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Expedition Planner: Kamchatka

It's as big as California, boasts more volcanoes than Alaska, and counts nearly as many geysers as Yellowstone.

Few outsiders have ever set foot on Kamchatka. It’s a giant wilderness waiting to be explored with backpack, paddle, or skis. Here are six trips and some helpful tips to get you started.

THE TRIPS

  • Kurilskoye Lake (bear viewing): Russian guides will take you to the heart of Kamchatka bear country to view salmon-fattened bears from rustic platforms and trails, and by boat. Salmon season (mid-to-late summer) is best for bear and eagle viewing.

    Access: Only by a 90-minute (each way) helicopter flight.

    Contact: Explore Kamchatka, 011-7-415-31-666-01; www.explorekamchatka.com; info@explorekamchatka.com.

  • Bakening Volcano (hike): A 10- to 14-day hike through the Central Kamchatka Mountain Range with alpine tundra, high country lakes, good fishing, nearly endless backcountry valleys, and a climb up an extinct volcano. This route takes you through the Timonovsky Snow Sheep Reserve, where you might see Kamchatka bighorn, and ends at Timonovsky Hot Springs.

    Access: One of the easiest wilderness hikes to pull off, thanks to road access at both ends. The trailhead is a 3-hour drive from Petropavlovsk-Kamchatka (P-K).

    Contact: Explore Kamchatka (see above).

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