News: Russia’s Kamchatka Opens Up
Claim a first ascent on an inactive volcano with new regular flights to the Pacific Ring of Fire.
Text by Kirkpatrick Reardon
It just got easier to explore it on Russia’s Kamchatka Peninsula, the most volcanic region on Earth with 29 active volcanoes (several of them over 10,000 feet tall), rivers rushing with 30-inch rainbow trout, and a record-setting population of brown bears.
Last Monday, Vladivostok Air added regular transpacific flights linking Anchorage to Petropavlovsk-Kamchatskiy, the regional capital ($1,890 roundtrip). This marks the first time an air carrier has offered regular commercial flights to the remote region in seven years.
Little development has occurred in the region, which was closed to both Russian and foreign tourists until 1992 to protect the Cold War secrets of military bases peppering the peninsula. Ash from erupting volcanoes occasionally threatens air travel safety over the Pacific, ensuring that only the truly adventurous will make the journey.
Outfitters operating trips in Kamchatka show off the region’s extremes. Many of the peninsula’s 160 dormant volcanoes have not been climbed, and Travel Kamchatka specializes in finding and leading first ascents. Kamchatka Tracks offers an eight-day skydiving tour where participants parachute to the base of an active volcano. The six species of salmon on the peninsula run in rivers that are only accessible by helicopter. Best of Kamchatka has American guides lead anglers on excursions from its fly-out lodge on Two Yurt Lake at the northern edge of the peninsula.
Despite the region’s draws, plenty of seats remain empty. Vladivostok Air is preparing to lose money on the venture this year. “People are suspicious of Russian airlines,” said Vladivostok Air representative Kenji Hanoka, referring to a recent spree of Russian airlines that backed out of plans to offer flights from Anchorage over the past couple of years. “We have to show them we mean business.” The airline will continue running the flight until September 15th in the hopes of proving that outdoor enthusiasts can rely on having adventures on the ground, and not in the air.
- Nat Geo Expeditions