miércoles, 30 de noviembre de 2011

Entering the Russia's Backdoor a Step Further

The popular Yakutian character known as Chiskhaan (Cold Keeper), is the local incarnation of the "Russian Santa" called Ded Marróz (Дед Мороз, Cold' Grandpa) in Russian and "Qor Bobo" (Snow's Grandpa) in uzbek. Costume: Avgustina Filippova

Continuing this strange trip starting in Nome (Alaska) to enter the Russia's backdoor, you can select Magadan as the arrival point instead of Anadyr or Providenya. I know Bering Air do such trip (charter or seat), but I do ignore how much the bill amounts. Stay in touch with Leslie for that.

If you start the asian leg from Magadan, you have got a chance to cross the true Siberian lands trhough the Sakha Republic (aka. Yakutia) taking the Kolyma Highway towards Yakustsk, the capital city of a country the size of Brasil or India. But this is not an as easy as a Trans-Siberian railroad trip. As long as I know, there are not regular passenger bus or train between them. Only some heavy trucks and juggernauts, no more than 1-2 an hour.

The Kolyma Highway (Magadan-Yakutsk, 1197 km) is best known as "The Road of Bones". Guess you why. Here there is a detailed, step by step map. With temperatures ranging +25ºC in summer to -69ºC in winter, both Magadan and Yakutia/Sakha Republic claims to be the "Cold Pole", and this Road of (Bare) Bones cross it.

Please, take a glimpse on this video to see what you can expect in a full permafrost broken road before you took a decission on this. Specially if you plan to travel in spring or early summer, when snowmelt is at his rush. Here there is a very detailed Yakutian site. And there. Of course, you must to do additional paperwork (LOI, Permits and so) to enter both Magadan and Yakutia. (To be continued...)

jueves, 27 de octubre de 2011

Entering Russia's Backdoor

(click image to enlarge)

Well, well, well… What a stupid idea. But it’s a possible and maybe also a cheap idea also, depending on you needs and pretensions. Have you $600 and time to spent to do all the paperwork? You will get a round trip seat to Providenya fliying 1:00-1:40hs each leg. Put another $400 and you’re in Anadyr in 2:00-2:40hs. Put another $7,200 and you get your own 9-seats Navajo round trip charter to Providenya instead than a seat. If you’ve a heavy load, a Navajo can’t be enough (up to 1400 lbs. all included); you need a King Air (2200 lbs.) or maybe a Raytheon Beech 1900 D (4000 lbs.). And keep an eye watching how much the bill amounts.

But if you’ve $600, you’ve a seat. Round trip to Providenya. Departing from Nome, Alaska, and arriving in Providenya in 0:50 to 1:40 hs. depending on the type of plane the fate has given to you. And you can only arrive to Nome departing from Anchorage daily in Alaska Airline ($450 round trip as of 10/28/2011). And Anchorage can be reached from San Francisco.

The above data was provided to me by Leslie Contreras, Russian Charters, Bering Air, Inc. as of 01/10/2011.

But be cautious: Both Providenya and Anadyr are in the Chukotka Autonomous Okrug (district). This means you can’t enter with a simple (?) Russian visa. Nope. You must remember that Russia isn’t simply “Russia” but the “Russian Federation”, a complex nest of republics, regions, districts and so. To enter Chukotka you need to fill an Entry Permission Form (Chukotka Pass) in addition to a Russian visa before departure. Be prepared to discuss hard with Boris, filling out forms, correct, resubmit, seal, wait days, back to discuss with Boris, and so on. Remember also that entering Russia and/or Chokotka requires the infamous LOI (Letter of Invitation) depending upon your passport nationality to obtain the visa. That means you need a letter from a registered local (Russian/Chukotkan) company (usually a tourism company). We Argentinians were exempted from such LOI+Visa mess at least for Russia from 2010 on (Thanks Cristina!)

But let us suppose that you took the time and desire to do so and finally got both the Russian visa and the Chukotka Pass, pay the seat in advance, go to Bering air, chat with Leslie, find avail seats and takes off from Nome. What next? Both Providenya as Anadyr are out of any path to anywhere. No a single road arrives or depart from them. Only you can leave it by plane charters, State copters or some supplies trucks that randomly arrives or leaves them.

Is to bear in mind if you really decide to travel this way. If you do it anyway, better not book in advance inflexible dates or inexorable objectives. Be prepared to change plans on the spot. What's better than knowing what you not expected? If you do not like to travel the hard way, think better to fly Aeroflot and book a room at the Kosmos :)

PS: Berin Air fly Magadan and Petropavlovsk also, but I have no fare quoted. You can reach Leslie Contreras in Nome (Bering Air) to update price and conditions at lucy@beringair.com