"Kamchatka! It exists!" Why did I name my report like that? Kamchatka for me, as for many, was something like Mars: everyone had heard about it, but no one (almost) had been. Since childhood, I wanted to visit the "Sannikov Land" - the valley of geysers - the place where this film was shot ... And now we are flying there on vacation. This is exactly a vacation, so the main thing is not the extraction of minerals, but rest, but, of course, it was not without stones ...
But a week before our departure, a helicopter with passengers crashed in Kamchatka, and two days before the trip, the license of this airline was taken away. A bad feeling... But there must be other airlines there, right? The tour operator assured us that everything would be fine. However, his voice was somehow unsure. But not to cancel the trip because of forebodings, when everything has already been paid for ...
There was no time to buy direct tickets there. We flew with two transfers on the route Moscow-Irkutsk-Khabarovsk-Petropavlovsk-Kamchatsky. We got okay. We flew to Irkutsk at night - we did not see Baikal. At the Irkutsk airport, charoite balls are at the price of Moscow ones. From road impressions only Amur. Landing in Khabarovsk over its channel. Water in the left porthole, water in the right porthole. But such wide rivers cannot exist! In every porthole the water is almost to the horizon. And this is from a height of half a kilometer! There are no such wide rivers! Not Amazon though. But somehow strangely, trees, forest belts and groves stuck out of the water in a multitude. At the airport, they explained to me that it was raining, and Amur spilled over, flooding everything. "It's business as usual for us." Wow the width of the right-of-way along the river!
We flew to Petropavlovsk-Kamchatsky and, having not slept for 36 hours, checked into a hotel in its suburbs. The hotel turned out to be almost the best in Petropavlovsk. It's not that we're so cool, it's just that because of the tourist boom, there were no places in cheaper hotels. There are four Germans in our group, led by Crazy Peter (That's what they call him. He has already traveled all over Russia and speaks good Russian), our girlfriend and her Spaniard husband are on their honeymoon (and they are going to live in different countries. Hmm ...) and twelve of us. Then sometimes two Japanese joined. Our group was immediately “delighted”: it turns out that the airline whose license was taken away had an exclusive for flights to the valley of geysers. She no longer flies there, and other airlines have not yet been given the right to fly there and will not have time to give it before the end of our trip. We landed right in the window of no flights to the Valley. Darn…!!! But there was no longer any strength to be upset. As a result, it turned out that the flight pause dragged on for several months, which reduced the degree of bad luck.
The first day is local history and sea.
First, they took us to the central square (Teatralnaya, former Lenin Square), told where the land of Kamchatka came from.
Then they took me to the local history museum. The museum is very good, a lot of interesting things, even a showcase with minerals.
A few interesting facts from what I heard and saw on the first day:
Kamchatka was annexed to Russia in 1697. Vladimir Atlasov.
Petropavlovsk-Kamchatsky, located on the shores of Avacha Bay, is named after the ships "St. Peter" and "St. Pavel”, on which the founders of the city came. The population of Petropavlovsk-Kamchatsky is 179 thousand people.
The Bering Strait between Asia and America was actually discovered not by Bering, but by Dezhnev 80 years earlier. But the report that he sent to St. Petersburg did not reach there. During the second Kamchatka expedition, it was discovered in one of the local archives.
During the Russian-Turkish war, Russia, it turns out, fought on two fronts. The allies of the Turks, the Anglo-French, tried to capture Petropavlovsk, but were defeated. This is the only victory of Russian weapons in that war. Until now, in the center of the city, two mass graves of those who died in that war, ours and the interventionists, have been preserved. Two identical graves next to each other...
In the supermarket parking lot, half of the cars turned out to be SUVs. Moreover, many are fancy: with large wheels, with raised bodies, etc. How I visited the off-road festival. I later found out that in Kamchatka without an SUV everywhere, even to the city beach or an observation deck above the city, it is problematic to get there.In the city, all cars (except UAZ, Niv and Kamaz) are Japanese-Korean right-hand drive.
Kamchatka has no overland communication with the mainland, no railroads or motor roads. Only by plane or steamer, for extreme sports - by dog sledding 100 km per day. There are no gas and oil pipelines or power lines from Kamchatka to the mainland and back. Therefore, Kamchatka is forced to describe itself on its own.
