Chukotka Autonomous Okrug

The easternmost point of Russia and Eurasia

Cape Dezhnev on the Chukchi Peninsula attracts tourists dreaming of visiting the edge of the world

05.05.2022 // Forgetting the hustle and bustle of the city and going to the edge of the world is the dream of many travellers. There is no need to travel beyond Russia, just fly to Chukotka and visit Cape Dezhnev.

Cape Dezhnev is the easternmost point of the Chukchi Peninsula, mainland Russia and Eurasia. The cape is an isolated mountain range up to 740 metres high, steeply sloping to the sea. This is where the two oceans meet: the Arctic (Chukchi Sea) and the Pacific (Bering Sea).

History of discovery

In 1648, in the course of the Chukchi Expedition, several Pomor ships, led by sailors Fedot Popov and Semyon Dezhnev, sailed from Kolyma to the Arctic Ocean. Around 20 September, the sailors, having rounded the shore, saw a dark rocky ledge. It was called the Big Stone Nose. Dezhnev and his expedition passed the Bering Strait and rounded the Chukchi Peninsula, proving that America is a separate continent and that the North Sea Route can be used to travel from Europe to China. However, all the records of Dezhnev's expedition were lost in the depths of the archives of the Yakut ostrog, and nothing was known about the strait either in Europe or in Russia. During the Kamchatka expedition of 1728-1729, Vitus Bering discovered the strait for the second time, 80 years after Dezhnev. He came to be considered its discoverer and the strait was named after the explorer.

Over the centuries, the cape has had different names, the English explorer James Cook in 1778 marked it under the name East Cape, which lasted for 120 years. It was not until 1898, at the request of the Russian Geographical Society, that East Cape became known as Cape Dezhnev.

There is a lighthouse-monument to Semyon Dezhnev on the cape. An ancient wooden cross has been preserved next to it. On one of the four sides of the monument in a small alcove is a bronze bust of Dezhnev; below, a cast-iron plaque is installed, reading: 'Semen Ivanovich Dezhnev. Born ca. 1605, he died in 1672'.

Shores of another continent

The smallest width of the Bering Strait is only 86 kilometres. This is the distance between Cape Dezhnev on the Chukchi Peninsula and Cape Prince of Wales in Alaska, which is the westernmost point of North America. There is a spit even closer to Chukotka, the distance from it to Cape Dezhnev is 82 kilometres. On a clear day, one can see the coast of America from the height of the rocky Chukchi ledge.

Another interesting fact. Just 30 or so kilometres from Cape Dezhnev are the Ratmanov and Kruzenstern Islands (Diomide Islands). Ratmanov Island is a part of Russia, while the Kruzenstern belongs to the United States. The distance between them is only 3.7 kilometres, and this is where the state border and the International Date Line lie. Ratmanov Island is ahead of Kruzenstern Island by almost a day. That is why these stretches of land in the strait are also unofficially called 'Tomorrow' (Ratmanov) and 'Yesterday' (Kruzenshtern).

More to see

The Dezhnev Cape area is a great place to watch marine mammals (whales, seals, walruses), as well as seashore colonies of birds. The abandoned whaling camp of Naukan, which was left in 1958, is also located there.

The safest way to visit Cape Dezhnev are tours offered by official tour agencies, or sea cruises along the Chukchi coast.

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