which are photography with feeders and a multi-flash system and photography without them.

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Photography with Feeders and Multi-Flash System

The option of having feeders and multi-flash systems is not available in every hummingbird photography workshop as the proper equipment is quite expensive and difficult to install. There are, however, several benefits of having feeders and multi-flash systems in workshops that significantly set it apart from those who do not have them, thus justifying the initial investment. Having feeders in several locations monumentally increases the presence of hummingbirds and eliminates long hours of looking for them by having them come to you instead. The increased presence of hummingbirds also means a higher chance to find rare species. Having the right lighting is crucial in getting good pictures, which is why a multi-flash system is quite a worthwhile investment in activities such as hummingbird photography.

 

Photography without Feeders and Multi-Flash System

There are options of places to go for hummingbird photography that do not offer strategically placed feeders and multi-flash systems. These workshops are for more versatile photographers who can quickly adapt their settings or position to get the best lighting in a picture and do not mind having to look for the hummingbirds for long periods of time. It is a much more difficult task as the presence of hummingbirds will be significantly lesser without the feeders, yet in a way, this makes a successful experience all the more rewarding at the end of the day. It is worth knowing that when there are lesser birds one cannot afford to scare away the ones they do find, therefore, photographers in workshops like these must be very careful not to lose the opportunities they get.

 

Difference between the two Models

These two models definitely offer their pros and cons, so it is good to know the differences in order to decide which one may be for you. Multi-flash systems are often avoided because they scare away the birds, thus making the endeavors less productive; however, if placed strategically far away from each other, they produce minimal interference and good lighting. Feeders are a must have for the best experience since they ensure the presence of many different species conveniently in places that are known to the photographers.  Hardcore nature photographers may choose to not have these facilities for the sake of a challenge, yet the absence of feeders and flashes is indeed counterproductive.

 

If you are interested in hummingbird photography with feeders and proper multi-flash Systems, do visit the Expedition Travellers website at https://www.expeditiontravellers.com/ecuador-overview, featuring two 3- hour photography sessions per day.




Bird watching in Ecuador - Where to Find Them

Photography enthusiasts have often spoken very highly of Ecuador as a prime location for the presence of hummingbirds. Around 132 species of hummingbird are native to Ecuador which is odd considering the exceptionally small size of the country. That being said, here is some useful information regarding the hummingbird bird watching activities in Ecuador:

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Where to Find Them?

The presence of hummingbirds is easily noticed in Ecuador as there are many appealing locations suited for watching hummingbirds. Some of the locations include The Ecuadorian Sierra along which there are multiple frequent sightings of hummingbirds with hummingbird gardens to attract the birds to one location, San-Jorge de Quito where hummingbirds come in flocks to the flowering plants and feeders. Reserva-Yanacocha featuring a hiking-track along which many species of hummingbird can be seen. Reserva-Antisanilla which is a small nature reserve whose native vegetation attracts hummingbird. There are many other locations as well, which are a birdwatchers utopia in Ecuador.

 

Bird watching

Many people who go bird watching for the first time need some necessary information to make their activities more productive while bird watching. The first quite obvious bit of information is to have a decent pair of binoculars, which is a basic necessity for any bird watching the tour. The act of bird watching is a proper discipline, and bird watchers need to know the proper rules and etiquette. It is wise to ask an experienced bird watcher about this (Or hire a bird guide). It is also important to keep a low profile to not scare away the birds by wearing earth tone clothes.

 

Photography

When it comes to the photography of birds, there are some paramount instructions that need to be followed to be more effective in bird photography. Know that having an insanely expensive lens is not required for bird photography; rather, you have to mind the quality and direction of light, the background, exposure, settings, position, and patience. You must be patient enough to be able to capture a good shot; however, you must not be too quick and get a bad image or too slow and let the birds escape.

 

Inventory

There are some necessary pieces of equipment that are needed in bird watching. These include Binoculars, field guide, bird feeders, camera, water, food, hiking boots, and other necessary items to help you survive comfortably in your activities. Water is very important since dehydration is something that turns a good trip bad very quickly. One must always mind their surroundings to make sure they never get lost as in certain places mobile phone don't work; thus, it is important to not wander away.

If you are interested in bird watching in Ecuador and wish to find out more about this, you can visit the Expedition Travellers website,

https://www.expeditiontravellers.com/ecuador-overview.