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Russian Tourist Destinations: Valley of Geysers in Kamchatka
March 31, 2007 14:30

The Valley of Geysers in Kamchatka is part of Kronotsky national park, one of the oldest national parks in Russia. It was explored in 1941 by the research assistant and young geologist Tatiana Ustinova and her guide – the local resident Anisifor Krupenin.

The Valley was unknown for a long time due to the following reasons: it is located in a hard to reach place, and the locals, whose cattle camps were situated on the sea shores, did not have a necessity to get there; besides, they were afraid of hot springs and steaming places and believed it to be a residence of malignant demons. Only when Kronotsky state national park was created in Kamchatka in 1939, aimed at preserving the decreasing population of sables, the scientific assistants started exploring of the poorly studied territory of the park.

Geysers take a special position amongst thermal springs: they all have an interchange of dormant and high activity periods. The level of the geysers` activity to a great extent depends on the quantity of surface waters, atmospherical condensation, for instance, flowing into subsurface areas.

There are around 20 big and small geysers on the 6-kilometre territory of the Valley which is also remarkable due to the local plants association: some of them grow near and some right on the thermal springs; moreover, blue-green and some other kinds of algae can grow even in boiling water. Although winters are as severe here as on the rest of the territory of Kamchatka, by the end of March the Valley is usually full of green lawns and the first flowers start to effloresce. All geysers in the Valley differ from each other: the geyser called Triple is remarkable for its grey-brown colouring of geyserites; the Sugar geyser looks like a huge lily flower; the Big geyser has the highest fountain, while the Small geyser is the most powerful in the quantity of water debouched per day.

This phenomenon is both beautiful and rare. Large geysers are known only in Iceland, Yellowstone National Park in the United States, New Zealand, and small geysers – in California, Japan, and in Tibet. However, none of the geysers can be compared to those in Kamchatka in beauty, picturesque views, and the number of active springs concentrated on a narrow territory.

As the Valley of Geysers is a state guarded area included into Kronotsky state national park, it now can be accessed by organized tourists only – such travellers can follow a special route equipped with foot paths and wooden coverings.

However, the Valley of Geysers is dangerous as well – even a small inadvertence may cost one a scalded limb. The most dangerous areas in the Valley are covered with harmlessly looking grass. A person utterly unaware of the scalding slush hidden under the attractive grass blanket can hardly imagine that legs may simply be sucked down by the hot springs.

The only plant you can trust there is wormwood: this simple and unprepossessing plant always chooses only safe places for growing, where one can step or have a rest without fear of getting scalds.


Natalya Lavrentyeva

Tags: Russian tourism Kamchatka Valley of Geysers   

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