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Russian Far East in Winter: Amur tigers, non-sleeping bears and frontier between yesterday and today
February 2, 2011 23:52

Russian Far East, discovered by Russians in 16th century is still at most an enigma for a European. Far East is a kingdom of fire breathing volcanoes and geysers, deep blue mountains and exotic animals, - white and brown bears, and of course, Amur tigers. Brown bears don’t sleep in Kamchatka, and salmon species come here for spawning even in winter. There are some big cities here, but at the same time people still live in yurts and their best transport is reindeer and dog sleds. Here are some examples of winter activities on the Russian Far East.

Magadan Region is not only dreadful frosts and place of 1960-s gold fever. It is a place to make fantastic shots of rocky seaside. A special winter tour service for photographers is developed in Magadan region. The group headed by experienced guide moves along the seaside, on the iced seafront: the ice here is strong enough. This strip of ice (called by local public “pripoy” (solder)) lets get to go through pieces bold coast, absolutely impassable in the summertime. The sea keeps breathing and moving even in winter, creating fantastic sights and landscapes with stranded hummocks and tented ice constructions, glowing in the low northern sun. Some of these creations of winter nature look like huge sculptures of Sphinxes; others are deep caverns and holes 100 meters deep.


Unique fauna of Russian Far East is to be seen in Primorsky Territory and Khabarovsk Territory. Here live world famous Amur tigers, Asiatic black bears and far eastern forest cat (kind of leopard cat).

Sakhalin Region is a place to get acquainted with manners, customs and traditions of the Ainu, ingenious people, living here from time out of mind.

Kamchatka is an unbelievable place, where the time seems to have stopped: it looks like our Earth did millions years ago. Huge volcanoes keep erupting, geysers emit steam and boiling water and acid is seething in lakes in calderas. Kamchatka is a place for downhill skiing on volcanoes, and then to dive into waters of thermal springs and to see Valley of geysers, of course what we have already written about. It is the place, where bears don’t sleep, because winter here is a relative concept, because of volcanic activity. More about about Kamchatka in winter ...

Chukotka is a region occupying area comparable with territory of large country like Spain or France. It is a land of frosts and polar lights, looking very strange. If you want to see Martian landscapes without leaving the Earth – welcome to Chukotka. Winter here takes 8 months, and winter is the best time for visiting it, with exception for the coldest and darkest time in December. Snowmobile safari, reindeer and dog sleds tours along horizonless tundra under multicolored polar lights, local tour services are only basis for Chukotka experience. Here you can see real white bear or couple of white polar wolves. The animals are really wild, but they aren’t aggressive until the people fuss them. Polar wolves have one curious feature: they choose a partner once in the life, and if he or she dies stay alone forever, like swans do.


Fun-seekers have a possibility to spend a night in yaranga, tent-like traditional mobile home of nomads of some Northern indigenous peoples of Russia, including Chukchi. This ridiculous device of Polar nomads is still the best shelter from all the bad weather cases. Chukotka cuisine offered to the guests consists of reindeer and whale flesh.

Climate of contemporary Chukotka is really severe, but the people seem to live here all the time: petroglyphs on the rocks on the shoreline still remind about ancient people who left them. There are also signs, left by the nature itself: stone pillars, so-called Kekury, stick from the Martian landscape looking like masterpieces of bone carver.

And finally, Chukotka is the place, where you can feel distance between yesterday and today with your own feet: you can find yourself already in the next day, having walked 4 kilometers.

All in all, winter tourism is a specific rest, suitable not for everybody, especially when we speak about Polar Regions. These regions are not crowded by people, and contemporary western people can estimate it as nobody else. Russian Far East won’t be a tourist Mecca like Golden Ring because of its remoteness from Moscow and from the European countries. But it is situated considerably closer to Canada, USA and Japan, and more and new flights from countries of Pacific Region and America to Vladivostok are opened regularly.

Tags: Russian tourism Far East Magadan Region Russian winter  

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