With snowcapped volcanoes, Kamchatka is a place of primal beauty © Sergey Krasnoshchekov / 500px
One way to measure the unbelievable biological wealth of this region is to count the number of plants found here. Kamchatka is home to more than 1000 species of plants – and where there are a lot of different plants, you know you’re going to find a lot of animals. Little disturbed and scarcely explored, this area is populated with more than 15,000 brown bears, 10,000 snow sheep, 1500 reindeer, wolves, foxes, wolverines and sables – not to mention half of the world’s population of massive Steller’s sea eagles. Coastal areas are home to nine species of whales, huge seabird colonies and thousands of sea otters.
However, only a few thousand tourists a year make it to this remote and little-known region. In fact, scarcely 400,000 people live on the entire 472,000-sq-km peninsula and half of those live in Petropavlovsk-Kamchatsky, the only major city and the base camp for every expedition in Kamchatka. Visitors come for one of two reasons: to see the most impressive collection of volcanic features in the world, including the largest active volcano in the northern hemisphere, and to see abundant and remarkably peaceful brown bears feasting on millions of salmon.