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?!
Tag Archives: volcanism
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:
As promised, herewith, more tales from equatorial-Ecuadorial…
After several days of our habitually lowland-residing organisms struggling to cope with the extreme altitudes of the Ecuadorian highlands, plus a wholly unusual seeing in of the New Year, our willy-nilly-wonky route returned us back to sea level and to the Galápagos Islands. Oh yes. Here:
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.
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.
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:
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.
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.
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…
When you climb up or descend down the very orange Koshelev volcano, it’s practically impossible to miss the white waterfalls. Which is just as well as missing these fine cascades of H2O would be most regrettable; for these are truly unique phenomena.
I mean, the water in these falls isn’t just seemingly white, much like waves coming in off the ocean (all the bubbles/froth). This water is actually really white – like milk! How so? Well, due to the local volcanism there’s an unusually high concentration of aluminum (and other similar natural elements) in the water here, not only making the water milky, but also leaving deposits of whiteness on the bedrock underneath and along the waterways. The milky water also seals up the walls of underground natural streams, forming tubes – along which water flows invisibly to the eye. And since here there are sharp changes in altitude, at the exits of the underground well springs it’s no mere bubble-fest, it’s a full-on whitewater splashing frenzy as it spurts out of the ground! Not quite geysers, but equally fascinating – and more unusual and unique.
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…