Kamchatka is a 780-mile peninsula in the Russian far east well known for its spectacular views and high volcanic activity, earning it name ‘the land of fire and ice’. Kamchatka is the most volcanic area of the Eurasian continent containing around 160 volcanos of which around 29 of these are still active today, around six of these make up part of the UNESCO World Heritage Site the ‘Volcanos of Kamchatka’.
Why visit Kamchatka?
Kamchatka is one of the most under-explored, scenic and challenging destinations on the planet and was closed off (even to the Russian people!) for years; for that reason alone, it remains popular with daring explorers wanting to discover this secluded part of the world.
Aside from this, the is teeming with wildlife and has some of the most diverse species on the planet including the largest number and size of brown bears, the Chukotka moose (the largest moose in the world), the native Kamchatka crab (the largest species of king crab in the world), the most diverse area for whale species, and is a primary breeding ground for Stellar’s sea eagle, Golden eagles and Gyr falcons.
Things to see and do in Kamchatka
Valley of Geysers
Located in the center of Kamchatka is Eurasia’s world-famous Geyser Valley, known for having the second largest concentration of geysers in the world. The area is part of Kronotsky nature reserve and can only be reached by helicopter, it has around ninety geysers and many hot springs.
Found in the southern part of Kamchatka peninsula, Kuril Lake is an ancient crater existing in its current form from around 6460-6414BC. The lake is a popular tourist destination on the Kamchatka peninsula and has the highest density of brown bears and is a major nursery for Sockeye salmon. The lake is difficult to get to and is only accessible by helicopter.
Volcanos of Kamchatka
Koryaksky Volcano Kamchatka
The most well known of all the sites in Kamchatka, the volcanoes of Kamchatka are a UNESCO World Heritage Site that consist of some of the largest and most picturesque volcanoes on the planet. The highest volcano is Klyuchevskaya Sopka standing almost 16,000ft and is the largest active volcano in the Northern Hemisphere, while many volcanologists believe that Kronotsky is a candidate for the world’s most beautiful.
The volcanoes have plenty to offer tourists throughout the year, with guides running snowmobile rides to Avachinsky volcano in Winter, and helicopter tours taking place to Ploskii Tolbachik volcano in good climate conditions.
Wildlife spotting and whale watching
Grey Whale Watching Olga Bay
Wildlife spotting is a popular activity in Kamchatka and offers the chance to see many elusive animals throughout the year from brown bears to Steller’s sea eagles which are known to have a breeding ground on the peninsula. Whale watching is particularly popular in the Okhotsk sea and the Pacific around the 34,000ft-deep Kuril-Kamchatka Trench with a chance to see orca, humpback whales and the critically endangered North Pacific right whale.
How to get to Kamchatka
There are few ways to visit Kamchatka, and the easiest is to get a domestic flight with Aeroflot from Moscow directly to Kamchatka. Moscow Sheremetyevo airport has a direct flight into Petropavlovsk-Kamcahtsky airport which takes approximately 8 hours and 40 minutes and costs around £300-350.
Climate in Kamchatka
Kamchatka has a continental climate with warm summers and cool winters. The area is most popular in the Summer months, however a growing interest in winter sports in Kamchatka means that the area still has something to offer tourists in winter. The Peninsula receives up to 2700mm of rain / precipitation each year which is much higher than the rest of Eastern Russia due to westerly winds blowing over the sea from Japan and meeting the higher mountains and volcanoes, which cause this to condense into rain.
Getting around the peninsula
Traversing the peninsula is tough, even for experienced hikers, and it can take anything between 4-7 hours to hike up Kamchatka’s least difficult volcanoes and up to two days to travel from the most popular trails of Mt Avachinskaya to Nalychevo valley.
Aside from the challenging terrain you also need to be cautious of Kamchatka’s native wildlife. In summer, brown bears are a common sight and the risk of bear attacks is much higher than other seasons, however winter also brings its own risks including the risk of avalanches and vast tundra conditions.
Kamchatka Brown Bear in Lake
Take a guide
If you plan on going on a longer trek or away from the typical trails, then you will need to have a guide to accompany you. You can organise a local guide yourself, however the best guides can be found at Kamchatka visitor center or at the park office in Yelizovo.
Visiting the most popular sites
Many of Kamchatka’s most popular destinations are inaccessible by public transport and require off-road vehicles and even helicopters to reach. Most tourists tend to arrange organised tours to locations that are notoriously difficult to reach such as Valley of Geysers and Lake Kuril (you need to charter a helicopter to make this journey).
What you need to visit Kamchatka
To visit Kamchatka, you will need to have a valid passport and a Russian visa that is valid for the dates you plan to be in Russia. We always recommend getting travel insurance and, where possible, booking a guide or your tours in advance.
Booking your trip to Kamchatka with Real Russia
Real Russia can provide Russian visas and help arrange tours, hotels and transfers during your stay in Kamchatka. Our Russian visa application process is simple and straightforward and requires you to apply for a Russian visa invitation online, once complete we can process your visa request with the Consulate directly. For more information about the tours, accommodation and transfers we can arrange, please contact us directly. Alternatively, view our blog and see Kamchatka through the eyes of a tourist.
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