An expedition, not for the faint of heart, this adventure took me deep into the volcanic wonders of Kamchatka. Accessible only by hiking, helicopter and special Russian 6WD trucks called KAMAZ, the two main areas of exploration were the Tolbachik volcanoes 500km north of Petropavlovsk and Mutnovsky and Gorely volcanoes 70km to the south. Once off road, the KAMAZ top speed averaged just 5km/h, a testament to the rough and unspoiled terrain. But even the slushy ice fields were no match for the mighty KAMAZ and experienced Russian drivers!
Despite claiming to be Summer, Kamchatka was windy and cold and whilst camping at the southern base of the mountain tops of Tolbachik the clouds and rain descended on us, making the first week very trying. Grabbing what ever light possible, we made the most of the opportunities we had to photograph.
Pāhoehoe is basaltic lava that has a smooth, billowy, undulating, or ropy surface. These surface features are due to the movement of very fluid lava under a congealing surface crust. The Hawaiian word was introduced as a technical term in geology, due to its prevalence on the island.
This field of lava is from the 2013 Tolbachik eruption.
This was our final camp ground. Blessed with good weather, a dodgey Blair Witch toilet and an old Vulcanologist's abandoned cabin with heating, this was definitely the nicest camp.
The only way to truly experience Kamchatka is by hiking up to the volcanic mountain tops. On the last two days we did two big treks. Gorely and Mutnovsky. Both active, Mutnovsky offered bubbling acid pools and fumeroles to explore and Gorely had a view that was unbelievable.
Exploring fumeroles in Mutnovsky crater. On our descent, we were reminded that this is still an active volcano (last eruption was in 2002) as we were forced to scurry through an actual rock fall!
Winds so powerful I thought I was going to be blown off the ridge at the top of this active summit.
As one fellow Aussie on the trip remarked, Kamchatka makes Iceland look like a baby. It certainly does, and I am certainly in awe of being able to visit and immerse myself in her wild, wild landscapes.
Land of Ice and Fire