Tag Archives: kurils-2019

Everything You Always Wanted to Know About a Billionaire’s Time Off* (*But Were Afraid to Ask) – pt. 1.

Hi folks!

Since there are a few days until my next business trip, followed by two weeks of well-deserved vacationing, there’s a short window to pause, have a think, and come up with a topic that’s both unusual and (I hope) interesting for you, dear readers. And this is what I’ve come up with…

As a company, we’re big into social media. And I personally am big into it too. I’m on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn and Flickr (besides my own blog, which you’re reading now) – and that’s just in English! I get lots of comments on those different accounts but, alas, I simply don’t have the time to read them all – much less get into discussions there. However, when a bit of free time does appear, I take a good long look. And one such occasion arose recently…

I was browsing through a stack of questions, when one caught my attention in particular. It went: “Why does a billionaire pretend to be a simple tourist?” Another went: “Tell us about the yachts and boats you sail on, what fancy camera you use for all your pics, and how you organize your big events.”

Re camera: I got a Sony Alpha 7 in 2015, and in 2022 I upgraded to a Sony Alpha 1 (pics [plenty of goodies!] only; Russian text). Yes, I like my Sonys.

Re how we organize our big bashes: I’m awaiting full info from our corporate events team. We’ve been putting on big events for decades now, and in recent years they’ve been numbering around 20 per year. So, yes, we know a thing or two about conferences and other big pow-wows and celebrations. Let’s see what they come back with. Meanwhile… check this tag out.

Re yachts and boats, and assorted other expensive pastimes and tourisms, for those that are new to this here blog – I can only disappoint: no yacht, no castle, no soccer team, no jet… None of that’s for me. However, one thing I do like to spend my hard earned rubles on is… – adventure tourism. So, here, I’m going to go over some of that – to introduce it to the newcomers among you, and to refresh the tales-from-the-extreme-tourism-side for the old-timers here…

And I’ll order things from the bottom up: from the deepest oceanic depths and up to the highest mountainous (better – volcan-ous!) heights – and higher!…

Starting with ocean depths – this will be brief. I’m a contemplative-meditative tourist, so I was never too keen on going deep-sea diving. Bathyscaphes and submarines – no thanks: you can hardly see anything when real deep anyway. I need to see something beautiful to contemplate-meditate upon…

Closer to the surface, though there’s visibility, everything’s still somehow rather banal. Sure, I’ll partake in a few scuba dives in, say, Seychelles, Maldives, Australia, or among the Galapagos Islands – but I’m no fan. Accordingly, I can’t report on anything too extravagant in the shallow underwater regard – no matter how exotic the location.

But on the surface of seas and oceans – now that’s more my thing. Evidence? Already three long ship cruises around the Kurils, with daily disembarkations onto the volcanic islands. Yes – I think it’s fair to say that’s exclusive – hardly anyone does the Kurils like that. More exclusivity? Does a trip to Antarctica on a large research vessel with artists from all over the world count? )

Aha – here’s a pic from that expedition. Oh, and can you guess what that land mass on the horizon is called? Look closely ) ->

Read on…

The film ‘From Kurils with Love’ – much of it shot from above.

Precisely a year ago, a group of like-minded adventurers and I took few weeks to leisurely tour Russia’s far-eastern Kuril Islands on a ship. Click on the link for plenty of pics and words about the expedition, but today I’m not writing about that, I’m writing about something else.

See, the group of like-minded adventurers I was with included a group of curious American documentary makers. Among them: the famous landscape photographer Chris Burkard, the legendary traveler-photographer-climber Renan Ozturk, the documentary filmmaker and conservationist Taylor Rees, their super-professional photography-and-film crew, plus ecologist-researchers.

And they all boarded our small ship for a lengthy investigation of the unique ecosystem of the Kuril archipelago, at the same time bringing attention to the remote region’s ecological problems.

And now, as a result of the eco-expedition a documentary has been released – From Kurils with Love. The ‘star’ of the short film is Vladimir Burkanov, Kurils conservationist and leading expert-biologist of the Kamchatka branch of the Pacific Institute of Geography of the Russian Academy of Sciences, who for more than 30 years has been studying the region’s sea mammals.

