Tag Archives: volcanism

Quito’s volcano: we couldn’t say no.

Since Ecuador itself and also its Galapagos Islands are both crammed with snowy-peaked volcanism, you might have expected that, after a full two-week expedition there, we’d have been to the top of at least some volcanoes. Well, I guess I would have expected the same too. However, we were on a take-it-easy, contemplative/meditative trip – not a high-octane, stamina-stretching, intense, head-down, onward-and-upward marching one. And one other not unimportant reason – actually, more important than the one just given – is the fact that the snow-capped peaks here are all almost stratospheric – clocking in mostly above five, and sometimes even six thousand meters high. And as any keen volcanist knows – that means acclimatization needs taking very seriously and lots of specialized kit is required; but, like I said – we were in chill-mode throughout the whole expedition, not serious-mode.

However, we did get one teenie-weenie bit of volcanism in – up the ‘easy’ volcano that shrouds Quito: Pichincha. Here are some pics therefrom:

Read on…

Ecuador-2019: Cotacachi/Cuicocha, Otavalo, Puertolago.

Our tour of the Galapagos was over. All that was left to do was fit in our traditional few days of ‘decompression’ after the extreme part of our expedition before we were to head back home. This was to take place back on mainland Ecuador…

…So much for the ‘decompression’ bit: for our next Ecua-dish on the menu was… volcanism ). Yes, we headed over to Cotacachi Volcano and its lovely caldera/lake called Cuicochahere – around two hours drive from Quito.

The height of the caldera differs depending on whom you ask – among locals, various internets, and our own GPS locators. Our locators gave us figures which tallied with what the locals told us: from 3100 to 3450 meters, making the lake around 3km above sea level! And it all looks something like this:

A fairly easy path runs the full way round the lake, which takes around four or five hours if walking at a gentle pace (decompression, remember?:) – or six or seven hours if non-stop-stopping for snapping the super scenery, which is of course what we did. It’s a wonderful day’s walking, and the path is helpfully dotted with clear signs:

Read on…

Flickr photostream

Instagram photostream

GALÁPA-GOSH – PT. 8: PENGUINS… AT THE EQUATOR!

I think this day was the most Ecuad-awesome of all during our boat-based excursion of the Galápagos Islands. Two islands in one day: one with brightly-colored iguanas; the other – with similarly wonderful wild animals and sensational sunsets. The latter wonderful wild animals – I’d been expecting them sooner or later as I’d heard about them before, but here they finally were, in the flesh – Galápagos penguins! Yes, you read that right: penguins! Who’d have thought it – on the equator of all places?!

Read on…

Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog

GALÁPA-GOSH – PT. 7: Volcanism, Darwinism, Puerto Ayora-ism…

Hola boys and girls!

Herewith, a continuation of my reportage from the Galápagos Island of Santa Cruz, on which we’d already seen: cacti that defy, surfaces with tortoises, and banana iguanas. Next up… – my favorite: volcanism! In particular: lava tubes. (‘A lava tube is a natural conduit formed by flowing lava which moves beneath the hardened surface of a lava flow. Tubes can drain lava from a volcano during an eruption, or can be extinct, meaning the lava flow has ceased, and the rock has cooled and left a long cave.’ – Wikipedia.

I’d been in such constructions before, in Kamchatka, Sicily, on the slopes of Mount Etna, and in Hawaii. I think that probably most relatively fresh volcanoes in the world feature such lava tubes – and that includes on the Galápagos Islands:

Read on…

Three days on the Condor.

My pals and I love a spot of trekking in remote places around the globe. Just two or three days normally does the trick: enough to get in plenty of gawping at luscious landscapes, plenty of exercise, plenty of curiosity satisfaction, and of course plenty of pretty photography.

And our New Year trip to Ecuador proved no exception. With small rucksacks on our backs (and accompanied by horses carrying the larger items like tents and so on) we walked along a lengthy stretch of the Condor Trek.

Read on…

Skaros: sad story, sensational sunset.

Flying around the world aplenty as I have a habit of doing, I find that – year after year, no matter where, and practically all the time – I come across all sorts of interesting stories about mankind. Sometimes they’re merry stories, but more often than not they’re sad. Why is that? I think it’s simply because throughout the whole history of humanity any upswing ended eventually turned in a downswing (or worse) – sometimes time and time again. But not only do upswings end in downswings; generally, sooner or later, all stories do.

So why all the negativity, you may ask. Well, I’ve just read the story of the ancient settlement-in-rock, Skaros, on the Aegean island of Santorini (where we’re helping out with the archeological digs). This rocky outcrop is part of an ancient ruined volcano – on the edge of the caldera. I’ve seen it many times, taken many a pic of it, and climbed up to its peak. But this here story I’ve only just heard.

Here’s Skaros:

Read on…

Kamchatka-2018: Kam-route, Kam-vids, Kam from outer space.

Hi Folks!

Herewith, the LAST post in the series on our Kamchatka-2018 expedition! No, really. “What? No meandering 30-post extended-version travelogue with several hundred pics?” Nope. Not this year. Don’t worry though: I’ll make up for this year’s scant reportage after the next Kamchatka mission.

