May 28, 2023

An unexplored land of cliffs, rocks and permafrost, the Taimyr Peninsula is a truly lost world, almost untouched by man. The landscapes here are preserved the same as they were thousands of years ago. Mountains with flat tops go somewhere beyond the horizon in endless waves of traps, raging rivers cut deep canyons in the stone, and the wind cuts bizarre remnants from the rocks, reminiscent of medieval castles. You are on the Anabar Plateau, one of the oldest mountain systems on the planet. At its foot is the settlement of Khatanga, a new center for Arctic tourism, which is being built under the auspices of the Russian Geographical Society.

For the first time, the Russian Geographical Society is launching a series of popular science tours “Routes of the Russian Geographical Society”. This is a new format of travel, in which you can feel like a member of a real expedition and touch great science. We are going to explore the Arctic together with the Russian Geographical Society. Let’s go through the most beautiful places, the paths of the heroic pioneers and conquerors of the North, to where, it seems, no human foot has set foot. Together with the experts of the Russian Geographical Society, we will feel the unique spirit of the Russian Arctic.

The program has two routes. The first one will be of interest to those who decide to conquer the North with their children: first arctic family adventure “Treasure Hunters: whirlpools and gems of Anabar”. This is a real expeditionary geological and geographical journey along the mountain rivers of Taimyr together with the team of the Russian Geographical Society. We are waiting for mammoths, rafting on mountain rivers, immersion in the world of the peoples of the Far North and delicacies of the Arctic cuisine. And each of the guests will surely find their treasure here.

For the most sophisticated audience, the RGS team has prepared great Taimyr summer photo safari “The Lost World of Anabar: From Deer to Taimen”. This adventure is centered around a natural phenomenon – reindeer migrations. Only once a year, in mid-August, there is a rare opportunity to see the grandiose march of these noble animals – it will be no less impressive than during the migrations of antelopes in the African savannas. Wildlife photo hunting tour is a real gift for animal photographers and lovers of watching the hot heart of the Russian Arctic beat. We tell you what awaits you on our tours.

By the way, in the official group of the Russian Geographical Society in Odnoklassniki launched a special section “Traveling with the Russian Geographical Society”, where every week we publish videos from the most beautiful places in Russia, including from the Arctic. Join now!

Khatanga: a new center for Arctic tourism

The first comprehensive exploration of the Arctic belongs to the heroic navigators of the Great Northern Expedition of 1733, whose names are well known to us – these are Vitus Bering, the Laptev brothers, Semyon Chelyuskin. However, a hundred years before them, in Siberia, Russian Cossacks founded the first polar city beyond the Urals – Mangazeya, which became a stronghold for the advancement of explorers to the east. Unfortunately, Mangazeya has not survived to this day, but the neighboring settlements of the same time, such as Khatanga, known from the mentions of English merchants since the beginning of the 17th century, keep its memory.

Khatanga is a strategic point of the Russian Arctic, located at the entrance to the bay of the same name in the Laptev Sea, where one of the six ports of the Northern Sea Route is located. The word “khatanga” is translated from Evenki as “big water”. You can only get here by air. Here is the northernmost Orthodox church in Russia, several cultural centers, a unique Mammoth Museum in an ice cave, as well as the administration of the Taimyr Biosphere Reserve with an interesting ethnographic exposition.

Today, a real center of Arctic tourism has unfolded in Khatanga under the auspices of the Russian Geographical Society. From here, it is within easy reach to the coast of the Arctic Ocean and even to the North Pole itself, where tours are also planned to be launched next year. After renovation, the Mammoth Inn hotel was opened in the village with rooms decorated in a modern Scandinavian style. Here you immediately feel that you are in the Arctic: there are reindeer skins on the chairs in the hall, you can see the northern lights from the window, and in the evenings the Mammoth ice bar with strong drinks awaits you.

Museum in the glacier

Seeing giant mammoth tusks in a real ice grotto is a truly mesmerizing adventure. Back in the 1990s, the French paleontologist, researcher of the mammoth fauna Bernard Buig, who worked for many years in Taimyr, equipped a cave in the layers of permafrost, which was used in Soviet times instead of a refrigerator for storing food. Here, at any time of the year, a stable minus temperature is maintained – somewhere around -15 ° C. Thanks to such conditions, valuable finds of the remains of ancient animals can be stored without chemical treatment and conservation.