The city is fed by three local power plants: a thermal power plant using local gas (which is already running low and also of poor quality. Therefore, in the houses of the city all stoves are electric), a tidal power plant and a thermal power plant. Despite very strong winds, wind farms in Kamchatka are poorly developed, because. volcanic ash disables them.
Then we were taken to the port, loaded onto a boat, and we went through the Avacha Bay to the Pacific Ocean.
We passed by rocks standing alone in the water (for example, "Three Brothers"), which serve as a nesting place for many birds (guillemots, puffins, fulmars, gulls, etc.).
They have bird markets. As expected, there was a hubbub from the cries of birds.
Having gone out into the ocean, we approached the island of StArichkov, where there are also many bird colonies.
And near the flat rock in front of the island, we were met by sea seals. They funny stuck their big-eyed snouts out of the water with their noses up, trying to see us. It was like a lot of floating bottles.
We walked around the island and stood next to it for sea fishing. Handed out fishing rods with reels. Caught without a float on cuttings of red fish. In twenty minutes I managed to pull out three fish of 35 centimeters each (the most, by the way!) The fish was called link.
I used to catch more, but called in the ear. We were fed fish soup made from captain's perch and pink salmon. Delicious, but not rich. Indeed, at the beginning it is necessary to boil the heads, fins, ridges - and they skip this stage to save time. Then came the crabs. Interestingly, the taste of uncanned crabs exactly matches the taste of crab sticks!
Satisfied, we returned to the port - we liked it very much!
Conclusion of the day: the answer to the question of whether there is life beyond the Moscow Ring Road. She does exist! Petropavlovsk-Kamchatsky is not some "hole", but a full-fledged modern regional city, with theaters, shopping centers, fitness centers and all the necessary bells and whistles. That's just with free medicine is very bad. No, you did not understand. It is so bad that it is dangerous to get seriously ill - there is nowhere to hospitalize and there is no one to treat.
Then we return to the hotel. We are greeted in the lobby by a stuffed bear of medium size. I don't know who made this scarecrow. Made as if the bear received a strong kick from behind. Scarecrow then all the days we were amused.
In addition to the bear, the hotel has two pools with thermal water - water that is not specially heated, it is heated by volcanic heat and is brought to the hotel through pipes. Its temperature in the pool depends on the local Tajik, who monitors it or not, but in any case, it is difficult to spend more than 15 minutes in it - because of the temperature, a heavy load on the heart. We were warned not to get carried away.
Day two - Vachkazhets
A sightseeing bus is not the type of transport used to carry tourists in Kamchatka. In Kamchatka - sightseeing Kamaz trucks! We drove out of the city on a Kamaz-shift truck towards Mount Vachkazhets.
On the way, we were given a detailed briefing on how to behave when meeting with bears. “When we were children,” the guide said, “we went to the forest for mushrooms and berries without fear, and nothing ever happened. And now there are so many bears that they are everywhere, even in the city center. They recently reduced the cost of licenses for shooting them, if it doesn’t help, they will generally make licenses free.”
Vakhtovka drives off the gravel road and stops. We walk a couple of kilometers through the forest along a road broken by SUVs. We reach the river - then SUVs are prohibited from passing. Soon a view of the picturesque lake at the foot of the mountains opens up.
Along the river with a waterfall, we begin to climb up.
The instructor blows his whistle from time to time to warn the bears. Instructors also have a pneumatic whistle, pepper gas, rocket launchers and flares. Not all at the same time, but such an assortment is found.
We get to the circus of an ancient volcano, surrounded on three sides by mountains. Circuses are called the remains of round vents of ancient volcanoes.
We admire, take pictures and begin to descend down the opposite bank of the mountain river.
We meet fresh bear droppings. We return to our Kamaz for lunch. Then his driver comes from the road and reports that there is a bear with cubs on the road near the camp. Trained driver's likes with barking break down in the direction of the bear. The instructors leave to scare him away. A shot rings out, a rocket takes off, a video arrives in the WhatsApp group: a bear with three cubs runs away along the road. But not very visible. Video HERE
Day three - rafting and thermal springs
Today's program includes rafting on the Bystraya River. In fact, the river is slow, it's just faster than the Tikhaya River. Kamaz delivers us to the river, and we are loaded into a raft for six people plus an instructor on oars. The river is spawning. The main salmon species have already spawned. Now sockeye salmon is spawning (it turns out that from improperly prepared sockeye salmon and its caviar can be poisoned up to lethal. It is from sockeye salmon). But she doesn't bite. Now it is biting char and the remains of other salmonids. Give out spinning rods. They warn that here we will definitely meet bears - they feed on the river. I would like to meet ... Again, briefing on how to be in this case. We start to float.
