Tag Archives: kamchatka

Orange rocks.

There are many colored rock formations – especially red ones – around the world. The most famous are the red rocks of Utah and Arizona, and Uluru in Australia. Less famous are ones for example in different parts of China, like in Zhangye. But most of them become brightly colored only when there’s a low sun either at dawn or dusk – or when Photoshop is used for digital color boosting. On Kamchatka on the other hand there’s a place where red rocks glow brightly all day – not just in the mornings and evenings. That place is the volcano named Koshelev:

Wow. Orange, white, green… – scenes serene you could gawp at for hours…

Read on…

Beach-walking tourism.

— ‘So, how did you spend the summer?’
— ‘First – up in the mountains.’
— ‘And then?’
— ‘In plaster!’

Hi folks!

It’s been a while hasn’t it? Perhaps one of the longest ever stints away from my cherished blog. But with this post I am clearly back and raring to go, so, without further ado, let’s get this re-fired up…

And what better way to fire things up than a first installment of tales from the volcanic side, which also happen to be from the far-eastern seaboard-of-Russia side – that is, from Kamchatka!

Now, I have to admit that this was not – by far – the most outstanding of my many trips to the peninsula. One key factor was the weather this year; while Europe was having possibly one of its finest summers ever weather-wise, over in Kamchatka the weather was truly terrible. All the same, as ever, there’s still plenty to tell and show (photographically) you.

Oh my Gorely! It turns out this trip was my sixth to Kamchatka (not including a brief stay in Petropavlovsk-Kamchatsky on our way to the Kurils in 2014). The first was back in 2006. Then again in 2008, 2010, 2012, 2013, and 2015. And it won’t be the last time either; for Kamchatka, still, IMHO, is the most glorious place on the planet – even more so than New Zealand!

All righty. Today’s episode: Beach-walking tourism.

Tourism comes in all shapes and sizes. There are lazy beach holidays (or not so lazy if you’ve got the kids with you:); there are the more (grown-up) cultural holidays featuring museums, ruins, monasteries and other such historical attractions; there are shopping holidays… all of which are very popular with the masses. There are oceangoing holidays – be they exclusive affairs on expensive yachts with a helicopter on the deck or the more democratic huge ocean-liner-based ones. Then there are road trips on which you simply look around at the passing surrounding geography – that’s also tourism.

But here I’ll be telling you about a different kind of tourism: the kind during which you need to use your legs a lot with all the walking and climbing, and have a backpack on your shoulders carrying warm clothes, cameras and batteries, some snacks to keep you going for the next few hours or days, and sometimes even a tent. This is tourism of the hiking-trekking vibe, involving mountains, sometimes sports, sometimes volcanoes… normally requiring of the participating tourist both experience and training (sometimes you can do without both experience and training if the difficulty/distance level isn’t so tough).

Sporty walking, skiing, climbing, river/lake/sea/ocean-based tourism – there’s plenty to go at. But there’s one more you may not have heard of: beach-walking tourism! No, I don’t mean walking across a beach to your preferred spot for a spot of sunbathing-cocktailing-reading, and I don’t mean walking to the beach-volleyball court either. I’m talking when you trek for miles upon miles with a heavy backpack along a very long beach. Kinda like this:

Read on…

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Worldwide Swimming – Pt 2.

Oakie-doakie. On we march front-crawl, to the next stop on the worldwide swimming bus – Europe.

6. Hot Sea, Santorini.

Santorini is a volcano-island, or island-volcano. It’s actually a ring of islands, which are the remains of the caldera of a huge volcano of yester-millennia, with a fresh volcano growing up inside the ring in the middle, which every now and then erupts and grows bigger. I was on Santorini not long ago, and wrote plenty of words about it here on this blog.

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The only hot springs in the world that are situated in the sea reside here. At least, the only ones in the world known to me. The hot water spurts up from the seabed through the sea, making said sea the warmest sea you’ll ever know :).

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There are quite a few spots around the islands where you can partake in hot-spring-sea-bathing. The one in the above pic isn’t the best; others are deeper and hotter, I’m told…

Read on: summer holidays on the White Sea islands…

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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!…

Terra Incognita. Southern Kamchatkan volcanoes: Koshelyov.

As our An-Kam-2015 inexorably approached its end, we had just one more volcano to check out: Koshelev – actually pronounced Koshelyov (accent on the lyov).

Though the name is in the singular, this isn’t a single volcano – it’s a set of five different volcanoes, each of which erupted at different times, and which together make up a single massive construction of varied volcanism. Since all the volcanoes are old, they’re all partly collapsed. But that’s just what makes them all the more photogenic.

The parts of Koshelyov we checked out (the western peaks) consist of lava stacks (the centers of former craters) colored with multicolored volcanic remains. Various shades of black, white, red and yellow almost glistening in the bright sunlight of the clear day we were lucky enough to be here on.

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Read on: It was getting really tough towards the end of the trip…

Kamchatka-2015: Snow caves and tunnels.

I think Kamchatka’s snow caves and tunnels are worthy of a post of their own…

A lot of snow falls in Kamchatka. A heck of a lot. And in some places infinitesimal quantities – dozens of meters deep. Now, all that snow… some a lot of it of course falls onto the many hot streams here (that is, streams with underground heating – very posh:), and what you get is a maze of tunnels under the snowdrifts. And the snow in which the tunnels are made doesn’t have time to melt during the Kamchatkan spring, and sometimes – even during summer (since there’s just so much of it). Enter us! Who dutifully entered said snow tunnels!

