Kamchatka is one of the most fascinating regions of all. With an area of 470,000 sq. km Kamchatka Peninsula separates the Sea of Okhotsk from the Pacific Ocean. River valleys teeming with fish and white capped mountain ranges stretching along the peninsula from North to South are interrupted only by the 300 volcanoes (29 of them are active) that dot the eastern side of the peninsula. There is a multitude of thermal and mineral springs, geysers and other phenomena of active vulcanism. Kronotskoe and Kurilskoe are two of the major lakes in the area, both highly scenic and important fish spawning habitat. Other geomorphological phenomena can be observed, including volcanic accumulation and erosion, inter-mountain hollows, foothills and piedmont plains as well as coastal lowlands. The Uzon Caldera is large volcanic bowl that occupies nearly 30 square kilometers with sides rising up to 600m. The Valley of the Geysers is an outstanding natural phenomena with numerous hot geysers and springs
Amidst this pristine nature, natural wonders abound. With her valleys of gaseous geysers, volcanic calderas, crater lakes, stone sculpture "parks" (the natural by-product of ancient eruptions), geothermal hot springs, and mountain glaciers, Kamchatka has truly earned the title "The Land of Fire and Ice".
No one knows exactly when people first found the land that would be called Kamchatka. Some anthropologists believe that people migrated from Asia to North America as long as 40,000 years ago. Others argue it was as recent as 15,000 years ago.
Whenever, the consensus is that they came from Asia by way of a northern land bridge that once connected Siberia and Alaska. That land bridge, now recalled as Beringia, was the first gateway to Kamchatka. But these first visitors were hardly tourists intent on exploring new worlds. Rather they were simply pursuing their subsistence way of life as they followed great herds of grazing mammals across the grassy tundra and gentle steppes of Beringia.
They came sporadically through many millennia - in waves of different ethnic backgrounds/generations of people and animals- hunters and hunted. As the Ice Age drew to an end and the seas claimed the land, these people moved to higher and drier places-the land that, as the continents drifted apart, would become Kamchatka.
Some groups settled in the Arctic. Others traversed the mountain passes to Alaska. While still others migrated through Kamchatka, continuing on to distant lands-perhaps as far as South America!
Those who made Kamchatka their permanent home make up the state's major anthropological groups: Itelmen, Koryak, Chukchi, Eveni and Aleuts.
The indigenous peoples of Kamchatka mostly living in the northern part of the peninsula which is a real " The lost world" of civilization.
Koryak, Itelmen, Chukchi and Eveni - still keep their culture and traditional lifestyles, which is another reason why one of the most remote regions is visited by so many people every year.
The Kamchatka Peninsula became part of Russia in 1699 and the first description of Kamchatka was given by the explorer S.P. Krashenninnikov in 1742. Until the beginning of the 18th century, the Itelmeni people settled in the central and southern parts of Kamchatka Peninsula ; their most important economic occupation was fishing. The western part of Kamchatka and the Bystrinsky region were settled by the Eveni people . The indigenous peoples of Kamchatka living in the northern part of the peninsula still keep their culture and traditional lifestyles. The culture of these people is fascinating for the ethno-cultural tourist. This is a reason why one of the most remote regions is visited by so many people every year.
The main settlement of the peninsula and the capital of Kamchatka Region is the city of Petropavlovsk-Kamchatsky . It was founded by the famous marine explorer Vitus Bering in 1740, when he chose the Avachinskaya Bay as a base for sailing across the Pacific Ocean to the shores of future Russian America. The city is located on the south-eastern shore of the Kamchatka Peninsula against a background of volcanic peaks. With a population of over 180,000 people, Petropavlovsk-Kamchatsky is an important port as well as a centre of industry, science and adventure tourism.
The fauna of the peninsula is relatively low in diversity, Kamchatka Peninsula exhibiting some of the biogeographical qualities of an island. Exceptionally unpolluted rivers and beautiful birch and Siberian pine forests are perfect for fishing, hiking, white-water rafting tours. Enormous reserves of fresh water including numerous rivers and lakes provide perfect spawning grounds for 5 species of Pacific salmon, several species of trout, as well as East Siberian char, grayling and others. Waterfowl flourish in the wetlands. Brown bears, fox, lynx, sable, and moose inhabit the forests, and reindeer roam the tundra. Due to its geographic isolation, Kamchatka is home to species of plants and animals found nowhere else in the world. Therefore, the peninsula will be particularly exciting to those with an interest in botany, ornithology, or biology.
The Kamchatka climate is as diverse as its wildlife. You will find a moderate maritime zone on either coast, a continental zone in the central valley with four distinct seasons, and an arctic zone in the northern reaches of the peninsula. Depending on when and where you choose to travel on the peninsula, you will find a tremendous variance in temperature.
The beauty of traveling to Kamchatka is that all of these climactic zones are accessible to you. Depending on how ambitious of an itinerary you choose for yourself, you will find lush forests, extreme mountain ranges, remote lakes, rocky coastlines, and vast tundra. This is the land of geysers and hot mineral springs, active volcanoes and remote mountain valleys. Explore the history and culture of Kamchatka native peoples, taste the famous giant crab in one of the restaurants of Petropavlovsk, see for yourself why almost every Russian dreams of visiting this beautiful land.