Kamchatka’s hardly known for its rafting: none of the rivers are all that lengthy – only long enough for three or four days rafting at the most. Calm rapids, calm swells. Almost all the rivers I know about here are pensioner-level! Therefore, rafting on Kamchatka is recommended only as an addition to other activities, as a wind-down exercise to allow those blisters a brief respite, and of course to get one’s fill of fresh fish!
Tag Archives: kamchatka-2012
Hardy tourists are attracted to Tolbachik in high season like… like office workers to social networks during office hours! But this year there were even more tourists than usual – maybe too many. The Leningrad Base we were staying at was filled with more than a hundred tourists from different countries – with groups from Poland and Germany among others. But this is quite understandable really, since there’s so much to see here. Besides the black-red desert and hills of the Northern Fissure there’s also Ploskiy (Flat) Tolbachik to check out – a must …
Day 15 (for the second group – day 1). Heading north.
If you ever happen to one day find yourself in Kamchatka, specifically in Petropavlovsk-Kamchatsky, and you have a free day on which the weather is good and the wallet is sufficiently bulging, then it’s perfectly feasible to have yourself a fantastic day to remember. What you do is organize a helicopter excursion and head north – to Klyuchevskaya Sopka and back. Such a day-excursion comes highly recommended – a total mind… flip – is guaranteed!
As mentioned – you need to sort yourself a helicopter, which really should be ordered in advance. After having done so, you pray for fine weather on the day of your trip. It’s a good idea to take spare batteries with you for your cameras and similar kit, as you’ll find you use them pretty much non-stop.
I’ve been lucky enough to have been on numerous helicopter excursions all over the planet – but in terms of the sheer overload of impressions, Kamchatka leads by a mile.
En route we flew over several volcanoes (including an erupting one, but which by next season may die down), the hissing caldera of the Uzon volcano (with a touchdown and excursion), the Valley of the Geysers (touchdown & excursion), the Kluchevskaya group of volcanoes, and the Northern Fissure (where we walked along the peaks of red hills). Unforgettable!
// For those in need of more details re all the below-listed, click here, or search the net.
1. Karymsky, 1536m – a permanently active volcano:
Mutnovsky volcano and environs (locally known simply as Mutnovka) are made up – handily – of three birds (killed with one stone) and a bonus track.
First, there’s Mutnovka itself – an active volcano of indescribable beauty, a canyon, ice cap, craters, streams, steam vents, sulfuric springs, and so on and so forth. Second, there’s Gorely – also a volcano, but nothing like Mutnovka, so also very interesting and visit-worthy. (By the way, right before our last trip here, in 2010, Gorely suddenly started to hiss and gurgle – so we gave it a miss then, just in case.) Third, amazing lava fields, caves and tunnels. And the bonus track? I’ll get to that a bit later…
The great thing about the place is that all four sights are close together: you can walk among all four quite easily in minutes, not hours.
Days 3-4-5. Ksudach.
We flew from Kurile Lake to Ksudach by helicopter. We could have got there by foot of course, but, first, no one knew the way; second, we couldn’t find a crazy enough guide; and third, no one really fancied battling through the dense undergrowth. Oh, and fourth: the whole route is cut with bears. Maybe next time we should prepare beforehand and work out a passable route – one that would also take in Kambalny volcano. From Google Maps it looks rather tempting.
Day 3. Kutkhiniy Batiy
Before Russians settled on Kamchatka it was populated by Itelmens, Koryaks, Evens, Chukchi and Aleut. The first Russian expeditions to, and settlements on, Kamchatka, and the peninsula’s becoming part of the Russian state all took place in the seventeenth century. Then the Crimean war kicked off, which in 1854 reached as far as peaceful Kamchatka. That was followed by the Russian-Japanese War in 1904… But for a complete history of Kamchatka, have a look here.
But let me tell you an Itelmen legend about the creation of Kamchatka and how the Kutkhiniy Batiy came into existence, as told by our guide – a local hunter.
Day 2. Bears, Bears Everywhere – Not One to Fear
Kurile Lake is famous not only for its surrounding scenery and nearby volcanos, but also for the local demographic situation with bears – that demographic being: there are loads of them!
They roam around camps either on their own or as family units – moms and their little ones. The camp we were in had a perimeter fence all around it separating the camp from the surrounding bear-inhabited wilds. The fence is just a little bit electrified – enough just to give the big furry mammals a bit of a scare, nothing more – so the bears generally won’t fancy breaking through said fence with all their weight and might. As we were told, bears touch unknown objects with their noses, and a light electric shock is enough to correct bears’ “auto-pilot”. They take no notice of the folks inside the fence and carry on with their lives undisturbed, even grazing just a few meters from the barrier.
We observed how outside the perimeter everything was relatively peaceful – all the bears mulling about appeared to be in good, calm spirits… until one elder-bear started to pester a younger and weaker member of the sleuth – with the result that the latter, having had enough of this harassment, decided to go for flight as opposed to fight – via (understandably) the shortest route possible, which happened to be right across our camp. It was as if he’d forgotten about the fence, charging at it at full speed. Poor thing. He was soon reminded about it, that was for sure L. He was ok though, just a little startled!
// According to an old folk tale, “A hippo has poor eyesight, but given his size – it’s hardly a problem for him.” :)
Kamchatka-2012: “No Regrets!”
The next chapter in the expedition travelogue…
Day 1. And We’re Off!
Let me start with a joke. But not just any old joke – there’s a point to it. You’ll see!…
So, two old friends meet up by chance after not seeing each other for years:
– Wohhh, dude! How many years has it been? How the devil are you?!
– Good, thanks. I got married [In a mournful tone].
– Congratulations! Let’s go for some beers and celebrate the occasion!
– No, can’t. Beers aren’t allowed.
– Then football, eh? Like the good old days?
– Nope. Football – not allowed either.
– Hmmm. Ok, let’s get out to the dacha [summer house]. The woods, mushrooms, barbeque, and all that?
– No can do. The woods, barbeque and all that – not allowed.
– I see. So, you don’t regret getting married?
– No. Regret isn’t allowed.
On every successful expedition or tourist-hike, sooner or later a short slogan tends to come into existence that starts being repeated more and more, and which eventually comes to be the trip’s motto, infusing the trip and everything that occurs on it with its essence. Well, Kamchatka-2012’s motto fairly promptly came to be “No Regrets!” – none at all, zero, naught, zilch regrets. No matter the multiple hindrances to a semblance of holiday good times – the far from perfect weather conditions, the scarcity of drinking water, the excess of water pouring down from the heavens, the massive airborne mutant bloodsucking beasts, the numb legs and sore feet from far too much hiking up mountainsides, and so on…
…Despite all of that, everyone, in the end, had no regrets whatsoever!
Herewith, the next installment of the travelogue of this year’s Kamchatka adventure.
Today you’ll be getting the low-down – and lots of pics – on the universal, essential means of transport for navigating the peninsula: the helicopter. A lot of the photos aren’t mine; they were taken by other members of the crew of adventurers.