The Valley of Geysers and volcano Uzon caldera located in Kronotsky nature reserve in Kamchatka is a “favourite” place of many Russians to sacrifice their extremities touching the thermal springs with their fingers and wearing sandals despite all the instructions they get. They tread upon the green grass under which is the hot and chemically aggressive mud. After such experiments burns of the feet heal tortuously slow. It is worthy of note that ONLY Russians show such curiosity, other travellers prefer to follow precautionary measures.
But what about bears? They don’t get instructions and the wood covering is not made for them. And they are always bare paws.
For millions years of evolution animals have learnt not only to live on volcanoes but use their heat for good. For example birds often nest on the warm ground – volcanic ground works like an incubator! Such nestlings are always stronger and healthier.
Bears have also adapted to use the volcanic heat. The Valley of Geysers for them is like a gigantic greenhouse with volcanic heating. In spring when Kamchatka is still in snow they find first grass here. Sometimes 20-30 bears gather in the Valley at the same time and such accumulation is actually unique even for Kamchatka.
In April, May and even June snowstorm is not rare in the Valley. On such days bears lie down on the warm ground and local “old residents” have their own warm places. Thus, bears Temnolapka and Oligarch have their sacred places on the slopes near the warmest areas where they wait till cold weather is over.
Experienced animals walk confidently here. In the hottest places they use wood coverings built for tourists or step on the stones sticking up from the hot water.