When you think of of Siberia do you envision a vast, frozen wasteland? As a baby boomer growing up during the Cold War, that was my impression.
Well, baby boomer travelers, do I have a surprise for you. The Kamchatka Peninsula in far eastern Russia is a beautiful land of smoking volcanoes and abundant wildlife. Since it’s not on the regular tourist circuit, one way to visit this off-the-beaten-path location is to sail from Alaska to Asia on a cruise through the Bering Sea.
When ships tender near Kamchatka Peninsula in Siberia, passengers choose from activities that include visiting a dacha, touring the local museum or taking a helicopter ride for a birds-eye view of the volcanoes. Instead, Alan and I pick a truly unique adventure, the Regent cruise excursion, “Petropavlovsk’s Home Volcanoes by Army Truck.”
After tendering from Seven Seas Mariner to the dock, we stepped up into the six-wheeled, enclosed vehicle for a two-hour ride to Nalychevo Nature Park. The tour description warned of “travel over bumpy surfaces.” When the truck turned off the pavement and up a dry riverbed, our information proved to be correct. The vehicle lurched up, over and through deep trenches formed by snow run-off. Soon, we could see the smoking cones of both Avachinsky and Koryak volcanoes.
Once the truck climbed above the tree line, we arrived at an alpine village for a simple lunch. Sitting at long tables, our group (approximately 20) enjoyed a family style lunch of grilled salmon, slaw and rice served by a woman who spoke no English. Later, our young Russian guide, Svetlana, led a two-hour hike. We walked uphill to a viewpoint that was ideal for taking photos of both volcanoes. Those who wished, hiked farther up the hill while others returned to the alpine village.
Alan and I highly recommend this excursion. The scenery provided excellent photographic opportunities while the hiking levels offered something for everyone.