Huge grizzly Bears from the mysterious and magical Russian peninsula of Kamchatka
The Russian peninsula is one of the harshest and most impressive parts of the planet Earth. The cold winds from the Bering Sea freeze the marrow in the bones but also the human breath. Kamchatka has always been shrouded in mystery. Behind this veil hides the magical attraction of the peninsula.
The magical and mysterious Kamchatka Peninsula is located in the far east of the Russian Federation. The temperature there is as low as -50 degrees C during the long winter, while the cold winds of the Bering Sea blow from all sides. The peninsula of live and extinct volcanoes, hot geysers and giant grizzly bears is 1,200 kilometers long. It covers an area of 370,000 km². Only about 300,000 inhabitants live here. Huge grizzly bears can be found everywhere in this part of the world.
This almost closed and forgotten land was discovered by Russian Cossacks more than 3 centuries ago.
However, reliable polls have shown that Russians also know Kamchatka less well. One of the reasons for the information blockade in Russia is the fact that until recently every person needed several approvals and permits from the Russian authorities to visit this peninsula.
The records of rare travel writers and chronicles of explorers were strictly guarded and censored. Many of the records are therefore in the state archives. Some rare records could be found in special geographical editions. Russian scientist Stephan Krasheninkov was one of the first explorers of this peninsula. This scientist wrote unique records about the icy peninsula and a series of comprehensive and ethnographic data. This precious book was first published in 1755. The book had several reprints. Despite the time, the book has not lost its scientific and narrative value. All other books (as a guiding idea and a good foundation) used Stephan Krasheninkov’s book.
The journey to Kamchatka took more than a year in the not so distant past
That is why it is understandable that only a certain number of extreme adventurers and explorers decided to visit this harsh and remote part of the world. This entire area was considered “strictly closed” back in the USSR. More precisely, until 1990, foreigners were prohibited from visiting the peninsula for any reason. And the Russians needed a special permit to visit these expanses of tundra and taiga. However, all blockades are of short duration. Thus, with the beginning of the new millennium, the Russian authorities liberalized tourist and economic visits to this part of Siberia. Thus, planes from various parts of Europe are increasingly landing at the airport in Petropavlovsk, the capital of the Kamchatka Peninsula.
The peninsula was and remains a magnet for fanatics and daring travel writers
Numerous explorers over a long period of time have been driven by fanatical persistence to come and visit the peninsula. The price of that persistence was usually human life. The motives of the visits were different, although the most common motive is still the primal urge to face the unknown and the urge to measure the strength of people and natural forces.
Today, numerous expeditions of geologists and volcano researchers can be found in Kamchatka. All of them make their way through a wonderful landscape of an unusual geological composition (sea beaches with black sand, thick smoke and ash from many active volcanoes, a couple of geysers and the like). Fish-bearing and placid rivers flow all around. Above are mountains with the obligatory snow-capped peaks or extinct volcanic craters filled with water.
On every part of the peninsula, the visitor will encounter bear tracks and very often a grizzly bear.
Over 200,000 bears live here in areas (really spared from human negligence and exploitation) that are strictly protected by law. Bear hunting is occasionally allowed to hunters from all over the world (although the hunt lasts ten days and costs about 9,000 US$).
Some inhabitants of the peninsula engage in bear poaching – which is illegal.
Bears are killed for their expensive fur and prized tallow.
The average bear here weighs from 150 kg to 200 kg, although there are bears that weigh over 400 kg. Of course, poachers are happiest if they shoot the heaviest bear, because then the earnings are fabulous. One of the explanations for the large number of bears in Kamchatka is in the legend of the natives (Korjaci, Intelmen and Chukchi tribes).
Many centuries ago, the indigenous people respected bears as related beings.
Bears were given divine features. Bears were called “brothers” in legends and ancient records. With the advent of firearms, this brotherhood begins to lose that sense of connection between bear and man. It turns into a tangible civilizational profit.
Protected bears are normally fed salmon once a day.
In this skill, bears surpass even the most skilled anglers. It is a pleasure to watch that spectacular showdown between David and Goliath.
It is little known that after a long winter sleep these bears attack other warm-blooded animals (most often squirrels).
It seems unreal that this predator is essentially a vegetarian, but when salmon appear in the rivers, the bears change their menu.
There is no part of the world where bears exist feelings at ease (like “sacred cows” in India).
Here in Kamchatka, the bears know to some extent that they are spared from many civilizational adversities and problems faced by other bears from other parts of the Siberian taigas and the rest of the world. Wild and elemental Kamchatka will win the hearts of all visitors. The visitor thus unconsciously accepts all the beauty of this part of the world. There are also countless examples where explorers originally wanted to visit the peninsula for a month to 2 months but ended up staying there for life. No one has yet explained these events in detail. Perhaps there is truth in the close encounters of people with deadly volcanoes, endless expanses, clear and timid rivers, taigas, tundra, deep snows and invigorating springs.
Kamchatka begins and ends with the ocean
No land road has been built during the last 3 centuries since the Russian Cossacks discovered Kamchatka. Today, air and water are the only ways to get to the peninsula. Kamchatka is a magical land surrounded by the depths of the sea. The lifeblood of this peninsula is the connection with Siberia and the expanses of vast Russia. On this peninsula, there is a clear connection between man and nature, the power of which bewitches every person with awe and enchants with the beauty of the wilderness.
The extinct volcano Klyuchevsky, which is the highest peak in Siberia (4750 meters), dominates the peninsula. Bears in Kamchatka are generally peaceful, although they sometimes get angry and become aggressive. Bears unfortunately ate a Japanese scientist around 2006. The Japanese scientist studied bears from Kamchatka (the life and behavior of grizzly bears) throughout his working and lifetime. People say that the bears recognized him by his hiking boots and laces.
The seismological past of the peninsula testifies that the volcanoes there have never caused great human tragedies.
Among the population, however, there is a certain amount of fear that the volcanoes will wake up one day. That’s why the authorities on the peninsula are taking preventive measures in the event of an eruption of any major volcano.
In July 2022, another unpleasant event happened with bears from Kamchatka. The remains of the dead tourists (after the crash of the Robinson helicopter in Kamchatka) were dragged away by bears, channel 5TV reported, citing local sources. The tragedy happened in Kamchatka. Three young Russians died in a helicopter crash. The tragedy got an even more gruesome continuation because their bodies were torn to pieces and eaten by bears, reports Metro.
Zoja Kajgorodova, the organizer of the trip, then the head of the mobile phone company Sergej Kolesnjak, as well as the five-time world champion in biathlon, Igor Malinovski, the 25-year-old who piloted the aircraft, lost their lives in this accident.
The investigation allegedly established that their bodies were dragged away and eaten by bears after the incident.