‘Zavaritsky: a ‘Festival of Vivid Volcanic Color that Couldn’t Be Fuller!’

Hi folks!

This is getting silly. Our Kurils expedition this year was in summer. Soon – it’ll be winter! So I’d better get back to my tales from the Kurilian side and make some decent progress toward finishing them; otherwise it’ll be Christmas and I’m still on about our summer holidays.

So, as every YouTuber loves to say, ‘without further ado’, let’s get back (far-)east. Specifically – ~40 kilometers to the southwest of Brouton Bay along the eastern coast of the Kuril island of Simushir, namely – at Zavaritsky Caldera.

Zavaritsky is yet another voluptuous volcano of the Kurils. Now, if Krenitsyn is the ‘King of the Volcanoes’, and Ushishir is the ‘Jewel in the King’s Crown’, where does that leave Zavaritsky? Zavaritsky is… the ‘Cherry on the Colorful Cake’, which the king, in his crown, loves to eat, when he gets the munchies. Ok, I have backed myself into a corner with the metaphors, so… let me extract myself from the compulsion to stick with royalty, its headgear and sweet-tooth, and simply state that Zavaritsky is… – a ‘Festival of Vivid Volcanic Color that Couldn’t Be Fuller!’

See for yourself ->


Getting to the caldera once ashore isn’t difficult. The difficult part is getting to the coast of the island, but you know that (island: uninhabited, zero infrastructure, including transportation to get to it; we had the Athens to make up for that:). Another difficult part is trying to be there when the weather’s nice, but you know all about that too. Back to getting to the caldera: It’s not that hard – even for office types, like us (including many who never frequent the gym: just 400 meters up, and it takes around an hour.

Woah – since our lot do not frequent the gym, it took us more than an hour – one-and-a-half or two more like…

Up we trek. Remember – no one lives on Sumishir, so no roads, no paths, no nothing. Utterly untouched. Accordingly, we simply walk across the grass, general direction – up there to the top!

We get to the top; we are rewarded for our troubles with views that are out of this world – almost Martian:

Impressive, huh? It was impressive last time we were here, but the weather was poor. This year – the sun was out so the experience was even more awesome.

Last time we really wanted to ‘walk the rim’, but said bad weather put paid to that. This year – let’s do it. Off we go!…

The Donald’s comb-over’s back!

Purples, reds, mauves, lavenders, lilacs, plums, violets; greens; blacks; browns…

We debated what that… thing in the middle there most looked like. Some said a heart, others – a backside!

The views outward – also oh-my-grandiose!

It’s a full 400 meters along the vertical down to that there charming lake:

Volcanoes on the horizon. The very farthest is Ketoy, which I mentioned before.

Our drone operators, U.M. and D.Z., sent up a their flying video cameras up here – and the colors just got more outstanding: blues and turquoises come into view…


Me – taking a pic of…


And this:


For some, it was all too much


What is that? And what’s it doing here? Who put it there? Why?!

We intended to walk the rim… but it wasn’t to be. If you look to the left here – all that lush greenery isn’t a neatly tended lawn. It’s waist-high brush. It’d be murder trying to get through that. And not only that – but at the far end there are sheer cliffs to navigate. Nope. No rim-walking this time (…

So we decided to lie down instead…

And meditate upon the vista.

As we were heading back, I realized just how many mouse and rat burrows and paths I’d seen that day. It must me a mouse-rat heaven here. Apparently the Japanese introduced them to the island to try and establish a suitable fox-farming ecosystem. Then fox fur went out of fashion for ethical reasons. But things didn’t get much better for the foxes (not sure why – I’m no zoologist), but for the rats and mice – it continues to be heaven. Not that we saw a single one – much too shy and not used to the presence of Homo sapiens.


Meanwhile, we continue on our way back to the Athens. Not without frequent sit-and-gawp stops:

Yep, turned out to be a wonderful walk.

PS: a few more pics…

And as a post-post brandy – check out this vid:

The rest of the pics from our Kurils-2019 trip are here.

Leave a note