But back to this year’s trip…

So. What have I got for you today?

First, of course, there’s the full route taken this year in on the peninsula, with a few assorted pics inserted at different points along the way:

I do hope that this route – plus the few travel-tales in the earlier Kamchatka-2018 posts, or indeed all my Kamchatka notes (and there are a lot of them!) – might make the seemingly daunting destination of Kamchatka a bit less intimidating for some of the more adventurous among you, dear readers. If we can do it – average folks with average fitness levels – so can you! Just follow our route and you’ll be fine ).

Now what else?

As it’s Tuesday, and you’ve probably got enough reading on your plate already, I’ve got for you today a series of videos on this year’s expedition:

1) Expedition highlights:

Read on: Bears in action!…

Leaden sky.

My definition of happiness: In excellent company; in nice weather (under a warm sun and clear blue skies); with oh-my-gorgeous views all around (and no other tourists getting in the way!); not counting the great many kilometers trekked, or the number of rivers waded or zip-lined across, or the masses of mosquitoes and innumerable insects (which mysteriously disappear all of a sudden); having ones mind, body and soul filled with the rejuvenating tonic of exotic expedition; with a fresh wind blowing; with a spirit that is tranquil, contemplative and meditative… where?… – you guessed it: in KAMCHATKA!!

Along wild meadows, dry tundra, and sometimes swampy stretches; across volcanic rubble… – it all equals contentedness.

Read on…

Geothermal-gastronomical.

There are just two ways to get to the white waterfalls I told you about in a recent post post. You can either walk from the village Pauzhetka (en route to the peaks of Koshelev volcano), or – just the opposite – walk from the same volcano en route to Pauzhetka. So you see: all roads lead to and from Pauzhetka. Accordingly, this post is dedicated to the small yet significant – and most curious – village of Pauzhetka…

Pauzhetka is a village of extremes:

First: It’s probably one of the remotest settlements on the whole of the peninsula. To get there in a regular road car is probably impossible. To get there in a 4×4 or off-road vehicle from nearest town of Ust-Bolsheretsk takes up to two days (including a long stretch along the shore of the Sea of Okhotsk, and probably entailing a few ferry crossings). On the other hand, getting to the village by air isn’t too much trouble: there are scheduled flights once a week (from Petropavlovsk) to Ozernaya airport, which isn’t far from the nearest village on the coast – a mere 30 kilometers from the Pauzhetka. The only other means of transport that can be used to get there is chartered helicopter.

Second: It’s tiny. Locals put the population at a mere 42 folks ((co)incidentally, a magical number:).

Third: Still – as of summer 2018 (!), there’s no cellphone coverage – at all!

Fourth: Though the village is tiny and very inaccessible, it nevertheless has its own… geothermal power plant – Pauzhetskaya (the first power plant of its kind in Russia (or maybe even the USSR – I’m not sure)! As a result, the local area is supplied with free electricity and hot water! Free, as in – zero rubles! And it comes in seemingly unlimited supply: no electricity meters… nothing: as much as you want to use, whenever. Leave the TV on – fine! Never turn the iron off (if that’s what really floats your boat) ok! And it’s not as if the local authorities discourage such wanton waste of energy supplies: they don’t bother turning off every home’s central heating… ever! See – told you the place is one of extremes ).

(Btw: I’ve written about Pauzhetka before.)

AAAnnnyway, that’s all beside the point (yes, I do like to digress).

What makes Pauzhetka so significant to me is that you need to go through it to get to the nearby OMG-stratovolcanoes – Koshelev and Kambalny. Now, since Pauzhetka is located in such a touristic paradise, you might think that it’d be all… Davos-like: nothing but hotels and guesthouses and restaurants to cater for the tourists. Alas – nope. Pauzhetka doesn’t do tourism – for a few reasons.

First, this place is inaccessible, literally middle-of-nowhere, and literally unheard of (almost). Just try Google photos of Koshelev Volcano: my photos are the first to be shown!

Second, getting here ain’t cheap (in part because it’s so hard to get to), which reduces its average-tourist magnetism to around zero. And for the serious explorer-expeditioner-climber, the volcanoes are just too easy to conquer:

– What were you climbing this summer?
– I did a couple volcanoes in Kamchatka.
– Cool. I hear Kamchatka’s the bomb when it comes to serious volcanism. What altitudes did you get up to then?
– Ah. Er… 1800 and 2200 meters.
– Oh…

Accordingly, every tourist passing through Pauzhetka fits easily in this here ‘tourist base’ made up of two buildings with sleeping quarters, the inevitable pool filled with hot thermal water, and lots of vegetable patches and greenhouses:

But these aren’t just regular, common-or-vegetable-garden greenhouses…

First, these are greenhouses supplied with as much free hot water as needed all year round. Second, the soil here is super fertile volcanic soil packed with mega-doses of the minerals fruit and veg love. Third, there’s the industriousness of the locals who tend the greenhouses…

Read on…