Kronotsky Nature ReserveThe Kronotsky Nature Reserve
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Eurasia's Valley of Geysirs (Russian: www. geysers.com ????????) is the only geysir site in Eurasia (after the Mutnovsky geysir field) and the second highest geysir concentrations in the whole wide area. The 6 km long pool with about ninety geysirs and many warm water sources is located on the Kamchatka Peninsula in the Far East of Russia, mainly on the lefthand shore of the ever-deepening Geysernaya River.
A Five-Day Russian Fire Ring
We' had abandoned the bear in the Valley of Geysire, where they strolled between lilac Orchid, emerald-green grass and the second biggest collection of Geysire on earth. Afterwards we hiked through the highland of the Russian Kronotsky Zapovednik, the tiara of the world's biggest system of severely preserved nature conservation areas.
Since 1916, when natural researchers in Russia established the Zapovedniki system (strictly guarded nature reserves), these extensive areas have been mostly closed to the public, except for researchers, parkers, and undergraduates. However, now, thanks to governments' initiative launched in 2011, many of these reservations are open to a small number of people.
On the 1,200 km long Kamchatka promontory, which sweeps from Asia to America like a saber, this nature reserve is nearer to California than to Moscow. Though bigger than Yellowstone, with more than 10,000 square kilometers of sheltered wildlife, Kronotsky has for years only allowed the most limited non-scientific visits: after a 36,000 ruble helipad, tourist groups move to promenades in small areas for less than three inches.
There are no streets leading to Kronotsky. Now that our group of three had arrived in the middle of a five-day walk, the snow-capped Kronotsky volcano in front of us ascended and took off more than 3,500 metres from the Pacific. There is the russion term" zapovednik" from qapoved (commandment), as in "Thou shall not harm". Tikhon Shpilenok, the 33-year-old reserve manager, who came here after working as an anti-poacher for another Zapvednik, was happy to quote Russia's legislation, which only allows "educational tourism" in Russia 102 Zapvedniki.
It was the first time I had seen Vlasov 12 km westwards when a chopper landed me near his rangers' hut in Uzon Kaldera, one of Kronotsky's botanic and geographical mega-lands. When my feet faded on the 10th of our first full backpack days - climb out of a calendera, follow a tuff and then descend into a ravine - the sheets that Vlasov put in my throat were my Itelmen favorites for the fixation of low levels of testosterone.
By the way, the lift brought me to our next hut before dark and bear, although Vlasov had to fire his scattergun into the sky as he took a mom and two boys on our trailer by surprise at dusk. Now, in the highland, where the Kronotsky volcano got out of reach, our goal came into sight: a patrols' hut for rangers, which Vlasov constructed in 1985.
Acted in an explosion near 700 AD (about a 10th of Kronotsky's age) and still smoking, Savich is riding a drop of ascending magnet. From a depth of about 8 km, the Blop drifts overheated waters through subterranean canals, creating the foaming jets and sparkling mud pots of the Valley of the Geysers.
We glanced down from the Rangers Patrols hut at another creation of the magic blop: a devilish female co-worker in the verdant Geysir River that was only found in 1975 when it was named after the Death Valleys. In Kamchatka's lively life of agony, Vlasov took us over sulphurous and chromium sand.
"Slava, " Vlasov said when he spoke of a man from the Geysire River who came here on a regular patrol. Who? Next to a brook that flows over olivine cobblestone streets, Vlasov tears to the top of a rock and raises his bar of birches in a pseudo-alpinist trip. Vlasov, however, already led us out of our poisonous canyon.
"I' ve outlived Russia's Valley of Death" briefly sticked a car stickers in my head. The Russian system of the Zapovedniks has for centuries offered the world's highest standard of nature conservation (designated by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature as Class 1a) for the biggest piece of ground within a country. The nature conservation for zipovovedniki is more severe than for the worlds central reserves, some of which, like Yellowstone, have paving several hundred kilometres of streets and allowed the construction of large hotel buildings within their borders.
