My First Trip to Kamchatka, by Saule Richardson

Photo: Saule Richardson

I had always dreamed about visiting Kamchatka sometime. From the time I began working on salmon conservation in 2011 I thought it would be fascinating to see the frigid, volcano-studded land that according to Kamchatka people only has two seasons in a year: “white winter” and “green winter.” Kamchatka is famous for more than 30 volcanoes, but also, geysers, rivers full of wild salmon, nature reserves, nature parks and its wildlife.

Valley of Geysers. Photo: Saule Richardson

I got on the last flight of the season from Yakutia Airlines and had the most convenient and shortest route from the U.S. West Coast to the Russian Far East – via Alaska. I was flying to Russia to take part in a week celebrating culture and eco-tourism in Kamchatka in the beginning of September. I was impatient to see the mysterious land of Kamchatka, to meet our colleagues working on salmon and community conservation, to learn and share the experiences.

The first event was the fifth annual regional Salmon Festival which was held on the Bolshaya River in the Ust-Bolsheretsky district–a four hour drive from Petropavlovsk-Kamchatsky. The Festival was a success and not only because it gathered 5,000 people of all ages from around the region but also because of its community of like-minded people, amazing live concerts of popular songs by professional and amateur singers, delicious Russian salmon recipes, a sport-fishing championship and  the beautiful setting. It will be the destination for the 2019 Sport-Fishing World Cup.

Salmon Festival. Photo: Saule Richardson

Next, an international ecotourism forum in Petropavlovsk-Kamchatsky gathered 400 participants from the different regions of Russia and from abroad was to hold professional discussions regarding the current challenges and opportunities surrounding the development of ecological tourism and to develop practical solutions and recommendations.

It included the participation of the Governor of Kamchatka Krai and consuls of Japan, USA, and the People’s Republic of China, the Republic of India, the Republic of Korea in the Russian Federation and a representative of Rostourism (Federal Agency on Tourism of the Russian Federation).

Our inspiration was all around us in the Avachinsky pass, which is located at the Nalychevo cluster of volcanoes in the Kamchatka Volcanoes Natural Park – a UNESCO heritage site.
With many other guests and forum participants, we also attended a gala-concert during at an indigenous arts festival “Zolotye rodniki” (Gold springs). The concert was simply spectacular and the dances were amazing. This stunning and unforgettable event vividly presented the art, culture and talents of the indigenous peoples of the Russian Far East.

The following day, we took a breathtaking tour to the geyser valley in the Khronotsky Nature Reserve and the Nalychevo Natural Park. We were in awe flying over the Malyi Semyachik volcano crater and seeing the mountains with spots of glaciers here and there, small and big rivers that appear as silver ribbons that were carefully laid throughout the forests.

The final day of the forum was held at the Khalaktyrsky plyazh (beach) on the Pacific Ocean. There, the forum unanimously approved a resolution for the future development of ecotourism in the Kamchatka Krai.
I hope one day that people from all over the world will follow our lead and visit Kamchatka’s wonders. They will also discover, as I did, that there is a beautiful and warm welcome season that comes between those two “winters.”  Call it the Kamchatsky summer.

 

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