Monday, 27 February 2017

Kamchatka - Land of Fire and Ice

One of the many volcanoes in the UNESCO-listed area

By Brett Goulston

I’m fortunate enough to have visited the land of fire & ice on a few occasions. It’s a destination that few people can pronounce and even fewer know where to find. Kamchatka is a peninsula in Russia’s Far East forming part of Southern Siberia. It lies between the Pacific Coast and the Sea of Okhotsk. Look on a map and you’ll agree it’s remote, which is its main appeal. 

Whilst the occasional expedition and cruise ship pull into the capital’s docks – Petropavlovsk – you really have to spend a few weeks in the region to see the best of what Kamchatka offers. If this was New Zealand, or anywhere else in the world for that matter, there would be heaps of hotels, restaurants and hordes of tourists. But that could not be further from reality of Kamchatka and its raw wilderness.  There are just two major towns in the entire region – Yelizovo and Petropavlovsk – and just one main road that traverses the entire 300,000 square kilometres from south to north. Ex-army helicopters are used to fly visitors to the destination. Don’t expect friendly flight attendants or tasty snacks and definitely don’t expect the regular safety procedure demonstration!

There are dozens of reasons to see this region. You can get close to the Kamchatka brown bears and there is plenty of other bird-life, sea creatures and animals. The scenery is simply stunning – lakes, forests and mountains in every direction and thanks to the numerous helicopter transfers, you get to see it in great detail. There’s peaceful rafting down pristine rivers, picnic lunches with salmon and vegetables, boat trips on the stunningly beautiful Avacha Bay and if a little light trekking is your thing, you will think you have arrived in heaven.  Plus there are 20 active volcanoes on the peninsula, some of which you can trek into! 

Service does not necessarily come with a smile in Kamchatka (nor the rest of Russia for that matter) but that’s okay 
 you don’t go for the service ... you go for the most amazing wilderness experience you can imagine.  

Come join one of our tours to Kamchatka and find out for yourself.  Next tour is in August 2017 - Click here.

The 1,250km long Kamchatka Peninsula in Far East Russia

A Kamchatka brown bear - woo hoo!

Pristine lakes and waterways abound

Kamchatka flights - ex-military helicopter is the standard mode of transport

Do you think this hat works for me?

Boiling water from these geysers spurts 20 metres into the air

Caviar is in abundance in North Eastern Russia

Rafting down the pristine waterways

One of the many carnivores to be found in Kamchatka

The Kamchatka Ridge forms the spine of the peninsula

Waterways criss-cross the landscape

A Kamchatka bear

Volcanic stream emerges from the many fissures

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