Getting to know the Russian Far North: how to travel there

Divers about diving in the Arctic: cold, scary, but we did it

MURMANSK, July 17 - RIA Novosti. The divers of the underwater research team of the Russian Geographical Society (RGO) set a world record in the Barents Sea as part of the Seas of Russia project, diving to a depth of 111 meters, testing themselves and Russian breathing equipment. Storm and killer whales, cold waters and sophisticated diving technology with changing gas mixtures - this is how divers remember the unique descent.

The "Arctic of Russia" expedition is the first stage of the "Seas of Russia" project. Underwater researchers from Tatarstan dived in the Barents Sea near the village of Teriberka to a record depth for the Arctic Circle - 111 meters - using Russian underwater breathing equipment. The descent lasted 101 minutes, the water temperature was +4 degrees Celsius.

Breath of the North

According to the members of the expedition, the main world experience in Arctic and Antarctic scuba diving is not deeper than 30 meters. Until now, there was little information about deeper dives, explained the diving specialist of the expedition Alexander Gubin. According to him, the difficulty was that the scuba divers used four types of gas mixtures, and any mistake could cost the divers their lives.

The head of the expedition Dmitry Shiller says that all the divers' actions were calculated literally by the minute. "On paper" scuba divers have plunged into the depths of the Barents Sea dozens of times. “It’s scary, cold and wet. When you approach the station and orcas come up, the excitement is very strong. It was understood that everything had been calculated - the volume of gases, emergency gases were taken, the system of belayers was checked and rechecked. The dive was signed by the minute - who is doing what and how, where is it ?, - the head of the expedition recalls.

Russian equipment checked

Scuba divers have set a global task for themselves - in the next five years to dive in all the seas washing Russia and set records. True, not only for the sake of records, a large-scale project was started. "This is not just a dive for the sake of diving - we tested Russian equipment - namely regulators. Many people thought that Russian regulators could not be used at depths of 60 meters. We denied this, having gone 111 meters," Schiller said.

Diving specialist Gubin explained that the life of a diver depends on the quality of the regulators. "The task was to test this equipment in cold water and at great depths, which happened. I can say that these are good machines. And this is a step towards import substitution," the expert noted.

He was supported by team member Jacques-Yves Cousteau, member of the board of directors of the World Confederation of Underwater Activities (CMAS) Bozana Ostojic. It was she who set the record and confirmed the high quality of the equipment. "Everything went at a high level. I was surprised that the Russian regulators worked very well - they showed that Russia has very high technologies," Ostoich said.

Science goes under water

During the expedition, scientific information was obtained on the state of flora and fauna of coastal waters at a depth of over 40 meters. The received samples and observations will be handed over to specialists of the Polar Scientific Research Institute of Marine Fisheries and Oceanography named after N. Knipovich.

According to the members of the expedition, this research has a great future. "Science goes under water. Humanity has experienced one fifth of the earth, and the rest is under water. We are sure that training bases and recreational tourism will appear here," said the head of the expedition.

Despite the inhospitable northern climate, many tourists come here every year - to admire the northern lights, ski and snowboard in the Khibiny, look at ancient rock paintings - petroglyphs. And any visitor is unlikely to pass the city of Kirovsk, which is also called the Gates of the Khibiny. Well, what to do in the city itself? Let's tell you now.

"Apatite is on the plateau, it needs to be mined"

Almost any tourist route in the Khibiny starts from Kirovsk. It is a very small town with less than 30 thousand inhabitants. However, Kirovsk may be of interest to the traveler not only as a "launching pad" before the hike, but also in itself.

Kirovsk was built nearly a hundred years ago - in the early 1930s. It owes its birth to the richest reserves of apatite-nepheline ores, which are used in industrial chemical production. The city-forming enterprise is the Apatit mining and processing plant - by the way, it invites tourists on excursions. To see the mines, to learn how the mineral is mined and processed, to visit the operating workshops, to get acquainted with the technologies - all this is especially interesting considering the scale of Apatit's development. The mines are simply amazing in their size - lovers of industrial tourism will appreciate it.

The Apatita Museum and Exhibition Center is located in the very center of Kirovsk. A rich exposition is located in eight halls - an extensive collection of minerals from the Khibiny and the Kola Peninsula, models of mining operations and processing plants, and much more. Tours are conducted in Russian and English, however, you need to sign up for them in advance.

