It was not the first time I traveled to the Kamchatka Peninsula in the Russian Far East, but every time I have, I always felt the same. The scenery invokes countless emotions. Breathtaking. Majestic. Inspiring. As a young girl, I grew up in the far north of Russia, so cold and harsh landscapes are in my heart and what my visual artistic eye is drawn to.
This trip was different, however. This would be the first time I visited Kamchatka during the spring months. The winter was snowless and the road to the ocean was open to any car, not just mammoth off-road vehicles.
Being a surf photographer for SurfHolidays.ru, I am always seeking the most dramatic photos possible to help show people how unique and exhilarating surfing in Russia can be. So not having a snow base from the winter had me a little sad, but luck was on our team’s side as the region had a decent snowfall the day before our arrival.
Volcanos are abundant in Kamchatka, with 29 of the 160 still active. The imposing volcanos are an incredible site to see, and can be a prominent backdrop for many photo angles, so having snow on the volcanos was important to me.
We decided to photograph the active crater of Mutnovskiy. With a layer of fresh snow on a road and good weather forecast for the day, we started our trip on a specially modified car with low-pressure wheels. The trek around the crater was a mind-blowing experience. The martian looking landscape made for incredible photos, but standing on the rim, being engulfed by the smoke reminded us of how remote and beautiful Kamchatka is.
Petropavlovsk Kamchatskiy is the largest town on the peninsula. The dramatic and run down buildings are from Soviet times but the volcano in the background saves the picture. For us, we see the inhabitants as lucky people to live on this strip of natural paradise. But only locals who travel can understand the beauty that surrounds them. “Normal” people who simply work and go home haven’t experienced life outside of Kamchatka, so it is hard for them to see the surrounding area as special.
People on the Kamchatka peninsula say that they are live on an island between Russia and North America. While this is not true geographically (it is a peninsula), it can feel like an island since you can only travel to Kamchatka by plane or the boat.
Even though prices for goods are often twice as expensive as the mainland, the tourism industry is growing, in large part to the beautiful natural surroundings and picture perfect surfing locations. At the center of the influx of visitors is a passionate, fearless and adventure-seeking surf community.
Our hope as a community is to show the world that there is so much more to Russia outside of Moscow and St. Petersburg (which are also great places to visit), and Kamchatka is truly one of the most beautiful and inspirational locations in the world. And the passionate surf community of Russia is proud to call it home.