Yamal Permits

Technically, you'll require a permit to venture into the Yamal Peninsula. Until 2003 several travellers managed a trip without one, but recently authorities have been much stricter, and some visitors have been arrested and deported from Russia for permit violations. Check carefully in Salekhard for the latest information before heading out. The strategic gas-production area Bovanyenkogo is especially sensitive. of the Easter Island Moai heads, albeit in miniature wooden form. Other totems have...

Side Trip Quttinirpaaq National Park

If you have a fortune to squander and a penchant for wide-open spaces, head for Quttinirpaaq National Park (formerly Ellesmere Island National Park), right up at the top of the world. It's Canada's second-biggest park and one of the world's most pristine wilderness areas. Superlatives include numerous High Arctic icecaps and glaciers Cape Columbia, the continent's northernmost point Mt Barbeau, which at 2616m is the highest peak in eastern North America and Lake Hazen Basin, a thermal oasis...

Lovozero

In the peninsula's centre, Lovozero is the concrete-block town to which Stalin forcibly moved many Sami nomads after 1929. This cultural disgrace resulted in the 1938 anticollectivisation rebellion, which was brutally suppressed by the Soviet army and followed by the execution of many Sami chiefs. These days the town has a Sami history museum featuring a particularly fine petro-glyph. Lovozero Adventure organises helicopter trout-fishing trips on the Rova River, sold through...

The Confrontation Period

In 1907 the Russian imperial fleet was defeated by Japan. Military reinforcements coming by way of the Suez Canal had arrived too late, and the loss prompted a survey to investigate the potential of the Northeast Passage's as a strategic waterway. Two specially built coal-fired icebreakers surveyed the Bering Strait region between 1914 and 1915, and then made the journey to Murmansk. Roald Amundsen completed the next transit of the Northeast Passage between 1918 and 1923 aboard the Maud. At the...

Getting There Away

Four weekly flights go to Beryozovo (bookings 94544, R1065, 50 minutes). From June to September there are crowded but well-maintained Ob-Irtysh river steamers every eight days to Salekhard (first third class R920 345, two days). The steamers stop at Priobye Sergino, Beryozovo and the incredibly isolated Oktobrskaya market. Timetables vary every year request details from Rosrechflot ( 3812-398521 Omsk). If you have a berth you'll find the boats comfortable there are passable restaurants on...

Salekhard To Vorkuta

The nearest train station to Salekhard is in the town of Labytnangi, across the wide Ob River. Reaching Labytnangi from Sale khard starts with a 10km bus ride to the river ferry from the town centre, running via Hotel Sibir and the airport (R30, last at midnight). The ferry (R20 pedestrians, 15 minutes) runs hourly and leaves you a 3km taxi ride (R50) short of Labytnangi train station. Near Labytnangi the new Gor-nolyzhnyi Komplex (ski centre) operates a popular if somewhat unchallenging 400m...

Festivals Events

Apart from gold, Fairbanks' other claim to fame is as dog-mushing capital of the world, and the city is home to the North America Sled Dog Championships, a three day event in which mushers, some with teams as large as 20 dogs, compete in a series of 32km to 48km (20- to 30-mile) races. Fairbanks is also the start of the Yukon Quest, arguably the toughest dogsled race in the world. The 1637km (1023-mile) run between Fairbanks and Whitehorse follows many of the early trails used by trappers,...

Getting to Yakutsk

Yakutsk has several weekly air connections to Moscow (R9000), Irkutsk (R3400) and Khabarovsk (R4900), and a twice-monthly river ferry to Ust Kut on the BAM railway, where there are trains to Krasnoyarsk. Getting to Chukotka Anadyr (p291) is the main hub, with flights from as far afield as Moscow (Domodedovo) or Khabarovsk, mostly via Magadan on Chukotavia ((H) 42722 56569). Chukotka is sporadically accessible from Alaska thanks to charter flights from Anchorage to Anadyr and notably Nome to...

Lifestyle

Although life in most Inuit towns and settlements resembles that of the Western world, with supermarkets, satellite TV and Internet access, many smaller settlements have few facilities, no running water and a much more traditional and generally impoverished lifestyle. Wherever you go, however, the veneer of modern life is fairly superficial and tradition influences many daily activities. Family groups are still incredibly important, and in most towns there is a complex network of family...

The Northwest Passage

At the beginning of the 1700s, the central American Arctic was an unknown whalers had never travelled this far west, and the Russians had never ventured further east than Alaska. Investors were happily accumulating enormous wealth from fur in northern Canada, though, and were less willing to get involved in the more risky business of Arctic exploration. The British Royal Navy, long experienced in naval expeditions, and stuck with a very large and inactive fleet after the end of the Napoleonic...

Itinerary Yamal Explorer

This is the long, cold way to cross the Asia-Europe divide. Spot gulags (prison camps), oil fields and Nenets herders as you edge closer to the Yamal tundra, then bolt south again towards Moscow. The rural Yamal region is interesting for its Nenets reindeer-herding culture, although it's well hidden behind a veil of Soviet oil and mining settlements. For independent travellers the basic loop offers an opportunity to explore the Russian Arctic without a lengthy backtrack. Start with multiday...

