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River Guide • Eastern Siberia
Rivers by Region

There's no detailed description of the rivers of this region available yet. If you need further information please feel free to contact us directly.

Eastern Siberia map
Eastern Siberia map

The territory east of Baikal Lake is very diverse in landscape, accessibility and population, but we summed it up here as a single region because of very little information available.

There are several mountain ranges there but all are rather low and rivers (with few exceptions) are quite flat and long. Typical altitude rarely exceeds 1000m above sea level.

Southern part of the region (from east coast of the Baikal Lake to Pacific Ocean coastline) is traversed by two major railways (100-years old Trans-Siberian Railway and new Baikal-Amur Railway build in 1970s-1980s but nearly abandoned nowadays). Access is relatively easy and therefore there are quite a number of known rivers. The area adjacent to the Pacific Ocean is also known as Ussuri and used to be a homeland for the northernmost of tiger populations, the Siberian Tigers, of whose less than 400 left.

North Yakutia and Chukotka (Verkhoyansk, Magadan and Kolyma) are most known as the GULAG country in 1930s-1950s, where millions of Soviet people oppressed by the Stalin regime found their death. This area is nearly untraveled and almost no information about the rivers is available.

Kamchatka Peninsula is probably one of the most wonderful places in the Far East, full of active volcanoes and hot geysers. There are few short rivers but they have probably never been run because of very few people ever came there.

The entire region (especially northern part of it) is nearly not populated.

Type of Paddling
Very long multi-day (rather multi-week) exploratory trips on easy water. The difficulty of the rivers rarely exceeds class 2, although some unknown creeks may well exist. Actually, only major rivers of the region are known and were ever paddled.

Season & Climate
More or less the whole summer (June-Aug) for southern area and Kamchatka. For the northern area (known as the Pole of Coldness where lowest winter temperature registered is 71 Celsius below zero) season is shortened to July – mid-August. Due to strong continental climate summer days are really hot while weather is good. While it is bad, it is really bad and this can continue for weeks. Rivers are at low altitude of 500-1000 m and are snow-fed so water level drops through the summer. Mosquitoes are hungry and countless, asking you to take appropriate measures.

Getting There & Away
For the southern part of the region the Trans-Siberian Railway goes along the Chinese border from Irkutsk via Ulan-Ude, Chita, Blagoveshchensk and Khabarovsk to Vladivostok on the Pacific Ocean coastline. Until recently it was the only way to travel there overland (there was no continuous motorway through the region). The best option is to fly to one of major cities mentioned above – all they have several flights a day to/from Moscow – and then take a train or in some cases local flight to the final destination.

The Baikal-Amur Railway comes from the north end of Baikal via Tynda to Komsomolsk-na-Amure. It was build during Soviet times as an alternative to Trans-Siberian Railway but actually never really used due to extremely high maintenance cost. Still, some trains go there.

For Yakutia and Chukotka the only option is a flight to Yakutsk or Magadan; for Kamchatka – to Petropavlovsk-Kamchatski. From there many local flights exist, but schedule is not reliable and very much dependent on weather conditions. Nearly no land roads exist away from main settlements.

Anyway, kayaking in the Far East is very expensive and time-consuming.

Chukotka coastline as well as Kamchatka are borderland restricted areas, and you need to get an appropriate permit in advance.

There were almost no known kayaking trips to Far East because of logistic problems and lack of technical rivers. Nevertheless, the nature and landscapes are so beautiful that we have collected some pictures for your pleasure.

Southern Yakutia
Major rivers here that have been run are Vitim, Olekma and Aldan – all are right (southern) tributaries of Lena – the biggest river of Eastern Siberia. Upper Lena (flowing around the north end of Baikal) has also been run.

Pacific Ocean Coastline
No river information is available at this time.

Northern Yakutia and Chukotka
No river information is available at this time.

Kamchatka Peninsula
No river information is available at this time.

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