The Kamchatka Peninsula, dangling from the Russian Far East into the Northern Pacific Ocean, is a land of stark contrasts. It is home to some stunning natural scenery, including 160 volcanoes, while its towns, small and few in number though they are, are widely regarded as the dirtiest and dingiest in Russia. Little has changed in Petropavlovsk-Kamchatsky, the capital, since the fall of Communism and nostalgia for the days of Stalin is strong. Most travellers see little of this, however, coming instead to spot the bears that infest the Kamchatkan wilderness, climb the Northern Hemisphere's largest volcano or visit the reindeer herding nomads who inhabit remoter parts of the peninsula. Travel here is widely regarded as being prohibitively expensive and a helicopter essential. In fact, however, winter and spring flights here can be cheap, plenty of incredible land-transport tours are available and, for the really adventurous, hitch hiking to some amazing sites is also possible.