Although we aren’t mind-readers at Untamed Borders, when it comes to your thoughts on Kamchatka, we’re certain that the first two things that come to your mind about this area are bears and volcanoes. That was an easy guess for us though as Kamchatka has both the highest concentration of active volcanoes and bears in the world. Pretty incredible, right? What’s even better about this place is that if you want to encounter these gnarly icons of the natural world, you can do so by choppering your way throughout the peninsula in a Soviet-era helicopter burly enough to withstand any volcanic eruption or bear attack.
Declared a Federal Nature Reserve in Russia, as well as a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve, the Commander Islands are an isolated chain extending off the eastern coast of the Kamchatka Peninsula. Given its remoteness, it’s a perfect place to explore the unique flora and fauna which has a mix of both Asian and American continental species. Bering Island, the largest of the Commander chain, was named after Vitus Bering whom was shipwrecked and perished on the island.
Petropavlovsk-Kamchatsky is the administrative and central hub of the entire Kamchatka region. Despite there being over 180,000 in this capital, there are no roads one can access to Kamchatka, so the only way in is to fly here. Unsurprisingly this makes the city the main center for all treks and expeditions in/around the peninsula.
Cape Lopatka is the southernmost point of the peninsula and overlooks the northernmost point of the rarely visited Kuril Islands. The region also serves as the most northly point of the Ainu people, who have their roots spread out across the Kurils, Sakhalin Island and even into Northern Japan.
The highest active volcano in Eurasia and also the highest mountain in Kamchatka, Klyuchevskaya Sopka (4750m) is well worth visiting, along with 160 other volcanoes on the peninsula, 26 of which are still active.
Letter of invitation and visa required for most nationalities. Must be applied for in advance at a Russian embassy or consulate. Most cruise ship passengers entering Russian ports can stay for up to 72 hours visa-free if the trip is co-organised by a travel company officially licensed with the Russian government.
January temperature range: -4 °C to −9 °C. July temperature range: +10°C to +20°C.
Russian rouble. ATMs are available in all cities and over-the-counter bank withdrawals are also possible in smaller areas. USD also accepted for large payments in many areas.
For up to date exchange rates please have a look at www.xe.com
Two prong European style systems (types C and F).
Reliable wifi in major towns and cities. No internet connection outside of these areas.
Typical of Russia: Dill. Dill. And more dill. Lots of potatoes, beetroot and root vegetables. Meat and fish centre in most dishes. Bulgar wheat is a popular grain.
Alcohol is permitted and is widely available
Russian Orthodox Christianity. Shamnism. Animism.
No special dress code.
SAFTEY & SECURITY
The FCO considers Kamchatka to be a low risk region to travel.
The Shaman’s Coat: A Native History of Siberia by Anna Reid
Siberia: A History of the People by Janet M. Hartley