- Frequently Asked Questions
Why should I visit Kamchatka?
It is a
special peninsula, because it does not have any road communications
with the continent. Also it became partly open for foreigners and
most of in-land Russians only in 1990, because of its strategic
location. Therefore now it still preserves unique nature of the
Earth and looks like the rest of the world did few million years
ago. Kamchatka is a mountain country with 29 active and more than
160 extinct volcanoes, with hundreds of hot springs, crystal-clear
wild streams and rivers. Several national NPs can easily compete
and conquer with Yellowstone and Iceland, because of the main advantage
- real wilderness of their beauty.
distinct types of vegetation such as coastal forest, taiga and tundra
can be found on the peninsula. This rich diversity provides habitat
for a large number of mammals, fish and birds. It has the largest
population of brown bear and a home of rare Steller's Eagle. During
summer season a tremendous show of salmon comes up in Kamckatka's
rivers. Some peculiar features account of complete absence of snakes,
frogs and poison ticks, which are very common in Siberia.
is one of the most active segments of the “Fire Ring”, a chain of
volcanoes that rim the Pacific Ocean. Some volcanoes are very hazardous
like 4750 m (15580 ft) Klyuchevskaya Sopka, the highest peak in
the region and the highest active volcano in Eurasia.
tribes Itelmens, Koryaks and Evens still keep nomadic life. As rain
deer herders they can be found in the central part of the peninsula
wearing traditional animal skins and carrying collapsible ger-a-like
is a great destination for adventure sport activities. During the
short 2 months summer it's a place for unforgettable hiking, trekking
or climbing. In spring it's the place for heli skiing, snow boarding,
telemax, ski-touring. Annually the world-known dog sled race "Berengia"
takes place here in April. Also it's a unique place for birds watching,
wilderness travel and of course sport fishing.
What is worth to visit on Kamchatka?
and the most famous thing to see is the Valley of Geysers, where
one can go only by helicopter. The other things are the hot springs
of Paratunka, the trail to the Nalychevo valley, volcanoes around
Petropavlovsk, Esso village with its indigenous Koryak people, bird
bazaars on the Comandor's Islands.
What about renting a car and driving?
it or not, but there are no car rent companies on Kamchatka. Locals
drive on the right-hand side of the road, although most of the cars
are imported from Japan and have right side sterling. Driving conditions
are very different from those in the United States and Western Europe:
most roads outside Petropavlovsk-Kamchatsky are just dirt, signs
are small and local drivers have a well-earned reputation as reckless.
there is only one "highway", which goes from P.-K. to
the north and ends up in Esso village. Public buses run daily between
them. The other roads need as a rule an off-road vehicle, but even
that does not always work out. Taxies in the city work quite well
and available at most of the road nuts.
Can I use credit cards, traveler’s checks and foreign exchange?
checks and credit cards have not yet fully penetrated to Kamchatka.
Only one bank in Kamchatka accepts traveler’s checks. You can use
VISA and MASTER CARDS in few shops and restaurants in Petropavlovsk-Kamchatsky
city. So practical advise is to use local cash, which is Russian
rubles for all local expenses. Rubles may be purchased at the airport,
banks, some hotels and at numerous exchange offices in Petropavlovsk-Kamchatsky.
Also it would be no problems to exchange Japanese yens and Chinese
yuans. If you plan to travel to P.-K. via Moscow then take the best
exchange rate in Moscow.
What is food like in Kamchatka?
food in Kamchatka is the same as in the most territory of the European
part of Russia. In P.-K. restaurants you can order sea food including
famous Kamchatka's crabs and fresh salmon, Korean, Chinese and Japanese
cuisine. Most of the fresh food on the local market is imported
from in-land Russia, the USA, China, New Zealand and Central and
South America. That is why it's quite expensive. Tomatoes, cucumbers,
potatoes, carrot, cabbage and some other vegetables are grown locally.
