Rugged Kamchatka Peninsula: Russia’s “Ring of Fire”

Rugged Kamchatka Peninsula: Russia’s “Ring of Fire”

A native of Czech Republic and a former teacher, MIR’s Martin Klimenta has led tours for over a decade to virtually every MIR destination. Martin loves traveling to new and relatively undiscovered places, and Kamchatka qualifies. Here he shares his photos of this spectacular region. 

MIR's Martin Klimenta explores uncommon places, like Kamchatka Peninsula in the Russian Far East Photo credit: Martin Klimenta

MIR’s Martin Klimenta explores uncommon places, like the Kamchatka Peninsula in the Russian Far East
Photo credit: Martin Klimenta

The place is as unfamiliar as the name: Kamchatka.

It’s a rugged, remote peninsula in Russia’s Far East lying uneasily atop the Pacific Ring of Fire, marked by volcanoes and geysers, and populated by reindeer and indigenous peoples. Kamchatka was closed to both Soviets and foreigners for military reasons until the late 1980s and early 1990s.

Valley of Geysers on Kamchatka Peninsula in Russia's Far East Photo credit: Martin Klimenta

The Valley of Geysers on Kamchatka Peninsula in Russia’s Far East
Photo credit: Martin Klimenta

Nowhere Near the Beaten PathNow it’s a destination for scientists, fishermen, hikers, and travelers intent on seeing firsthand the ancient volcanoes of Kamchatka, a UNESCO-listed World Heritage Site set in a wild and wooded landscape few have ever seen.

This road leads to volcano country, on Russia's Kamchatka Peninsula Photo credit: Martin Klimenta

This road leads to volcano country, on Russia’s Kamchatka Peninsula
Photo credit: Martin Klimenta

The Kamchatka Valley of Geysers is so remote it takes a helicopter to get there, deep in a hidden canyon tucked in the vast Kronotsky Nature Preserve.

Martin Klimenta and his group board a helicopter for Valley of the Geysers Photo credit: Martin Klimenta

Martin Klimenta and his group board a helicopter for the Valley of the Geysers
Photo credit: Martin Klimenta

A helicopter transports travelers to the backwaters of bubbling, steaming Valley of Geysers <br>Photo credit: Martin Klimenta

A helicopter transports travelers to the backwaters of the bubbling, steaming Valley of Geysers
Photo credit: Martin Klimenta

Yellowstone of the Far EastThese are some of the world’s wildest landscapes, complete with smoking volcanoes. Here geysers spout their steam, rivaling Yellowstone National Park – the only place in the world with more of them. Only since the late 1980s and early 1990s have tourists and foreigners been allowed into this valley.

Nearly 100 geysers spout and steam in this hidden valley on Russia's Kamchatka Peninsula <br>Photo credit: Martin Klimenta

Nearly 100 geysers spout and steam in this hidden valley on Russia’s Kamchatka Peninsula
Photo credit: Martin Klimenta

Crater Lake, inside Maly Semyachik Volcano on Kamchatka Peninsula Photo credit: Martin Klimenta

Crater Lake, inside Maly Semyachik Volcano on the Kamchatka Peninsula
Photo credit: Martin Klimenta

Thermal WondersAlong with its own Russian version of “Old Faithful,” the Kamchatka Valley of Geysers seethes with steaming thermal pools, mud pots, and vents, and sulfur perfumes the air with that universal smell – rotten eggs.

One of many thermal pools in Kamchatka's Valley of Geysers Photo credit: Martin Klimenta

One of many thermal pools in Kamchatka’s Valley of Geysers
Photo credit: Martin Klimenta

Red mud pots burp furiously in the Valley of Geysers Photo credit: Martin Klimenta

Red mud pots burp furiously in the Valley of Geysers
Photo credit: Martin Klimenta

Travelers walk the wooden paths between thermal features in the Valley of Geysers Photo credit: Martin Klimenta

Travelers walk the wooden paths between thermal features in the Valley of Geysers
Photo credit: Martin Klimenta

Where Reindeer ReignWhere do reindeer reign? Here, on the Kamchatka Peninsula. These creatures are bred for fur, meat, clothes, and transportation. Near the town of Esso is a summer camp where semi-nomadic reindeer breeders and their herds dwell.

A helicopter ride transport travelers to grazing reindeer on Kamchatka Peninsula Photo credit: Martin Klimenta

A helicopter ride transports travelers to grazing reindeer on the Kamchatka Peninsula
Photo credit: Martin Klimenta

Summertime draws hundreds of reindeer to these mountain pastures on Kamchatka Peninsula Photo credit: Martin Klimenta

Summertime draws hundreds of reindeer to these mountain pastures on the Kamchatka Peninsula 
Photo credit: Martin Klimenta

People of the ReindeerThe town of Esso is home to many Koryak and Even native people, semi-nomads who raise the reindeer. Even today, the Evens preserve their folk traditions in song, dance, and costumes, teaching their children at an early age.

Esso folk dancers often imitate the sounds and movements of reindeer Photo credit: Martin Klimenta

Esso folk dancers often imitate the sounds and movements of reindeer
Photo credit: Martin Klimenta

Guardians of the SeaCapital of Kamchatka, the town of Petropavlovsk-Kamchatsky is surrounded with natural beauty. Tri Brata” – Russian for “three brothers”  – are sea stack rock formations said to guard against tsunamis. They’re near the entrance of Avacha Bay, considered to be the world’s biggest bay.

Folk tales abound about why these rocks in Avacha Bay are named "Three Brothers" Photo credit: Martin Klimenta

Folk tales abound about why these rocks in Avacha Bay are named “Three Brothers”
Photo credit: Martin Klimenta

Driving Up a VolcanoIt takes a six-wheel truck to reach the foot of Avacha, an active volcano that’s 8,111 feet tall. Then it’s a marathon distance of 26 rugged miles by truck to reach the base camp, where climbers prepare to scale the volcano.

Avachinsky is one of the most active volcanoes on Kamchatka Peninsula Photo credit: Martin Klimenta

Avachinsky is one of the most active volcanoes on the Kamchatka Peninsula
Photo credit: Martin Klimenta

Kudos to KlimentaHow does Martin Klimenta, MIR’s longtime guide, get these photos of the Kamchatka Peninsula? He leads MIR tours there, each one an uncommon journey into one of the world’s wildest landscapes. Thanks for the photos, Martin!

Martin Klimenta in his familiar landscape of Russian volcanoes on Kamchatka Peninsula Photo credit: Martin Klimenta

Martin Klimenta in his familiar landscape of Russian volcanoes on the Kamchatka Peninsula
Photo credit: Martin Klimenta

Travel to the Kamchatka Peninsula with MIRYou can experience this wild, rugged landscape for yourself – from volcanoes and geysers to reindeer and semi-nomads – on MIR’s tour, Kamchatka: Reindeer Herders & the Ring of Fire. You can also book a custom private journey

(Top photo credit: Martin Klimenta – helicopter views of volcanoes on Kamchatka Peninsula)

PUBLISHED: October 31, 2014

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One thought on “Rugged Kamchatka Peninsula: Russia’s “Ring of Fire”

  • Roz Kochman

    Great to see Martin in these photos- looking great- I hope Martin remembers Roz kochman and my sister Judy from our trips with him to Polabd- best regards! Roz