Volcano vistas in Kamchatka

In the central volcanic range in Russia’s Siberia, the town of Esso is on a tributary of the Kamchatka River. When we visited in July ’03 the streets were unpaved and without sidewalks.

Nearly everyone was using most of their yard for a large vegetable garden. Many kept chickens, rabbits, goats or cows. Buildings and greenhouses were heated with hot water piped from volcanic springs. There were no hotels but a number of guest houses, which provided meals as well as (somewhat spartan) rooms. These were popular with people from Petropavlovsk for vacations.

A highlight of our time in Esso was a helicopter flight for some spectacular volcano viewing and visiting near Klyucevaskya Sopka. We landed near the tops of two young, dormant volcanoes, both cinder cones built up mostly of ash and cinders. We were amazed at the plant types we discovered on the volcano, from algae and fungus through herbaceous flowering plants and a one-inch-tall tree (an arctic willow).

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