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July 05, 2004

Kamchatka: Where Giant Gomuls Roast Whole Whales Over the Fires of Volcanoes

Long hidden behind the impenetrable veil of Soviet secrecy, the Kamchatka Peninsula in Russian Far East is now becoming an irresistible wilderness location for expeditioners in search of unexplored locations.

Kamchatka was born of fire, like the Earth itself. For most of the Earth, though, the violence of creation ended long ago. Kamchatka has never seen quiet -- its history is one of continuous, violent rebirth.

Researcher and explorer, Andrew Logan, has traveled extensively through the region and has long been smitten by the wonder and beauty of this wild, untamed region.

“The native peoples of Kamchatka are intimately familiar with this fiery history. They have always feared the peninsula's volcanoes, whose peaks they believe to be inhabited by giant mountain spirits known as gomuls.

“Legend tells that by night, the gomuls take to the sky and hunt whales, returning home with the leviathans impaled on each finger and proceed to roast them in the great mountain fires. The natives believe that great heaps of whalebone lay on the mountaintops, but are too fearful to ascend the volcanoes to find out for themselves.”



The Kamchatka Peninsula has 29 active volcanoes, and despite this omnipresent ferocity, the area teams with wildlife. Bears, seals, walruses, whales and birdlife abound, reveling in the pristine fertility of this region on the edge of the ‘Ring of Fire’

“Karymsky Lake is one such mystic location, “ says Logan, “Its water turned to acid from recent eruptions and is uninhabitable now. But on its shores, life is slowly returning. Ash and mud from the eruption feed the soil, spurring the growth of plants, which in turn attract insects, birds, and larger wildlife. It will be somewhat longer before life recolonizes this particular lake, but in half a century all traces of this natural catastrophe will disappear. It is a process repeated countless times in this lake, on this peninsula called Kamchatka, where the earth is still young and unsure of itself, and where nature, like an unsatisfied artist, constantly destroys and remakes its canvas. “

Stop Press: Adventure Associates announces June 2007 departure to Kamchatka aboard Spirit of Enderby.
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