Meet Venichka

Another attraction of Kirovsk will be of interest to those who love Russian literature. This is the museum of Venedikt Erofeev, a genius writer, polymath and alcoholic. It was in Kirovsk that the famous Venichka was born, raised and graduated from school, whose prose poem "Moscow - Petushki" is called an encyclopedia of Soviet life, and sometimes also an encyclopedia of Russian drunkenness. True, there are not so many personal belongings of Erofeev, so the exposition is not a house-museum, but rather an art installation that recreates the atmosphere of Soviet life in the 1960s - a reel-to-reel tape recorder, suitcases, numerous bottles of Soviet alcohol with its unique labels. Plus - quotes from the poem "Moscow - Petushki" on the walls and photographs by the author. The museum was established at the central city library in 2001. By the way, once Erofeev himself went to it and even mentioned it in his diaries.

To learn more about the history of these regions, you can also visit the Kirov Museum of History and Local Lore, which has been operating in the city center for over 80 years. Here you can learn about how the Khibiny was developed and how Khibinogorsk was built (this is the first name of the city), how Kirovsk lived during the Great Patriotic War, what are the features of the nature and ecology of the Khibiny.

Railway station and botanical garden

Not only museum exhibits, but also buildings will tell about the history of the city. For example, the building of the railway station. Trains have not run to Kirovsk for a couple of decades, but the station is still in place. It was built in the 1930s, and even having turned into ruins, it still remains a striking monument of the Stalin era. To match the mountain panoramas around it, it is majestic, with high ceilings and spacious halls, in which ticket windows, stairs, columns and even cargo scales are still preserved.

The history of Kirovsk is in many ways the history of human overcoming. Despite the harsh climate, long winters and cool summers, man managed not only to conquer the local nature, but also to enrich it - for example, in the Polar-Alpine Botanical Garden, founded in 1931. Palm trees and hundreds of other plants from all over the world grow in the greenhouses of the northernmost botanical garden of the Arctic. A variety of plants of the region are collected in the open air. So, in a fairly compact area, you can get acquainted with the nature of the entire north.

For extreme lovers

And yet, most of the city's guests come here for the sake of the mountains. In the cool Kola summer, tourists go hiking and cycling to the surrounding lakes and gorges. On the mountain rivers running from the peaks, you can raft by kayaks or kayaks. Winter in the Khibiny is the season for snowboards and alpine skiing. There are several ski resorts here, so both a beginner and an experienced athlete will find a place to their liking. In total, there are 28 tracks in the vicinity: three green, 10 blue, 10 red and five black. Most are 1.5–2 km long and with a vertical drop of 450–600 m. There are lifts, equipment rental, ski service, a cafe, a children's area and a snowmobile service. In addition, Kirovsk and Khibiny are a mecca for Russian climbers. Khibiny mountaineering is more than a hundred routes of varying difficulty and many interesting passes.

The mysterious Taimyr Peninsula is the best place for extreme recreation. An overview of the peninsula from the expedition.

Terra Inkognita is translated from Latin as “unknown land”. This is how the unexplored territories were marked on old geographical maps. Until 1610, Taimyr was just such a blank spot, about which there was almost no information. Now, little has changed. This is a wild land of fabulous beauty, the entire population of which is no more than 5000 people. The peninsula is located beyond the Arctic Circle. Inhabitants of the ice edge do not see the sun in winter, and in summer instead of night they observe only light gray twilight.

Many will think: what to do in this icy desert, and they will be wrong. This place keeps many secrets, it takes your breath away from the endless expanses of the tundra and frosty air, and nature generously endows the most courageous travelers with unique natural spectacles: the northern lights, a ring around the moon, the effect of three suns.

It is worth going on vacation to Taimyr to see rare animals, incomparable arctic landscapes, to get acquainted with the life and philosophy of small peoples who have learned to survive in a land where there is no summer, to buy an amulet made of mammoth tusk.

