Excitement grows as we approach the Valley of Geysers, and the pilots steer our helicopter right over rims of mountains into a valley that made Kamchatka famous worldwide. We get off, the guide informs us where we can find the bathroom, but I cannot wait to explore the geysers. We are connected through an earphone to the guide, who talks to us in Russian and English, explaining what we see around us. We have a short break at the grave of Tatyana Ustinova, who discovered the valley in 1941, whose story is on a board with her picture, and who wished to be buried in the valley she discovered together with an Itelmen guide. It must have been quite a sight to stumble upon this natural wonder. For us, it is different: we have a limited time for our visit, and hurry down to see the Big geyser prepare for its hourly eruption.
A wide hole in the ground pulsates with hot water, coming higher and higher, until it explodes and sends water high into the sky. The steam can reach over 100 metres. It is a powerful sight. The Big Geyser was nearly destroyed by the 2007 mudslide that had a big impact on the Valley of the Geysers, but it seems to be working like always before. Other geysers, too, recovered from the disaster. We walk the boardwalk, followed by a guide with a gun for the occasional bear we might encounter. We see many more geysers, we see hot pools of different colours: many have names like Fountain, Grot, Nepostoyanny, Gosha, and others. We often stop to have a better look at the fumaroles sending steam into the sky, and the mountains and autumn colours around us, partly covered in snow, but the guide pushes on.
We pass blue water pools, in which the clouds and the sky are reflected. We see mud pools of various sizes. We are reminded several times not to step off the boardwalk: the inviting looking grass is marshy, so we have to stick to the boardwalk. The smell of sulphur is not as bad as I had expected in this second largest concentration of geysers in the world, after Yellowstone. I am almost constantly last of our group, and at one point, while waiting for the sun to appear from behind a cloud, the guide tells me over our audio device that I should join the group again. Oh, how much would I have loved to stay here, to take time to absorb the curious sight of erupting geysers, the steam flowing through the air, columns of air being sent sky-high as a geyser erupts!
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Personal travel impressions both in words and images from Valley of Geysers (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 Valley of Geysers. Read more about this site.