People believe that strawberry, which they grow in soils rich of
minerals from volcanoes, is one of the best in the world. Such a
not typical berry for severe climate and all the other veges are
growing without any chemicals here. Read more about food in the
What are electrical appliances in Kamchatka?
If you take
any electrical equipment that is not battery-operated, you will
need a two round-pin plug adapter, a 220-volt/50 hertz converter
and state-of-the-art surge protector, especially for delicate computer
equipment. Electrical current surges of 20 to 30 volts are not uncommon.
Is it difficult to get to the Internet in Kamchatka?
At the end
of 2001 it was only one internet cafe "Planet Samsung"
in the city of P.-K.
Could I travel on Kamchatka independently?
it's possible as there is no restriction to this. However, the travel
industry is not well-developed in this region and it's truly wild.
If you know Russian language and familiar with general Russian traditions
it's O.K. just to land in Elizovo airport and find your way using
communication skills. If you do not know the language it would be
rather difficult to get to a hotel as there are no signs or marks
in English. Also most of the areas on Kamchatka are restricted till
today and one need a special permit to go to many destinations around
P.-K. This permit can be arranged by licensed tour operators or
public organizations like a local hiker's club or eco-tourism federation.
Otherwise one has to deal with FSB office or the office of the national
park reserves that would take ages. More convenient is to deal with
ground outfitters, which are able to arrange a tailor-made tour
for a reasonable price. Also it's much saifer to hire a local guide,
who would be a real support in awkward situations at the check posts
or in many public places. “Wild Russia” company can organize most
of the tailor-made trips to Kamchatka according to client's plan.
What to expect on a typical trip to Kamchatka?
our guides meet people off the plane at the Elizovo airport. Sometimes
when a group is traveling via Moscow or Khabarovsk they meet the
group in these gate cities. We prefer to not stay in the city as
it does not look very impressive, but in Paratunka village as it
really reflects what Kamchatka is. On the first evening we talk
about the coming trip with all the details and check the gear. Next
day we departure according to a program. Kamchatka has a rough terrain,
so expect to get a 3-4 hours drive on a dirt road on most of our
On a trek
we carry our loads with little support from the local guides. Practically
staff like porters in Nepal does not exist on Kamchatka. Our trekking
crew consists of an experienced English speaking trek leader, a
couple of local guides, a cook and a kitchen boy. On a trek we sleep
in tents, cook on the open fire where possible. For more luxurious
journeys we travel by jeeps or off-road tourist vehicles, which
are combination of an off-road truck and a soft seats bus with big
windows. Staying in reasonable comfortable chalets and lodges we
can approach volcanoes and have opportunities for a day hike up
to their foot hills and more.
a day include breakfast (tea, Nescaffe, porridge, salami, canned
cheese, cookies, jam, boiled eggs, salmon caviar), lunch and dinner.
Lunch consists of a soup, tea and noodles or boiled potatoes. Dinner
usually includes a fresh veg salad, soup, main course - usually
just taken cooked well salmon and dessert.
day we hiking, jeeping or rafting for 3-4 hours before lunch and
3 hours after lunch. On a trip the leader tells lot of stories about
Kamchatka's wildlife, local tribes traditions, trekking routes and
How safe it is to travel on Kamchatka?
understand that Kamchatka is a wild corner of the world. Medical
services in P.-K. are quite basic, in the villages only first aid
and emergency are available. Also telecommunications do not work
regularly out of P.-K. And to get back from a trip to the nearest
medical post would be 4-6 hours. So plan your trip carefully, inform
"Wild Russia" (see the trip application form) staff about
your medical history, maybe talk to your doctor and insurance agent.
no need for special medical shots practice or requirement before
going to Kamchatka. However while traveling in the wilderness one
should follow common sense - stay away of wild creatures, no risky
jumps in the rivers, no lonely walks in the bush. Get more instructions
about it from your trip leader.
Should I have some serious experience to go to Kamchatka?
of the cases it's not the must, but some general adventure travel
experience would be an advantage. So it's good to advise "Wild
Russia" about your experience in advance (see the trip application