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River Guide • Putorana Plateau
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.

Putorana map
Putorana map

Putorana is a very special place at the very north of Siberia. Surrounded by thousands of kilometers of arctic plains, these fortress-like mountains amaze everyone's mind when approaching them in a helicopter. By the way, a helicopter in the only option for the put-in and take-out.

The plateau itself is quite low (just 1000-1500m above sea level) and flat, valleys are often filled with long narrow fiord-type lakes and rivers typically have only one sort of whitewater interest - waterfalls. These falls can be HUGE and almost none of them have ever been attempted.

There is no local population in the area, with exception of casual hunters or fishermen. Nearest settlements are few hundred kilometers away from the plateau, separated by impassable swamp, taiga and tundra. While paddling there, you're on your own.

Type of Paddling
Expedition-style waterfall hunting. Rivers themselves are flat enough to have little interest, but the falls and canyons well worth visiting. Due to logistics problems Putorana is mainly for those who love wilderness traveling and do not mind taking time for a hardcore expedition in the middle of nowhere. Since many rivers have not been visited at all, there's much potential for exploration and first descents. Emergency escape can only be made using a helicopter, thus bringing a GPS and a satellite phone becomes a VERY good idea.

Season & Climate
Second half of July (early July is an option to seek high water and early August is the latest acceptable season). Being well beyond the Arctic Circle, Putorana keeps its snow and ice till late June. Summer is very short and weather is unpredictable, one day can be hot but next day you can get snow, although most days are just "cold and wet". Rivers are at low altitude of 400-800 m and are snow-fed so water level drops through July. Mosquitoes are hungry and countless, asking you to take appropriate measures.

Getting There & Away
The only way to get there is a flight from Moscow to Norilsk - the only city in the region and a major nickel mining and processing center in Russia. Toxic emissions have killed everything around the city, but thanks God it is far enough to the west from Putorana itself.

Putorana and Norilsk are for whatever reason borderland restricted areas (they are probably afraid of polar bears?), and you need to get appropriate permit in advance.


Ayan Lake is located in the hearth of the Putorana and surrounding area is the origin of almost all Putorana rivers flowing in all four directions - north, east, south and west, although only one river (Ayan) flows directly out of the lake.

There are only few rivers that have been visited, and those who undertook the trips left very little whitewater information. There's only one river kayaked so far (Moya-Achin).

Ayan/Kheta flows out of Ayan Lake and it is the major river flowing to the north. Its tributaries are Greater Khannamakit, Kholokit, Oran, Khibarba and Ayakli.

Kotui is the only river flowing to the east and it is rarely run due to very difficult take-out.

Kureika is a major high volume river flowing to the south. The tributaries are Belduchan, Yagtali and Neral, beginning near south end of Ayan Lake. The Greater Kureika Falls and the Belduchan Falls were described as local Niagara by those who have luck to come there.

There are numerous small and medium rivers and creeks flowing from the plateau to the west. Most known are Irkinda, Kutaramakan, Moya-Achin and Gulami.

Despite the lack of information, we have collected some pictures to give an idea what can be expected over there.

Upper Kureika Falls
Upper Kureika Falls
[WMV 482Kb]
Greater Kureika Falls
Greater Kureika Falls
[WMV 546Kb]
Belduchan Falls
Belduchan Falls
[WMV 471Kb]

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