Kamchatka wildlife

Kamchatka's extraordinary wildlife, almost entirely free of human company, is that enchanting and somehow fragile state of utter grace in which nature presents itself to us wholly on its own terms.
Polar bears
The world’s largest land predator can be found in Chukotka and Wrangel Island, north of the peninsula - but this cuddly-looking creature is anything but. Weighing up to 550kg, they feed mainly on the blubber of seals, which they catch when the seal pops up through a breathing hole in the sea ice. The bears must follow the ice; the seals live at sea, and catching a swimming seal is near impossible. Trapped or beached whales provide a rare but welcome feast – if a carcass is spotted, your ship will likely make a diversion to see if any polar bears are feeding on it.
There is one wild brown bear to every 30 inhabitants in Kamchatka and it's possible to see them with such regularity that they adopt an almost human quality
Sliding down dusty slopes of cooled lava to circle the edge of a hot spring, or patrolling the water’s edge for salmon and then stopping and standing bolt upright looking directly at you, you can almost imagine the brown bear, arms folded, all at once looking like an, admittedly massive, teddy bear, but with a tough ‘I know you’re there’ glare fixed in their big brown eyes. Majestic, intimidating and extraordinary all rolled into one.
Travel Team
If you'd like to chat about Kamchatka or need help finding a vacation to suit you we're very happy to help.
Grey whales
Grey whales are huge mammals as old as time itself, which have been hunted to near extinction more than once, but have luckily fought back and are now protected under international law.

One of the animal kingdom’s most prolific migrators, they travel in pods swimming an annual round trip of over 19,000km from their summer home in Alaskan waters to warmer waters off the Mexican coast. Like all whales, the barnacle-covered grey whale has to surface to breathe, so migrating groups are easier to spot and if you’re lucky you can catch a glimpse of them feeding just metres from Kamchatka’s Kolyuchin Inlet.
Most people’s first impression of a walrus is how astonishingly large they are – up to 3.5m long and rearing up to shoulder-height. Their distinctive tusks help them haul their blubbery bodies out of the water and onto slippery ice, but can also be used in combat by aggressive males guarding their harem during the mating season. Pacific walrus in Russia migrate seasonally from the southern range in the Bering Sea – where they can be seen drifting on ice floes – to the Chukchi Sea.
It's odd how something with grizzly whiskers and bodies packed with blubber can be so cute, but they just are; none more so than the pacific walrus with it's wrinkly rose-pink skin
Written by Polly Humphris
Photo credits: [Page banner: Harald Deischinger] [Brown bears - greenery: JERoss - Heritage Expeditions] [Polar bear: Aterauds - Heritage Expeditions] [Three brown bears: Kovsyanikova - Heritage Expeditions] [Brown bear on it's back: Beverly & Pack] [Walruses: Aterauds - Heritage expedition] [Photographing walruses: MKelly - Heritage Expeditions] [Gray whale: NOAA PMEL]