Kamchatka (Part 3) "Valley of Geyseys"
On Day 3 we reached the Valley of Geyseys 5 miles (8km) east of our cabins. We had deposited our tents at a clearing at 3.5 miles which was due to be our camp for that night. The plan was to visit the Valley of Geyseys and to return to this clearing before dusk. Luckily for us, on arrival at the Valley of Geyseys our guide and interpreter (Lyosha and Luba) were able to secure accommodation at the UNESCO cabin. Once again delaying our inaugural overnight camp stay.
The UNESCO hut housed a few simple bunks. Again these cabins were used by researchers and scientists. The cabin was accompanied by a small kitchen out-building as well as a small hostel. The whole complex stood on a ridge overlooking the geysey field. The valley was laced with a vast network of wooden trails weaving from one bubbling geysey to another.
The valley hosts more than 20 geyseys, collections of mud cauldrons and many fumaroles. In June this year a massive landslide constricted the flow of the Geysernaya River causing the water levels to rise and submerging several geyseys. A full account (with images) can be seen here. For months workers tried to lower the water levels caused by the new dam but as funds dried up the work stopped. It may take several years before the levels return to normal.
Submerged trees along the Geysernaya River
The Velikan geysey is the largest of the group and is said to to reach 30m and erupts "every" 6 hours. We sat and waited patiently in the blisteringly cold wind for our allotted showtime... Nothing. Our guide quipped that it was very uncharacteristic for the regularity of a geysey of this size to be broken. Lyosha jokingly assured us that we would make it to the newspapers to be the first tourists to witness of the failure of the Velikan. Nevertheless, the countless boiling mud pools and steam caverns of the amazing landscape almost puts it on par with El Tatio of the Atacama.
Our interpreter, Luba
Billberries and Siberian crowberries
After a night in the cabins we made our way back to the first camp, stopping off at the lunch to pick up our unused tents at the camp clearing.
Maxim leading the way through fields of berries
Julie and Aleksei navigate the freezing river
Scaleless fresh water salmon
After our final night at the Glukhoy Creek camp we headed out south bound towards the Pacific. We enjoyed yet another amazing lunch rustled up by our young cook Sasha.
Even had time to bring out the 105mm f/2.8 macro lens
Frost layered Vaude tent after our first camp night
Tourists at work!
Our journey took us through endless tundra coated with fields of berries and vistas of the surrounding volcanoes as well as a mother bear and her inquisitive cubs!
Luba surveying the Valley of Steam
Our next camp was located at the top of another ridge over looking a stream fed by thermal pools at the Valley of Steam. The camp had a Ranger's cabin (which was also our makeshift kitchen) and a discrete toilet cabin a little distance away.