If you are a nature-lover or yearn for Instagram photos and the bragging rights for traveling to a destination no one else you know has been to, then you need to put Russia’s Kamchatka Peninsula on your bucket list. In fact, until 1991 no foreigners were allowed to visit! This striking volcanic peninsula has almost none of the trappings of modern civilization, making you feel as if you have stepped back in time. This breathtakingly beautiful land is made up of vast wilderness, volcanoes, unspoiled rivers, hot springs, glaciers and scenic snowcapped mountains.
Amidst fiery volcanoes, belching and sputtering geysers and miles of open sea lies an astonishing amount of biodiversity. This subarctic land is beyond abundant in its pristine and awe-inspiring array of natural attractions.
At the southern tip of the peninsula, South Kamchatka Sanctuary is home to one of the largest salmon runs in the world. Watch as hundreds of massive brown bears lunge after their lunch at Kuril Lake. With the largest protected population of brown bears on the planet, this is the place to watch these magnificent beasts play, swim and hunt in their natural habitat.
You can see dozens of both active and dormant volcanoes in this region. Dormant for nearly 80 years, the Kizimen Volcano began erupting in 2010. It is one of the most scenic volcanoes to visit, because when its fiery red flames spurt high into the clouds, they form swirling, artistic circles in the sky. Hiking volcanoes is one of Kamchatka’s top activities. You’ll have your pick of moderate to difficult treks on the rugged rocky peaks here. On Vachkazhets Mountain you can pass thundering waterfalls. Walk alongside sable, foxes and woodland critters over terrains that are home to over 1,000 plant species. The elusive, rare bighorn sheep live in the mountains of Kamchatka. Catching sight of one standing on the steep edge of a rocky outcropping is a mystical experience. Hear wolves howl at night and see wild reindeer tribes in this wild frontier.
There are approximately 200 geysers on the Kamchatka Peninsula. With only about 60 other geysers worldwide, this is truly the world’s hotbed for geothermal activity. Kronotsky Reserve is one of seven large protected areas, which together make up the UNESCO-listed Volcanoes of Kamchatka Nature Park. Explore Kronotsky’s famous Valley of the Geysers, the impressive Uzon Caldera and Paratunka hot springs.
The Khodutka hot springs are located in a volcanic crater with a panoramic mountain backdrop. Soak in the geothermal waters of the Dachnye hot springs, located near the Mutnovsky geothermal power plant — the biggest of its kind in Russia. Observe over 100 thermal attractions at the Dachnye hot springs, from boiling to hot springs and large and small steam gas jets. In some spots, the hot gasses pass through the cold waters of streams creating an exhilarating fountain effect.
Take to the sea for wonderous wildlife spotting. Because of its proximity to the Bering Sea, crabbing is huge here. In fact, the explorer Vitus Y. Bering came here in 1740. Feel your breath catch in your throat as killer whales and humpback whales rise like submarines out of the water, only to disappear a second later, leaving you wondering if you indeed witnessed them. Sea eagles soar above, sea lions bark at you from their rocky resting spots, seals swim and frolic in the sea, massive sea bird colonies flutter by. Try your luck fishing in the Pacific Ocean’s protected bay. This is mother nature’s answer to a Disney wonderland.
There are human inhabitants here as well, but few of them. Fewer than 400,000 residents sparsely populate Kamchatsky and over half of them live in the city of Petropavlovsk. In Petropavlovsk, don’t miss the Russian Orthodox Church and the central market, where the locals shop and visit.
Although well worth the effort to visit, Kamchatka is remote and not easy to access. A perfect way to experience this magical land of fire and ice is on Crystal Cruises’ 22-day Alaska & The Aleutian Islands cruise. Reserve the Crystal Adventures land excursion Customs and Traditions of the Koryak Village for more profound cultural insights. The word “Koryak” means “nomadic reindeer breeder.” On this adventure, you can view a native village that has been reconstructed according to ancient Koryak customs and traditions and enjoy their folk-dance presentations, games and songs. Your cruise will spend a few days here, so you will have the time to truly appreciate the beauty and magnificence of the untouched beautiful nature of Kamchatka for yourself.
Contact one of our Crystal Cruises specialists to plan your journey to this unexplored and unspoiled haven today.