Chukotka Autonomous Okrug

Two trekking routes in Chukotka: Mount Dionisia and Cape Navarin

Over hills and valleys

19.01.2024 /// Journeys into the Arctic wilderness are typically associated with lengthy expedition routes that require substantial tourism experience, reliable equipment and robust health. Yes, this is usually the case, but there are still a few destinations that an average, moderately fit person can visit. In Chukotka, these destinations are Mount Dionisia and Cape Navarin.

Mount Dionisia

This mountain, 20 km southwest of Anadyr, rises in a separate massif above the Anadyr lowlands. It is actually the remnant of an ancient volcano. The Kazachka River originates from the northern slopes of the mountain. In the language of the indigenous people, the mountain is called Temlyan, which translates to 'broken point.' Several Chukchi legends exist that elucidate the origins of the name Temlyan. One legend tells of a massive battle with invaders at the base of the mountain, during which many spears were shattered. Another legend speaks of two women who discovered a bone needle here and, failing to share it, broke its tip during a quarrel.

The third legend narrates that the mountain is the corpse of the strongman Temyl, who perished in a duel with the strongman Velvylevyt.

In 2012, researchers found fossil flora dating back to the Palaeocene near it. It comprises over 21 species of higher plants. The finds are stored in the collection of the Chukotka Heritage Museum Centre in Anadyr. The mountain is easily accessible by road, and in summer you can reach it by ATV or even by bicycle, though there might be some challenges at the foot of the mountain. No special equipment is needed for the ascent, but it will require some effort.

The ascent will take two to four hours. The slope is adorned with many flowers, and if fortune favours, you might spot hares and foxes. Along the path, you can pick cloudberries, blueberries and other berries. It's advisable to journey with a guide who can identify which plants are safe to eat. It's practical to bring along some food for snacking. At an elevation of approximately 300 m, a memorial cross stands in tribute to those who perished in the Mi-8 crash in December 1982.

Beyond it, from higher up, picturesque views of the Anadyr lagoon and Zolotogorye, the Kanchalan lagoons and the Onemen Bay, with the Rarytkin Ridge rising behind it, can be enjoyed.

Cape Navarin

The Bering Sea laps against this cape in southern Chukotka, locally known as Roratyn in Chukchi which translates to 'sausage.' The southern boundary of Anadyr Bay is delineated along Navarin Cape. This is Chukotka's southernmost point and at the same time, the origin point of a chain of submarine plateaus separating the Bering Sea shelf from deep waters.

What's fascinating about this place is that it records the highest average annual wind speed and frequency of storms and hurricanes in Russia, making it the windiest spot in the country. Fog and rain are also frequent visitors to Navarin Cape. The climate here is quite severe, with an average annual temperature of –4°C and a maximum of +8°C. Despite this, the cape is one of the most unique, stunning and majestic corners of the peninsula, its primary attraction being the bustling, vibrant and lively bird market, the most animated in the Far East.

The cliffs of this cape are known for the regular summer congregation of white-tailed sea eagles. The southernmost Steller sea lion rookery is situated on the coast, and the waters around the cape witness a mass migration of grey whales. The cape was charted in 1828 by the crew of the sloop Senyavin under the leadership of F. P. Litke and was named to commemorate the victory of the Russian fleet in the Battle of Navarino. Since 1934, one of the first radio meteorological stations on the eastern section of the North Sea Route in Chukotka — the Gavriila Bay weather station — was operational here, but was abandoned in the mid-1990s.

The peninsula extends far into the sea and culminates in Heiden Mountain. The five-hundred-metre mountain, gentle from the mainland side, drops off to the sea with sheer cliffs. Approximately 12 km from the cape, in Greig's Bay, a lighthouse was erected in 1986. On a tall marine terrace, on the right shore of Lagoon Orianda, the dwellings of an ancient tribe were discovered. Low hills (up to 1.5 m) are the sites of dugouts and semi-dugouts of the Kereks who once inhabited this shore. Preserved here are unique rock paintings depicting scenes of ancient people hunting deer, dating back nearly two millennia.

In the mountains and on high marine terraces, as far as the eye can see, the landscape is dominated by spotted variegated herbaceous-shrubby and variegated moss-lichen tundra. These green meadowtundras blanket the coastal ridges like a carpet. Small streams create waterfalls and canyons ranging from 100 to 300 m in length as they flow into the sea. From the ridge's spurs, one can view the harsh Bering Sea.

Cape Navarin is renowned for being home to the black-capped marmot, a protected species listed in the Red Book of Northeast Asia and endemic to the Koryak Plateau. The whistles of marmots can be heard intermittently, although spotting them can be challenging.

To reach this place from Anadyr, one can first take a flight to Beringovsky, and then travel by all-terrain vehicle or boat with assistance from local residents. Cape Navarin is easier to visit on a cruise ship.

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