There are places in Russia where nature has saved its original appearance. No buildings, no highways, nothing that could remind us of the current noisy and busy century. Hundreds of kilometers of vast taiga are stretched across the territory of the Republic of Sakha (Yakutia). Itts size is as large as six Frances put together.
Yakutians joke among themselves: build your own town in the taiga, and no one will find out. And who lives in Yakutia, besides Russians? The indigenous peoples of the North: Chukchi, Evens, Evenks, Yukagirs, Yakuts. Shamanism, pagan holidays and even temples still exist there.
But in spite of this, a visit to Yakutia makes you feel that you are in the heart of Russia - exactly in the Russia that you have heard about: with fierce frosts and brown bears. Well, where else can such fresh and useful fish swim? Only in Lena, Indigirka, Yana, Kolyma, Aldan - in some of the cleanest rivers in the world. After all, people from all the regions of Russia go to Yakutia to fish and hunt. And the question immediately arises, why is this territory of unimaginable beauty and wealth so sparsely occupied? The answer is obvious: because of the severe climate.
I grew up in Yakutsk, and I remember how during my childhood, in minus forty degree frost, I would going to school, stretch my hand out in front of me, and not be able to see my mittens anymore, the fog so thick. And -40 for Yakutians is an excuse to walk outside and eat an ice cream. -72 is our record, set in Oymyakon more than a hundred years ago. But no matter how extreme you may be, I do not advise you visit the republic from December to February. After all, minus forty degree frost in the dry Yakutian climate is comparable to twenty degrees below zero in the humid climate of St. Petersburg. Also all the fun in Yakutia begins in the summer. Together with Yakutian New Year - "Ysyakh".
Holidays in the spring/summer season:
At the end of March, a holiday, called “reindeer herder's day” is held in all Yakutian villages - uluses. Deer is the meaning of life for the people of Yakutia, who lead a traditional way of life. They receive everything from them: food, a house, clothes, means of transportation. The more reindeers herders have, the richer they are. During the holiday, races on reindeer sleds, towing on skis and traditional northern all-around competitions are held.
Ysyakh - the Yakutian new year is the most important holiday in Yakutia. It symbolizes the awakening of nature and the beginning of summer. Ysyakh is celebrated on the day of the summer solstice on June 21.
An integral part of Ysyakh is the osoohai round dance, which entered the Guinness Book of Records as the largest round dance in history. During the Ossoohai, the dancers move in the direction of the sun, giving thanks to the luminary for warmth and light, and perform national songs. The round dance goes on continuously until the morning. It is believed that each dancer is charged with energy for the whole year ahead.
Guests are treated to kumys - a drink from mare's milk. Also during Ysyakh, national games, competitions, the festival of folklore genres, the fair of folk masters, a regional cuisine contest and much more are held. The main venue of Ysyakh is Us Khatyn (Tuymaada Valley).
Two buses, №155 and 156, run to Us-Khatyn, which departs from the city center on the day of the holiday.
The Republic of Sakha (Yakutia) is famous not only for its centuries-old traditions, holidays and severe climate, but also for the incomparable culture of the Turkic peoples, historical artifacts and remains of ancient animals that arouse interest of the world scientific communities. All this you can see in the national museums. Most of them are located in the capital of the republic – in Yakutsk city.
Museums in Yakutsk
The kingdom of Chyshaan is a natural underground cave, which has no close comparison anywhere else in the world! In the foothills in the structure of abandoned mines a museum was created, where during any season of the year you can literally touch the permafrost. No matter the time of year, the temperature does not exceed -12°C! To feel the contrast in temperatures, the "Kingdom of Permafrost" is worth visiting in the summer. You will be given a warm cloak and spend time in the tunnels of the permafrost, which are decorated with ice sculptures and a stuffed mammoth.
Address: Chochur Mouran Mountain 7 km
Museum of the History of the Study of Permafrost
Unlike the "Kingdom of Chishkhan", the museum of the history of the study of permafrost is not place made for entertainment, but a laboratory of the Permafrost Institute. Scientists of the institute and guides will tell you about the permafrost, how it was discovered, how it is being studied, how heating pipes are built and how to build multi-story houses in permafrost conditions, and what is it waiting for it in the future.
To enjoy a quality excursion, you need to call the museum and book an excursion and an English-speaking guide in advance.
Also, you can get acquainted with the history of the indigenous population of Yakutia in the Museum of History and Culture of the Northern Peoples.
