Tag Archives: volcanism
Day 3. Geothermality.
At last! The time has come to move onto the most interesting bit (at least, for me!) of NZ – of which there happens to be plenty.
Our route was planned thus: from underwhelm-ness, via mid-whelmness, and on to overwhelm-ness, along hundreds of miles of road surrounded on both sides by luxurious landscapes and a continuation of the inevitable – scads of sheep.
Our third day in NZ served up the following for our touristic pleasure: geysers, hot springs, cauldrons, pot holes, fumaroles, and other assorted volcanisms and geothermality – all unconditionally mandatory for visiting and studying more closely.
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.
There are hardly active volcanoes in Europe; well, not including those unpronounceable ones in Iceland, that is. Mainland European volcanoes are to be found only in Santorini in Greece and in Italy. And it’s of course Mount Etna that’s the champion in terms of height (but not necessarily on other attributes – Santorini is much more colorful and generally far more impressive to look at).
So, Mount Etna. It’s only a few hours from any point in Europe, so if any Europeans reading this still haven’t been to a real smoking volcano, Mount Etna’s for you for your first volcano visit. It’s always advisable to wait for the next eruption to ensure the experience is a maximally intense Magical Mystery Tour, but here eruptions are real frequent – so you shouldn’t have too long to wait. So off you pop – to Sicily!
The one con: they don’t let you get to the very top! Eh, what’s that all about? What a let-down! The wide area around the peak’s surrounded by a white rope barrier and you’re not allowed to cross it, so taking in the breathtaking fantastical landscapes here is possible only from a cordoned-off tourist viewing area well below the summit.
There’s an attendant pro though: it’s possible to step over or go around the “barrier”, and no one seems to keep watch so you can get away with it! Naughty!