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A truly unique and probably once in a life time journey through the vast Siberian land. 4000 km sailing on mighty Lena River, the 11th longest river in the world, from Yakutsk all the way to the port Tiksi in the Arctic Ocean, at 73′ North, and back.
For seven months of the year, the Lena River is bound by ice, in many places over a meter thick. The Lena typically opens up in the second half of May.
There are no dams, weirs, or hydroelectric stations on the river and it flows as it did ages ago. The Lena’s amazing landscapes, rich flora and fauna, and unique and ancient culture impress even the most experienced traveller.
Via Moscow, the tour begins in Yakutsk, the capital of the Russian Republic of Yakutia (Sakha), a city of approximately 300,000 people, the biggest city in the world built entirely on permafrost, where the temperature difference between winter and summer can reach up to 100̊ (from -60̊ C in winter to +40̊C in summer).
The territory of the republic is 3 mil. sq km with a total population of less than 1 million. Nearly 95% of the territory is permafrost, with maximum measured depth of 1.400 m. Yakutia takes 10% of all the untouched landscapes in the world.
Republic is also incredibly rich in raw materials. The soil contains large reserves of oil, gas, coal, diamonds, gold, silver, tin, tungsten and many others. 99% of all Russian diamonds are mined in Sakha, accounting for over 25% of the world’s diamond production. The legend says that, when the Creator was handing out the treasures around the world, his fingers got frozen over Yakutia and he dropped all of them there.
The city of Yakutsk is surrounded by vast Siberian taiga. As we travel further north, vegetation is gradually reduced to harsh Arctic tundra, scarcely populated by indigenous peoples, oriented to reindeer herding and fishing.
By visiting the most interesting museums in Yakutsk, open-air ethno villages and National Parks with unique geological formations such as Lena Pillars, meeting the locals in the small settlements and villages along the route and enjoying their folklore, but also enjoying many interesting lectures on board, we discover part of the secrets of this vast and remote land.
|Arrival in Yakutsk. Transfer to the River port. Accommodation in cabins.|
Yakutsk is a capital of the Sakha Republic (Yakutia) with population of almost 300 thousand people which composes 28 % of the total population of the Republic. It was established in 1632 by Petr Beketov, the Enisey Cossack. Yakutsk is situated on the left bank of the river Lena on Tuymaada valley. It is the biggest city located on permafrost zone. Its territory is 122 square km. Yakutsk is an administrative and cultural center of the region (there are 7 theatres including Opera and ballet theatre, Northern circus). The industrial sector is presented by branches that support the life activity of the city.
19.00– ship departure
Today the ship is docked at the mouth of Buotama River (418 km long Lena tributary). 40 – 30 thousand years ago primitive mammoth and bison hunters lived in the area. In 2006 the first 19 bison were imported from Canada to the area, as a part of the world-wide project of restoring the extinct species into their natural habitats. Today there are around 90 bison leaving in the Russia’s only bison park, covering 100 hectares. Bison are wild. The nearest paddock is about 1 km from the ship and the local vet and bison keeper will do his best to lure bison there so we can see them.
In this area the Lena river enters Central-Yakut lowland. Its valley enlarges up to 20-40 km., a plain breadth is 7-15 km. There are many lakes and marshes in the river plain. A river bed is branchy, a navigable channel is quite changeable. Its depth can reach 16-20 meters. On the route of the boat trip there is an outflow of the Aldan river, one of the largest tributary of the Lena river. During the river cruise one can see beautiful sights of the Verkhoyansk Mountains. The Lena banks keep disappearing, a vast area of the river valley is occupied by isles and creeks. Deserted unsettled banks pass by for many hundred kilometers in the boundless river environment.
During the night we sail up to Stolb (Pillar) Island, located at 72,5 ° north, which marks the entrance to the great Lena River Delta. Weather permitting, we continue a bit south through the Delta to the town of Tiksi.
