When you think of travelling to Russia, the first places that probably come to mind are Moscow and St Petersburg, followed closely by the Trans Siberian Railway. While all of these are undeniably must-see attractions for anyone interested in Russia, the country, which spans across two continents and nine time zones, has so much more to offer. From hiking in the Urals to eating fish in Vladivostok, Russia has many undiscovered gems, including Kamchatka, a peninsula in the far east of the country. Here are 7 reasons why it should be on your wish list.
#1 Climb an active volcano
There are 160 volcanoes on Kamchatka and 29 of them are still active. The 29 active volcanoes are considered a UNESCO World Heritage site, and for good reason. Many of the volcanoes can be hiked and the views are absolutely breathtaking, both from the ground and from the peaks. Knowing that the volcanoes still have an active connection with the molten rock in the mantle of the Earth and seeing the fumes escaping the crater only add to the thrill.
#2 Walk down the Geyser Valley
Among the active volcanoes, there is the world-famous Geyser Valley: the second-most densely concentrated geyser field in the world. Because of its location, the valley can only be accessed by helicopter. If you do manage to get there, the spectacle that nature stages for you eludes any description. It is a once-in-a-lifetime experience that you will never forget.
#3 See a bear out in the wild
Kamchatka is famous because of its thriving, pristine nature, which brown bears are a part of. While some of them can be found across the entire Eurasian continent, they usually hide away from the eyes of passers-by. On Kamchatka your chances of seeing a bear in the distance are significantly higher, so be careful and be watchful!
#4 Soak up in the natural hot springs
Even though the geysers can only be accessed by a helicopter, volcanic hot springs are much more available to visitors. A quick bath in a hot spring is a favourite pastime for locals and visitors alike. This hot springs adventure is, apparently, the most enjoyable in winter, when the temperature difference is the biggest. Try it if you dare!
#5 Walk down a black-sand beach along the Pacific ocean
Kamchatka stretches between the Sea of Okhotsk and the Pacific Ocean. The water rarely gets warmer than 14℃ (57°F), so only the bravest of visitors jump into it. However, walks down the shore on the black, volcanic beaches don’t require as much self-discipline. The shores of both the ocean and the sea make for another breathtaking landscape on Kamchatka.
#6 Fish in four different types of bodies of water
Kamchatka is a splendid place for outdoor entertainment: hiking, sailing, racing dog sleds and fishing. The latter is especially diverse here; on Kamchatka, one can fish in the Pacific Ocean, the Okhotsk sea, countless lakes and even rivers. Whether you love fishing or are only looking to learn, Kamchatka is the place to make it happen.
#7 Get to know the indigenous cultures
Kamchatka is a very harsh place to live in, yet people have lived here for centuries. In order to survive, they had to learn to live in harmony with nature. That led to the development of traditions and rituals that are still performed. When you visit, you can see how the indigenous people of Kamchatka have been living for generations in the village of Pimchakh: an inhabited village that is open to visitors.
#8 Race the dog sleds
Kamchatka is a perfect setting for dog sled racing. Shortage of snow is never an issue, so the locals happily indulge in competitive and recreational races. If you’re brave enough to visit Kamchatka in winter, you should most certainly put a short dog sled trip on your bucket list.