Whoever wants - whips the river with a spinning rod. I am one of them. To everyone reading this report: if you want to see bears, get in the lead raft. There were Germans in the head raft. They really met a bear, who caught a fish before their eyes and ran away. In another group, the met bear behaved differently: it rushed back and forth across the river until it finally decided where to run. We, after the Germans, who scared the bears away, got only the shallows trampled by them (bears, of course), from which we fished.
In shallow water, you could see the fish going upstream. Sometimes they surfaced, and not only the dorsal fin was shown, but the entire back from head to tail. I didn't manage to catch anything. But a woman pulled out two loaches from our raft.
This is important: we are waiting for an ear from previous tourists, and we must catch for the next ones. We raft to the collection point, where we dine fish soup and not only.
But the day is not over yet - we are going to the village of Malka, in the vicinity of which thermal springs are located. They feed large puddles, sorry, let's call them lakes, in which tourists bask in warm, sometimes hot, water.
Some puddles are so hot that they warn in advance which ones are dangerous to enter. There's a buzz and a snort. I remember: “He crossed himself three times, bang into the cauldron - and boiled there!”. From these puddles, sorry, from lakes, the water flows into the river flowing nearby. It is curious to go into it along with these streams. Hot water quickly turns ice cold. And in the stream, as it should be, the red fish stands against the current, from time to time rolling down already.
Day four - volcanoes and black beach
In the morning we sit down in a sightseeing Kamaz and drive out of town in the direction of "home" volcanoes. Volcanoes surrounding Petropavlovsk-Kamchatsky are called home volcanoes. Three of them are depicted on the coat of arms of the city. These are Avachinsky, Koryaksky and Kozelsky volcanoes. And two, standing not so impressive: Arik and Aag. Here we are going to Avachinsky and Koryaksky.
We're going for a couple of hours. But all these days I had the feeling that I was not in Kamchatka. Well, maybe in Altai, where I was. Probably, Kamchatka was so far away from me all my life that it didn’t fit in my head that I was there. Well, the Pacific... Water and water - not convinced. We drive along the valley, along its edges - mountains. Low, as, for example, Lovozero. And suddenly... Figase! We arrived ... A volcano rises above the chain of these mountains. It rises so much that what seemed like mountains now seems to be a plain. The top of the volcano is hidden in the clouds, on top of it, as expected, there is snow.
It's on the left side of the road. And on the right? And on the right, the same thing - another such volcano! And we go to them. It was at this moment that everything fell into place, and I began to feel that I was still in Kamchatka. Gradually, we are climbing higher and higher on Kamaz. The path lies along a dry river - a ravine between volcanoes.
But this ravine is also unusual. This is a ravine in a village that descended a few years ago, which buried trees under it. Those trees between which we are going are actually their tops - branches begin to grow from the very ground. In the ravine and not only there are large and small boulders brought by the mudflow. To get into such a village is not enough. It did not seem enough to the inhabitants of the village, located at the foot of these volcanoes, to whose houses this village reached. Not to all, but to the extreme. In general, the village became then a little smaller.
If we are already talking about mudflows, then I will say that there are only two troubles in Kamchatka that cause mudflows: bad weather (rain) and good weather (sun). With rain, everything is clear, but the intense sun melts the snowfields and ... Well, you understand.
When we were there, the second misfortune happened - good weather. The locals couldn't be happier that the summer is unusually warm. But on some day, the Ministry of Emergency Situations closed one of the routes - a mudflow came down from melted snowfields, cut off the tourist route. We were not supposed to go there, but some of our group was going to. In the hotel in the elevator, we accidentally crossed paths with a tourist who just happened to be there at the time of the mudflow. “We left Kamaz, went up. And suddenly it started up there. Run to Kamaz and home. Well, they didn't go far. Together we drove only 2 floors - you won’t talk much. But it was clear from the expression on his face that they didn’t think enough.