It' s also more severe than the declared "wilderness areas" - such as Alaska's Denali Wildlife, home of North America's highest summit and with 8,600 square kilometres almost as large as Kronotsky - which set almost no limit to walking. For Vlasov, the story of Russia's nature conservation began long before 1916. Today the system of Zapovedniks is a fountain of Russia's arrogance.
Only five and a half day before I arrived in July 2012, Dmitry Medvedev, the Prime Minister of Russia, had flown to the Geysir River and then posted some pictures of his journey on Facebook. More than 3,800 "likes" he received for a foggy snapshot of an icons of geysirs coloured with red, yellow, green and blue on a multicoloured stained glass with a mixture of soil and herbs.
Medvedev's Geysir junk-et followed a 2010 trip by then-premier and current premier Vladimir Putin. Every guide, after the attendance, denounced assistance for the expansion of the system ZAPOVOVENIK by 11 new stocks from 2010 to 2020. Though Kronotsky is open to a few people, its researchers have limited the number of people that can walk a trail to ensure that the soil remains intact and the wildlife intact.
Kronotsky's characteristic visitor, often clad in Moscow streetwear, gets out of a chopper for about two hour to take off on the promenades constructed by Vlasov and his fellow rangers to shield both brittle vegetation and vapor-permeable soils. But even these guests are scarce: Less than 4,000 short-term helical travellers came to Kronotsky in 2012, compared to the almost three million who come to Yellowstone's Old Faithful.
In Kronotsky there were 23 visitors, like me. On my last night at Solovev zapovenik, another zapovenik night, Kolya Solovev, hosted our half a dozen powerful geysers in his hut to eat cook cooked lox and see a slide show of bears and mosquito oxes whose society Solovev had been enjoying the year before as he wrestled on the arctic zapovennik, which protected all of Wrangel Island.
But first Solovev had to do with a young bears about 2m in size and with pretty nails, which the ranger called "Freddy Krueger" as a tribute to the razor-sharp slit from the terrible movie A Nightmare on Elm Street. Fearing that Freddy might accidentally injure someone, Ranger reminded us all that even a small rise in wildlife travel could alter the behavior of wildlife - and gave rise to limiting the range of travel in any zapvednik.
He had stumbled to a helicopter landing pad from which the last few guests of the afternoon had just flew, so Solovev invited a scattergun with his favourite ammo for the bears' safety: flares that were only meant to be frightening. When Freddy headed for a public center, Solovev. After restoring calm in the village, Solovev proposed a walk before supper.
The Geysir Riviera was followed in the direction of the vaulted outlets and red-yellow bottoms of the large glassgeysirs. I used to push my way towards stained glass among helicopter passengers - a miscellaneous delight, like a view of the fragments of the rose window of Chartres among coach passengers. Now, with Solovev, his scattergun over his dark T-shirt, we walked off the helicopter route promenade, walked the pebbly bank of the stream and were sitting on brick-red cliffs at a pulsating source named Malachite Grotto.
In front of a sunken skies the geysirs were puffing whit. Sliding down a brick-red cupola with colors reminiscent of the reddish tip of the cathedral in Florence, you can see crystal-clear fountains in this area. A further ten geysirs and warm wells were playing around us. That'?s up ahead, I was looking forward to seeing Geysir named Aliveev.
Its name comes from a volcanoologist in Russia who fought in the 1960' to preserve this region after years of attempts by the Moscow authorities to deprive many Zapovedniks of their shelter. Nearer to us was Fountain Geyser, who shot the biggest Stained Glass turret with 10 meters height into the outdoors. Among the stained glass we were sitting in front of the world's greatest ever Kalliope - a steam-driven instrument propelled by the warmth of the world. Each blow hole has its own place in our now privately-owned Shrine.
After the last flight with the helicopters the geysers get more beautiful and the night sky gets weird. Solovev looked at the sites of his scattergun and casually aimed across the Geysir River as if he had something to uphold. Now, as the Russian leadership encourage zapovedniki to take a few night guests for educationism, it can be amazingly simple to plan a walk in Kronotsky.
Travellers must be able to ride with a guide, be in good shape and be able to pack a strong rucksack.