• Alex

Kuril Islands: Trip to the End of the World

If going to the end of the world and seeing active volcanoes and wild nature that hasn’t almost been touched by human sounds enticing, then Kuril Islands are just for you. Read on to learn about adventure travel in Siberia and Far East.

Kuril Islands are 56 islands that extend from the Kamchatka peninsula to Japan and are a unique nature reserve. They are also known as the islands of volcanoes and form part of the Pacific Ring of Fire, where the world’s largest number of active volcanoes is located.

What to see on the Kuril Islands

Kuril Islands are a place of wild nature where you can see very rare animal and plant species not present anywhere else. Breathtaking volcanic landscape. Here are some natural “pearls” that you don’t want to miss.

Cape Stolbchaty

One of the major attractions is Cape Stolbchaty situated on Kunashir Island. The first thing that catches your eye is the columnar structure of the cape. It was formed by lava splashing out of volcanoes millions of years ago and freezing into huge pillars up to 50 meters high.

The place is really unique and breathtakingly beautiful and is part of the UNESCO World Heritage. Some even compare this unusual columnar structure with the organ pipes. And at dawn, the basalt columns can be reminiscent of the ruins of some ancient castles.

You can get to Cape Stolbchaty via quite a long yet picturesque route and pass by thermal springs Stolbovsky that are considered healing. Another route leads from the other side along the coast through a village, and it is faster and simpler. Note that it also depends on the tides that can make the route hard to pass.

Seasoned travelers may notice similarities between the pillar structure of Cape Stolbchaty and the Giant’s Causeway in Ireland. Both areas were formed at the same time even though they are separated by thousands of kilometers. Can you guess, where is Cape Stolbchaty in the picture below?

Golovnina Volcano

This is an active volcano on Kunashir Island with the last eruption in 1998. Its caldera is up to 4.7 km in diameter. At the bottom of the caldera, there are two lakes.

What travelers find spectacular is that due to constant sulfur deposition the surface of one of the lakes is covered with black sulfur foam, while its shores contain black-yellow sand. Water is really hot and sometimes you can see it boiling.

It’s possible to swim in both lakes when the weather is good, but it’s important to stay close to the coast. Note that travelers experienced strong wind and even found it hard to stand close to the lakes without falling down, so be careful! In the 90s, there was a case when one tourist sank in the lake as a result of gas release. You can see a memorial plaque reminding of him on the lake shore.

You can get to the lakes by car but have to stop 8 kilometers before the place. Then you can walk, ride a bike, etc.

Lagunnoye Lake

Another landmark of Kunashir Island is the Lake Lagunnoye and the Head of the Dog Mountain. The best way to get there is by car.

A wooden staircase leads up to the top of the mountain from where you can enjoy views over the sea, rocks and the lake. With a good weather, you can even see Japan far off!

Satan’s Finger Rock

This fascinating name belongs to two rocks standing alone on the shore not far from Yuzhno-Kurilsk (South Kuril) on Kunashir Island. You can get there by car.

Both rocks are situated about two kilometers from each other, and it’s definitely worth walking the distance because of the spectacular coastline that you will see! Interestingly, the rocks are also called Monk, which I like better because they are actually reminiscent of a monk’s figure from far away.

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