Kamchatka journey
I have just returned from a trip on a converted icebreaker along the Kamchatka Peninsula from Chuchotka - Anadyr in the North, up to the Arctic circle and the remains of the gulags, down to Petropavlovsk-Kamchatskaya in the South. There were stops at the Commander Islands also. This was no luxury cruise...all landings were by zodiac in cold water on empty beaches, so the dress was layers of wind and waterproof clothing and huge wellington boots.
I hiked long distances across tundra, up and down slippery hills and on sandy shorelines in my heavy wellington boots!
This is a huge wilderness area with very little human settlement. there were millions of seabirds....and their colonies..including puffins and albatross, and the spectacular Steller's Sea eagle. This is the largest of all sea eagles with a wingspan of up to 2.3 meters. Whales and orcas populated the seas, and walrus, seals, sea otters and Steller's sea lions.
On one unihabited island in the Commander chain, I sat still and silent on a beach as a playful, curious and totally unafraid arctic fox puppy scratched at my boot, and nibbled my pants and sleeve...a magical moment!
At Olga Bay, on a beach covered in bear footprints, where we split into small groups, I walked about 10 km in my wellingtons through soft sand, bog, forest and river. We were about to give up and return to the meeting point, when a male bear suddenly trotted along the beach towards us as we stood motionless, then entered the river where we were and started fishing! We saw lots of other bears in the distance at other times, but this was a close encounter.
The landscape...of bleak tundra, just turning autumn colours, gradually transformed in to volcano studded vastnesses of river and forest as we moved further south.
I have a sore hip from the gumboot hiking...but I would not have missed these empty and remote places for anything!

1 comment

Diana Australis said:

Bonjour Isabelle....tu as eu des adventures! It must have been very interesting to be in Moscow some years ago!
This area is still very unvisited. The landing documents and permissions are hard to obtain ...the operator of the expedition does a lot of work to get these. They have 2 trips per year with 50 persons....and no other operators appear to go there. So yes, they are very isolated, and very remote. That is much of the charm. Even the animals are unafraid of people as they have had no threats from them!
Merci beaucoup de tes visites, mon amie....Bisous.
9 years ago