Read on…

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‘Zavaritsky: a ‘Festival of Vivid Volcanic Color that Couldn’t Be Fuller!’

Hi folks!

This is getting silly. Our Kurils expedition this year was in summer. Soon – it’ll be winter! So I’d better get back to my tales from the Kurilian side and make some decent progress toward finishing them; otherwise it’ll be Christmas and I’m still on about our summer holidays.

So, as every YouTuber loves to say, ‘without further ado’, let’s get back (far-)east. Specifically – ~40 kilometers to the southwest of Brouton Bay along the eastern coast of the Kuril island of Simushir, namely – at Zavaritsky Caldera.

Zavaritsky is yet another voluptuous volcano of the Kurils. Now, if Krenitsyn is the ‘King of the Volcanoes’, and Ushishir is the ‘Jewel in the King’s Crown’, where does that leave Zavaritsky? Zavaritsky is… the ‘Cherry on the Colorful Cake’, which the king, in his crown, loves to eat, when he gets the munchies. Ok, I have backed myself into a corner with the metaphors, so… let me extract myself from the compulsion to stick with royalty, its headgear and sweet-tooth, and simply state that Zavaritsky is… – a ‘Festival of Vivid Volcanic Color that Couldn’t Be Fuller!’

See for yourself ->

https://www.instagram.com/p/B00-2_Qgup-/?utm_source=ig_web_button_share_sheet

Read on…

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The one and only – Stolbchaty.

Next up for us – in fact, our last Kuril Island of this year’s expedition – was Kunashir, which, luckily, happens to be covered in outstanding volcanisms. To the north there’s Tyatya; to the south of it there are Cape Stolbchaty and its crazy columns; and further south there are the multicolored fumarole fields of Mendeleyeva Volcano and the hot mud baths in the Golovina Caldera. Each instance of volcanism – spectacularly beautiful in its own right; but all together they make sure the island of Kunashir would – if it were in China – geyt a full KKKKK rating!

We were here five years ago, and I wrote plenty about this phenomenal island then and showed you a ton of pics. Here, I’ll just be complementing that earlier narrative and photography with some extra-special new impressions.

Alas Tyatya wasn’t ‘open for visitors’ when we were there – the weather was too bad and the huge waves didn’t permit us a safe landing. But we did get a rerun of Mendeleyeva’s fumaroles and the stone pillars of Stolbchaty.

If you had to describe Kunashir with just one word, what would it be? ‘Ура!’, of course (in Russian), which means ‘hurray’ in English. Accordingly – basalt graffiti thereof:

Read on…

Next up: past Urup and to Iturup.

Hi folks!

Onward we sail further and further south, with it getting warmer and warmer as we get nearer to the equator. We keep wondering if, sooner or later, the waters around these parts might become warm enough to take a pleasant dip in… a quick check – alas: not yet. So we continue on our merry way southward – toward our next Kuril: Urup, which comes from the Ainu word for salmon trout. Probably named that way as the island is long and thin like a salmon. But wait – so… does that mean the Ainu people drew maps? How else would they know the shape? Maybe by climbing up a neighboring volcano and seeing it that way?

Or could it be named after the salmon that perhaps inhabit the small island’s… streams (no rivers; no lakes)? Maybe there are salmon trout here. To the north, as far as Paramushir, all the islands are too small for salmon trout to reside on them. And to the south, perhaps, the climate’s too warm for a northerner-fish such as the salmon trout? But just here in between (also on neighboring Simushir), there well could be salmon (there was on Simushir – I saw them myself). Not that we found out – we passed Urup by. We’d landed there last time and there’s not a great deal to see onshore that can’t be seen from the sea (see the below pics), so we just missed it out this time…

Severe Kurilian landscapes…

Woah – killer whales! Maybe they’re after the salmon? What else would they be doing next to an island called Salmon?!

