Kamchatka is not only on the brink of Russian territory, it is the end of the world. This region is connected to Moscow by a 9-hour flight. Even though Kamchatka is a peninsula, no roads or trains go there. It is about the same size as France and has just 200,000 inhabitants, most of whom live in the port city of Petropavlovsk Kamchatsky. Outside of this town, the region is mostly made up of small villages. In fact, with about 20,000 bears on the peninsula, it is more of an animal kingdom than a human one. Two-thirds of the volcanoes in the Pacific’s Ring of Fire are in Kamchatka, giving travellers an excellent opportunity to discover the many different faces of volcanic activity: hot water springs, geysers, lava flows. If you are fascinated with nature tourism you should definitely travel to Kamchatka. The region’s biodiversity and picturesque shores are protected by UNESCO.
Kamchatka peninsula is so young that is physically akin to what our planet looked like at the dawn of existence. The volcanic activity constantly modifies the landscape. Examine the crater lakes and fumaroles of the Gorely and Mutnovsky Volcanoes. After trekking, dive into the steaming hot springs. In the northern part of peninsula, where the volcanoes are the highest and most active, discover the scars left by recent eruptions: slag fields, lava flows both fresh or hardened.
Wilderness, thousands of rivers and lakes – these have all helped earn Kamchatka the reputation of hosting the world’s biggest salmon run. Lake Kuril, in the southern part of the peninsula, is the biggest fish reserve of this region. Up to six million salmon climb upstream every year to spawn in this lake, attracting the grumbling bellies of 200 brown bears. Lake Kuril is one of the few places on earth where you can observe a dozen of bears in one place at the same time. Visit to Lake Kuril is indeed one of the best and most exciting Kamchatka tours.
Departing from the port of Petropavlovsk-Kamchatsky, go for a boat trip with your guide into the Pacific. The Avacha Bay, one of the largest in the world, is surrounded by a chain of majestic volcanoes and mountains. At lunchtime, the sailor will surely catch one of the local specialities: the Kamchatka King Crab. Its phalanges can measure up to 1m and the meat is incredibly tender and flavoursome. One of the most stunning moments of the afternoon will happen when you reach the ocean to discover tens of dozens of bird species, including Tufted Puffins nestled in the rocks. You will continue on to wild bays where you might catch a glimpse of an orca or seal colony.
The Kamchatka peninsula is 8,000 km east of Moscow. The main city, Petropavlovsk-Kamchatsky, is also the main port. The only way to get to Kamchatka is by plane from Moscow, Vladivostok or Khabarovsk.
Due to the price of flights (9 hours from Moscow) and time difference (+9 hours), you should plan to spend at least a week in Kamchatka. If you would like to spend more than a week, you can also visit the northern part of the peninsula and the Klyuchevskoy Volcano (about 12 more days).
The tourist season in Kamchatka is short and it’s better to get there between the beginning of July and the end of September. Already by mid-September it is snowing on the Tolbachik plateau.
Go bear-watching on the Kuril Lake during the salmon run that lasts from the end of July to mid-September. At other times, you will be able to see bears outside urban areas but they are less common than in summer.
A trip to Kamchatka can be combined with a journey on the famous Trans-Siberian or to Lake Baikal. Petropavlovsk-Kamchatsky can be reached by plane from Vladivostok and Khabarovsk (3-hour flight).
Due to the length and isolation of the peninsula, food, travel and services can be up to twice as expensive as elsewhere in Russia.