ON THE TRAILS OF LOST GULAGS
This itinerary is on the infamous Road of Bones, product of the Russian labour camps of Far Eastern Siberia, where hundreds of thousands of political prisoners lost their lives. They were forced to build the first and only connection between the Far East and Central Siberia, or work in mines digging for gold and uranium, or be exploited in factories. The Road of Bones we are following, carried men and good in the 50ies and is now abandoned. It is only used in winter when snow and ice cover impassable mud, swamps and rivers, replacing long gone wooden bridges. Surrounding this road is an archipelago of camps (big and small) that this walking journey tries to uncover, when human has not destroyed them in an effort to hide history or nature taken back its rights. It is an intense journey in self-sufficiency, diving in a fascinating nature and rich wilderness, that few have experienced.
Best departure time: early June to end August
3.Group Meeting Point:
4.Who can go?
a.Min age: adults only
b.Physical condition: must be fit and healthy. This trip involves 30 continuous days of demanding trekking on difficult terrain and conditions, while carrying your 15 kg with no support.
c.You will need to:
i.walk up to 30km per day
ii.be mentally fit and strong
iii.be a team player
iv.carry your own 15kg backpack
v.to well spirited and happy with unplanned changes
vi.endure the terrain: rough mountainous and tundra and taiga terrain (hills, forests, swamps, mosquitoes and bears) and weather conditions. Terrain will be a mixture of car trail hunting trails, animal trails and total off road orienteering.
d.Group size: max 6 pax + 1 guide
5.Rating (1 to 10): Overall = 8,6 /10
Difficulty = 8
Isolation = 10
Danger = 8
6.This activity involves (%):
Transport: Walking = 90% train/van = 5% local Airline: 5%
Survival skills = 80%
Orienteering = 100%
Group Autonomy = 90%
Day 1, meet at Vladivostok Airport, visit town.
Day 2, fly to Magadan and settle in the accommodation.
Day 3, visit town, museums and gulag museum, equipment and bag check, last minute shopping.
Day 4, travel to departure point by van (700km) to Kadykchan
Day 5-19, depart for 400km trek (15 days of hiking, and searching historical sites not reachable by road) in the Taiga. Using local knowledge for direction, hunting, fishing and camping. Meet occasionally local hunters to help us find some additional camps
Day 20, reach Tomtor, coldest place on earth (in winter). Rest for 2 days
Day 23-35, depart for another 400km (15days) leg toward Kyubyume and its old mining centre. Continue re-searching and mapping the old sites of labour camps.
Day 36, travel to Khandyga by Van (300km), visit the gulag Museum & Rest in our guide's family.
Day 37, travel to Yakutsk by Van (340km)
Day 38-40, we use these days as buffer for safety and also resting or bad weather
Day 40, Fly out to Beijing (or other location)
8.Weather / local conditions / Terrain:
We are in far eastern Siberia. Weather in this region is Sub arctic. In summer, temperatures can reach up to 28°C during the day and 0°C at night. The occasional shower will refresh us. The environment is rich in wild life: from trout and salmon to foxes, deers and bears. In some areas wolfs are visible. The landscape is lower Tundra and comprises of pine trees, spruce, birch and ferns in wet areas. A lot of dead wood allows for camp fire anywhere anytime. The ground is made of permafrost (ice under the soil within 0,3 to 1m of the surface). In the event of a hot summer, some areas become wetlands. Siberia is known for swamps and swamps on an incline are a unique feature of the landscape. Mosquitoes are prevalent and in the worst case, can be in the thousands.
Magadan: basic hotel or b&b
Trek: One man tents (bivi or sarcophagus)or double tents
Yakutsk: basic hotel
In towns throughout Russia we will be served traditional food, often potato or wheat based. Food is basic and dietary requirements can be very challenging to meet. During the trek, each person will carry their own food which will likely be dehydrated food (noodles, rice) and bread will be the daily ration for the whole 30 days, with occasional hunting, fishing and foraging. Locals are very welcoming and generous, but be ready to drink more vodka than you normally would...
Transport will include regional airlines, uncomfortable Russian vans on bumpy roads and a lot of walking.
12.What to expect
This expedition is hard, unique and off the beaten track. No other travel agency will offer this kind of experience as the area has little to no tourism infrastructure. Don’t expect well organized local fixers, things to run on time, and any sort of luxury. Delays, haggling, bureaucracy and procrastination should be expected! The reward is a unique experience that will test your endurance, resilience, companionship and survival skills, while bringing an amazing sense of achievment and insight in rarely known part of modern history.
13.Safety and security
We take safety very seriously as you are in our hands. But the reality is that you are embarking on an expedition with serious challenges. Challenges are not only in walking, but more importantly, in the remoteness and isolation. In the worst case, should help be required, it could take up to seven days to arrive. The group has to be ready for it and be prepared to follow the guides' decisions. Risks include encountering bears, mosquitoes that can drive you crazy, physical injuries, and mental breakdown). We minimise these risks by preparing for them. But the best is to act mindfully and carefully during the trip. The area is known to your experienced guide, and the route could change depending on local conditions.
a.one English speaking survival guide for up to 6 people.
b.no internet or mobile phone network for 30 days.
c.This trek is very demanding and is in a very remote location: in case of emergency it would take about 7 days to receive medical attention.
per person in a group of 6 = AUD 7900
a.For less pax please contact us
b.For helicopter transfers please contact us
16.Inclusions and exclusions
i.Letter of Invitation to submit for the visa
ii.permits to local area
iii.safety gear carried by you or the guide
iv.all food and meals
v.accommodation (in double room)
vi.transport and drivers as per the schedule
vii.full services of an No Limit Journeys guide and local guides when required
i.visas to Russia
ii.flights to 'meeting point' (here flight to Vladivostok)
iii.personal expenses (beverages, entertainment,etc)
iv.tips to local guides
Should you have any questions please contact us