So, what are the nuts and bolts of a trip to Kamchatka? First and foremost is the cost. It’s expensive, no doubt, but not prohibitive. When I got beyond the dreaming stage and started planning I figured it’d take me about three years to put it together. I calculated it’d cost about ten to twelve grand to do it right. The budget: Outfitter: 6000 Tip: 400 Airline: 3000 Hotels: 500 Visa: 250 Trip Ins: 600 Medical Ins: 150 Fish Lic. 100 Gear: 1000 Misc: 500 I was pretty close to the mark. The first thing I did was to obtain a credit card that built mileage with all purchases and then I proceeded to put all purchases on that card: groceries, gas, auto insurance, entertainment, travel, auto repair, etc. Basically anything I could put on the card, I did. It took some discipline because that required that I pay the card off each month to avoid interest charges and a pile of credit card debt. I accumulated enough miles that I was able to purchase the round trip ticket to Moscow with miles, a savings of $1600. I booked online with The Fly Shop out of Redding CA. I researched several outfitters and they seemed to have the most stable history in Kamchatka as well as reputable experience in international travel. Pricing was comparable to other outfitters. I also chose them because for years I have driven past their store (though I never stopped in) that sits adjacent to I-5 in Redding on my travels between Washington and California and therefore I was sure that they existed and had been in business for some time. Fortunately, I did not have to buy medical insurance as my current health insurance with Group Health covered the cost to evac from the back country to the nearest hospital as well as local treatment. They didn’t cover evac back to the U.S. but I figured I trusted the Russians to get it right if I needed care. I made the choice to forego trip insurance, which was a calculated risk, but I was determined to take this trip unless I was dead, in which case I wouldn’t care. I figured if problems arose enroute (late flights, missing luggage, etc.) I’d just break out the credit card and deal with it. I thought about buying a new fly rod but ended up borrowing a back up rod from a friend that worked out fine, especially when my Orvis rod snapped the first day. I upgraded my marginal gear (boots, vest, rain coat) gradually over the year preceding the trip which softened the bite a little. I could have saved some money by obtaining my visa myself but chose to pay the fee to the travel agent recommended by The Fly Shop to ensure that it was done right. I didn’t want to get turned away in Russia or end up greasing palms when I got there. The same agency also handled my Russian flight arrangements from Moscow to PK and return as well as my hotel reservations in Moscow. They did an excellent job. I ended up spending more on hotels than I planned but that was related to some late flight changes that I had to make and that I chose to stay in a deluxe hotel ($300 per night) near Red Square and spend an extra day in Moscow on my way home. Most of the trip went off as planned but there were a couple of hitches. My original plan was to fly Seattle to Wa DC to Moscow and then connect thru to PK after a brief layover. About three weeks before the trip, The Fly Shop advised that instead of a helicopter flight direct from PK, we’d first bus to Esso and then chopper to the river. My flight into PK was arriving too late to accommodate the bus ride so I had to reschedule my US to Moscow flight. Unfortunately that meant I’d have to leave two days earlier than originally planned which meant that I spent a (hot – no AC in the $200 hotel) night in Moscow on the way and two nights in PK ($100 per night) waiting for the rest of group to arrive. The extra expense turned out OK. I ended up flying Seattle to Frankfurt then Moscow on Lufthansa which provided immaculate customer service. The flight was enjoyable and the trip was about 8 hours less than my original schedule which was a red-eye that included layovers in Chicago and Washington. I enjoyed the time I had in PK and the guides took me to dinner each night that I was there. As far as fly-fishing gear, I bought a new floating fly line to go with the new large arbor reel I bought for my Orvis rod. I bought a sink-tip line for the back-up rod that I borrowed. After the Orvis rod broke, I used the new reel and floating line on the back-up rod. I bought enough 0x leader and tippet material to change out every day or so. I never had any terminal tackle failure. I spent about $150 on an assortment of flies that I asked my contact at the Fly Shop, Ryan Peterson (who also guides in Kamchatka though not on my trip) to choose for me. I spent another $100 or so on flies from other sources. Other than the mouse imitations, I only used a handful of other flies, mostly for variety and in some cases to learn how to fish those flies (especially the streamers which I had not fished much at all). Realistically, I could have done fine with about two dozen Mr. Hankies, two dozen assorted other mouse patterns, and then a dozen of what ever else I had the desire to fish. It was about impossible to lose a fly with the 0X leader/tippet. We changed the flies after the fish battered them unrecognizable. The last day or so we were recycling the best of the chewed up mice back on to the line (and catching fish). I assume the Russian outfitter took care of our licenses ($100) because they never asked us about them. The fly fishermen on the Sedanko had to purchase their licenses. So, here’s about (pretty close) what I spent: Airfare (Moscow/PK RT) 1600 Float portion of trip 4100 Helicopter/bus 2000 Guides’ tip 400 Hotels 1000 Visa 250 Reel/Line 300 Flies 250 Wading Boots 150 Rain Jacket 250 Miscellaneous 700 (meals, B&B Esso, taxis, interpreter/guide PK, gifts, just plain spent) Total (about) 11,000 Was it worth it? Absolutely! Would I do it again? I’d sure like to but I’ll wait until there’s a reliable trans-Pacific route to drastically cut down the travel time and I’ll wait until I’ve saved enough to take my wife with me (so it could be a while). The remaining nuts and bolts? When I arrived in Moscow, I was a bit overwhelmed in the airport. It was at least 85 degrees inside the terminal and customs queue was a steaming, teeming, mob with no apparent organized effort to direct anyone in a timely fashion to the waiting (and seemingly bored) bureaucrats waiting to process us into the country. I heard many languages around me, but not a word of English. I resolved at that moment to check my attitude at the door and to experience Russia on Russia’s terms. That attitude served me well the entire trip and enhanced the experience. Lastly, most importantly, my wife, who has fly fished (and skied, and hiked, and dirt biked, and you get the picture) at my side for over 30 years, supported and encouraged me wholeheartedly from the very first time I said I wanted to fish Kamchatka and she replied, “you should.” Like every family, we have crises and issues that ebb and flow, things that need doing, bills to pay, children. As I prepared to leave she told me, “Don’t look back. I’ll take care of things.” I didn’t and she did. A journey should leave the traveler with an appreciation for the place he has visited and hopefully leave him contemplating the meaning of what he has experienced and, maybe, just maybe, mystified by some of what has transpired. Certainly, I was awe-struck by the Kamchatkan wilderness and remain somehow changed by the experience. What was once a dream now seems dream-like. I read and reread my journals, touching the now printed and framed photographs to assure myself that this really happened. I am mystified at my fortune that a priceless photo-filled camera found it’s way to me defying impossible odds but more so I am mystified at the wonder that in all of time and space I found a woman that could love me so.