We have a VIP-tour to Kamchatka called "Premium program". It is a basic VIP- program filled with everything interesting in Kamchatka. It is appropriate for you if:
Mostly families with children like this way of traveling: full comfort, no tiring rides and the chance to correct the program at any time.
In the middle of March 2018 we were required to organize a VIP-tour around Kamchatka. It was a family of 4 people including 2 kids who had only 1 week to spend in Kamchatka. We managed to call them to discuss all the details, and our client turned out to be a professional in the sphere of tourism.
It was a real challenge: it's so exciting to present your work to a person who is familiar with its structure. When a pro is in his element a professional opinion is indispensable: he will not skip a thing, and it's a great motivation to do our job better!
So we had 4 months and the aim to plan the program according to the client's preferences. We had planned the route firstly and very quickly. We paid much attention to the details because everything which doesn't depend on weather should work like a Swiss watch - smoothly and nonstop.
The most important element of the whole traveling for our client was a helicopter of a definite model as the contract says, and no "replacement for technical reasons" was possible. If this requirement isn't met, the tour will be cancelled. Well, initially we wanted to have a modern and reliable Eurocopter EC145, but it belongs to a private owner and there was a risk not to get the helicopter when necessary.
The only alternative was MI-8MTV 1 VIP of the official helicopter company. The hour of flight is 1,5 times more expensive than Eurocopter's, however, MI-8MTV has more guarantees. But it happens that even official companies sometimes can't fulfill their obligations.
We have a long-term partnership agreement with the helicopter company, so there's no need in creating something new for every requirement. But ours was a different requirement. There is only one MI-8MTV 1 VIP helicopter in Kamchatka and we need all the charter guarantees. We spent 2 months negotiating a separate contract for this requirement. We planned the route, the charter period, the amount of flying hours, force majeure conditions and so on. The client checked every point with his lawyer. Finally, the contract had been signed and the deposit was paid.
The next important step is planning a menu. It has many specialties. Firstly, we took the feeding, including breakfasts in a resort center, under our control. Read why the resort center couldn't provide breakfasts to their guests further. We work with different cookers and love our "field" masters very much: they happen to make delicious home-cooked meals in inappropriate conditions. Also we invite restaurant cookers for working at stationary bases. We use glass for serving dishes and products with minimum expiration date. But we couldn't decide whom we would invite to serve this time.
The problem was solved when we had realized that the members of the family had different food preferences: adults liked various fish dishes, whereas kids ate only meat. Thus a cooker would have to cook 2 different hot meals and simpler meals for the crew. When we had summed everything up we invited our partner - one of the leading restaurateur in Kamchatka. It exceeded the price of the tour but it was worth it - a good restaurant chef joined our crew. All in all, we planned the menu and checked it with the client. Our cooker got a difficult challenge: cooking on the route and organizing breakfasts and suppers in the resort base.
So why couldn't the resort base provide their guests with breakfasts?
When we got the requirement from this family all good hotels had already been booked 4 months in advance! Kamchatka is just not rich in good hotels. Our client was looking for a hotel himself. 2 great park-hotels were not right: they were available to be booked only in full during high season, but the client needed a cottage or a family room. Finally he chose a cottage at "Lesnaya polyana" new resort base. We hadn't checked this base before so we didn't know anything about the service. Everything looked good on the pictures and the price was also attractive.
The client called us to discuss the details of feeding. It turned out that "Lesnaya polyana" doesn't provide breakfasts, has no restaurant and the kitchen for cooking. Everything the base offered us was instant packed porridge or eating in the closest hotel which is 3 km away from the base. A very strange suggestion...
Breakfast is very important for us as we have diverse program. We decided that our chef would cook breakfasts and suppers because usually tourists don't want to go to the restaurant after activities. Eventually, the client agreed with our decision and booked the cottage.
We took the accommodation under our control even though the hotel wasn't
included in total cost and it was the client's requirement
"Lesnaya polyana" has 10 cottages. The administrator told us that they were the same and that's why 1 cottage of 10 was available for booking. But actually it was wrong: the cottages were different; we had visited the base several times. Our priority was a cottage in the best condition where we could set the outdoor kitchen.
