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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.

THE TIPS

Getting there: Magadan Airlines offers a once-weekly scheduled flight between Anchorage, AK, and Petropavlovsk-Kamchatka. Tickets cost about $1,300 round-trip. Contact: (907) 248-2994 (Anchorage office).

Paperwork: Passport and visa required. A letter of sponsorship (usually available through outfitters) must accompany all visa requests to the Russian Consulate (212-348-0926; www.ruscon.org).

Money: Most Kamchatka businesses prefer U.S. dollars. Credit cards and traveler’s checks are useless. Carry cash with you from home; cash advances in U.S. dollars are available at P-K banks for a fee.

Guidebook: Trekking in Russia & Central Asia: A Traveler’s Guide, by Frith Maier ($17).

Guides: The logistics of helicopter or six-wheel-vehicle shuttles remain daunting, as is the language barrier. A good guide service can smooth the way. Some guides offer consulting services for a fee to do-it-yourselfers.

Gear: Bring everything you need, including a multifuel stove. Most Russian backpackers forego hiking boots for hip boots due to frequent stream crossings.

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