Getting Around

Locals are fond of repeating that on Kamchatka ‘there are no roads, only directions’. You will have a hard time getting ‘out there’, where the bulk of Kamchatka’s glory is (volcano bases, rivers, geysers), without an arranged 6WD truck or helicopter (or multiday hike). Regular bus connections go as far north as Esso and Ust-Kamchatsk. The cold months see winter roads (zimniki) open up that go further still, but of course the winter brings all kinds of other difficulties such as white-outs and freezing temperatures.

The real workhorses of Kamchatka are its fleet of ageing helicopters, Mi-2 (capacity: six or eight people) and Mi-8 (capacity: 20 people), based at Yelizovo Airport. Used by volcanologists and travellers alike, the helicopters charge by time travelled in the air, and the fares are not cheap, necessitating group travel for most. Rides are exciting (and loud), with unbelievable views, windows you can open and room to roam about.

Kamchatka also has its own airline, Petropavlovsk Kamchatsky Air Enterprise, which does both scheduled and chartered forays to remote hamlets in the north part of the peninsula, such as Ossora, Palana and Tilichiki on the peninsula, and to Nikolskoye in the Commander Islands, known for its abundant wildlife and seal rookeries. Download the schedule from the website.