We checked the cottage before our guests arrival and made some remarks. Read how the hotel adopted VIP-clients further.
In VIP-tours we usually use Toyota Land Cruiser 200 or Lexus LX570 jeeps for 3- 4 passengers. Our client was also offered a premium-class jeep, a comfortable and reliable car. But the client asked for a minivan because every family member should have his own space, and we met his requirement and attached the car to the family for the whole traveling: the minivan with the spacious leather salon and a good driver.
The helicopter, the accommodation, the transport and the menu are stated.
The crew is gathered. Let's go.
Our guests landed in the morning and went to the hotel. When they arrived to the base they listened to a short briefing. After that came lunch cooked in the outdoor kitchen. Every cottage has a stationary tent nearby, and we chose one which could be closed on every 4 sides. After lunch the family had some rest, and then we went to the coast of the Pacific Ocean. Such excursion is very useful for acclimatization and adaptation to the local time. Our ocean astonishes everyone. We were walking barefoot down warm black sand, were breathing fresh ocean air and then returned back to the hotel. By the way, initially we wanted to organize supper right at the beach - we had visited the beach 2 days before the tour for choosing the best spot for evening meal. But our guests were too tired after flight and preferred to have rest at any time they would like, so we decided to organize supper at the base.
When we returned from the ocean - delicious meal was ready!
It was a good sunny morning. Everything was right on the plan, and now we were flying to the central part of Kamchatka. Our guests were watching the eruption of Karymskiy volcano while flying. The first stop was in the caldera of Uzon volcano.
We were walking around and enjoying the real life of the ancient volcano. The time was not limited like in group excursions - the guests could stay in the caldera for as long as they wanted.
The next step was flying to the jewel of Kamchatka - Geysers Valley. There were many gathered groups except us. Weather is not always good for flying, and everyone tries to catch a moment to get there. The rout in Geysers Valley is like a loop and groups don't come across - they meet each other only at the main building when buy souvenirs.
Gathered groups have to fly back after excursion, but we can stay - we were having lunch there. Having lunch in Geysers Valley! Our chef had cooked tasty dishes while we were walking around. After lunch we continued our trip.
Today our guests spent a night on the territory of Kronotskiy Nature Reserve. We were flying to Kronotskoye Lake. The ideal cone of Kronotskaya Sopka volcano was visible out of the illuminator. The cone is covered with a snowy star-shaped cap. There is the large lake at the foot of Kronotskaya Sopka - amazing view. Our mission was sailing along the lake and meeting bears, of course.
Brown bears were calmly standing in the field some meters away from our cabin.
Some bears were afraid of the helicopter and hid away, but the bravest ones stayed. At the end our guests will say that this place is even better than famous Kurilskoye Lake: it's calm there, there are few tourists, no electric fences and too many people with cameras. Only you and the nature. Eye to eye.
It was enough emotions for today. It's high time we had supper and went to bed.
The third day was very impressive. We were flying to Kluchevskaya group of volcanoes - one of the most active one in Kamchatka and in the world. Something is always happening there: Kluchevskaya Sopka expresses lava or Tolbachik
volcano explodes the earth creating those Martian landscapes. This location is a most popular among tourists. VIP-tour is the only chance to visit Kluchevskaya group of volcanoes in a short time: getting there by car will take minimum 4 days.
A wonderful view is opened out of the illuminator. Volcanoes of Kluchevskaya group are our Goliaths of more than 3000 m in length. Even in summer they are covered with snow. We flew around Kluchevskaya Sopka and landed on the cone
of the Northern breakthrough of Tolbachik volcano. We made an easy climbing and watched the famous focus: if you put a wooden stick to 10 cm in depth it will catch on fire in some minutes! This cone is more than 40 years old but there are still fresh lava fields lying below left from the eruption in 2013. These black stoned flows have the real Earth heat under them.
We had lunch facing active volcanoes and flew to reindeer breeders, to real domestic deer. They travel on particular routes and are controlled during traveling.
We also saw everyday life of the breeders: they live in a teepee based on branches, they have cedar sticks instead of floor and they dry meat in the sun. The world they live in is absolutely different, so hard but so beautiful.
