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Travel Tips • Transport
How to Survive

Air

Flight in most cases is the only practical option to get into Russia (and into the Central Asia), as well as travel long distances internally. Network is well developed and you can get direct flights between most of major cities. Domestic air fares are, though, not much cheaper than in the Europe or the USA.

Luggage regulations are just as everywhere in the world, usually 20 (sometimes 30) kg free, but oversized items may be charged even if you're within the limits (depends mainly from the airline and most of all if that girl at check-in is aware of rules, your negotiation skills are typically appreciated). If you do have some bulky luggage (and you usually do), it is suggested to check-in as early as possible, there's always a chance that plane may get overloaded by the end of the procedure and so they may refuse to accept excess luggage from late passengers.

In many remote areas, like Northern or Eastern Siberia, flying by a small plane or helicopter is the only travel option in existence. Such flights are often unreliable and very much dependent on the weather, so you should have plenty of time and patience.

It is generally possible to hire a helicopter in these remote places to go to an arbitrary point for put-in or take-out, but charter flights are rather expensive. Despite the cost, helicopter may be the only reasonable option to access some remote rivers, for instance, on the Putorana Plateau.

Train

Train ride is a good and cheap option if you need to travel locally, say up to one or two days (consider train from Moscow to the Far East, 6 days journey).

Two major options exist for the boat: either send it via luggage service or carry it into the coach with you. Luggage service, being very cheap, does not guarantee (rather the opposite) your stuff transported by the same train. In fact, most trains do not have luggage coach, so your boat is likely to stick for days waiting for appropriate train. Even worse, there may be no direct luggage service to your destination, so add few days at every connection point. Sending luggage to other side of Russia may well take couple of weeks.

On the other hand, carrying kayak into the coach may (or may not) involve some dispute with the conductor (typically solved with oratory or little bribe) and prevents you from traveling in the first class - for whatever reason it does not provide place for such an essential cabin luggage. Second class has so-called "third" or "luggage" berths where two boats up to 280cm (9'2") per 4-person compartment fit perfectly (Warning: many people recently reported "new-style" second class coaches where compartments are partitioned in a way that prevents any luggage over ~170cm or 6'7").

Bus

It's a pity, but there are no roof racks on Russian buses. So it's unlikely you'll be able to get a public bus, unless your boat is short enough to fit luggage compartment and there is not much competition for that compartment. All this is unpredictable, thus better not to count on public buses at all.

Taxis/Private cars

It's the best option for short local journeys; prices are moderate by western standards, and usually no problem to find one with roof racks, wishing to bring you to virtually any place you want.

If there are several people wishing to run many rivers in the area, a good option is to hire a car or minibus (that comes with a driver) for the whole trip. This would allow you to paddle most of it light and save quite a lot of time, but finding such a service may be difficult and needs to be done well in advance.

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