KAMCHATKA PENINSULAR, RUSSIA
The 1,250 kilometre long Kamchatka Peninsula in the Russian Far East is one of the most geologically active places on earth with 160 volcanoes, 29 of which are active. At 4,750 meters the Klyuchevskaya Sopka is the largest active volcano in the Northern Hemisphere.
The Kronotsky volcano with its almost perfect conical shape is often labelled the most beautiful volcano in the world and part of the World Heritage Site “Volcanoes of Kamchatka”. Located in the centre of the peninsula and part of the Kronotsky Nature Reserve is Eurasia’s world famous Geyser Valley and the second largest concentration of geysers in the world. Our remote camp in the Nature Reserve allows us time to trek, observe the wildlife and enjoy spectacular views over the volcanoes. Koryaks, Itelmens, Evens and Evenky (tunguses), Chukchis and Aleuts are native to the Kamchatka Peninsula.
Koryaks are the main ethnic group of northern Kamchatka and have traditionally herded reindeer, fished and hunted marine mammals for subsistence using harpoons. A small population of Itemen also survive and have traditionally fished the river systems of mid-Kamchatka. Kamchatka’s volcanic landscape is home to spectacular terrestrial and marine wildlife including many endemic species. The Peninsula contains some of the most diverse and healthy river ecosystems in the world. The Russian Far East is comprised of three main salmon producing regions that account for a third of the Pacific Rim’s wild salmon.
Where there are salmon there are usually bears and Kamchatka is no exception with over 15,000 bears living on the peninsula! The Kamchatka Brown Bear Ursus arctos beringianus are amongst the largest bears in the world and the largest carnivora in Eurasia. During the late summer when the salmon come to Kamchatka to spawn large groups of Kamchatka Brown Bear congregate in the Kronotsky Nature Reserve with the largest concentration found at Kurile Lake. Stellar’s Sea Eagles with a 2.5 metre wingspan also nest at Kuril Lake and we’ll be able to observe this powerful, dramatically coloured eagle during our bear encounter.
175-miles east of the Kamchatka Peninsula lie the seldom visited Commander Islands. The fifteen islands form the westernmost part of the Aleutian Islands chain and are considered to have the richest concentrations of sea mammals and bird species in coastal Russia and the islands protected by a 30-mile Marine Zone where fishing is prohibited. These unique islands are home to a small population of native Aleuts and were named after their discoverer Commander Vitus Bering. The coastal waters surrounding the islands are home to sea otter, 21 whale and cetacean species as well as an approximate 300,000 sea lions and northern fur seals. Medniy arctic foxes, short-tailed albatross, insular seal are red-legged kittiwake are rare Red Book species found in the Commander Islands.
Travel through this sparsely populated and extremely remote land is not without its challenges, but with a trusted network of local specialists and non-profits, comfortable remote camps, aerial logistics, and access by land and water are assured.