Address: Lenin Prospekt, 5/2, building 2
The name of this museum speaks for itself - in it you can see exhibits of mammoths, as well as the ancient horse, bison and moose, which, thanks to the permafrost, have had their soft tissues preserved through tens of thousands of years!
Address: Kulakovsky street, d.48
Going to the zoo in the fresh open air will acquaint you with many representatives of the animal world and will brighten up your day. A visit to the zoo is suitable for both adults and children. The zoo has open cages with domesticated animals, which can be fed and patted. There are representatives of both exotic and local fauna in Orto-Doidu. Of particular interest to visitors are such large animals as brown bears and polar bears, deer, wolves, lynx, Amur tigers and bison. The enclosures of large native animals are as close to their conditions in the wild as possible, and you will become acquainted not only with representatives of the animal world, but also with their lifestyle.
Address: Pokrovsky tract, 50 km
Yakutia can correctly be called a "diamond edge," because it holds almost two thousand official mineral deposits, of which diamonds are the largest. Yakutian diamonds have kept their reputation of strong, high-quality natural stones for more than a year, and they win the highest awards at international jewelry competitions.
Arriving in Yakutia, you also should visit the "Treasury of the Republic of Sakha" exhibition, where precious metals and stones, mammoth bones and national ornaments are used in the work of local jewelers and presented to all visitors of the exhibition.
Address: Kirov street, 12
Where to stay?
Yakutsk is the most modernized city in the republic, with the most developed infrastructure available. There are hotels in this city to comfortably accommodate of tourists. When choosing a hotel in Yakutsk, do not take into account its location as the main factor, because the city is quite small, accessible and quiet. If you choose a hotel outside the city you can easily reach the center, and accommodation right in the heart of the city also will not turn into noisy and sleepless nights. The highest-quality and most popular hotels among tourists are listed below:
Tigyn Darkhan - This hotel is located in the heart of the city. The rooms are not large, but comfortable and at an affordable price. An advantage of Tygyn Darhan is its restaurant of national cuisine with the same name, located in the hotel.
Azimuth Hotel “Polyarnaya Zvezda” (Polar Star) is also located in the city center. There are rooms of different levels - from economy to luxury, depending on the cost. Also, residents will be able to visit the gym and swimming pool, located in the hotel.
Recreation center "The Atlasovs Manor" is located in a suburb of Yakutsk, not far from the airport. It’s perfect for tourists who want to relax with their family far from the city fuss or spend the celebration on the territory of the ethnographic complex with restaurants of national cuisine.
Fishing and Hunting in Yakutia
It is impossible to imagine Yakutia without the joy of hunting and fishing, because this is what our republic is famous for throughout Russia.
Better to go hunting in Yakutia, if you already have your special hunting equipment that fits the climate (after all, it's quite cold in Yakutia in autumn) and take up a gun for rent already in Russia. Much better, if you had already practiced hunting before the trip and have the skills of shooting and safety, but anyway it will be necessary to use the services of a local hunter-conductor.
If are an experienced hunter and want to take your own gun, you should know the laws and follow some rules:
The hunting permit is a hunting ticket of a foreign hunter. The issuance of hunting tickets for foreign hunters is handled by the Department for the Protection and Rational Use of Hunting Resources of the Ministry of Agriculture and Food of Russia. A hunting ticket of a foreign hunter is issued after the test is passed. Before issuing a ticket, you must pay a state fee. A foreign hunter's hunting card is issued at the hunting site for the duration of the contract or an invitation to hunt. To issue the ticket, the organizers of the hunt must file an application, a copy of the contract or an invitation for hunting, as well as permission from the Russian Federation’s Ministry of Internal Affairs of the Interior to import weapons.
The season of hunting in Yakutia opens in autumn and spring. The autumn hunting season for birds begins on the third Sunday in August before their departure. When hunting in the season, a license is not required.
Hunting for wild roe deer, reindeer, elk, red deer and brown bears begins with the arrival of August, but to do so it’s necessary to purchase a license. Applications for the issuance of permits for limited animal species in Yakutsk are accepted on August 1st and 2nd , in the building of the State Hunting Clinic on Kurashov street, 46.
November 15 to December 31 is open hunting season for upland fowl (capercaillie, black grouse, hazel grouse), and in the spring for waterfowl for 7-10 days.
