Tag Archives: expedition

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!…

Flickr photostream

Instagram photostream

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

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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…

New Zealand: The Kamchatka Challenger. Introduction.

Towards the back end of last year, a group of like-minded souls – yours truly included – suddenly decided to drop everything – well, most things – and carefully study the country that calls itself New Zealand. But why? And who are these like-minded souls? These questions, and others, will be answered right here, right now…

New Zealand

More: 2 x 30+ hour sets of flights, 6000+ km traveled on NZ roads, and 17 days in NZ …

Kamchatka Comin’ Atcha!

Howdy, folks!

I’m a big fan of Kamchatka. I’ve been all over the world and seen many of its natural wonders, but nowhere on this planet have I seen such a high concentration of natural beauty and unusualness, mixed in good proportions with overcoming difficulties of the on-foot and water-based tourist way of life, with mushrooms, fish, red caviar, and roaming bears. They say that New Zealand is also such a uniquely beautiful volcanic-mountain-lake land, but I haven’t been – so I can’t compare the two yet. Sooner or later I’ll get myself there though, and will be able juxtapose them for you. But for now – the Kamchatka Peninsula.

I won’t wax lyrical as I often do on these here blog pages; I’ll limit my words here to just the following: Kamchatka is unbelievably amazing and fantastic, utterly unique, and as a result totally mind-blowing. I’ve just confirmed this to myself one more time. As if I needed convincing!

Practically in a straight line along the eastern coast of the Kamchatka Peninsula there are seven unique natural phenomena, each of which could easily be put on the list of the world’s natural wonders. The curious thing is that practically nothing is known about these extraordinary places in the West – or in the East, and even in Russia too.

What would the average Russian person stopped in the street say if asked about Kamchatka? Probably: “it’s a place where there’s plenty of fish, caviar, bears and huge crabs”. Some might even be able to add: “it’s where the Valley of the Geysers is”. However, that valley is just one of the seven Kamchatka wonders. Let me give you the full list, from North to South:

  1. The Kluchevsky Group – a dozen or so huge to mid-sized volcanoes, in a relatively confined space.
  2. Tolbachik, and the Severny Proriv (Northern Rupture), which is a black desert – the result of a crack that formed during a long eruption in the mid-1970s.
  3. The Valley of the Geysers and the Uzon caldera – bubbling and erupting volcanism.
  4. The Mutnovsky volcano range and the Gorely volcano – monumentally beautiful volcanic structures.
  5. Khodutka – the largest thermal springs in the world, which form a too-hot-to-swim-in lake.
  6. Ksudach – a crater inside a crater, a lake, and overall surrealism.
  7. Kurile Lake – bountiful bears, and stupefying scenery.

The story of how the 2012 month-long expedition went I’ll be publishing here in installments.

But with no more of a do, let’s cut to the chase and get to the pics in this first installment – a few for each of the seven wonders of Kamchatka:

1. The Kluchevsky Group

Sunset Mountains

More: And the other six Kamchatka wonders …