December 23, 2021
Rafting in Kamchatka.
Though we’re already well south of Petropavlovsk-Kamchatsky in my Kamchatka-2021 travelogue series, I haven’t reported anything yet on rafting on the peninsula. Well that changes in this post, and now – not later – is as good a time as any, since all our rafting had been done by the time we reached ‘the city’ as there are no decent rafting rivers in southern Kamchatka (perhaps with the exception of the Opala river, but I’ve never rafted it myself).
Over the years I’ve often had the pleasure of rafting in Kamchatka – and mostly in the central part of the peninsula: down the Bistraya (fast) river (near the village of Esso), the Bistraya (!) river near the village of Malka (the southernmost stream/river I’ve rafted down), and also the Icha river.
I won’t go into detail here, but I will say is that rafting in Kamchatka is a welcome alternative activity when trekking up to and around volcanoes might become a bit too samey for some (it can never be too samey for me, but there’s no accounting for taste bizarre viewpoints:). In short, the rafting = adrenaline rushes: check; wonderful Kam-scapes whizzing past: check; oar action as one’s daily fitness activity: check; much beauty and meditation possibilities: check.
Rapids can get pretty wild…
…But never too wild, as in – with huge rocks you have to maneuver around and treacherous whirlpool-like ‘barrels’. The name of the game here is taking it easy – and taking in the scenery as you glide along – over short distances (nothing like the days-long raft-athons in Altai).
Sometimes you run aground ->
Sometimes you need to put your back into it – but not too often…
Ok, so Kamchatka features rafting; however, it’s no destination for serious rafters, or indeed not-so serious rafters who simply want to get plenty of rafting in. For that there’s a different destination – the rafting no-brainer destination: the Katun river in Altai (incidentally, curiously, just looking at that map – quite possibly the river that’s furthest inland from any sea or ocean! Have a look!). And if you want mega-high water, you need to get there in July-August; then it’s Come Hell or High Water!
Meanwhile, rivers in Kamchatka – they’re less about the rafting, and more about the fish; and, by extension – bears, who are hungry for them! For example:
For bears eat fish, and there’s plenty of fish in Kamchatka’s rivers.
There’s sooo much fish that literally anyone always catches something! ->
And more than one fish, for the more persevering:
But don’t get your hopes up for ocean (wild) salmon: once it gets into fresh water, the ocean coho, sockeye, chinook and pink salmon stop hunting. So if they peck at bait, it’s only by mistake (or perhaps they’re bored?:). Accordingly, you rarely catch such ocean salmon. What you usually catch (plenty of) is fresh water salmon like salvelinus or trout (rainbow trout). And this winds up in ukha soup, or in a frying pan or on a grill to be then eaten on its own or with Chinese sauces added.
One thing that’s mandatory if you want to have fun while doing rafting-lite in Kamchatka is… good weather. If it’s foggy or rainy there’s little pleasure in rafting at all. And when the sun’s shining in a clear blue sky, it’s best to take advantage of the fact and get up a volcano sharpish. Still, again – if you’ve had your fill of volcanoes perhaps (eh?!), sunny-day rafting is also super fun, I promise ).
And that’s all on the topic of Kamchatkan rivers-fishes-bears folks!
The rest of the photographs from the Kamchatka-2021 expedition are here.