But back to our dry river. Volcanologists warn the locals that if the volcanoes wake up, the lava will go just along this dry river to the same village. When this will happen is unknown, maybe in 100 years, or maybe in a month. But the locals are not afraid of lava either – after all, very good strawberries and potatoes will be born there…. As locals are not afraid of tsunami warnings, then people gather on the hills near the port to take a look at how it will be ...
Kamaz drops us off at the base of either volcanologists, or someone else - further on foot.
The path is already going through solid slag erupted by volcanoes. Avachinsky on the left, Koryaksky on the right. Above the Koryaksky places it soars from fumaroles.
Our path lies to the local hill "Camel", so named for its shape. In fact, this is a local intrusion. The mountain does not represent anything, but you have to go somewhere and conquer something.
We climb it, take pictures, look at the opening "lunar" landscapes. Behind it, in the distance, another volcano is visible.
The height is taken - we go down to the base for lunch. Along the way, I grab a few pieces of lava.
At the base, we are met by almost tame evrazhki. Evrazki are local ground squirrels, they are also called "earth squirrel". Initially, they were called "ravines", but for some reason "evrazhki" took root. We were warned not to feed them: anyway, they won’t eat now, but they’ll take them to a mink and hide them in stocks for the winter. But tourists feed them with the wrong food (bread, etc.) - which becomes moldy and spoils all their supplies. As a result, evrazhki remain without food in winter and may die of starvation.
Then we are taken to the city beach.
The beach may be urban, but the road to it is a broken primer. See earlier written about SUVs at the shopping center. The beach in Petropavlovsk is, as expected, unusual: the sand is black there. I thought it was from volcanic slag, but the guide said that it was black because there was a lot of magnetite there. I did not have a magnet with me - I could not check it. The bourgeoisie seemed to want to buy the entire beach for the extraction of iron from sand, but not an inch of sand was given to them.
We arrived at the beach - the beach is present, but despite the summer and good weather, there are no swimmers. The currents in the Pacific Ocean around Russian territory are cold, and the water is only 12 degrees even in summer. The tourists brought by several Kamaz trucks stood and thoughtfully looked into the distance of the ocean. And only the brave and young in spirit took off their shoes and began to run through the oncoming cold water. Do you think I was among them? And then!
But we were warned that the waves come very unexpectedly, and every time someone gets wet to the waist. And the tourists all stood and looked into the distance. In the misty distance There is such a heavy fog over the ocean that we are in the fog. We still see each other, but the surfers who swing on the waves are already vague.
Surfing there is surfing in Russian. This is not Australia for you: the water is cold. But it doesn't freeze all year round. And in winter, they get high from the waves in warm wetsuits with icicles on their beards.
We return to the hotel. Evening rest: dinner in a restaurant, beer, thermal pool.
And yes, we were immediately warned not to go outside the hotel - you know the bears ...
Day Five - Valley of Geysers (unfortunately, small)
So the main day of the trip came, which turned out to be the main bummer of the trip - the day of the helicopter excursion to the valley of geysers. We hoped that a miracle would happen and some airline would be given a license to fly there, but alas. Therefore, we change the trip to visit the small valley of geysers. In fact, there are no geysers in the small valley. There are no fountains, either permanent or periodic - this is what distinguishes geysers from just hot boiling water. In a small valley of geysers, just hot water. But it's very hot. Here we go to her.
We drive on Kamaz along the gravel serpentine higher and higher. The turns are very tight. The road was originally built for drag sledges, on which construction materials and multi-ton turbines were delivered to the top of the only thermal power plant in the USSR, which is still operating.
Hot water over 200 degrees with steam from a well in the ground is fed to a unit that separates the water, and then the steam turns the turbines - that's electricity from the heat of the earth. Once upon a time there was still a large state farm "Termalny" in the mountains, with greenhouses heated by such water - they grew strawberries.
We pass the power station and go down to the stream. It leads from us from one mud puddle to another. They seethe and snort. Strongly vapes and smells appropriate.
We approach the lake. It can be seen how hot water is thrown out from under the ground, not deep under the surface of the water. At the same time, very strong vibrations and the smell of hydrogen sulfide.
There is a dirty yellow coating on the stones around - sulfur. On the way back I took a hot bite. The plaque is lubricated. I hoped that it would dry out and harden, but no. Threw away.