Description of Taimyr: flora and fauna of the peninsula

Taimyr is the northernmost and largest peninsula in Russia, with an area of ​​400 thousand km 2. It is located between the Yenisei Bay of the Kara Sea in the west and the Khatanga Bay of the Laptev Sea in the east. In the center are the Byrranga mountains, with the highest point at 1146 m. ​​The coastal and bordering parts of the mainland are low-lying, in places swampy. The two cold seas are separated by a protruding part of the land with the famous Cape Chelyuskin, which is the northernmost continental point of Eurasia.

Taimyr is located in the zones of polar deserts, arctic and northern (typical) tundras, forest-tundra and altitudinal zones. Due to the permafrost, water does not seep into the soil, so there are many lakes, rivers and swamps on the peninsula. Ecosystems are very fragile and vulnerable. Ruts from all-terrain vehicles remain on the surface of the earth for many years, so it is necessary to be very careful with the wealth of the Siberian north.

Unusual fauna of the Taimyr Peninsula

The vegetation of the region is unusual and unique. In the very north, only mosses and lichens grow, giving way to the south by low-growing shrubs from the dryad dotted, arctic bluegrass, coin-like and polar dwarf willow.

In the south, there are pre-tundra woodlands or forest-tundra from Daurian and Siberian larch interspersed with birch and spruce. All trees are thin, on the verge of survival, the permafrost prevents them from putting down roots.

Walruses on the Taimyr Peninsula

We continue to explore Russia together with Yandex. zenom. This time the release is for the brave!

We continue to explore Russia together with Yandex Zen. This time the release is for the brave!

In winter, travel in Russia is paused by most of us. The mountains are covered with snow, and you can't go on a hike; the sea is cold, and you can't swim in it; and in general the weather is such that you don't really take a walk. But the beauty of winter is that you can go on a much more difficult and exciting adventure - to the Russian Far North.

Why? For incredible emotions, northern lights, polar day or polar night, as well as winter roads, active only in snowy time. Of course, such a trip will not be easy, and preparation for it will not be limited to a backpack with shorts and a passport, but the emotions from such a trip will be remembered again and again as something absolutely unique. But it is in the hope of such impressions that we set off on another adventure.

To understand the intricacies of traveling in the Russian Far North, we talked to Alexei Zhirukhin, the author of the Travels with Purpose blog in Yandex. xena. There he talks about travels to Yamal, the Nenets Autonomous Okrug, the Kolyma and the Kola Peninsula. We asked Aleksey about how tourism in Russia has changed in 2020, what makes the Far North so attractive and whether it is difficult to go there yourself.

Where is the Far North of Russia?

If we turn to terminology, then all territories north of the Arctic Circle are considered the Far North. But in Russia this concept is geographically not unambiguously established, and in the legislation there are several lists at all, depending on the purpose of regulation. It sounds complicated, but in practice it turns out that one and the same region can be considered the Far North according to one list (for example, for benefits and allowances), but not otherwise (in Wikipedia). We propose to navigate not only in the territory north of the Arctic Circle, but also much to the south: the weather and living conditions there are no less severe.

How can you even get interested in the High North?

“I started traveling in Russia a long time ago,” says Alexey. - At first I gave preference to the nearest regions, but gradually the geography expanded, and I went further and further. When practically all the roads of the country were driven off, I began to ride on winter roads - seasonal roads that roll along frozen rivers, swamps and tundra, where it is simply impossible to pass in the warm season ”.

The north is interested in the extraordinary nature and conditions: “Try to live in the polar night, when it is pitch dark all winter, or in the polar day, when the sun does not turn off almost all summer. Find out what minus 60 degrees is outside the window. Get to know the stunning landscapes, colorful cities and people who live in the High North. I think that any person who grew up in the middle zone of the European part of Russia may simply have a brain break from the way of life of the northern people. Well, if you come in high season, you can see the northern lights and even take pictures of it. "

In addition, the north attracts by overcoming: movement by car in extreme minus, polar bears at polar stations and overnight stays in abandoned cities. All this may interest those travelers who are looking for completely new and unlike anything else from future trips.

Where to start exploring the High North?

It's worth starting with the simplest. The Arctic Circle is large, but the most accessible part is located in the European part of Russia, in the Murmansk region. Good quality roads lead there, and you can get there in any weather and at any time of the year. I advise you to see the Khibiny, Murmansk, Teriberka and the Rybachy peninsula. I even have a great guide on the Kolyma highway, in case you are planning a daring journey along this iconic Russian highway.

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