Two times we almost fell through the ice on the border between Yakutia and Chukotka, saw polar bears and ate condensed milk with snow. Russian traveler Bogdan Bulychev and his team admit that they will remember this Arctic expedition for a long time. They reached the northernmost cape of Chukotka on conventional passenger cars in a very short time, setting the record for Russia.
On April 1, Bogdan Bulychev, a traveler and video blogger, arrived in Yakutsk with his team.
The travelers went on an expedition to the northern regions of Russia on February 25. They left Irkutsk, visited Lake Baikal, drove through Severobobaikalsk, Tynda, Neryungri, and then along the federal highway reached Yakutsk.
The most difficult part of the expedition began just in the capital of Yakutia. From here the auto travelers traveled to Ust-Nera, then turned onto the winter road 'Arctic’ and reached the border of Yakutia and Chukotka. “We crossed the border not far from Chersky and reached Pevek, and then - Cape Shelagsky. On the way back, we stopped in Magadan and the village of Mylga, where I grew up. And straight from there we drove to Yakutsk,” said the head of the expedition, Bogdan Bulychev.
Bulychev's team spent one month and two weeks on the road.
“Our project had several goals,” continued Bulychev. ”The main thing was to reach the northernmost continental point of Chukotka, Cape Shelagsky, by a standard specification car. The second was to drive to the places where the films “Territory” and “How I spent this summer” were made, and visit the polar weather station Valkarkai. We did not have a goal to set a record for Russia. One could say it happened so by itself. Soon we will submit an application to the commission so that our record will be officially registered.”
Polar bears: Other expeditions saw only tracks
Travelers admit that they were most struck by polar bears.
“We were incredibly lucky: we saw four polar bears,” said the videographer Vlad. “We saw the first one on the coast of the East Siberian Sea, when we were shooting from a quadcopter. Not many people saw polar bears in the wild, so for us it was really the strongest impression. Our friend Aleksandr Elikov is an experienced traveler who crisscrossed the Arctic part of Russia a lot, and even he saw the polar bear for the first time. Before that, he used to find their tracks only.”
“After that, we met a she-bear with a bear cub - they were literally a few meters away from us,” said Bogdan Bulychev. “The fourth bear was also seen on the way: we were driving, and bumped into a large beast from behind the hill. Curiously, in recent years, no polar expedition has met polar bears. There is one single photo - a white pixel dot on a snow-white background: “Here it is, bear!” And we managed not only to see as many as four bears, but also to capture them on video.”
Photographer Aleksandr Koval could hardly keep up in taking pictures of animals. “Sometimes I jumped out of the car, other times poked out of the window to make at least some shots,” says Aleksandr. “This trip was difficult for me: you see incredible beauty around, but you do not have the opportunity to stop every 10-20 meters. It was necessary to go without frequent stops to catch everything.”
Overnight stays and condensed milk with snow
On the way, members of the expedition most times slept in cars, but several times they managed to sleep in tents.
"Last year, when went to Dikson, we came up with the know-how: you need to use two sleeping bags," said members of the expedition. The first sleeping bag is designed for frosts up to minus 45 degrees Celsius, the second – for minus 16. And both sleeping bags should not be down-filled, but be made of padding polyester. Because the down absorbs moisture and on the third day it stops warming. And the padding polyester is a synthetic material, it does not absorb moisture. In a month it is necessary to dry it - and it is as good as new. In one of the past expeditions, the guys spent the night in a tent in a 62-degree frost on Taimyr, each sleeping in two sintepon sleeping bags. They were not cold at all.”
The whole team of Bulychev is equipped by Red Fox. “Clothing should be multi-layered and designed specifically for the conditions of the North,” explained the expedition leader. “As everyone says, the Siberian is not the one who does not freeze, but the one who dresses warmly. We had good outerwear, warm shoes, thermal underwear, several pairs of gloves and mittens.”
As routinely on such expeditions, travelers would wash themselves with snow and break the ice to stock up on water. “In the morning you leave the tent, you take the snow, it melts a little in your hands - and you quickly wash your face. For drinking water, we chopped the ice with an ice pick. When we drove back, we became so tough that we began to eat condensed milk with snow. We added snow just for fun, but it turned out that it was delicious – such an unusual delicacy.”
Very expensive food: People here are like hostages
According to the expedition members, one of the main problems for them was high prices in local stores.
“I really liked Yakutia, but some villages are in a terrible state,” admitted a cameraman from Moscow, Evgeny Kalabushev. “It seems that people here like hostages without roads, with very high food prices. I had a strong state of despondency when I saw it all. In Yakutsk, people live well, at least it seems that way. And only a thousand kilometers from the city the standard of living is, let's say, not very good.”
“The most valuable thing you have in Yakutia is the sun,” says Evgeny Kalabushev. “Here are very beautiful, just gorgeous sunsets, incredibly long. And such things are more precious than gold and diamonds.”
Dangerous ice: We were knee-deep in water
On the border between Yakutia and Chukotka, the travelers’ car sank into ice twice.
“Getting the car out of the ice was ... something,” said Bogdan Bulychev. "When we drove through the first glacier (flood ice), we were building up ice all night long. We made two water lanes, took water from there and poured it on the ice. And when we finally drove it, it turned out that there was another big glacier in front - after a couple of hundred meters. The wheels were in the water, and we ourselves were knee-deep in it. And at that time it was 40 degrees cold.”
According to Bulychev, they, as experienced travelers, were prepared for such extreme situations. “Thanks to coordinated actions, the car was pulled out pretty quickly. If we were a little slower, it would have been dead frozen in. In 2016, when we were driving along the winter road to Tiksi, we saw a huge number of frozen KamAZ trucks on the way. When we posted a video with those shots, it turned out that many people from the central regions did not even know that this happens.”
Travelogue on federal TV channels
The film about the expedition of the team of Bogdan Bulychev will be shown on the federal TV channels - Drive and Avto24. “Editing will take two months. I think we will definitely see the film this year,” says Bulychev.
Soon the first video about the Arctic expedition will appear on Bulychev's YouTube channel. Videos will be released once a week. One of the series will be devoted to Yakutia.
“The number of interesting places and people in the North is just way too much,” said Bogdan Bulychev. ‘It seems that we visited Baikal two years ago, and Pevek six months ago. So much has happened to us in these six weeks! Yakutia has incredibly beautiful nature, very kind, helpful and hospitable people. All this together makes your region attractive for tourists. And I hope that our videos and film will be not lost on tourists. We want more tourists to come to your republic.”
Based on News.Ykt.Ru