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Full Circle

Day 15: Petropavlovsk

Kronotsky Reserve, Eastern Russia 
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Kronotsky Reserve. One of the twenty-five volcanoes.
Michael Palin - Full Circle Once aboard, we are issued with industrial-style ear mufflers which cut down the engine noise to just below deafness level. Take-off is a long, laborious elephantine process, but once in the air all is magical. We leave behind the low hills on which the trees are showing the first traces of autumn and run north alongside the Pacific, climbing slowly across bare rock and scree to the snow line that rings a spectacular volcano. There is steam drifting from the summit. Over the din of the engines Sergei reminds me that there are twenty-five volcanoes within the reserve alone, twelve of which are active.

Quite suddenly we are up to and over the rim of the caldera. Inside, ringed by sheer walls of brown and black rock, twisted and scored by the force of eruption, is a turquoise-blue lake. Its beauty lies not just in its appearance but in its lonely serenity, completely hidden from the world below.

We touch down on the much wider caldera of the Uzon volcano. This has been dormant long enough for a heath-like flora of pine and gorse to establish itself. But thermal energy still hisses and bubbles to the surface in sulphurous plumes of steam and the undergrowth is broken by stretches of deep-grey mud in which blow-holes belch and gurgle softly.
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  • Series: Full Circle
  • Day: 15
  • Country/sea: Eastern Russia
  • Place: Petropavlovsk
  • Book page no: 32

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