If you’re heading out east, Chukotka is your last stop in Russia before you fall off the edge of the Eurasian Continent and into the frigid waters of the Bering Strait. This is the least visited region in Russia, mainly because it is extraordinarily far from anywhere else in the inhabited world, and therefore not the easiest destination to reach. In fact, flying or swimming over from Alaska could be just as fast as flying from Moscow. Despite the isolation, Chukotka has a wealth of wilderness worth exploring, along with the Chukchi culture who still practice reindeer herding and walrus hunting in some areas.
Comprising two islands separated by a 1km wide strait, the Diomedes represent the most eastern and western extent of Russia and the United States respectively. It’s also the point from which the International Date Line originates.
Wrangel Island is considered to be the last place on Earth where mammoths survived. Today it is home to a small population of Russian rangers, scientists and non-native musk ox and reindeer. Although a small and seemingly unimportant Arctic island, Wrangel is wrapped in a fascinating history; such as its ancient origins as a waystation used for the indigenous Chukchi’s trade routes with Alaska to the site of untold stories of Russian and European exploration – including the tale of Stefansson’s expedition shipwrecked for 9 months, whose captain was eventually forced to walk alone across the frozen sea to summon a rescue.
Up until the early 19th Century, Anadyr was the only established settlement east of the great Kolyma River. Today though its home to 15,000 inhabitants and being the most populated town in the area it is also the capital of the Chukotka Autonomous District
Named in honour of Semyon Dezhnev, the first known European to have rounded its tip in 1648, this rocky and isolated coastal zone also marks the most eastern extent of the Eurasian Continent.
Letter of invitation and visa required for most nationalities. Must be applied for in advance at a Russian embassy or consulate. Most cruise ship passengers entering Russian ports can stay for up to 72 hours visa-free if the trip is co-organised by a travel company officially licensed with the Russian government.
January temperature range: -17 °C to −30 °C. July temperature range: +16°C to +19 °C.
Russian rouble. ATMs are available in all cities and over-the-counter bank withdrawals are also possible in smaller areas. USD also accepted for large payments in many areas.
For up to date exchange rates please have a look at www.xe.com
Two prong European style systems (types C and F).
Reliable wifi in Anadyr. No internet connection outside of main towns.
Typical of Russia: Dill. Dill. And more dill. Lots of potatoes, beetroot and root vegetables. Meat and fish centre in most dishes. Bulgar wheat is a popular grain. Chukchi cuisine includes: boiled deer brains, boiled or salted frozen venison, prerem (boiled deer chunks with melted deer lard and bone marrow), rilkyn (deer blood, deer brains, lard and flour), montak (whale fat), rilkeil (deer stomach and its contents, its blood, fat and with herbs), kolobki (a ball of pounded herbs/roots, seal oil and venison eaten cold), kopalhem (seal/walrus chunks cured for 6 months underground with plants), kiviak (whole gulls with feathers stuffed into seal/walrus and cured underground for 6 months with plants)
Alcohol is permitted and is widely available
Russian. Chukchi spoken by 5-7000 people (1/3 of population).
Russian Orthodox Christianity. Shamanism. Animism.
No special dress code.
SAFTEY & SECURITY
The FCO considers Chukotka to be a low risk region to travel.
The Shaman’s Coat: A Native History of Siberia by Anna Reid
Siberia: A History of the People by Janet M. Hartley