So, on to the other major feature of Kamchatka – volcanoes. As mentioned previously, Kamchatka is part of the Pacific ring of fire and has one the highest density of volcanoes in the world – 160 of them, with 29 still active. The highest is Klyuchevskaya Sopka (4,750 m or 15,584 ft) which is the largest active volcano in the Northern Hemisphere.
Again, our main mode of transport is the trusty Mi-8 helicopter. However, we now get the chance to try out the 6wd trucks to get us nearer to the summit of some of the volcanoes. These vehicles are quite an exciting form of transport, as you tend to travel at some rather precarious angles over some very rough and extremely muddy terrain. Of course they can only take you so far, the rest is on foot.
Our goal is to reach the crater of the Mutnovsky volcano, most of the route being somewhat unearthly with steaming fumaroles and vents. There is a constant smell of sulphur in the air making the going quite difficult. The jewel in the crown is the stunning former crater and its bright blue acid lake. The following day we also climb the dormant Gorely volcano, whose crater is spectacular.
The final trip out involved another flight in a Mi-8 to the spectacular Valley of Geysers, which is a UNESCO world heritage sight. There are 20 active geysers and numerous bubbling mud pools. The valley itself is beautiful and we had the chance to relax in a thermal pool close to the valley. For us, the most breath-taking part was yet to come… on the way back the helicopter took us over some active volcanoes and circled around an amazing acid lake in a crater.
For us, this was a trip that will stay in our memories for the rest of our lives. It was indeed something very special.
© Andrew Boschier Photography 2017