Tag Archives: expedition

Altai – 2016: Stuffed Cheeks & Rapids.

Before, when I heard the words Katun River or just ‘Katun’, I imagined rapids and rafting. It was the first thing that came to mind. Now, that idea is set in stone after more than 400km of rafting, scores of rapids, several dozen riffles and goodness-knows how many thousand paddle strokes. But Katun no longer just means rafting and water – it’s a place of sublime beauty.

But more on that a bit later. First, we need to actually start rafting. For instance, like this:

Read on: …and this and that…

Altai-2016: Multi-Colored Mount Belukha.

Our first destination was mount Belukha. It’s famous – but only in certain circles. And that’s a pity, because the place is absolutely stunning! Beautiful, monumental, enormous. There’s snow, glaciers, colorful rocks, bright greenery, white rivers (“glacial milk”) and white foamy mountain waterfalls with the purest, tastiest ice-water. But we decided to begin with the Stone Town – a cult place of interest for connoisseurs and fans of Roerich and his secret forces of nature in search of an Altai Shambhala. A short walk along the Jarl gorge brings you to the stream of the same name (see here).

Read on: Out of this world colors…

Altai-2016: The Big Water Trail.

Hi all!

Altai ranks up there as one of the most fascinating and magical places on earth.

It’s not only beautiful – there’s something about the place. It might be some sort of special energy in the rocks there or something else unbeknown to us. Here the colors are brighter, the water tastes better, the grass is greener, and the mountains contrast more with their surroundings. This year I was lucky enough to spend three weeks in Altai with a group of like-minded adventurers. We hiked, choppered, and rafted (down the Katun River).

In all we walked about 70 kilometers to Lake Akkem and then around it, flew around mount Belukha in a helicopter, flew up to the headwaters of the Katun and rafted down to the lower reaches of the river – almost 400km (four HUNDRED kilometers!!) in all, and descending over a kilometer along the vertical axis. This was my ‘summer holiday’.

Reaв on: And this is what it all looked like…

New Year on Kili

Hello to everyone in this new year!

I hope the holidays went off well, without too much collateral damage, and that the winter break has proved useful for the mind, body and cultural development. All the usual stuff. But now it’s time to return to my tales, travel notes, reports and photos.

Starting the year as I mean to carry on – quietly… Yeah, right!

You need to start the year with a bang! Like this:

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No matter who I talk to about Kilimanjaro, they’ve either been to the summit (the majority) or intend to go there in the near future (the minority). A few days ago I joined the majority – on 31 December 2015, to be precise, I stood at the highest point of this volcano. And saw in the new year on Kili!

Due to Internet and time constraints here, the details will have to wait. For now, all I can do is have a little moan about the fact that for this kind of expedition you need to prepare well in advance and very thoroughly. It wasn’t easy.

Kamchatka-2015: Back home.

All good things must come to an end: that’s it for at least another year. Time to go home.

In all we’ve trekked/climbed/clambered/slipped/tripped around 300 kilometers, been up five volcanoes (though not always quite to the very top), scanned hundreds of square kilometers of phenomenal natural beauty, scared (or maybe just surprised) dozens of bears, and fed a zillion mosquitos. We’ve also used up kilometers of Kodachrome gigabytes of memory cards :).

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The grand finale #Kamchatka. 300+ km on foot in extreme conditions in 26 days

A photo posted by Eugene Kaspersky (@e_kaspersky) on

Read on: Good-bye Kamchatka!…

Kamchatka-2015 – top to bottom!

In my humble opinion, Kamchatka is the most fascinating and beautiful place on the planet. Bold statement, I know; but coming from a power-globetrotter like myself, maybe you won’t reject it out of hand? If you do – read the upcoming series of posts on this year’s An-Kam (annual Kamchatka), and let’s see if you haven’t been convinced by then!

Voluptuous volcanoes with colossal craters with multicolored lakes, + unearthly surrounding landscapes, geysers and hot springs, + lazy wild brown bears roaming free, + red caviar applied on your sandwiches not with a knife but with a spade – or JCB excavator :).

In particular, there are dozens of natural uniquenesses all populated with original flora and fauna concentrated to within a relatively narrow stretch of territory along the peninsula’s southern volcanic spine. This magical strip of natural beauty is in all just 600km long. It runs from the Klyuchevskaya Sopka group of volcanoes in the north, via the peninsula’s capital Petropavlovsk-Kamchatsky, and down to Kambalny and Koshelev in the south. Here it is:

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kamchatka-2015-2

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Read on: Kamchatka is way cooler than all other earthly beauties…

Kamchatka-2015 – aperitif.

“Further [vertically] up there, there’s a path!”

– Our guide, Fyodr.

 

Hi all!

Phew! Back to civilization from the harsh wilds of Kamchatka, and beginning the slow acclimatization back to modern city life and all its creature comforts.

In all we trekked 315km on foot, and probably traveled thousands of kilometers in all-terrain vehicles and caterpillar-track transporters, helicopters and snowmobiles (cars aren’t much use in Kamchatka:), and on the vertical axis we covered around 7000 meters on foot too.

We got up close to six or so volcanoes, sizzled in six hot springs, and saw untold numbers of bears!

Alas, the weather spoiled approximately a quarter of our route around the peninsula: we had to miss a couple of volcanoes (there was little point walking around in the dense cloud they were shrouded in), plus some of our intended on-foot route became part of the chopper route. Apart from that though, mercifully – for the there’s no climate in the world more unpredictable than Kamchatka’s – everything worked out superbly!

Stay tuned for the starter – Kamchatkan borsch, of course :)…

 

The Kurils: Why, where, how.

So, where on earth did the idea of a cruise, not around tourist-friendly tropical islands, but around mostly uninhabited – for a reason – polar-esque ones, come from?

It’s quite simple really…

My favorite place for an annual August ‘hard reset’ is Kamchatka: volcanos, geysers, hot springs, bears, and other similarly extreme extremities. But… well, I’ve done Kamchatka – and more than once. So something different but very similar was needed…

Now, every time I’m on Kamchatka the locals there are always saying “but on the Kurils they’re much better…”, and so on. Then kindred spirit Olga Rumyantseva had already been on the Kurils and wouldn’t stop raving about them… So my curiosity had been growing and growing for quite some years – until it reached a critical mass and it was decided, er, by moi – that the next annual August reboot trip would be to the Kurils.

After deciding where to go – about a year ago – the preparation for the Kuril trip began, only to end a year later. The ‘who’s going’ was established (mostly lovers of extreme tourism and extreme nature appreciation), the optimal route was calculated, the Kuril territory was surveyed, and the most suitable vessel for the trip was selected. Crucially, all participants were informed that this wasn’t going to be gym>beach>pina colada>spa>Cuba libre>paperback>single malt…tourism. This was wild marine-based tourism in a harsh climate on harsher islands, with neither Internet nor cell coverage.

Back to basics, back to nature.

Kuril Islands

Read on: 20 days on the Athens..

Blood of the Earth

Search engines will lead you to sites claiming that the “blood of the Earth” is oil. Don’t believe a word of it. The blood of the Earth in fact looks like this:

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Here we are, April, on the Kamchatka Peninsula, checking out the Tolbachik volcano erupting – on a long-weekend trip. It’s a long way to go for a long weekend, but for me and crew – it sure was worth it.

More: A lifetime experience…