In the end, we reach a hollow in the side of the mountain - this is the small valley of geysers.
Steam, bubbles everywhere and very noisy: whistling, hissing and vibrations.
Around the puddles, where it boils and snorts, there are yellow and orange raids and even something crystalline. But so soft that it is impossible to take.
We jump from bump to bump around it all. Yes, it's definitely a new experience!
And a little video of the Small Valley of Geysers:
On the way back we settle down for lunch in the mountains, under the wheels of Kamaz. Low clouds, only the mountain on top of which we are located is visible.
But ten minutes later, the cloud cover disappears, the clouds leave, and the picture around us changes dramatically: mountain ranges rise in front of us against the background of the blue sky, which we did not see point-blank.
Let's go further. We stop at the next parking lot, and the group goes to watch the waterfall. I did not go - waterfalls do not touch me. But I walked sideways and from above I saw a gorge with a river at the foot of the volcano. Impressed. And the group returned not filled with enthusiasm from what they saw ...
Next stop at the observation deck overlooking the volcano.
On the site there are many slides made of stones made by tourists, among which lava comes across. While everyone is taking pictures, I drag a hefty piece of lava into Kamaz. It is good that it is porous and not very heavy. Our guides are somewhat puzzled by my acquisition.
Day six – jeep tour
The sixth day is free. Everyone chooses a program for himself. We chose the jeep tour. The driver met us in the morning.
The jeep, however, turned out to be not the one that drove away from our hotel every morning (fancy, on wheels more than KAMAZ ones), but a Delica all-wheel drive minibus. A talkative driver took us to Cape Mayachny, talking about the life of people in Kamchatka along the way. Cape Mayachny is the final cape at the exit from Avacha Bay to the Pacific Ocean.
The route passed along a high bank in a course parallel to the sea route, which we followed by sea on the first day. I chose this jeep tour for a free day for a reason… Shlyupochnaya Bay is located near Mayachny Cape, on the sides of which there is a manifestation of Kamchatka agates. Their feature is the inclusion of copper minerals. I had hope to get there. A vague hope, but enough to carry a geohammer with you….
We arrived at Cape Mayachny and looked at the ocean from above. Below us are bird markets. Birds fly either at our level or below.
And indeed there is a lighthouse. And there are a couple of pillboxes left from the war with tank towers that covered the entrance to the bay during the Cold War. To my surprise, they are still easily turned by the efforts of one person. Under one of the tank towers, I found the entrance to the pillbox. I climbed in there, illuminating the road with a mobile: small concrete rooms, an earthen floor.
We drove back to another observation deck. On my suggestion to drive to the desired bay, the driver said that it was necessary to drive there at low tide along the beach - now it’s impossible to get through. “And there the road from above leads to the bay! I can see!". "She's been dug up." Somehow I doubt that such a well-trodden, albeit rather steep, descent has been dug up, but what can you do...
We arrive at the next observation deck. There we are met by a long-range poaching point: a guy is sitting in an SUV, looking through binoculars and warning someone on the phone: “A boat has come out in your direction. In five minutes he will enter the fog - I will not see him further. Be careful!".
We go down by car to the sea and drive straight to the beach. The beach is lined with SUVs. Just two cars. It was not easy for them on the way here. This is a neighboring bay in relation to Shlyupochnaya. According to the descriptions, agates pulled by the sea are found in pebbles here as well. I go, I wander, I don't find it.
But indeed in the sides I find signs of copper. The whole rock in one place is covered not even with a putty, but with a thin layer of a green mineral. The color is either malachite or brochantite.
Then we go to the city, and the driver takes us along a serpentine dirt road to the observation deck, from where a view of the whole city and the bay opens. Wow! And the city is very big! When we were taken around the city, it was impossible to understand. Here in the photo, probably only a fifth of it.
Well, that's all: the next day we fly back to Moscow. In the suitcase there are pieces of lava, caviar bought at the market, pine nuts from Irkutsk, and for the whole family - identical T-shirts with bears “I love Kamchatka!”. It will be necessary to persuade everyone to put them on at the same time. This time the flight is direct. And what is interesting: the time difference between Moscow and Petropavlovsk is exactly equal to the flight time. How many took off - so much and sat down. When we arrived in Petropavlovsk, one day departed from the time difference. But the reverse time shift knocked us out for some reason for a whole week.