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The Kamchatka Peninsula: Thermal Baths and Volcanoes

In the untamed reaches of the Russian Far East sits the Kamchatka Peninsula: home to a spectacular wilderness offset by 28 still-active volcanoes, and a soothing array of thermal baths just waiting for the likes of YOU. Hot springs are Kamchatka’s geothermal treasures. A network of small villages links the peninsula together, offering travelers an unparalleled opportunity to mend their sore and aching muscles while enjoying one the world’s last untamed areas.

Located just 25 & 40 kilometres from the city of Petropavlovsk-Kamchatcky, the twin russian cities of Paratunka and Termalniy sit atop two underground geothermal deposits. Russians have been migrating to the area since the 1800’s where they swear by the healing and healthful properties of the water. Now you’re privy to the secret as well.

The most accessible wild hot springs can be found in Nalychevo Nature Park. The park has worked hard to maintain the original appearance of the hot springs, while at the same time building several log cabins that provide changing rooms and outhouses. Contact Nalychevo Park’s headquarters for information about other hot springs throughout the park.

Finally, the Paratunka Valley just 30 minutes’ drive from the Petropavlovsk-Kamchatcky airport and 45 minutes’ drive from Petropavlovsk itself. The valley is a mother lode of geothermal activity which offers nearly 30 hot swimming pools fed by wells drilled to bring up the naturally hot and mineralized waters. This is a favourite pastime of local residents, so if meeting and mingling with the locals is for you, Paratunka is a good place to start.

You will need a letter of invitation from an authorized Russian tour agency to get a visa. Apply for a visa through your nearest Russian consulate. A tourist visa costs $85. Before you depart, your tour operator should email or fax you a voucher to enter Kamchatka.

Depending on where you originally depart, the last leg of your flight will take you to Vladivostok. From Vladivostok, fly Vladivostok Airlines (www.vladavia.ru) or Siberia Airlines (www.s7.ru) to Kamchatka ($350). You may have to stay overnight in Vladivostok.

The best hotels in Petropavlovsk-Kamchatsky are the Petropavlovsk (0011 7 415 225 0374, Karl Marx 31) and Avacha (415 221 27331, Leningradskaya 61). Both have renovated doubles with bathrooms for $95 a night, including breakfast. Golobaya Laguna (phone 4152 124 718) is in the thermally active Paratunka region, and a half-hour drive from Petropavlovsk.

 



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