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Kronotsky Preserve

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Local people with the goal of conserving the sable population created this protected area 122 years ago. One of Russia's largest, and the oldest Preserve in Russia, Kronotsky is a multi-faceted jewel covering 1,007,134 hectares of land and the 3-mile zone of 152 miles of shoreline. The Preserve's mountains, glaciers, active and extinct volcanoes, rivers, lakes, islands, beaches, and rugged shoreline give the preserve a variety of ecosystems and remarkable biodiversity. The protected area abounds with wildlife, marine or terrestrial, to watch and photograph.

The preserve isn't a national park and has a more limited mandate for public use than parks and reserves. The special status of the preserve places the wilderness value, its preservation, and research at the highest priority, above public use. The preserve has designated recreation zones allowing limited human use.

Hiking routes open to backpackers are concentrated in the area from the Valley of Geysers to Uzon. To get there one must fly by helicopter. This means either chartering a special flight or buying 2 way seats from the local tour operator that has the rights to the daily excursions to the Valley of Geysers. A Preserve inspector must accompany all groups. His role is to protect the Preserve from damage and also to guard the safety of the visitors, as there are many bears in the area. The month of June is traditionally closed to visitors giving nesting birds and mating brown bears peace and quiet from helicopters over-flying or visitors.

For those who want to experience some of its most remarkable scenery and chance to see wildlife, there are almost daily excursion flights July through September to the Valley of Geysers and Uzon Caldera. Valley of Geysers and Uzon Caldera are the two most popular places to visit in the Preserve. Options exist for visiting both areas in one excursion or just Valley of the Geysers. English-speaking guides accompany the tour and the outing includes a hearty lunch in the lodge.

Uzon Caldera

Gigantic volcanism 40,000 years ago formed this 5.6 mile x 7.5 mile caldera. Imagine a giant volcanic bed with steaming warm lakes teeming with geothermal activity. The Uzon has hot springs, gurgling mud pots, and land painted with an amazing array of colors, and textures from the minerals deposited in this geo-thermal wonderland. In the caldera alone are over 1000 hot springs of different sizes and forms, bubbling up at temperatures from 45 to 98 degrees C.

Valley of Geysers

Nestled in a pocket of the Kronot-sky Preserve is the Valley of Geysers. This 8-km long valley discovered by a geologist in 1941, was named for its over 40 geysers, many hot springs, boiling mud pots, steam vents, and warm rivers. The largest geyser, Velikan, shoots boiling water to 30 meters and steam to 300 meters. The valley is a beautiful landscape of multi-colored mineralized rock faces, against verdant green and abundant wildflow-ers. The biodiversity of the valley intertwines areas' flora, fauna, and geology with adaptations to the unusually warm ground and mineral contents of the soil and water. Here spring greens sprout early, providing nutrients for the first bears emerging from winter dens.