Kuril Lake is among the unique natural sites of South Kamchatka Federal Reserve. Covering an area of 76.2sq-km, it is the largest lake of the peninsula after Kronotsky Lake. Kuril is set in a volcanic depression 12.5km long and 8km wide which was formed 8,300/8,400 years ago. Located at an altitude of a 104m, its maximum depth reaches 306m for an average of 176m.
The lake has several islands made up of lava cones with heights going from 200 to 300 meters: Chayachi, Nizki, Serdtse Alaida and Samang archipelago. On the north-eastern shore of the lake stands Ilyinsky volcano that towers at 1,578m. Bays were created in the lake after the last lava flow. Tioploy Bay is well-known for its thermal springs that can reach 45°c.
Kuril Lake is known as the largest spawning place in Asia for sockeye salmons. Indeed, between 3 and 5 million salmons come spawn in this lake between July and March. Of course, this attracts many brown bears. About 200 of them live on the lake’s shore. The salmons are also best-choice food for river otters and foxes. They also attract birds of prey such as Steller’s sea eagles (it is estimated that between 300 and 700 hundred of them populate the surroundings of the lake), white-tailed eagles (150-200) as well as Golden eagles (50). The lake is a wintering place for whopper swans and ducks (1,500-2,000).
One of the particularities of Kuril Lake is that even though salmon is not necessarily a part of the food chain of all the birds and mammals populating the area, one way or another sockeye salmon with its flesh or eggs participates in it. Kuril Lake, discovered by the Cossacks in 1703, is on the program of helicopter excursions.