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Yelizovo

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Yelizovo Airport from space.

Yelizovo (Russian: ́Елизово, YEH-lee-zuh-vuh) is a small city of 40,000 on the Avacha RIver near Petropavlovsk-Kamchatsky, Kamchatka, Russia most notable for hosting the only commercial airport on Kamchatka. Yelizovo was founded as a village in 1848, named Stary Ostrog, renamed Zavoyko in 1897 after the Russian General who led the famous defense of Petropavlovsk against an Anglo-French siege, and renamed Yelizovo in 1923. Today, the city exists mainly to service the airport, but also is a center for the fishing industry (albeit a far smaller one than the capital).

The city spans the Acha River, and it's useful to think of it as two cities—the airport/military zone, and the actual city of Yelizovo across the river. The city center (across the river) is around the market and along ulitsa Zavoika (ул. Завойка) south of the intersection with ulitsa Lenina (ул. Ленина). Yelizovo is often used as a base for tourists exploring the surrounding areas, but the service sector outside of the airport is not used to non-Russian tourists, and it is not easy to find English speakers.

Get in

By plane

Yelizovo is home to the only commercial airport on Kamchatka, the Petropavlovsk-Kamchatsky airport. There are regular flights between Petropavovsk-Kamchatsky and Moscow (Aeroflot, Transaero), Saint Petersburg (Rossiya), Novosibirsk (S7, Rossiya), Irkutsk (S7), Khabarovsk (S7), and Vladivostok (S7, Vladivostok Avia). Korean Airlines offers frequent charter flights from Incheon in summers.

By road

There is a road connecting Yelizovo with Petropavlovsk-Kamchatsky (32km away) and to several small communities. Bus #104 runs between the two cities for 30 rubles.

Get around

There is a regular public transportation. A taxi is useful to get away from the airport and to a hotel or the city center (ask them to take you to the market), but otherwise the city is easy enough to cover on foot.

See & Do

Yelizovo is not an attraction in itself—aside from nice views of the Koryakovskaya and Avachinsky volcanoes to the northeast, there's nothing to see in the city at all. Just outside the city is where you will find the main attractions: Gora Moroznaya (Cold Mountain) and the Blue Lakes Nature Park (природный парк Голубые озёра). The former is Kamchatka's main ski resort, with reasonably well developed infrastructure including lifts (the Russian Olympic team spends time here), an easy taxi ride just 8km outside the city. Very popular with the locals, Gora Moroznaya might be the only place in Kamchatka where you'll have to wait in a line; the advantage, of course, being that skiing here is a lot less expensive than hiring a chopper to take you heli-skiing off in the volcanoes. Runs throughout the winter (November–March).

The Blue Lakes is a nature park—beautiful as Kamchatka's nature tends to be—centered around a system of lakes, that sparkle blue and extraordinarily reflective, owing to their bottom ice and crystal clear water. Indeed, they reflect the blue sky so strongly that you yourself will turn a bluish hue on approaching the shore. The nature park is located just beyond Gora Moroznaya (and is a destination better enjoyed during the summer months, when the ski slopes are closed). You can tour the park by simply trekking alongside the stream that connects the lakes, and climbing up the side of a mountain to take in the views. It would, however, be wise to bring a guide who knows the area, at least one that will drop you off and pick you up, so you don't get stranded.

Buy

The vast majority of travelers will pass through Yelizovo without a thought to commerce beyond the walls of the airport, where you can find food, booze, and, like any airport, souvenirs. For those that are curious to venture into the small city itself, there is, well, not much! Virtually all shopping of any kind to be done is at the Yelizovsky Market (Елизовский рынок), which is just southwest of the center of the city (that is, the non-airport center on the west side of the Avacha river) (ул. Завойко, 2). It's not a terribly large market, and does not have souvenirs (they'll be shocked to see tourists there at all), but chances are you'll find any essentials there. If you don't, just a block down ulitsa Lenina is the city's one grocery store (Универмаг "Вито").

Eat & Drink

For food, there is but one real restaurant in the city itself. (Actually, that's a lot for Yelizovo—it's no small feat to keep a restaurant alive here.) The only other restaurant option is the pricier hotel restaurant and cocktail bar at the Bel-Kam-Tur. There is also a small cafe (Кафе "Виктор" Cafe Victor) at the market.

  • Лисья Нора (Lisya Nora), Адмирала Завойко ул., д. 21А, (4152) (231) 22528. The food is on the modest side, but the atmosphere is an unexpected delight—definitely one of the best places to relax and have some drinks in Kamchatka. Most of the servers are uncharacteristically nice and welcoming. Serving foreigners, however, might send them into shock.

If you head a little ways down the road to Petropavlovsk-Kamchatsky, there's a little cafe on the road:

  • Кафе Уют (Cafe Uyut). Move along, nothing to see here. Just a roadside cafe to grab a beer and some kotlety. It's worth noting, however, that the owner got in some trouble in 2007 for health code violations; that either means stick to the beer, or trust that having been caught led the cafe to shape up.

Sleep

Yelizovo has two hotels, both near the river, each quite nice, if modest.

  • Арт-отель (Art Hotel), ул. Виталия Кручины, 1, (415-31) 7-14-43 (, fax: (415-2) 411-790). Really a rather cute little hotel with eight rooms, a bar, sauna, and pool tables. It's located right on the Avacha River, with a nice view over the city towards the volcanoes.
  • гостиница Бел-Кам-Тур (Bel-Kam-Tur Hotel), проезд Излучина, д. 4, (4152) 411-847 (), [1]. The main hotel in Yelizovo (42 rooms), run by a local tour company that can arrange excursions by helicopter or otherwise to nearby and not-so-nearby points of interest.

Get out

  • Petropavlovsk-Kamchatsky — unless you are touring with a company based in Yelizovo, the next natural destination is Kamchatka's capital and largest city by far, which is a bit more of an interesting place to hang out, and which has a great deal more in terms of tourist infrastructure, including most of the tour companies catering to foreign tourists
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