When hunting for unlimited species of animals and birds, including waterfowl, upland fowl and hares, it will also be necessary to obtain a permit. Licenses are issued in the building of the Yakut Nature Protection Committee at 202 md, building 18/1.
Lena River Cruise in Siberia
It is impossible to speak about the beauties of Yakutia’s nature without mentioning the Lena Pillars - a national nature park included in the UNESCO World Heritage List. The Pillars began to form naturally 560 million years ago – an almost inconceivable date!
The best way to enjoy the beauty of the National Park in full comfort is to take an unforgettable cruise along the Lena River. The program of the trip on the ship is full of dinners in the restaurant, discos, lectures on the history of the Republic and various quizzes. But the possibilities of a cruise along the Lena River are not limited to visiting the Lena Pillars only. You can choose a program of any duration: from two days to two weeks. The longer the program, the more natural beauty, towns and their attractions you will see, such as:
Zhigansk and Kyusyur towns - they are called the capitals of the fishing region. Here, on an industrial scale, especially valuable fish is caught, such as: muxun, vendace, nelma, and sturgeon. The widest point of the river Lena recorded near Zhigansk, where it reaches 20 km wide. The whole of Zhigansky ulus is full of a picturesque national color.
Tiksi is the northernmost locality of Yakutia. From the middle of summer polar days take place there, and by the end of summer - polar nights. Closer to the beginning of autumn the sky there shines with the famous Northern Lights.
A famous Northern Sea Route passes through Tiksi. At the end of the summer the navigation of icebreakers begins, which are transferred from Murmansk to Chukotka across the seas of the Arctic Ocean. As a result, the Northern route for cargo delivery is two and a half times faster than the Southern route is.
Sottintsy village is located on the place where in 1632 Yakutsk city (formerly Lensky Ostrog) was founded originally. In memory of this the architectural and historical "Friendship" museum-reserve was built in Sottintsy.
In the center of the open-air museum there is a copy of the Spasskaya church of the Zashiverskiy Ostrog, a collection of wooden vessels for kumis (chorons), an exhibition of national Yakut clothing of the 19th and 20th centuries, as well as old ornaments, and Yakut burials transferred from various places to the museum.
The center of diamond mining - Mirny town- is famous for its kimberlite pipe - one of the largest in the world, which is definitely worth a look.
Several waterfalls flow into the mouth of the Ugra River, a rather spectacular sight. And in the upper reaches of the Lena River there are the so-called "Lena Cheeks" - a narrow canyon with steep turns that create ideal conditions for multiple echoes. Rafting down the Buotoma river has become a favorite way to cool off for many tourists.
In the Khangalassky ulus, at the mouth of the Yakutian river Buotama, a Bisonarium was built, a base for the cultivation of huge shaggy forest bulls - bison, who returned to their prehistoric homeland from Canada. The forest bison is the same age as the mammoth-it is a vanishing species, entered in the International Red Book. It is possible to meet these animals and to acquaint yourself with their lifestyle from close-up only in the Yakutian Bisonarium and nowhere else.
Lensk town is called " The gates of diamond edge" and " The heart of oil and gas production" of the country, and the neighboring town of Olekminsk is the warmest in all of Yakutia. The average temperature in winter there is -30°C, which is a rarity for the Northeast of Russia. The flora and fauna of these places are very rich, the land is fertile. No wonder Olekminsk was nicknamed the breadbasket of Yakutia.
Among the cruises in Yakutia, the ones for fishing are very popular, because it is the most convenient and practical way to fish, without spending your own resources to find places to go fishing and get fishing equipment.
Pike, weighing more than ten kg., lenok, ide, perch…the variety of fish in the Lena river is a dream for any lover of fishing.
The cruise is held in early September. The ship departs to the picturesque Taimenny island, surrounded by osier-beds and the purest river. Fishing begins in the early morning and finishes with the sunset.
The fishing cruise is ideal not only for fish lovers, but also for people who appreciate a calm atmosphere amid the wild taiga.
The largest, most mysterious and coldest republic in Russia. Hundreds of miles of untouched forests, the traditional way of life of Turkic peoples and shamanism, the purest water and air - all this makes the Sakha Republic unique, incomparable with anywhere else. Once you've been there, you will never forget this place. Especially in the Yakutian taiga you can feel for a moment absolutely free from everything that civilization has imposed on us, listen to yourself and spend time alone with nature.