Check out the pics…

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The water that drips down from the snow-roof – yum!

Read on: Really yum!…

Terra Incognita. Southern Kamchatkan volcanoes: Kambalny.

Though Kamchatka isn’t the most well-known or accessible tourist destination in the world, it still has more than its fair share of ‘touristic meccas’, like the Valley of the Geysers, Tolbachik (especially during an eruption), and the Mutnovsky and Goreliy volcanoes. But it also has less-visited attractions too, for example the Ksudach volcano. Then there are places where a bear‘s paw print in the mud is observed without the slightest increase in heartbeat – as it would be just one among thousands of bear paw prints. And the sight of a human’s boot print similarly calls up zero emotions – as you see humans’ boot prints… never! For no one lives in such places, and only one or two groups of tourists visit… per year! These places are utterly barren, desolate, deserted and silent: Terra Incognita!

Oh, what a shame. For these incognito lands are all must-see! 

Two such must-see spots on Kamchatka’s Terra Incognita are the two volcanoes Kambalny and Koshelev.

Alas, we didn’t climb up to the very top of their crater rims as our schedule wouldn’t permit it. We settled instead for strolling about the area, and in doing so worked out our plan for the next Kambalny/Koshelev visit: to walk from Pauzhetka to Kambalny, then down to Kambalny Lake, and then… we’ll just have to see how much energy is left for onward volcano climbing…

Kambalny is a volcano 2161 meters high, but it also has a volcanic ridge some 15km long, which goes straight from north to south right in the middle of lower Kamchatka – directly between the Sea of Okhotsk and Kurile Lake.

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Oh my gorgeous. Fantastical spectacles…

Read on: Black rock, red rock, yellow rock, white rocks…

Kamchatka-2015: white waterfalls and abandoned stone boats.

I first intended starting this post about three places of interest near Pauzhetka with a satellite photo of the vicinity (the area between the Sea of Okhotsk and Kurile Lake). However, I couldn’t find a single one on the net. Search engines could only come up with this detail-free specimen of topographical depiction: you zoom in, and get just a blur! Ok, so it’s a remote spot of the world, but really…

Anyway, first up: the White Waterfalls.

An amazing place! I’ve never seen natural fountains gushing from a cliff face (there are geysers of course, but they gush from the ground).

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Read on: Wait! There is more…

Kamchatka-2015: Pauzhetka – where the electricity is free.

There’s a small remote village in Kamchatka called Pauzhetka – to the far south of the peninsula. It’s so small and remote, Google Maps shows, er, nothing, where in fact lies this settlement. It just didn’t get round to it I guess.

Perhaps that’s understandable: the village (situated between the Sea of Okhotsk and Kurile Lake) is surrounded on all sides by volcanoes. Pauzhetka is so unremarkable, it doesn’t even have a Wikipedia page dedicated to it. (Hmmm, maybe one just needs writing then; maybe even a grandiose Wiki affair with photos, facts and figures, history and other details? Well why not? Any volunteers? Internet enthusiasts to the rescue of online Pauzhetka!)

We were told that the name Pauzhetka comes from the former name – Pauzha – of a local river. I wonder, was that the Itelmen name? Well, anyway, that river is now called Pauzhetka too. Just so no one confuses the two.

I like how Pauzhetka sounds. I imagine a ‘pause’ when thinking of this place. As if life is put on pauze when folks come here, as it’s so out of the normal rhythm of life and the world. Something like that anyway.

Pauzhetka is just one of many interesting-sounding names on Kamchatka. Others include: the Goreliy (burnt) volcano, the Dvugorbaya (twin-peaked) volcano, and the Falshiviy (false), and Zhirovoy (fatty) streams!

// Sure, pioneers often gave bizarre names to the peaks, valleys, bays and other places they discovered. For example, in South Africa there’s a False Bay, which has a most interesting tale behind it. However, today’s post is about Kamchatkan names only.

There are more odd names, particularly of volcanoes. Examples: Mutniy (muddy), Beliy (white), Ploskiy (flat), Shish (the ‘bird‘:), Ostriy (sharp), and Spokoyniy (calm).

But now – back to the main topic: Pauzhetka. What else is there to Pauzhetka? Three main things (besides volcanism plain and simple):

– A geothermal power plant;
– Fruit and veg;
– Much natural beauty.

The geothermal power plant produces not only gigawatts of free-of-charge thermal electricity for Kamchatkans, but also lots and lots of boiling water for the valley below (also free), which the locals naturally put to good use with pleasure.

The hot water might also have a hand in making the fruit and vegetables grown in the many greenhouses in and around the village as tasty as we discovered them to be. And not only the obvious tomatoes, cabbages and potatoes, but also watermelons! Some even claim that pineapples and papayas are grown, though we didn’t catch a glimpse of any such exotic fruit – they must be tucked away deep inside the greenhouse jungle.

Here’s the view of the Pauzhetka area from one of the mountains next to it (the village itself isn’t visible, just like on Google:).

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Read on: not only a beautiful place, but very tasty too one too!…

Kamchatka-2015 – If you can walk with bears…

If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you, and you find yourself on the bank of Kurile Lake and are told to ‘go check out the sand bank’ by your guides, make sure you agree and get yourself over there! For what you’ll get is a heady cocktail of adrenaline, delight and emotions. Why? Because… of all the bears. And not just a handful, but a whole big pack of them…

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Read on: the place is packed full of grizzlies…