The Village of Kluchi

A typical street in the village of Kluchi, an isolated town and military outpost on the Kamchatka peninsula in the Russian Far East.

Just getting to Kluchi can be an incredible adventure. The village, with its few thousand inhabitants, is located in the midst of virgin wilderness. The Kamchatka peninsula as a whole has a population density of less than one person per square kilometer. If you consider that 90% of the population lives in one city (Petropavlovsk-Kamchatsky, or P-K), then the population density for the rest of the peninsula is truly much, much lower. The people of the village depend on the wilderness to survive. Nearly everyone in the village hunts. Meat is obtained chiefly from brown bears, which are hunted in the spring and then again in the fall. A single bear can provide several hundred pounds of meat, which is salted in giant barrels to provide food for the coming winter. Preparing bear meat is a time-consuming task. First the meat must be soaked for 24-36 hours in fresh water in order to remove the salt from the brine solution in the barrel. It is then boiled for 5 hours in order to make it safe (and soft enough) to eat. After the boiling is complete, the meat can be eaten as is, or can be made tastier by frying, smoking or barbequing it.

An important event in the life of the people of Kamchatka is the annual salmon run, which takes place in late spring and early summer and provides villagers with valuable food and one of their few sources of money, as they are able to gather large quantities of valuable red caviar. Click here! for virtual salmon fishing, Russian-style.

More about life in Kluchi!

The village of Kluchi, with the 5,000m Kluchevskoi Volcano in the background.

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