Alaskan’s Adventures in Kamchatka: Interview with Scott McMurren

Photo of Scott McMurren Hiking in Uzon Caldera, Kamchatka.

Scott McMurren Hiking in Uzon Caldera, Kamchatka.

Yakutia Airlines’ direct summer flights from Anchorage to Petropavlovsk-Kamchatsky on the Kamchatka Peninsula opens up more opportunities for Alaskans to visit Russia’s most exotic places with endless opportunities to explore dramatic landscapes, unique wildlife, native cultures and hospitality.

We are interviewing Alaska travel expert and travel blogger Scott McMurren, who shares his recent experience traveling to Kamchatka.

Q: Tell our readers a little bit about yourself. When and how did you discover your passion for travel?

My name is Scott McMurren. I blame my grandparents for infecting me with the “travel bug.” My grandmother was a travel writer and my grandfather was a newspaper executive. They traveled extensively and wrote to me with stories of their adventures.

Q: How was your experience with Yakutia Airlines?

This was my first trip with Yakutia…the flight crew was efficient and helpful. The flight was short: just 4.5 hours from Anchorage to Petropavlovsk-Kamchatsky. The seats were a little tight, as I am 6’5” tall.

Q: What inspired you to visit Kamchatka?

Ever since Yakutia started flying nonstop, I wanted to visit. After learning about the great fishing and the Valley of the Geysers, I really wanted to explore the country!

Boarding MI-8 for a one-day tour. Helicopter tours usually include a couple of hours of flying time, a couple of hours of hiking, a stop for a meal and a soak in one of the natural hot springs. Photo by Scott McMurren

Boarding MI-8 for a one-day tour. Helicopter tours usually include a couple of hours of flying time, a couple of hours of hiking, a stop for a meal, and a soak in one of the natural hot springs. Photo by Scott McMurren

 

Flying over Kamchatka in MI-8 with open windows for better pictures. Photo by Scott McMurren

Flying over Kamchatka in MI-8 with open windows for better pictures. Photo by Scott McMurren

 

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Sergei of Red Rivers Travel Company with his mud bogger traveling the Russian wilderness. Photo by Scott McMurren

Q: Can you share one or two of the most memorable experiences from your recent trip?

The first was taking a helicopter trip from Petropavlovsk-Kamchatsky up to the Uzon Caldera. I love helicopters and we flew for an hour in each direction. The second was visiting with Rotarians from Yelizovo. I took a flag from my Rotary Club and we did an all-day excursion to one of the nearby hot springs.

Hiking past the acid lake in the Uzon caldera, part of the Kronotsky Nature Reserve in Kamchatka. Photo by Scott McMurren

Hiking past the acid lake in the Uzon caldera, part of the Kronotsky Nature Reserve in Kamchatka. Photo by Scott McMurren

Q: For those who have never been to Kamchatka, what are the top 3 reasons to go?

a. GREAT fly-in fishing
b. GREAT photography, particularly the bears of Kuril Lake.
c. GREAT hiking all over the caldera and the Valley of the Geysers

Boiling mud pot in Uzon Caldera. Photo by Scott McMurren

Boiling mud pot in Uzon Caldera. Photo by Scott McMurren

Q: Describe the Uzon Caldera experience.

The park people have great boardwalks set up everywhere, plus national park rangers to accompany hikers in case of bears. It’s an other-worldly experience to walk over the boiling mud pots and the geysers.

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Steam vents in Uzon Caldera. Photo by Scott McMurren

Q: Can you recommend any apps or telephone tips for people who want to travel to that part of the world?

For connectivity, I recommend getting an unlocked phone and a local SIM card. That way, you can make local calls, surf the web and send texts.

Q: Please provide one piece of travel advice for Americans coming to Kamchatka.

Have patience.

Photo: Alaskan Martha Madsen of Explore Kamchatka runs an adventure travel company and a guest house, Courtesy of Scott McMurren.

Photo: Alaskan Martha Madsen of Explore Kamchatka runs an adventure travel company and a guest house in Kamchatka, Courtesy of Scott McMurren.

Published: November 1, 2016

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