Kamchatka is a peninsula in the Russian Northeast. The Pacific Ocean, the Bering Sea and the Sea of Okhotsk make up its eastern, northeastern and western coastlines, respectively.
The Kamchatka Territory = the Kamchatka Peninsula + adjacent mainland + the Commander and Karaginsky Islands.
Although Kamchatka is a peninsula, it has a limited motorway and railway infrastructure. One can access the land of volcanoes by air or by sea. Moreover, should you choose the sea option, you have to buy a ticket for a tourist cruise.
Yelizovo Airport, the main Kamchatka’s air junction, is located 25 km away from Kamchatka’s capital, Petropavlovsk-Kamchatsky (about 30 minutes by car). It is an active destination with inbound flights from: Anadyr, Vladivostok, Magadan, Novosibirsk, Khabarovsk, Moscow.
A non-stop flight from Moscow takes 8 hours 45 minutes. Due to the nine-hour time gap, you will land almost at the same time as you have boarded, but it will be the next day already.
In summer, direct flights to Yuzhno-Sakhalinsk, Yakutsk, Japan ( Tokyo and Osaka) and the USA ( Anchorage, AK) become available. Depending on the season, charter flights from Thailand and Vietnam can also be an option.
To save a considerable amount of money, you are advised to consider purchasing the tickets well in advance. The earlier you buy, the less you pay for the flight. The lowest season is usually in winter, from December to February. In summer, the ticket prices typically triple.
If you are under 23, you can take advantage of a special tariff option: check the current rules of the state air travel subsidisation programme. And keep an eye on the deals airlines offer online.
Another option is to set out on your journey by train and then switch to a plane to get to the destination. Also, there are quite a lot of flights from the neighbouring regions of the Russian Far East.
The weather in Kamchatka is changeable, and it affects everything. The weather decides when you can land, go on a tour, scale a mountain or just leave home for grocery shopping. You will be definitely in for a few surprises.
Kamchatka is worth visiting all year round: whatever month you choose, you get into the land of volcanoes and protected nature. The duration of the 'best' season is based completely on your idea of a vacation.
December–January. Mid-winter season: alpine skiing resorts, snow scooter tours, dog sleigh rides, ice fishing and even surfing. Kamchatka is a perfect place for winter holidays: here you will be the first in Russia to see the New Year in.
February–March. Free-ride season goes on. Skiers and snowboarders can choose from several means of transportation to get to the top or the foot of the volcano: from snowmobiles to snowcats to helicopters. Exclusive activities include paragliding and winter boat tours.
June–July. As the summer season kicks off, snowmobiles are replaced by ATVs and quads, and it's high time for hiking and climbing. The opportunities for avid fishermen and rafting fans are limitless. Thrill-seekers swap out snowboards for standup paddleboards and kayaks.
September–October. That's the best season for snapping pictures: the unparalleled landscapes of the nature reserve are repainted in yellow and red. Trophy fishing continues on the Kamchatka, Opala, Bystraya and Avacha rivers. The first snow is covering the volcanoes.
Everything depends on your preferences and capabilities. If you opt for a package tour from a reliable tour operator, any possible challenges with your stay or navigation will be dealt with, which is a good thing for an inexperienced traveller. Moreover, a time-tested travel agency will help keep you safe.
And you can combine travelling solo with group programmes to customise your itinerary and make your journey totally unique. Another solution is to go travelling as part of a team. Therewith you can share transfer, staying, eating and travelling expenses.
In Kamchatka, you can shop for traditional souvenirs made of bone, wood, fur, leather, birch bark, mammoth tusks and teeth, walrus tusk, elk antler and whalebone. Or you can look for stuffed animals and fish or even pictures created by Kamchatka artists. In the city shops, you will discover amulets, totems, charms, tambourines and national wear.
Kamchatka specialties are also very popular as souvenirs. These include Kamchatka crab meat, salmon, red caviar, wild berries, mushrooms and rosebay.
In Petropavlovsk-Kamchatsky, you can connect to 4G.
Area code: +7 (4152).
The central part of the peninsula boasts a well-developed network of motorways: often, tour agencies offer SUV tours. If you want to rent a car, most likely you will get a Japanese right-hand drive.
There are public buses in Kamchatka: you can use them to get from Petropavlovsk-Kamchatsky to the nearest villages whence you can hike to volcanoes.
The fastest way to travel across Kamchatka, though, is a helicopter. Several attractions, like the Valley of Geysers and Kurile Lake, can be accessed by air only.
No extra health insurance is required to visit Kamchatka. A standard policy will be fine.
However, if you are planning on exploring mountain routes or scaling a volcano, it makes sense to add helicopter evacuation and search-and-rescue to your insurance package. A number of companies offer special insurance programmes for professional mountaineering, high-mountain tracking, hiking and other mountain sports.