The center of the exposition was Zharkov’s mammoth, found here, on Taimyr, by one of the hunters – Alexei Zharkov. A giant frozen block of soil weighing 30 tons, in the center of which there was a prehistoric animal, was cut down right in the tundra and taken by helicopter to the Khatanga under-ice laboratory for study. Later, around this outlandish beast, they decided to open a museum. The mammoth Zharkov preserved intact soft tissues – ears and tail. Later, the museum’s exposition included the collection of the paleontological Museum of the Mammoth and Musk Ox. Professor Nikolai Vereshchagin.

River of a Thousand Castles

In the north of the Krasnoyarsk Territory, at the junction of the ancient mountain ranges – Putorana and Anabar – the Kotui River flows. It is born in the very heart of the Putoransky Reserve and rushes towards the Arctic Ocean for almost 1.5 thousand km. Interestingly, almost all of this path belongs to the zone of the pole of inaccessibility – the place where it is most difficult to get to because of its remoteness from cities and transport routes. Here nature has been preserved as it was centuries and even millennia ago. The Kotui Valley is a real unexplored region of the unique Arctic tundra. “Unique” is not just a figure of speech: there are several places here that cannot be found anywhere else on the planet.

The visiting card of the coasts of Kotui is the rocks, and at every turn of the river they are completely new. It is better to observe the bizarre geological ornaments from a height, climbing onto one of the viewing platforms. From above, views of the countless meanders open – steep loops that the river draws as it curves. And the mountain ranges resemble the ruins of ancient cities built by some mythical people who lived at the turn of the era. If you look closely, you can see that the rock ledges look like monolithic columns of majestic temples and palaces. Perhaps that is why one of the tributaries of the Kotui is called by the natives the “River of a Thousand Castles”.

Another geological attraction of these places is the so-called Kotuy pipe. This is a canyon 200 m deep and 13 km long, cut by the river in the thickness of basalt rocks. When you are sailing on a boat, because of the height of the mountains, it seems that you have fallen not just into a pipe, but into some kind of alien tunnel – the surrounding landscape seems so incredible. Perfectly smooth vertical walls – sometimes sandy white, sometimes bright burgundy – seem to be carved with a sharp blade, and a string of dangerous rapids can easily cost unlucky travelers their boats.

Precious Arctic Crystals

In addition to mountain rivers and rocks, there are other treasures in the Anabar gorges. For example, deposits of diamonds and chrysolites. Unfortunately, local diamonds do not represent jewelry value: stones formed as a result of a meteorite impact have a dull green color. But chrysolites – minerals of herbal and olive shades – are often used in jewelry. The people called this stone an evening emerald – in the twilight its color looks more saturated and resembles a famous gem. There are large deposits of chrysolites in Egypt, Australia and Brazil, and also occur in Russia, mainly in diamondiferous rocks. One of these developments is located near the Kotuykan River. In Soviet times, there was an active mining of jewelry chrysolite. Today, production has long been stopped, but grains of this semi-precious stone can still be found on the surface of the hills.

The path to the chrysolite gorge is of medium difficulty, with a small climb. There are no beaten paths here, the ascent is steep, but short: first through light forest, then up to a plateau, almost devoid of vegetation. The end point of the radial route is the old camp of geologists, where guests can enjoy hot tea and a touch of the romance of Soviet geology. Under the guidance of a Russian Geographical Society scientist, each of the participants will be able to get the coveted Arctic crystal.

Polar photo safari

The Kotuy shores are interesting for another natural phenomenon: the migratory routes of reindeer pass here. In early spring, they migrate to the shores of the Arctic Ocean, and at the end of summer they return back to Yakutia and Evenkia. And if it is very difficult to get here in the spring, then in the summer you can freely move by boat. This makes it possible to participate in photo hunting: if you choose the right location, set up hunting ambush for camouflage, and behave correctly, you can let the animal get close enough.

Reindeer move, as a rule, along the same paths, trampled down over centuries of migration. These graceful animals with an incredibly powerful crown on their heads are not at all afraid of a person – they have simply never seen him. The hearing of the deer is excellent, but the eyesight is not very good, therefore, if you do not make noise, the herd can pass very close. A separate pleasure is to watch a group of swimming elk. These animals are excellent swimmers: wide hooves, adapted for getting food from under the ice sheets, help them row.

By the way, it only seems that the seasonal migrations of wild deer are uncontrolled. Every year, local ecologists and Taimyr inspectors provide safe corridors for the successful migration of animals, protecting them from poachers. Scientists using satellite telemetry organize monitoring of the number of wild deer and monitor their livestock.

Popular Science Tour Series “Routes of the Russian Geographical Society” – a new format of travel, in which you can feel like a member of a real expedition and touch great science. New unique destinations ahead – stay tuned to the section page “Traveling with the Russian Geographical Society”. Tours are organized with the support of tour operator “9th Pole”.

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