Nature of Kamchatka
It is impossible to come to Kamchatka and not to fall in love with this land forever. Every traveler who has only just once visited these fabulous incredibly beautiful places will find himself drawn here over and over again. This is the land of unconquered elements of fire and ice spontaneously arising from its primordially pristine state. Here flow crystal clear rivers - the spawning ground for diverse salmon species where myriads of salmon eggs will hatch into a new generation of salmon. Here amidst brilliant snow are the smoking thermal springs which have been famously known for their healing power from time immemorial. The world’s biggest bears live here, and the richness of marine life is truly mind boggling. There are some 300 extinct volcanoes and 29 active ones in the territory of peninsula which attract scientists, mountain climbers and simply enthusiasts of active recreation from all over the world. The eastern volcanic highlands is the most beautiful place on the planet hosting the biggest volcanoes in Eurasia. The highest peak of the Peninsula is the Klyuchev Sopka (Hill) 4,850 above sea level, and 15 km in diameter.
The Valley of Geysers is among the Seven Wonders of Russia. It seats on the basin of an ancient lake on the territory of Kronots State Natural Biosphere Reserve at the confluence of the Geyser and Shumny Rivers. The valley was discovered in 1941 by hydrologist Tatiana Ustinova. A prehistoric scene as though taken from the world creation times unfolded before her eyes: fountains of steam gushing forth from hell, raging unruly element. The first geyser she saw she called the “Firstling”. Then there were other geysers with fascinating names: “Leshyi” (wood goblin), “Fountain”(Фонтан), “Double” (Двойник), “Giant” (Великан), “Gates of Hell” (Врата aда). Indeed, incredible scenery, sulfur odor, gushing boiling water (the temperature of the gushing underground water is 95 degrees centigrade) – all this is so removed from the reality we live in! The valley scenes are very changeable. The last torrential landslide of 2007 seemingly inflicted irreparable damage. But hardly had a year passed when the situation started to improve, and now the valley is ready again to receive brave travelers.
Kamchatka nature is practically untouched by man’s activity. Forests and rivers are full of life, the air is clean and clear, while grasses make a gigantic growth. Vegetation of Kamchatka includes 1300 species of plants. One third of the territory is covered by forest of which the greater part is represented by stone birch. Grass covers or so called high grasses – these are gigantic representatives of parsley family (cow-parsnip, bear root), reach 2.5 – 4 meter in height.
Three species of rhododendron were discovered which are in the list of plants specially protected by the state. Many plants were described as endemic that is found exclusively in that particular area and nowhere else: Kamchatka willow, graceful silver fir, etc. Kamchatka’s marine flora is represented by five species of laminaria and some commercially valuable varieties of kelp and red algae.
Kamchatka’s fauna is its main treasure. Brown bear (population of approx.9 thousand individuals), sable (7 – 9 thousand individuals), otter, glutton, mink, ermine, wolf, fox, ice fox, lynx, reindeer - to name just a few forest inhabitants. Marine fauna is still more interesting: walrus, sea lion, northern fur seal, eared seal, sea otter, sperm whale, killer whale, king crab, various salmon species and many other representatives.
Kamchatka Krai (region) occupies the territory of the Kamchatka Peninsula, the Karagyn Island and the Komandorskie (or Commodore) Islands. Washed by the waters of the Bering Sea (the Pacific Ocean) from the east and by the Sea of Okhotsk from the west. Due to proximity to the ocean the climate here is the marine monsoon one, in the centre and the north moderately continental. Mean temperature of February is 11 to 15°С, +12 to +16°С in August.