Kamchatka offers cozy houses and hotels featuring top-level service: Spa hotels; comfortable apartments; menu with seafood items galore... And all this is flanked by wilderness.
It is hard to say what Kamchatka cuisine is like. The peninsula is like a huge gastronomic cauldron, where history mixed Koryak, Chukchi and Evenk traditions, which include dishes, such as sun-dried fish or seal lard, and seasoned them with wild plants and delicious seafood.
Read "Kamchatka cuisine" to find out more about the traditional cuisine of Kamchatka indigenous people.
Yes, there are two visitor centres in Kamchatka.
One is Khalaktyrsky Beach Visitor Centre encompassing 2.6 hectares. There you can find wooden walkways with benches, dustbins and information plaques, and dome-shaped structures with cafes and the visitor centre. Also, in the visitor centre, you can play football or volleyball, rent blankets, balls, frisbees, or badminton equipment.
Throughout all summer, the visitor centre hosts:
Tel: +7 (4152) 307-330
The second visitor centre is located in Esso village, on the premises of Kamchatka Volcanoes Nature Park. Here visitors can find information about events, trips, public transport schedules, museums and other facilities. Tourists can also shop for maps, travel guides and souvenirs.
There are about 30 active and over 160 extinct volcanoes in Kamchatka.
But no one could tell the exact number because Kamchatka is called 'the land of volcanoes' for a reason.
Some volcanoes are covered with snow even in summer, so thrill-seekers can go skiing and snowboarding all year round. Apparently, it gets more interesting in winter and spring: you can ride a dog sleigh or snow scooter, or try something special like heli-ski.
Same with surfers: they do not always stick to the calendar. With thick winter gear, an experienced conqueror of waves can go surfing almost anytime. But predictably, the best period proves to be the three summer months.
The main means of transportation is by bus. You can catch a shuttle bus or minibus to get from Petropavlovsk-Kamchatsky to the neighbouring towns and villages.
If you want to head to nature parks, volcanoes and other attractions, you will most likely need to order your transfer beforehand, which makes travelling in a group a more budget-conscious option. In summer, the best choice may be an SUV, rover or boat. In winter, you can throw a snow scooter into the mix. For a V.I.P. trip, book a helicopter: it can bring you to any place at any time of the year.
You can, but you need to know when it occurs, and making accurate predictions is a rather complicated matter. Even with volcanists keeping track of the situation, there is still room for surprises, as it happened in 2012 with Plosky Tolbachik volcano.
However, it is hardly a reason to give up on your trip. You will definitely feel the fiery breath of active volcanoes: there are about 30 of them in Kamchatka. You will see the unique landscape speckled with fumarolas, geysers, calderas and crater bowls. Colourful clays, cinder fields, lava flows twisting down the foot — a space landscape of sorts.
Kamchatka is a fishing paradise
Fish in a lake, river or the sea. Fish in winter (ice or sea fishing) and summer (rafting, fishing facilities, sea fishing).
Your possibilities are virtually unlimited.
Yes, if you are a skilled ice-swimmer with a strong spirit and tons of experience under your belt. In summer, the water temperature of the Pacific Ocean rarely exceed 15 °С, while in winter, they range between negative 3 to 2 °С.
For the biggest choice of seafood, go to the market and city fairs.
The price of seafood depends on the time of year because there is a different fishing season for a different type of fish.
The prices for a one-day rover, SUV or snow scooter trip start at RUB 5,000–8,000.
A several-day tour may include volcano climbing, bathing in thermal springs and a picnic, and its average price goes up to RUB 18,000–20,000.
Helicopter trips are the most expensive ones (about RUB 40,000 per person) but confer lots of advantages: comfort, safety, speed.
The tourists choose a kayak, airboat (rafting) or catamaran and go on an adventure on one of 14,000 Kamchatka rivers
Surrounded by mountaintops and roaring waterfalls, sliding along green valleys, an inflatable raft dashes for the first rapid and, after successfully overcoming the obstacle, takes you to new landscapes.
Most of the boat tours are organized for fishing
On your way, you will taste the fresh fish soup and maybe, if you are lucky, you will even see a bear.
· Sleeping bag
· Waterproof windbreaker or raincoat
· Polyethylene insert for the backpack
· Insect repellent
· Swimsuit (if you are planning a dip in thermal springs)
· Pocket knife
· Warm clothes
Choose your gear depending on the season. In any case, you will need warm and comfortable footwear. The weather in Kamchatka can change in a flash, so you want to have different clothing options (a thin down jacket might come in handy even in summer — for instance, for an evening halt in the mountains).
If you are going on a trip to natural resorts or mountains, you will need a first-aid kit, a map and a GPS as well.