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 downhill ski run in spring. Costs including equipment rental average R600 per day. In season direct minibuses run from beside Salekhard church.

Daily trains from Labytnangi run at 7am to Moscow (47 hours) and at 9.30am to Vorkuta (12 to 16 hours). Either journey takes you over the nominal Asia-Europe boundary after about five hours and is especially scenic through the lovely polar Ural mountains. Several stations en route (Poliarnaya, Sob and Kharp) make good starting points for attractive if challenging mountain walks. Former labour camp Kharp may be an architecturally bland concrete-factory town, but its mountain setting is most attractive and it is rebranding itself as a adventure-tourism centre, with various facilities under construction. From here you could walk or canoe the lovely Sob River valley, where there's some chance of meeting reindeer herders in spring or autumn.

At Obskaya station the new Yamal railway branches north, paralleled by a rough road. Unofficially, the freight-only trains carry local passengers by arrangement, though there are no stations per se. Some 200km up this line, then a dozen kilometres' sled-ride north, is the hamlet of Laborovaya (www .cinetrance.com/faktoria.htm). It's an isolated fac-toriya (trading post) where lonely shop hunters can exchange their surplus fish and game for basic consumer commodities such as matches and tea. Laborovaya is famous as the home of Nenets activist and writer Anna Pavlovna Nerkagi, who runs a school teaching children the traditional arts of nomad survival.

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Digital Cameras For Beginners

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