Kamchatka- surprises for tourists
As soon as you arrive to Kamchatka, you’ll feel as if you arrived to Scandinavia: simple houses at the banks of cold ocean, long winters, thermal springs and geysers, the snow strewn with volcanic sand, and Erman or stone birch that grow all over the peninsula- unusual curved trees with bent branches resistant even to strong northern winds.
This scenery looks more like Iceland than like Far East. We discover what surprises the most tourists who visit Kamchatka, one of the remotest and most inaccessible regions of Russia, what makes this peninsula unique and what is it that attracts more than dozen thousand tourists per year, despite the high prices and difficulties a man encounters over there so he could enjoy this Russian Far Eastern fairy tale.
The peninsula of the Bears
Kamchatka is a true paradise for the bears. It is estimated that 15 to 30 thousand bears live here. No where in the world there isn’t so many bears in one place. The best and the safest way to observe Kamchatka bears is in the area of Kurilsk Lake, 200 kilometers from Petropavlovsk-Kamchatsky, the capital of peninsula.
Living next to the volcano
Tourists in disbelief listen to residents of Petropavlovsk-Kamchatsky who, without any fear talk about Koryaksky, Avachinsky and Kozelsky volcanoes, which are clearly visible on bright weather from all parts of the capital of the peninsula. Two of the volcanoes are still active and from time to time generates smoke which causes mild quakes.
Although the residents of Kamchatka are used to living next to the volcanoes, many apartment buildings and houses in Petropavlovsk-Kamchatsky are amplified by special constructions resistant to earthquakes and equipped with seismic devices that register any change in the “behavior” of the volcanoes. In Petropavlovsk hotel you can rent a room with a volcano view. One of the ways, for tourists to arrive to Kamchatka volcanoes is by helicopter from the local airport Elizovo. If you go there, you must visit the Valley of geysers and Death Valley (the name was given because of the toxic volcanic fumes). Kamchatka has about three hundred volcanoes that are on UNESCO’s list of World Heritage Sites.
Enormously high prices
Only wealthier tourists can afford a trip to Kamchatka, because air ticket from Moscow costs 20 thousand rubles (at the height of the summer season even 60 thousand rub). Helicopter ride to the Valley of geysers cost 90 thousand rubles. Average price of lunch at the local restaurant is a thousand rubles. So one of the surprises for tourists are unexpectedly high prices. A vacation at Kamchatka costs as much as Safari tour in Tanzania or a cruise around Australia. Due to the current fall of the ruble, prices of tourist packages are lower, so Kamchatka is now more accessible than before.
Kamchatsky delicacies: salmon and red caviar
Until recently, unusual noises would awake residents of Kamchatka at night. The noises came from the water and was emitted by salmons who came to this area for the spawning. Kamchatka is sparsely populated, so the nature of this area is unpolluted and the water is extremely clean. Specialties of Kamchatsky cuisine are different types of the Pacific salmon: sockeye, pink salmon, coho (silver salmon) and chinook salmon, as well as other seafood: sea combs, the famous king crab and squid.
The beauty of unspoiled nature
Kamchatka is the place for those who like the adventure of conquering various difficulties just to see the unusual beauty of unspoiled nature: lakes full of life next to the deadly volcanoes, glaciers from which emerge thermal springs, taiga, tundra and wild animals that live in close proximity to people. This is how photographer Igor Spiljenok describes this wonderful and incredible world in his book “The Kamchatka, I love”: “It is quiet morning, and while i sit on the shore of Lake Kurilsk, holding my camera and watching the sunrise over volcano Ilyinsky, it seems to me that i’m surrounded by the immutable, eternal landscapes, that all of this existed long before me and will last forever. Then suddenly, an earthquake happens and reminds me that Kamchatka is one of the unsecured places on planet, and that at any moment something unexpected and grandiose can happen”.
Although Petropavlovsk-Kamchatsky was founded at the same time as, for many visitors it seems as if Kamchatka was inhabited only 50 years ago. 350 thousand people lives on peninsula, 170 thousand of them live in the capital, which unlike other capitals has no bright lights and no nightlife.
Until 1990, visits to Kamchatka were prohibited for foreigners, and the citizens of Russia needed a special license. Now days, Kamchatka is open for everyone. Here you will, like almost nowhere else on the planet, seem to reveal a completely unknown world- valleys and rivers with thermal geysers, several kilometers long volcano calderas and relief that changes after each volcanic eruption. Even though Kamchatka was discovered over 300 years ago, a little is known about it.
Crimean war on Russian Far East
It’s hard to believe that Crimean war (1853-1856) reached all the way to the distant Kamchatka. Even though Russia lost this war, they significantly defeated the Anglo-French coalition in Petropavlovsk-Kamchatsky. Their scarce garrison discarded the attack by far superior Anglo-French squadron that attacked the port in the the capital of Kamchatka.
Source: Russia Beyond The Headlines
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