Then we moved on to amazing Hangar volcano. Its highlight is the crater lake of more than 1 km above the sea level. When we came the lake had been covered with ice though it was August 7! Our helicopter landed in the crater, and we started walking and feeling the energy of that wonderful place.
That was our last activity for the day and we came back to the base. Our next target was the great Pacific Ocean.
Today we were going to travel to Russkaya bay by yacht for 12 hours. The chef had already cooked breakfast and lunch. We were talking to the client while the yacht was being prepared. We found out some problems with our hotel. The family told the administrator about some defects in their cottage, and he promised to repair everything within 2 days while the family would be on the route.
By the way, the cottage was paid for the whole period of traveling, despite the fact that our guests were on the route for 2 days and spent the night on the territory of Kronotskiy Nature Reserve – thus the cottage price was 210 000 for 6 nights! When our guests returned to the hotel, nothing had been repaired, so the client asked for our help. While the family was sailing to the bay, we called the director of “Lesnaya polyana”. We were shocked by such an awful attitude to our clients: no one was even going to repair something. We were rudely asked to stop interfering with the hotel work, and the director didn’t care about our guests’ reviews.
So here is ours: don’t place your clients in “Lesnaya polyana” resort base until it has a new director. The service is terrible, the price is not worth it. Fortunately, the only person who cared was the administrator: we discussed the problem and asked to settle the question. She succeeded– everything had been repaired an hour before the guests arrived.
Our guests were enjoying the ocean while we were solving the problem: they were fishing, watching sea lions, greeted killer whales and whales. They also had delicious fish lunch and boiled crabs at the end of the day. The crew and the
weather did their best.
The family were tired but happy. Tomorrow we were going to fly to Kurilskoye Lake. But something went wrong…
On the eve of the 4 th day we got a call from the helicopter company. The delegation of Russian government headed by the prime-minister D.A.Medvedev arrived to Kamchatka, so the flights would be unavailable from morning till afternoon. And we wouldn’t fly to Kurilskoye Lake. We called the client and offered 2 variants: to fly the next day or to wait till afternoon, and he was ready to wait.
The morning came. We were waiting for our flight but it kept getting worse: the company had taken the helicopter away because the delegation could fly only by VIP-helicopters. The craziest thing was that the company couldn’t even offer
another helicopter – all of them were booked. That’s the attitude. Of course, the company sent an official letter, apologized 1000 times, but the problem was still remaining unsolved. We had the contract but they broke it.
We didn’t have time to wait. We contacted the pilots of other helicopters and found a vacant one – that Eurocopter EC145 we had refused from. We discussed it with the client and he agreed. We sent our cars to another helipad and were waiting for the permission to take off. We got it! The weather was perfect, the views were fascinating, bears were catching salmon just in front of people. All in all, our client was happy that everything had turned out that way. The Eurocopter EC145 gets the better of MI-8MTVon one-day routes: flying the first feels like putting a light jacket after wearing a big warm coat.
The helicopter company recalculated the sum paid for the organized flight and returned the rest of money. That was the end of our unpleasant incident.
It’s impossible to predict when the president or the prime-minister will arrive - the only sign is the sudden reconstruction of the roads. They always use the only one MI-8MTV VIP-helicopter, and they never get rejected in favour of commercial offers. But today we are finally ready to present the great alternatives within VIP- tours – the European Eurocopter EC145 and American Bell-429.
Our family decided to make the 6th day free. We provided them with the car with no limit in time. Before we had chosen the transport we were looking for a good driver: professional, not smoking, good-looking.
We needed a driver who could make conversation, could be positive speaking about his country/ government/ family, knew the region and could suggest shops and other infrastructure. And we had found such a master! Our guests told us what they wanted to do. We booked a nice restaurant for dinner. The driver did everything else.
The 7th day was the last one. The day before our client had bought pictures by Kamchatka artists, and our last mission was sending them to Moscow by courier service.
And then we said goodbye to our great family. We made them fall in love with Kamchatka.
Moreover, the client visited us again after a while, but the reason was different. Kamchatka had won his heart so much that he decided to invest in our tourism.
And we were more than happy!
Words can’t describe what our guests saw in their journey. Words can’t describe all the views, all the marvelous creatures and all the beauties we explored. So it’s worth flying to Kamchatka. Don’t read about it, just see it!