Kamchatka peninsula, Sakhalin island and Primorye region are Russia’s most famous nowhere, the wild east of the Russian and Soviet empires: nine time zones and 10,000 kilometers distant from Moscow.
A wilderness of nearly half a million square kilometers, roughly the size of Germany, Austria and Switzerland put together, Kamchatka has the population of Florence. The Peninsula was a “closed region” for many decades. Until the early 1990s, foreigners, and even most Russians, were prohibited from visiting Kamchatka.
Today the secrecy has lifted, and Kamchatka is becoming known as one of the world’s last and largest natural sanctuaries, with one wild bear every 30 inhabitants.
Anton Chekhov once visited Sakhalin in 1890, the island’s main settlement was a prison colony at that time.
Chekhov spent over three months there in what he described as “hell”, an understatement unlikely to be adopted by the tourist bureau now.