Tuesday, November 30, 2010

As East as Possible

At the very end of Siberia lies the highly volcanic actively peninsula of Kamchatka, jutting south towards the Kuril islands and Japan.
Sparsely populated, there are still many hot springs in their natural undisturbed habitat as well as a couple of enhanced soaks catering to the increasing numbers of tourists.

Probably the best web based source of hot spring info on Kamchatka is the web page of
kamchatkatravers.ru. Besides the many references I will include below, it mentions that there are 124 hot springs mostly located on the eastern range. It has more extensive descriptions of about 20 hot springs complete with photo's.
Roughly coming to the same number is russiadiscovery.com:
'There are 274 mineral springs in Kamchatka, and more than half of them are hot'.
Another source of info on hot springs in Kamchatka is the website of the Geyser Hotel. Distinctive soak entries will be included.

Without infringing on the previous lists, the following will try to give a pretty complete picture of Kamchatka's hot springs. Unfortunately I have not been able to put the 30 mentioned soaks into pace some kind of system in the review, the list is more or less at random. Most though are located in the east close to the more populated parts of Kamchatka around the central valley and Petropavlovsk, Kamchatka's main city.

Valley gone?
One of Kamchatka's main tourist attractions is the Valley of Geysers which is claimed to be the second largest concentration of geysers in the world (
'For approximately 3.7 miles the narrow, winding Geysernaya steams, boils, erupts and smells. This single valley has more than 20 major geysers and dozens of smaller ones concentrated in just 1.5 square miles'.
It is unclear though whether these claims are still valid as earlier this century many geysers were covered during a mud slide. It's also not clear whether or not these geysers are soakable. Though presumably.

(Viluchinsky or Rodnikoviye) hot spring is one of Kamchatka's most often referred to hot springs, possibly due it's 2 hour distance from Petropavlovsk, and the skiing possibilities nearby.

site describe it as follows:
'Local headquarters [government] left the hot springs in their pristine state and built alongside several charming wooden changing rooms and outhouse. There are 2 not large pools with healing hot water. One pool is for 4-5 persons. The place is very cozy and picturesque'.
For some reality here is a description from a visitor:
'A guided tour of Vilyuchinsky thermal springs also known as Rodnikoviye springs leaves a long-lasting impression. In two hours after leaving the town the road runs up a steep pass, crosses a mountain plateau and smoothly goes down to the valley of the river Vilyuchi. The locals did their best to preserve this haunt untouched and not to cripple it with buildings and other civilization signs. There are two small shallow natural pools filled with real thermal water. The fact that the water is thermal is confirmed by the presence of thermofile fields floating on the surface (algae living in thermal water). A small pool for 4-5 persons is located on a volcano terrace right on a travertine cupola. The water in the pool is sulfate-chloride-hydracarbonate'.
Geyser Hotel's entry on Viluchinski. And Sannikov.org.

It's also well known for it's muddy qualities.

Nice taste

'Strategic meeting in Nalychevo Hot Spring'.
By Brruno

Nalychevo (Nalichevo) hot springs are
'the biggest thermal carbonic acid springs at Kamchatka' source.
The Geyser Hotel has an extensive entry on this hot spring complete with pictures of the pond like surroundings and the single bathing building.

The same
reference also mentions Talivoye hot spring, 6 km from Nalychevo:
'... the water tastes nice'.
Krayevedcheskiye are also located nearby Nalychevo (source).

Sannikov.org has this on Goryachie hot springs which are located in the central part of Nalychevo valley:
'On your way from Nalychevsky Priyut you cross another interesting place "Bear's tundra" covering with low bushes cranberry, blueberry, crowberry - a paradise for "a boss" of Kamchatka's forests. While bathing you'll admire vast expanses of tundra and mountainous peaks, glacial landscapes, richness and diversity of flora and fauna. You'll see a magnificent view of many summit Zhupanovsky volcano looks like fairy castle'.
Goryacherechenskie (Goryacherechensky), Talovskie (Talovsky), Aagskie (Aagsky; cool to warm springs) and Kraevedcheskie (Kraevedchesky) hot springs are mentioned just once by Kamchatkatravers. All are not far from Nalychevo.
Khodutka hot springs is another hot spring rumored to be popular with tourists (
source). The Geyser Hotel's entry on Khodutka puts quite some effort into describing this spring. Apparently this is a lake like section of the river (a km long, 20m wide) where temperatures vary from 37-80 Celsius.