Itinerary Canadas Dempster Highway

Starting from Dawson, the last remnant of the Yukon gold rush, the Dempster winds its way through pristine wilderness flanked by craggy peaks and rolling tundra before arriving at the Arctic hub of Inuvik, gateway to the remote communities of the Western Arctic. One of the most incredible road trips on earth, the Dempster Hwy is one of only two roads in North America that cross the Arctic Circle (the other, the Dalton Hwy, is outlined in Itinerary 3). This 747km (467-mile) stretch of gravel...

The Inuit Today

The Inuit today seem caught in a constant battle with outside forces over which they can exert little control. Activities in the industrialised world are having a huge effect on what remains of their traditional culture. Climate change (see p27) is one of the most pressing concerns, as sea-ice conditions are deteriorating quickly and hunters can no longer travel to traditional spring hunting grounds. Couple that with health warnings advising Inuit not to eat their traditional food sources...

Russian Expansion

Russia's long-term campaign to extend its empire and conquer new territory was highly successful, but in the 17th century the northern regions of the country still remained largely unknown. That is, until Russian explorer Semyon Dezhnev rounded the extreme eastern cape of Asia, now Cape Dezhnev (p293), in 1648. Peter the Great, founder of the Russian navy, became even more intent on expanding his empire after Denmark began the colonisation of Greenland in 1721. He set in motion a series of...

The Carbon Cycle

Arctic atmospheric research also looks at the role of the carbon cycle - the movement of carbon between the atmosphere, the oceans, living organisms and the earth itself. For decades scientists thought that sea ice prevented the Arctic Ocean from exchanging gas with the atmosphere, creating a carbon sink - or store of carbon - in the icy water. But new research suggests that the opposite is true, radically altering science's understanding of how the Arctic Ocean fits into the world's climate...

The Sami Today

Although reindeer herding is central to Sami culture, only a minority depend on it today and many of those who do are supported by government subsidies. The expansion of agriculture, the development of mining, tourism, forestry and hydrocarbon projects, and changes in herding and breeding practice have all encroached upon Sami reindeer-herding lands and put further pressure on this way of life. Across the Sami homeland, environmental problems and resource development are among the biggest...

Traditional Culture

Like many other Arctic peoples, the Chukchi believe that the universe is populated with spirits. Everything in the world, be it animate or inanimate, has a life force and shares the same spiritual nature. In traditional Chukchi religion, shamanism was important for healing and divination, and the shaman made journeys to the spirit world to retrieve the wandering souls of the sick. Chukchi celebrations and rituals revolved around the annual cycle of hunting and harvesting. Traditionally, the...

Indigenous Conservation Efforts

Indigenous people have always relied on Arctic flora and fauna for survival, and they have been the first to witness the detrimental effects of industrialisation and climate change (see p27). They have also suffered at the hands of regional and federal governments who have appropriated mineral-rich land and returned little, if any, of its wealth to the indigenous people. This environmental injustice and the sight of traditional hunting or herding grounds ruined by industry has turned the native...

Putorana Plateau

Starting some 75km east of Norilsk, the ultra-isolated, windswept Putorana Plateau rises magnificently, like a gigantic green-tinged dinosaur dripping with dramatic waterfalls. Russian adventure lovers nickname this the Lost World and rave about the purity of its untouched nature. Beneath lichen-covered rocks, brooks murmur hypnotically, foxberries remain edible beneath carpets of winter snows, and contorted larch trees give the forested areas a mysterious, fairytale atmosphere. Only the top...

Staples Specialities

Today most Arctic people enjoy a mixed diet of Western food and traditional meats. Although processed foods are expensive and fresh fruit and vegetables are still a luxury, in many places they are readily available. Traditional Arctic cooking is very simple, with stews and fried meat or fish being the highlight of the menu. Dried fish is popular when travelling and bannock, a simple white pan-fried bread, is common in the native communities of northern Canada and Alaska. The evening meal is...

Katannilik Territorial Park

One of the finest, most accessible parks in Nunavut is just outside the community of Kimmirut (population 433), about 175km (109 miles) from Iqaluit. Katannilik comprises two main features the Soper River and the Itijjagiaq Trail. A Canadian Heritage waterway, the aquamarine Soper splashes 50 navigable kilometres through a deep, fertile valley, past cascades, caribou, gemstone deposits and dwarf-willow forests. Paddlers usually spend three days to a week floating and exploring. Hikers and...

Itinerary The Arctic Yenisey

Were you permitted to use them, frequent Yenisey steamers would offer the easiest way to cruise a great Arctic river. The wild Taymyr Peninsula and Putorana Plateau are Arctic Russia's adventure treasure troves, and Khatanga has flights almost as far as the North Pole. If only they'd drop those accursed permit regulations Summer river transport on the Yenisey runs more frequently than on any other Arctic river. The route described here starts in Igarka, the first ferry stop above the Arctic...

