Kamchatka is somewhere far away on the edge of Russia. And in Petropavlovsk-Kamchatsky it seems to always be midnight. Well, that was what I heard on the radio early every morning in my childhood. I was dreaming to jokingly say this phrase as soon as I stepped out on the land of volcanoes. But when I landed it was still far from midnight. The Kamchatka Peninsula, which can fit both Benelux and Germany inside it, is dominated by volcanoes. They 'write chronicles' here, they are responsible for geographical boundaries. Almost 30 active volcanoes change the local landscape from time to time, and at the same time change the statistics in the volcanologists, climatologists and meteorologists reports. Living next to a volcano can be very nerve-racking, but the locals have been long accustomed to it. Every resident of Kamchatka saw a powerful eruption at least once in their life, each Kamchadal (a citizen of Kamchatka) has a story to tell to a traveler: about volcanoes, bears, and strong snowstorms. The locals even came up with the term “ to blizzard," meaning to sit at home till a strong blizzard ends. I suspect that Kamchatka is beautiful at any time of the year, but most tourists fly to the end of the world during the summer, when they can experience many adventures. I am telling you what you can do on Kamchatka peninsula and what you need to know taking a trip there.
The weather will be very different, as well as the activities. It will be both hot and cold.
Almost all mobile operators work within Petropavlovsk-Kamchatsky. The worst of them all, traditionally, is Beeline. As soon as you leave the city, the "bee" waves to you and says "see you tomorrow." MTS and Tele 2 work the best of them all. Many hotels have wi-fi, the connection quality is usually average. Well, until recently they used only satellite Internet in the Kamchatka region, it was expensive and very slow.
Things are good. Breakfasts in the hotels, however, are pretty monotonous with very few fruits and vegetables due to their high cost. There are not so many good restaurants in the city, but a few are pretty good. Expect to pay Moscow prices or even a little more. Dinner in a restaurant without alcohol costs, on average, 1000 rubles per person.
Due to its remote location, a trip from the country’s capital, Moscow (let’s take that as the starting point), will be expensive. Let's start with the ticket prices. Thrifty tourists can buy tickets far in advance - in February or in March. A good price for an economy class ticket is 22,000-24,000 rubles. During the peak season, July and August, the national airline sells tickets for 100,000, or even more, for a direct flight in economy class. I flew with a stopover in Novosibirsk and paid about 40 thousand rubles. Where to stay is up to you. You can spend your vacation in a tent or you can rent a great house on the ocean. Prices for a comfortable hotel in the peak season start from 5000 rubles per night. The most expensive excursions in Kamchatka are to the Valley of Geysers and Lake Kuril. Each costs at least 42 thousand rubles per person. The high price is easily explained - it is a helicopter tour.
Here are a few more examples of prices in the area:
Day 1: Arrive in Petroavlovsk-Kamchatky, Rest. It's a 10 hours flight, the time difference with Moscow is 9 hours. It's a lot. Acclimation will happen only on the third day.
Day 2: Walk around the city, Halaktyr beach. Relax in the hot springs.
Day 3: Boat trip to the Russian Bay.
Day 4: Climb one of the volcanoes - Avachinsky, Mutnovsky, or Gorely.
Day 5: Helicopter tour to the Valley of Geysers. (Alternatives: Dachnye springs with the Small Valley of Geysers or a helicopter flight to Lake Kuril)
Day 6: Trek through Vachkazhets Mountain range.
Days 7-10: Travel to Tolbachik volcano.
Day 11: Depart for home.
In Kamchatka they say, "fed a bear - killed a bear". Bears crawl into the trash looking for food and this is a real problem in the region. The locals tried to solve it. In the wild, you can easily see bears nose to nose. There is a chance that a bear prefers to get out of your way; it is also shy. But there are times when an animal is irritated and aggressive with something, for example, a bear that has not slept and woke up early from its hibernation. If the beast feels threatened, it will defend itself. Dangerous are meetings with bears who are protecting their cubs or with a hungry bear who has just found food for himself. And here you are. The fact that a bear is aggressive can be understood by the following signs: the bear stares at the victim, opens its mouth, and drool spills out, the beast lowers its head, its hair rises, its paws on the ground, it growls and rushes. However, identifying a threat will be quick and, most importantly, intuitive.
A set of simple rules to avoid a bear attack:
1. Do not ride or cycle along bear paths. These are with big animal foot prints or holes similar to them.
2. Do not go into the forest alone, not even with a dog.
3. If you see a bear in the distance - yell, make loud noises, swear loudly, knock on bowls with spoons, blow into a stadium horn.
4. Do not get close to the bear, even if it looks quite friendly. All this is a cock-and-bull story. Remember that even a 50-kg teenage-bear can kill an adult male.
5. Do not climb into the bushes and cedar.
6. Do not hide food in the tent.
7. Incinerate food waste.
8. If you stumble upon cute cubs, leave as soon as possible. Otherwise, you’ll get it in the neck if the mother sees you.
9. If a bear catches you fishing, do not pull the caught fish out of the water. Do not fish where bears do.
10. Do not wake a sweet sleeping bear. Trouble is guaranteed.
What to do when you meet a bear?
The Four Seasons of Russia project is supported by the Russian geographical society www.rgo.ru
A trip to the Valley of Geysers is recommended by the Russian geographical society.
You can buy a tour to Kamchatka on the website "Russia Discovery" www.russiadiscovery.ru
Also read about Kamchatka:
Kuril Lake: something about the life of bears and humans
The Valley of Geysers
Volcanoes of Kamchatka
Climbing Mount Camel
The Small Valley of Geysers
Trekking to Vachkazhets Mountain range
Translation: Irina Romanova, Instagram: @astrabella1