'Russian banya
... in the thermal hot waters of the Khodutka River (the largest wild hot springs in Kamchatka)'.
By freddiebernard.
Paratunka (Paratunskie) is synonymous for it's soaks. Located even closer to Petropavlovsk this website mentions
'There are several natural outlets of thermal hot waters in the valley of Paratunka Valley: Nizhne-Paratunkskie (Low) Hot Springs, Sredne-Paratunkskie (Middle) Hot Springs and Verkhne-Paratunkskie (Upper) Hot Springs'.
This site claims
'In this area are nearly 30 hot swimming pools fed by wells drilled to bring un the naturally hot and mineralized waters'.
The Moscow Times haste's to add that these are Soviet-style sanatoria, though other's in a more natural state. Then there's a Blue lagoon, Golubaya Laguna, to entertain all:
'At present it is one of the most popular touristic centres of Kamchatka among both its residents and visitors of the island'. source
It's therefore difficult to attribute descriptions to a particular Paratunka soak. Some are more developed than others. The upper springs are less developed and include a waterfall (source) with a soaking pool below. The local government website includes a number of links to resorts, mostly in Russian.
Not so popular
The village of Malki (Malky) is the name giver of the Malkinski (Malkinsky) hot spring. The springs located 5 km from the village are located further away than Paratunka along the Klyuchevka river (source). Russiadiscovery adds:
'The valley is 0.5 km wide, on its both sides there are volcanoes covered with stone birch forest. On big thermal platforms covered with pebbles, near a creek there are several groups of springs, thermal waters of which stream down into small reservoirs dug in pebble soil. Hundreds of people come here on weekends. There is a recreation center near the springs, on its territory there are cottages and a comfortable thermal pool'.
It must be said that these springs are more rustic but on the evidence of this photo they do seem to attract quite a few soakers. Sannikov.org adds:
'Often on weekends the are is packed with picnicking and camping Russians'.
The Geyser Hotel entry of Malkinski. A traveler must have appreciated the soak:
'Then we drove to the Malki hot springs to take a bath, and a second, and a third next morning'.
Also located close to the Kamchatka capital are the Zhirovskie (Zhirovski) hot springs which Kamchatkatravers describes as one of the most beautiful valleys of Kamchatka. There are two sets of springs, Nizhne-Zhirovski (lower springs, Geyser Hotel entry) and Verchne-Zhirovski (upper springs along mountain stream, Geyser Hotel entry).
Located nearby (presumed?) is the
Apacha hot springs hotel.

(Tumroksky) is a very off the map place (well, it's about half way up the peninsula) to which are very few references.
Tichavsky though treks here and gives this description:
'The times when Tumroks hot springs resort was just a few huts are past now. New hotel style wooden builidngs with luxury rooms were built there in summer 2003 for rich tourists comming by helicopter. Most of the building are now owned by "WelcomeTour" travel agency. I didn't like the light color of these buildings, located in still total wilderness with no road around'.

'Hot springs pools at Tumroks. What a pleasure after our unpleasant trek!'
From Tichavsky's photo page.

There is this
source on no less than 14 hot springs of Apapel which is near the town of Esso. Sputnik Mania has a photo.

The Lesser valley of Geysers is another term for the hot spring (fields?) of
Dachnye located in South Kamchatka (kamchatkatravers), 100 km west of Kamchatka's capital. A series of photo's can be observed from the kamchatintour website.

Kamchatkatravers has a very attractive description for the Verkhne Opalskie hot spring:
'Verkhne-Opalskie hot springs are located in the left bank part of the valley of the Levaya Opala river, on a small river that flows from the north-west slope of ancient Asacha volcano. The springs are located in the forest'.
The Karymskie (Karymsky) hot springs are located near Kamchatka's most active volcano with the same name. Again the most informative info available is from Kamchatkatravers. There's a personal experience:
'We concluded the day with a bath in a hot spring near the little stream. Next to the house was a wooden hut in which one could change clothes. In there one could get relief from millions of mosquitoes which lived at the swamp and which must have been pleased to hit on five humans to tired to care. In any case such a bath in such an environment is just wonderful. We watched the sun go down behind Karymsky as we relaxed to the max'.
Photo by Alexander Belousov. Caption:
'Alexander takes a rest in the Karymsky hot springs'.
Nearby are the hot springs of Academii Nauk (Akademii Nauk) which like Karymsky also refer to an active volcano. Again only referred to by Kamchatkatravers.The Kharimchinski hot springs are also awarded by an entry on the website of Geyser Hotel. It's location though is unclear. Luckily panoramio now has an entry (see photo below).

Geyser Hotel also has references to 2 hot springs near the Bannaya river. These are Maliye Banniye (Geyser Hotel entry) and Bolshiye Banniye (entry).

Others receiving a descriptive addition in kamchatkatravers are Zheltorechenskie, Shaibinskie, Timovoskie, Oksinskie, Ksudachinskie, Golyginskie.

For those of you requiring more photo graphic evidence the following are a number of links and captions to photo's from Iain Masterton:

'Group of babushkas enjoying a soak in natural hot spring baths at Ozerki near city of Petropavlovsk-Kamchatsky in Kamchatka in Russian Far East' source.
'People soaking in natural hot spring with beer chilling on ice during winter in southern Kamchatka in Russian Far East'. source
(Most probably the upper Paratunka hot spring)
'Two people soaking in natural outdoor hot spring with mineral mud face masks in Kamchatka in Russian Far East'. source
'Woman bathing in natural outdoor hot spring bath during winter in Kamchatka in Russian Far East'. source
'Outdoor hot natural hot spring bath in deep snow at a countryside Dacha in Kamchatka in the Russian Far East'. source
No people?
The absence of inhabitants has been well read by geothermal energy investors. A very recent development has been the teaming up of Icelandic geothermal energy specialists and Russian investors to seek to power up the peninsula such that metallurgic facilities will be run on the earths heat.

barabanov2006's photographic memory of a recent heliski adventure

[updated October 2011]

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