Kamchatka and the Commander Islands to the north-east are considered among the most fascinating regions of Russia. Until recently, foreigners were prohibited from visiting the region. The region is part of the 'Pacific Ring of Fire'. It has 28 active and over 160 dormant volcanoes, as well as more than 200 mineral hot springs. In Kamchatka there is the unique opportunity to see one of the most beautiful volcanic landscapes in the world, and also visit hundreds of thermal springs. You will be amazed by the abundance of snowy peaks, waterfalls and vast lava fields. In the Kronotsky nature reserve you can visit the world renowned 'Valley of Geysers'.
Here there are more than 390 species of bird, around 800 plant species and 200 types of algae. The seas around Kamchatka and the Commander Islands boast over 400 species of fish.
In Kamchatka, the mammal fauna consists of the Kamchatka sable, ermine, otter, Arctic hare, muskrat, fox, deer, elk, sheep, lynx, wolverine, Arctic wolf and the weasel. Out of the large predators in the forest zone of Kamchatka the most remarkable and well known of all species is the Kamchatka brown bear.
The Commander Islands are a priceless treasure trove of rare and endangered endemic species no longer found in other parts of the world. On the island's beaches there are numerous fur seal breeding grounds, where there are significant numbers of Steller sea lions and northern fur seals. Nearby are a huge amount of blue foxes, and in the intricate labyrinth of coastal cliffs shelters the world most valuable fur-animal, the otter.
There are vast nesting sites of sea birds on the islands, they are a stop over on the migration route of waders and anseriformes. There are many birds with colonies, including gulls, fulmars, puffins, cormorants and guillemots.
Because of the frequent strong winds and low summer temperatures the islands are without forests, even though they are located at the same altitude as, for example, Tula or Ufa. The majority of the territory is made up of various types of tundra and grassland. Overall, the Commander Islands are typified by a a strong variation of flora dependent on micro climate conditions, soil, sun exposure and angle of slope.
In Kamchatka there are two features of the vegetation. One is that it is giant: Kamchatka is the only place in Russia, and among a select few locations in the world, where grass grows up to 2.5m high. The other subtle feature is that although there are relatively few species of flora here, around 800, a huge amount of those, over 100, are endemic to Kamchatka and found nowhere else in the world.