Flying into Uzon Caldera from the Valley of Geysers is spectacular: we fly over the mountains that mark the contours of this caldera, and see lakes below, reflecting the sunlight and the clouds in the sky. After getting off, we set out on foot on the wooden boardwalk that will take us past various sights Uzon Caldera has to offer. To our left, there is a lake - but it is not a regular lake, with steam coming out of it at various places it clearly is a thermal lake. It is blown away by the wind, making for nice reflections in the tranquil water. Then, we come to pools whose colours indicate there is a lot of geothermal activity going on. In fact, together with the Valley of Geysers, the caldera is the largest geothermal field in the entire Kamchatka peninsula. Formed forty thousands years ago after a huge explosion of a volcano that was some 3000 metres high, the caldera now offers an environment all of its own, with minerals not found anywhere else on earth.
Sometimes, we get as low as ground level, close to the bubbling thermal water, and at other times, we are a little higher up, which allows us to look further away. The landscape is truly stunning: encircled by jagged and partly snow-covered mountains, the 9 by 12 km caldera has a high collection of geothermal activity which can be seen all around. Much of the vegetation has autumn colours: the yellow-brown gives the landscape a warm feel. The guide shows us a tiny small heap of grey earth, which she points out is a newly born volcano: it was not there a few days before. Indeed, it has the pyramidal shape of a volcano, and mini eruptions push a flow of thick mud out of the tiny crater on top. Further on, we see a mud pool with thick mud, constantly changing, bubbles forming below and slowly coming up, creating artistic shapes in the dark grey substance.
We continue walking on the boardwalk, until we reach a viewpoint at the end. This gives a better overview of the enormous caldera with its continuous geothermal activity. Uzon is one of the most active areas of the Kamchatkan peninsula. The guide tells us that bears also find their way to the caldera sometimes, which probably is the reason we have an armed guard with us. We walk back past the bubbling thermal pools, like dozens of pots of boiling water, some with green, brown, white in them. There are pools which look quiet, the clouds in the sky captured on their surface. The guide tells us how workers here found a bath which looked good, with a pleasant temperature, but when they wore their swimsuits to bathe in it, ran out screaming because the temperature had suddenly risen considerably. We would love to stay longer, but need to continue. After our take-off, we have a last aerial look from the sky at the surreal landscapes of Uzon Caldera.
Around the World in 80 Clicks
Personal travel impressions both in words and images from Uzon Caldera (Russia). Clicking on the pictures enlarges them and enables you to send the picture as a free e-card or download it for personal use, for instance, on your weblog. Or click on the map above to visit more places close to Uzon Caldera. Read more about this site.