Like a child reverse engineering a domino chain-reaction, planning a trip into the heart of Siberia apparently takes finesse. The venture, in its entirety, will take days, not hours. Better grab a good book and download some decent tunes. It’s going to be a long haul.
- Always start with booking the farthest, most remote flight and work backwards. Flights to/from Cherskiy only travel twice a week, and they fill up fast.
- The flight to Yakustk should be booked soon after. This small Russian town’s primary language is Russian, but many inhabitants speak the native Siberian language of Yakut. English speakers are few and far between. Traveling in groups is always encouraged.
- Your prior destination, Moscow. Here you can breathe easy, knowing there is only one main language, that you do not know.
- You are almost home free. Before arriving in Russia, you have approximately four connecting flights to plan. Paris. New York. Denver. Laramie. Fingers crossed your luggage finds its way as safely as you do.
Booking air travel is amateur hour, compared to acquiring a research VISA for this region.
- Contact the Russian research center and get a formal invitation/letter to visit. At least we can only assume that’s what it says...it is written in Russian after all.
- Acquire two additional passport photos, file a formal VISA request and send away your passport (and what feels like your common sense) to a Russian consulate. Hope and pray it comes back in one piece with a VISA in tow.
- Contact the American Embassy, so they know where to go looking if you disappear.
- Buy emergency rescue insurance. You are traveling to the Arctic. If true danger strikes a helicopter evacuation is really your only hope for survival.
- Print everything, check it trice, hope that everything works out nice.
- Download Duolingo
- Learn phrases like “Bread and honey” or “My Auntie’s name is Olga” in Russian
- Hope that comes in handy...
It’s time to check your gear. Siberia in the summer ranges from low 20s to high 60s. Now that we have that range narrowed down we can simply...pack all our winter...spring...summer clothes. Hmm, we can comb through that later. Essential items will include:
- Waterproof gear
- A hat
- “Bug shirt”
- Tall, waterproof boots
- Wool layers
- Thick hiking pants
- A pack
Summer months in the Arctic Region can get an hour of darkness each night, sometimes less. All are encouraged to bring sleep masks/aids. Unlike most cities, once you get to Cherskiy there are no convenience stores available to pick up the sunscreen you forgot, or the toothbrush you failed to pack. What you bring, is what you have. Even if you are lucky enough to find a store, the products will have mostly Russian text and will cost you rubles, not dollars. It is advisable to pack all the odds and ends you will need. Bringing a general antibiotic would not be a bad idea either. Pack meticulously, then unpack it all and repack. Otherwise you may be rocking some awesome teeth sweaters at the end of your Arctic excursion.