Scandinavia Travel Routes

Making it to Svalbard (p324), one of the most impressive destinations on earth Enjoying a cocktail at the ultra-cool Ice Hiking in Pallas-Ounastunturi National Park (p327) or the Kilpisj rvi region Looking out over the turquoise seas and fabulous scenery of the Lofoten islands (p303) Sitting back and admiring the fantastic coastal scenery from the legendary Hurtigruten steamer (p298) Pallas-Ounastunturi Lofoten Af * National Park The starkly beautiful wilderness of the Scandinavian Arctic makes...

The Athapaskans Today

Dramatic changes swept through Athapaskan villages over the course of the 20th century. Education delivered through formal schooling, together with policies of modernisation and assimilation into mainstream American and Canadian society, meant that traditional knowledge and activities were lost. Language skills are now particularly vulnerable the dominant influence of English and a lack of suitably qualified local teachers to deliver schooling in Athapaskan languages mean that whole generations...

Activities Hiking Auyuittuq National Park

Auyuittuq (ah-you-ee-tuk) means 'the land that never melts'. Appropriately, there are plenty of glaciers in this 19,500-sq-km park, plus jagged peaks, vertiginous cliffs, deep valleys, fjords and meadows. The most popular activity in the area is the 97km (61-mile) Akshayuk Pass hiking route when it's snow-free (between late June and early September). Nearby, intrepid climbers head for Mt Thor, with its incredible 1500m granite cliff face, the earth's tallest wall. You can camp wherever you can...

Activities Paddling The Porcupine River

If you fancy some true wilderness experience, try an incredible canoe trip from Eagle Plains to Alaska. This unforgettable 1100km 688-mile trip takes about three weeks and will take you through remote and untouched landscapes with breathtaking scenery and plenty of opportunities for spotting wildlife and meeting the locals. You'll need to be prepared for true wilderness camping, unpredictable weather, swarms of mosquitoes and little contact with civilisation. You'll have to transport your own...

Varzuga

The traditional ex-whaling village of Varzuga is around 140km west of Umba through seemingly endless forest 115km of this is unpaved but driveable . Founded around 1490 by monks from the Solovetski Islands, many of Varzuga's houses are timber cottages with photogenic carved porches. Varzuga's highlight is the stunning Uspensky Church built 1684 , an all-wooden structure rising over 30m to a central bulbed spire. Beside it is the quaint Afansevskaya church built 1854 and a delightful log-framed...

The Sami

The name Lapp means 'piece of cloth'or'patch', and is now considered aderogatoryterm.The name Sami derives from the people's own name for themselves and is much preferred. The Sami people live in Fennoscandia more often known as Lapland , a vast swath of northern Norway, Sweden and Finland, and the Kola Peninsula in Russia. Approximately 80,000 people make up this indigenous group and, although they are linguistically related to the Finns, Hungarians and Estonians, the culture and lifestyle are...

Insects

Insects are the creatures most likely to torture you while you're in the woods. You might hear tales of lost hikers going insane from being incessantly swarmed by blackflies and mosquitoes. Blackflies are at their peskiest from late May through to the end of June, while mosquitoes can be a bother from early spring until early autumn. Ticks are an issue from March to June. Generally, insect populations are greatest deep in the woods and near water, and they increase the further north you go....

Nyagan

The redeeming feature of this crushingly dull new oil town is the Nyagan Museum admission R50 , displaying fascinating archaeological finds from Emder www.hist.usu.ru urc english exped itions.htm , which was the capital of a 12th-to 16th-century Ugrian principality on the Endyr River. Emder's site is 90km southeast of Nyagan, 7km by mud road off the new Nyagan to Khanty-Mansiysk highway. At the time of research archaeologists were still investigating volunteers keen to join the three-week digs...

Gateway Cities Getting to Dawson

Air North 800-764 0407 www.flyalrnorth.com flies from Whitehorse to Dawson. To get to White-horse by air you can pick up an Air Canada 1-8882472262 www.aircanada.ca flight in Vancouver, or an Air North service from Vancouver, Edmonton or Calgary. Alternatively, bus it to Whitehorse with Greyhound 1-800 661 8747 www.greyhound.ca and then hop on the Dawson City Courier 1-867 993 6688 www.dawsonbus.ca to Dawson.

Paddling

Paddlers should head for the John, the north fork of the Koyukuk, the Tinayguk, the Alatna, and the middle fork of the Koyukuk River from Wiseman to Bettles. The headwaters of the Noatak and Kobuk Rivers are in the park. The waterways range from class I to class III in difficulty. Of the various rivers, the north fork of the Koyukuk River is one of the most popular - the float begins in the shadow of the Gates and continues downstream 160km 100 miles to Bettles through class I and class II...

Kandalaksha

Set in an area inhabited for millennia by the Sami, Kandalaksha is a White Sea port city that traded with Novgorod from the 11th century. Until it was abolished in 1742 the town's focus was a major monastery whose magical silver bell remains the centre of local legends. Repeatedly sacked by invaders, Kandalaksha was a battleground in the 1919 struggle between the Bolsheviks and British-backed White Russia. Although now noted for its giant aluminium smelter, the area is nonetheless attractively...