After spending a couple of weeks in Far East Russia (Think Siberia, but further east), one of the places that stood out above the rest was the Zhupanova River in Kamchatka.
Kamchatka is one of those rugged places with no road access to the rest of the country and cities and towns largely looking like they did back in the Soviet era.
Salmon fishing and hunting are common along this part of Kamchatka, yet the Zhupanova River boasted a huge array of wildlife and bird life, which attracted most of the people on my ship trip run by Heritage Expeditions.
In one short visit, I saw more than 20 Steller Sea Eagles, somewhere around 100 Largha Seals, a handful of Sea Otters and plenty of other bird species. With snow-capped active volcanoes in the background (some of them smoking) it was one of those surreal landscapes, the type of nature paradise that I prefer to seek out on my travels.
Nature rules here and I was lucky to visit an area that only sees handfuls of tourists every year. Even the local fishing town was happy to see some visitors for a change and welcomed us in for some fish and tea.
I even learned a little about birding in this part of Russia, after spotting the elusive Aleutian Tern. For someone who once disliked all birds except those that couldn’t fly, travelling to remote Russia with a boat of birders was an eye-opening experience. I dreamed about birds for a week after the trip and can now tell the difference between Tufted and Horned Puffins and also know that there is no such thing as a ‘Seagull’!