The Stark Beauty of Kamchatka and its Volcanoes
The Kamchatka Peninsula, with a surface area of roughly 270,000 sq. kilometers (104.000 sq. miles), hangs off of the northeastern part of Russia, sort of like a blade hanging down to the south. A mountainous and rugged terrain, the peninsula is dotted with huge volcanoes, dominating the surrounding landscape. Constant evidence of their activity lies with the many thermal and mineral waters, geysers and mud ponds around. The many crystal-clear lakes, wild rivers and spectacular shorelines, make the Kamchatka Peninsula an amazing and pristine location.
Being surrounded by the ocean, the climate here is quite wet, giving way to a luxuriant vegetation made out of predominantly birch, poplar, alder and larch forests. The entire region is also home to many species of animals, among which are the brown bear, sables and Steller’s sea eagles. Among the last places on Earth with large expanses of wild plants and animals, Kamchatka Peninsula was first visited by foreigners in 1697, among which were the famous Vitus Bering and Georg Wilhelm Steller in their exploration journey around the North Pacific.
The many volcanoes found here are among the most spectacular around the world. Out of the 300+ found, 29 are still active to this day. The many pieces o evidence we mentioned above, are a testament of their slumbering activity. But what really sets this volcanic region apart from all the rest, is the huge biodiversity found here. Over 700 species of high-altitude plants, countless marine species and birds, and not to mention mammals, call this place their home. Moreover, the rivers, streams and lakes here, have the largest numbers of salmon found anywhere in the world. Part of the Pacific Ring of Fire, where most of the world’s volcanoes are found, the Kamchatka Peninsula is the most studied in this regard.
Today, the peninsula is a true magnet for fishermen and naturalists alike, and its isolation and relative small number of people living here – around 400,000- make it a pristine, but hard to visit place.