But why take pics from the Athens? Let’s get a drone up! So our American friends did just that…

Evening approaches; in rolls the fog; time for us to move on!…

Next up – Iturup; that rhymes! Surely this will mean something fish-related in Ainu? But of course: it means jellyfish! That’s funny; the island neither resembles a jellyfish, nor did I see a single jellyfish swimming about in the sea around the island. Stop. Perhaps those long capes the jut out quite far into the sea were deemed jellyfish’s tentacles?! But I digress…

One of those tentacles is in fact a volcano of considerable stature: Atsonupuri. We climbed to the top of it last time (what a nightmare it was: real tough conditions), and bathed in its hot springs. It was also here where we found the Answer to the Ultimate Question of Life, the Universe, and Everything; that is – 42 ). I won’t go over Iturup again here; just a few highlights…

In the next pic: hot stream coming down from Baransky Volcano! In the steeper places: hot waterfalls!

Up here the water’s literally boiling! It cools down enough to be able to bath in it some 400 meters further down…

Woah – here’s something new since last time: neat concrete steps. Just what the doctor ordered (to go with the prescribed recuperative natural spring water:).

Down we go…

Oh no – repair work going on!

Not to worry: two of the upper pools had had their repairs completed:

And anyway, the best bit of all – the full-on hot-spring waterfall – was further down, ahead of the repairs…

Aaaaaaah. What a place! 42 – no two ways about it. And it gets even better for you, dear readers…: drone footage! Could this possibly be the first ever drone footage of these waterfalls in the history of the Universe? Again: 42!!

Must get back here one day. Simply mandatory… That goes for all you readers as well!

The rest of the pics of our Kurils-2019 expedition are here.

The filmmaking feats and photographic treats of our American friends on the Kuril expedition.

I’ve already mentioned a few times that we had a few American friends along for the ride adventure in the Far East, and that I’d be ‘getting to them’ later on. Well that later on has arrived!…

So who were these folks from the U. S. of A. (and a few other countries), who traveled with me and my regular expeditioners?

First up – Mr. Chris Burkard, the very famous and very successful photographer of all things extreme, distant, fantastic – often and preferably all three at the same time. He’d heard lots about the Kurils, and had long dreamed of exploring and snapping them. So one day, while researching the islands on the internet, he couldn’t help but come across my blog and ephoto-albums, since there probably is no other blogger/amateur photographer who’s written and snapped the islands more than moi. I mean – really, you can’t avoid Me & D.Z. and Co. on the net if you search for anything Kuril-related: if you simply put in the name of a Kuril volcano into Google Images – a ton of our holiday snaps come up toward the top of the list!

Read on…

The world’s largest man-made explosion ever – by far: in the Kurils, where else?!

Hi folks!

Back to the Kurils for the next installment on our far-eastern archipelago adventure…

Island: Simushir, uninhabited;

Location on island: Brouton Bay;

Place of interest: Abandoned Soviet naval base.

The naval base existed from the late-70s up until 1994. In its heyday around 3000 folks lived here. Now the place is deserted, has been looted, is overgrown and rusting. Up close: ugly. A way off, on a sunny day – mysteriously charming:


Read on: The world’s largest man-made explosion ever – by far: in the Kurils, where else?!

Ushishir: the jewel in the Kurilian crown.

The next stop on our Kuril-2019 adventure was the unparalleled Ushishir! One of the most beautiful locations in the Kurils; one of the most beautiful locations in the world. And If I were ever to compile a ‘Ten Most Beautiful Volcanoes in the World’ list (hmm – now there’s an idea!), Ushishir of course would be on it, and could even be at the top of it.

Actually, yes. Striking while the iron’s hot – let me quickly write up that list! I’ve seen all the world’s mega-volcanoes, so why not?

Read on…

The jiggery-pokery of the volcano called Raikoke.

Every single island of the Kuril archipelago is volcanic. Each island came about due to volcanism; and most islands have one, two, three or more volcanoes on their territory, some being among the most beautifully symmetric (e.g., ideal pyramids) in the world. Many of the volcanoes are active – with lava-spewing eruptions occurring regularly. One such active island-volcano is Raikoke – an island with a real checkered (green and black – as you’ll see:) history – literally.

Read on…