The Russian Arctic

Dream Adventure

The Northern Sea Route is one of the longest navigable routes in the world and at the same time the shortest sea route between the European part of Russia and the Far East. Its length from the Kara Strait to the Providence Bay is 5,600 kilometers. The Northern Sea Route passes through the five seas of the Arctic Ocean (the Barents, Kara, Laptev, East Siberian, and the Chukchi Sea) and one of the Pacific (the Bering Sea). For several centuries, brave explorers have been looking for this "northern corridor", and today ordinary tourists can take a trip along the route. And travel in both directions — from east to west, and from west to east..

The Great Arctic History

The search for the Northern Sea Route began back in the 16th century. For about a hundred years, navigators tried to find the Northeast Passage (the way the Northern Sea Route had been called until the 20th century), along which it would be possible to get from east to west. They also relied on the information about the Pomor people taking this route in the 13th century. But attempts to find the "northern corridor" were not very successful and eventually stopped for almost 250 years.

The search of the Northeast Passage resumed in the mid-19th century. In 1878, the Swedish navigator Erik Nordenskiöld passed a considerable part of it during one navigation, rounding Cape Chelyuskin and reaching Chukotka. In 1893, Fridtjof Nansen rounded Cape Chelyuskin, and the third to do that was Russian explorer Eduard Toll in 1901.

Chief Directorate of the Northern Sea Route was established in the USSR in 1932. In the same year, the icebreaker Sibiryakov completely passed the Northern Sea Route in 65 days for the first time in history. The expedition was led by the polar explorer Otto Schmidt.

From the second half of the 20th century, the Northern Sea Route began to supply the settlements of the Far North and the Far East with all necessary things, and in 1991, the Northern Sea Route was opened for international navigation.

Now, there are more than 50 ports en route of the Northern Sea Route. According to the results of 2017, the volume of cargo transportation along the route amounted to 10.7 million tons. According to the plan, by 2020, this indicator will grow six-fold — up to 63.7 million tons per year.

Following Barents and Nansen

The first expeditions along the Northern Sea Route were perceived as something unprecedented, heroic, and they actually were. Now the tourists have the opportunity to follow the same route as the pioneer explorers.

Traveling along the Northern Sea Route on a specially equipped scientific research vessel will take almost a month. There are also landings on the shore, so that tourists can better get acquainted with the unique nature of the Arctic and its inhabitants, observe marine mammals, polar bears, reindeer, Arctic foxes, and snowy owls.

A special, extremely important part of the trip is acquaintance with lifestyle, culture, and domestic life of the indigenous peoples of the North.

Tourists are accompanied by an experienced expedition team and qualified guides in all cases. The journey will be safe and very interesting.

The first expeditions along the Northern Sea Route were perceived as something unprecedented, heroic, and they actually were. Now, tourists have the opportunity to follow the same route as the pioneer explorers

Tours along the Northern Sea Route are held both from west to east, and in the opposite direction. In the first case they begin in Murmansk, and in the second they start in Anadyr.

At the very beginning of the eastbound expedition, travelers will be able to observe the marine animals and birds in the Barents Sea, named after the Dutch navigator Willem Barents, who explored this region in the late 16th century. Tourists will make several landings at Franz Josef Land; this archipelago consisting of 192 islands is only 10 degrees down from the North Pole.

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The ship will pass through the Kara Sea — one of the coldest ones in Russia. On the border of the Kara and Laptev seas there is Severnaya Zemlya (Northern Land) archipelago, and travelers will be able to watch its inhabitants — polar bears, walruses and Arctic foxes. By the way, the Laptev Sea has a unique species of the walrus, inhabiting only here, and the expedition members will definitely see them.

In the middle of the trip, tourists will get to the Novosibirsk Islands, and then they will come to the East Siberian Sea and about a day later reach the Medvezhy Islands (the Bear Islands). People don't live there, and research expeditions also rarely stop by the islands. Therefore, animals, primarily polar bears, feel free and easy — the name of the islands speaks for itself.

Several stops are usually organized in the northern settlements on such trips. The indigenous inhabitants of these places will tell tourists about their life, will acquaint them with customs and rituals, treat them with traditional dishes unavailable on the mainland.

The mariners will also reach Cape Dezhnev, the easternmost point of Eurasia, from where you can see the coast of America.

Another interesting destination along the Northern Sea Route is the Whale Bone Alley. It is a monument of ancient Eskimo culture on the island of Yttygran, a structure from the bones of great polar whales dug into the ground near the shore. The Whale Bone Alley is considered a site of international archaeological heritage.

That is what your trip along the Northern Sea Route can be: it includes observing the unique nature and ancient monuments, bathing in hot springs and landing on the islands near the North Pole, tasting national dishes and searching for places where dead ships of the past centuries rest gripped by the ice. Such a cruise is an experience of a lifetime.

The eastbound tour ends in Anadyr. And the westbound one is vice versa: starting from Anadyr, the travelers will go west towards Murmansk, and will see the same places, only in the reverse order.

Traveling along the Northern Sea Route includes observing the unique nature and ancient monuments, bathing in hot springs and landing on the islands near the North Pole, and tasting national dishes. Such a cruise is an experience of a lifetime.

Remember the Technicalities

What should be taken into account when embarking on a journey along the Northern Sea Route? First and foremost, it is a harsh climate. Vessels intended for such tours are comfortable and safe, but there will be landings ashore, and boat trips. That means that the clothes should be warm, waterproof and windproof. Take down coats and thermal underwear, you can't go wrong. And remember to take along the protective cases for your photo or video camera.

You will need a hat — a woolen cap which necessarily covers the ears. Shoes must be stabilized, non-skid and waterproof as well. It is a good idea to take rubber boots, preferably high: at some landings you will have to step into the 25 cm deep water. Such useful things will come in handy as lip balm, fatty nourishing cream, sunglasses, earplugs and a small backpack for landing, also waterproof. You can also take the binocular. Going on such a trip you should remember two main points: this is a long sea voyage, which runs through the Arctic.

Aboard the ship, you can abandon the "polar" style and change into something lighter and even smarter. However, it also makes sense to opt for convenience and functionality.

Of course, there is a question about the cost of the tour. Naturally, a four-week trip on a unique route, organized on the principle of "all-inclusive", on a ship equipped as a high-class hotel, basically, cannot be cheap. But such adventures are remembered for a lifetime. Which means, it is worth it.

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