The makings of this journey
Arctic mixtures of nature, bounty, culture, and capital
The journey across frozen tundra and icy shorelines began and ended with plenty of time in narrow coach-class airplane seats, as getting to and from the region is a journey in itself. The flights out headed east from the United States and, after a change in Moscow, continued across the breadth of Russia to Anadyr, capital of the province of Chukotka.
The return, from the Alaskan side of the Bering Strait, continued east from Nome, connecting through Anchorage and Minneapolis to Boston. Counting only time aloft, it was Around the World in 26 Hours.
Covering ground in the Arctic, particularly in winter, can be very time consuming, with movement restricted by weather conditions and limited transportation options.
In Chukotka, travel was made in tundra tanks and on snowmobiles. Long distances along both sides of the strait were traversed on regularly scheduled flights of Russian and US regional airlines.
The strait crossing was made aboard a 9-seat propeller plane chartered for a flight from the coastal port town of Provideniya, Russia, to Nome. Passengers on board included an elderly Siberian Yupik couple traveling to visit relatives on St. Lawrence Island, in the Bering Sea, and a Russianborn anthropologist returning to Alaska after months of research on the traditional use of mushrooms in native culture.
How to get started yourself
US passport holders need a Russian visa to travel in that country. Information about visa requirements can be found at www.travel.state.gov. The State Department website includes information about regional security.
Diplomatic restrictions at the regional level further complicate individual travel in the province of Chukotka, which spans the peninsula and inland tundra at the northeastern tip of Russia. Visitors must receive permission from the provincial administration and must travel with a local escort while there.
While the provincial government is interested in increasing tourism to the region, federal border agencies, still powerful in the northeast, often make it difficult. The point of contact is the Chukotka regional government. For general information about the province and government contacts, visit www.chukotka.org/ENGLISH/vladmavte.html.
Travelers may also wish to hire the services of Vladimir Bychkov, who is very experienced in organizing travel in the region. Bychkov lives in Provideniya and can best be reached by telephone or email, as postal mail can take weeks to arrive.
At the western edge of the Seward Peninsula, the Wales tribal council has two new guest rooms in a tribal center. Rooms, which have television and telephone, cost $75 per night. A bathroom is located down the hall. For information, contact:
Wales IRA Council
PO Box 549
Wales, AK 99783
Bering Air (www.beringair.com) is among several airlines that offer regular .ights from Nome to Wales. For more general information about travel on both sides of the strait, Lonely Planet (www.lonely planet.com) and Rough Guides (www.roughguides.com) are among the many publishers of guides to Russia and the United States.
Or, an easier way
Circumpolar Expeditions helps arrange travel in Chukotka for individuals and small groups, with summer tundra tours and city visits. Costs depend on details of the planned trip. For information:
3201 West 31st Ave.
Anchorage, AK 99517
Quark Expeditions offers two-week summer Arctic cruises, including a trip that leaves from Anadyr and stops along the Bering Strait. Rates start at $8,050. For information:
1019 Post Road
Darien, CT 06820
Cruise West offers two-week trips from Nome or Anchorage that stop at destinations on both sides of the Bering Strait. Rates start at $7,799. For information:
2301 First Ave.
Seattle, WA 98121-1856
About the team Tom Haines has been the Globes staff travel writer for three years. Over the past decade, he has reported in 30 countries and five continents, on topics ranging from coal to cricket, art to revolution.
Haines, 36, a native of Pittsburgh, was last year named the nations top travel journalist by the Society of American Travel Writers.
His story about facing famine in Ethiopia appears in the 2004 edition of "The Best American Travel Writing" (Houghton Mifflin).
He can be reached at email@example.com.
Essdras Suarez has been a staff photographer at the Globe for three years, covering a range of assignments, from local news to the war in Iraq. He was previously on the photo staff of the Rocky Mountain News, where he shared in the 2000 Pulitzer Prize for coverage of the Columbine school shootings.
A native of Panama, Suarez, 37, was also the winner, in 2000, of the Robert F. Kennedy International Photojournalism Award. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.