Tiksi is the sea gate to the Republic of Yakutia. In the Yakut language, Tiksi means “a moorage place.” The city of Tiksi appeared on the map by the mid 1930s when Soviet vessels travelled regularly to the region. The port of Tiksi can only be navigated 2 ½ months per year, and in winter, the sun never rises from November 19 to January 21, while in summer, the sun never sets from May 11 to July 31.
Tiksi was one of the most beautiful and prosperous towns of Yakutia during the Soviet period, but is in the state of decay nowadays, with only about 5 thousand inhabitants.
We will have the opportunity to tour the village and visit the museum, which exhibits local artists' paintings and the history of earlier explorers of the territory, which included one American explorer, Delong, whose voyage ended in tragedy.
The river meanders as it passes through the Lena Delta and widens to 30km as it courses around islands in the river's path. Before the river flows into the Laptev Sea and Arctic Ocean, it divides into a number of channels. The largest of these is Trofimov, which accounts for 70% of the Lena's discharge into the sea, followed by Bykov and Olenek. The 106 km long Bykov channel connects Lena with the region's principal sea port, Tiksi.
The river here is surrounded by Arctic tundra.
After leaving Delta we sail through so called Lena “Pipe”, where the river narrows to 2 km or less and steep and almost eerie cliffs hover over the dark waters. Enjoy breathtaking panorama from the comfort of the ship’s saloon or while sipping a coffee in the Bar.
Syktyakh is a small village on a beautiful high bank of the Lena River. It is three hundred years old. It was founded by staffettes of the empress Catherine II, who took there a render (yasak). In memory of that time there is a wooden Orthodox church in the village. In 1779 in the Syktyakh river estuary a sailing ship of the explorer Ignatyi Kozyrevskyi “Evers” was crushed by ice. He planned to repeat the Dmitryi Dezhnev’s trip from Yakutsk to Kamchatka. About 300 people live here.
The Polar circle is an imaginary line on the Earth and a parallel in the northern hemisphere with the latitude of 66’33’38’’. During the winter solstice (December 21-22) northward of the Polar circle the sun does not rise at all and during the summer solstice (June 21-22) period the sun does not set. The Polar circle is constantly moving, its geographic location is not stable. In fact, it moves approximately for 2 meters during a day and almost for 100 meters during one year. A polar circle position can be easily determined any time with the help of modern technologies. During the trip our ship will cross the Polar circle in the area of Zhigansk district. On the initiative of Zhigansk citizens on the left bank of the river Lena there has been established a symbolic sign titled “The Polar circle”.
Leaving the endless water environment beyond the Northern Polar circle we pass the estuaries of the rivers Viluy and Aldan. Water breadth here is unbelievable. Between Zhigansk district and the Viluy river estuary there is a natural boundary called “40 isles”. In fact, the isles number is bigger and you will really be impressed by this isles fairy show.
It is one of the most beautiful virgin places where you will enjoy a beauty of the picturesque green staging post. You can have a walk on this wild bank, see bounty of nature and enjoy a beautiful sunset. In the evening in honor of the cruise completion there will be made a symbolic Fire of friendship, songs in different languages will be performed.
An excursion to historic-architecture open-air museum “Druzhba” (“Friendship”) located on the place of the primary foundation of the “Lensk stockaded town” founded by Russian cossacks, the future city of Yakutsk. The Museum presents samples of ancient wooden architecture in traditional Russian and Yakut styles. Expositions of wooden home utensils, national Yakut clothes and monuments of Russian Orthodoxy are of great interest. Wonderful landscapes and interesting historical excursions make the museum visit both informative and pleasant.
5:00 am – arrival in Yakutsk. Breakfast. Luggage check. Transfer to airport. Departure from Yakutsk.
Everyday lectures on Yakutia, Russian classes for foreigners, foreign language classes for Russians are offered. Movie demonstration. In the evening you will have captain cocktail, thematical entertaining program in musical saloon.