Russians don’t build better roads, they build bigger trucks and in Kamchatka we got to travel in some of these monster 6×6 trucks. Most of these trucks have been bought on the black market from the cash-strapped military. They remove the back section and add on a homemade cabin to transport tourists up to the volcanoes. The roads are often in terrible condition so you can only get close to the volcanos if you hire one of these – or else walk 60km through mosquito infested forest; an ordeal I would not wish upon my worst enemy.
Here is a selection of trucks I used or came across on my travels in Kamchatka.
This is the truck we travelled in for most of our visit to Kamchatka. Alexi the driver looked after it like his baby. Every time we took a break he had to tools out adjusting something, cleaning another part or just inspecting and other part. I have no idea how you’d change a tyre on one of these beasts as they look like they’d weigh at least 100kgs each!
This one was taken enroute to Tolbachik volcano. We were lucky that the water level in this river had dropped as a few days ago it was in spate.
This Kamaz parked in the village of Kozyrevsk looked like a luxury model and very new version compared to most of the trucks we saw and rode in.
This, believe it or not, is a standard issue Russian military troop carrier! We rode for about four hours in that hotbox mounted on the back of this beast. We had to hire this directly off the military as area we were in had zero tourist infrastructure. We rode in the metal box which had some carpet and couple of mattresses in the back. They had very thoughtfully hung an air freshener for their esteemed guests. The box had a couple of windows which we couldn’t open as we were travelling trough thick birch forest. Tress constantly slammed against the side as we squeezed along the narrow roads. We were bathed in sweat by the time we reached our destination.
One of the guys was suffering from a bad hangover from last night’s drinking. I cannot imagine what it was like for him being tossed around in the stuffy heat for hours in the back of the truck. He didn’t look to good and didn’t end up doing much that day.
On our drive up to Klyuchevskaya volcano we had to get out quite often and help the driver chop up trees which had fallen across the road. We saw lots of bear tracks but the sound of the truck and the chain saw ensured that we never saw one.