In Russia's Kljutschewskoi Nature Park, the impressive mix of volcanic activity and glacier formation shapes Kamchatka's landscape into a beauty that never stands still.
The Kljutschewskoi Nature Park is located in Kamchatka, the easternmost peninsula of Russia and the most volcanically active region in the world. It is also known as the "Volcanoes of Kamchatka" and was added to the UNESCO World Heritage Site of the same name in 2001. Moreover, its fascinating landscape has a fixed place on our list of the top 10 sights of Russia.
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PICTURES: Kljutschewskoi Nature Park in Kamchatka
There are few animals in the hostile conditions between fire and ice. Snow sheep, brown bears, reindeer, moose and marmots live in the forests, but they are almost never seen. Swans, wild geese, capercaillies, foxes and hares are the most likely to be seen. In the lower regions there are abundant salmon, which feel perfectly at home in the crystal-clear water filtered by the volcanic rock.
Kljutschewskoi - The Fire-Breathing Master of Kamchatka
The ruler of the nature park is the Kljutschewskoi volcano, or Kljutschewskaja Sopka, which also gave the nature park its name. The fire-breathing giant is the largest active volcano in Eurasia. Its almost perfectly symmetrical volcanic cone rises to a height of (depending on the eruption) about 4,750m from the so-called Kluchewskaja group of 12 other stratovolcanoes.
On its slopes littered with volcanic debris, snow patches and ice fields, the two glaciers Erman and Bogdanovich wind their way down into the depths. The first eruption of the Kljutschewskoi volcano was recorded in 1697; on average, the mountain spews ash and lava every five years, which also escapes from the more than 100 side craters.
The Kljutschewskoi can be climbed via a route from Kosyrewsk across the saddle between the two volcanoes Kljutschewskoi and Kamen. However, many do not dare this adventure, because many a climber has died in the sudden lava flow.
Those who therefore do not necessarily want to storm the summit can limit themselves to walking along the hiking trails at the foot of the volcano, which are marked by cairns. Some volcanological stations at an altitude of about 1,000m act as mountain huts.
Volcano trekking in the land of fire and ice
The best starting point for tours in the nature park is Kosyrevsk, 500km from Petropavlovsk-Kamchatski. It can be reached by helicopter in 3 hours. A bus ride there takes 10-12 hours and leads across the Kamchatka River, whose ferries only operate from 9am to 8pm. Even from the river you can see the majestic peaks of Kljutschewskoi, Tolbatschik and Uschkowski. Two roads lead into the nature park from Kosyrevsk.
There are no accommodation facilities in the park, only camping sites. Thanks to its remoteness, only about 500 people visit the Kljutschewskoi Nature Park each year. As a result, the landscape has preserved its original wild and romantic beauty.
The breathtaking 7-day trekking tour "Around Tolbatschik" leads through a lunar landscape of numerous gorges and palatial rock formations of the Polsky Tolbatschik ("Flat Tolbatschik"). You also pass the memorial plaque of the courageous volcanologists who explored the world-famous "Great Tolbatschik Fissure Eruption" in 1976 and died of the consequences of the volcanic gases in the following years.
In places, the ash is even still warm, the ground crunches like charcoal from a barbecue and the first new alpine flowers tentatively peek out from the black rock between the petrified trees.
Best time to visit Kamchatka National Park
Most visitors come between June and August, when the thermometer climbs to just below 30°C. Nevertheless, be sure to bring waterproof and windproof clothing! By the way, mosquitoes and midges can be found up to 2,000 m above sea level in summer! In the mountains, the first snow falls as early as September. From October to May there are snowstorms and temperatures below -40°C.