Bears of Kamchatka. Kambalnaya River
The idea of visiting Kambalnoe Lake and meeting bears there occurred to us in the autumn of 2013, while we were near the Valley of Geysers. At that time we were photographing the most famous places of Kronotsky Nature Reserve, such as the Kurile Lake, the Valley, the Uzon Caldera. Kamchatka was not a region we knew well at that moment, with the only exception of two-days flight over the erupting Tolbachik volcano. We had a good look at the panoramas with bears of the Kurile Lake and we noticed that all the bears are quite young and curious, and sometimes even small bear-cubs managed to get into shot. But where were all the huge adult bears that as we had heard could reach 4 meters height while standing? We spoke to the animal inspector and complained that local bears were not that big and threatening at all. The inspector showed us a picture on his iPhone demonstrating a dozen of such huge bears pasturing near the rifts of some river. And that was the first time we heard the name ‘Kambalnoe'.
The first thing we did on arrival to Kambalnoe lake was get acquainted with our guide and animal inspector Igor Shpilenok. At the place we found two tidy huts with a toilet stall standing 5 meters away from them. One detail caught our attention revealing all the exotic characters of this place: in the toilet we found a hand flare, which can be used for scarring the bears of. Igor warned us that we should be always careful, even when we leave to get fresh water from the river near the huts. Moreover, you had better not leave the hut without a rifle. Actually, we were not willing to leave the hut at all: the temperature was around 10C゜, the wind was strong and made the clouds fly furiously in different directions.
The bears that we intended to take photos of could not be found near the lake, but were catching fish on the river several kilometers away from our huts. Five kilometers down the river we found the first group of bears. We counted six of them. They seemed to be counting us too. Statistics indicate that bears practically never attack a group of three or more people, especially if they stand or walk near each other. Moreover, the smell of three sweaty people can not be compared to the smell of fresh fish, so quite soon the bears forgot about us. Some more bears wandered in the bushes that surrounded us, so we decided to start our work at the moment when there would be at least ten of them within our view. So we sat down and were ready to wait for the bears to gather.
7 November 2017
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