Chukotka Autonomous Okrug

Cape Dezhnev

Dezhnev cape is the easternmost point of continental Russia. In 1648, the Cossacks from Semyon Dezhnev's detachment were able to see it for themselves, when Dezhnev's expedition passed through the Bering Strait and circled around the perimeter of Kamchatka, proving that Eurasia and America are separated by the sea.

At that time, the cape was called Bolshaya Chukotka cape, and Dezhnev's name appeared on the map much later: two centuries later, in fact, in 1879, when the Swedish traveller Baron Nordenskiöld also crossed the Bering Strait and offered to honour the much-deserving Siberian explorer. The cape, which the famous Captain Cook called East Cape, became Cape Dezhnev.

Site on the map

Now, there is a monument, a lighthouse with a bust of Dezhnev on the cape: a fitting monument for the selfless traveller. The monument was erected in 1958, so it is crowned with a five-pointed star.

But there is an old wooden cross nearby, more suitable for the pioneer. On the lateral faces of the lighthouse, there are boards with inscriptions that list the routes of Semyon Dezhnev's travels. The bronze Dezhnev looks out across the sea, just as the real one did four centuries ago.

The Bering Strait connects the Chukchi Sea of the Arctic Ocean basin with the Barents Sea of the Pacific Ocean basin. Cape Dezhnev belongs specifically to the strait through which the International Date Line passes: that is, if you go through the strait from Chukotka to Alaska, you will travel back to yesterday. At the same time, Cape Dezhnev and Cape Prince of Wales, the westernmost point of America, are separated by only 86 km.

The cape is part of a plateau with a height of up to 700 m. Around it there are rocky cliffs, hills, swampy lowlands of permafrost, and frigid waves. All year round, the weather in this area is determined by the icy Arctic air: it drops to –40°C in the winter and goes no higher than +8°C in the summer. 15 km from the cape there is the archaeological site of Ekven, a Neolithic settlement. It is easy to spot it from a distance by the huge whalebones sticking out of the ground. The descendants of the ancient whalers of Ekven live in the village of Uelen, the nearest settlement to the cape. Nearby there is also the abandoned settlement of Naukan, which existed until 1958.

The sea around the cape is still inhabited by bowhead and gray whales, bearded seals and a lot of commercial fish: salmonids, saffron cod, perch, and flounder.

On the land, there are polar bears, wolves, wolverines, arctic foxes and hares. Large bird colonies gather on the hills.

The easiest way to get to Cape Dezhnev is on a cruise ship during a cruise around Chukotka. Another route is to fly with local airlines from Anadyr's Ugolny airport to the village of Lavrenty and from there to reach your destination by boat. From the village of Lavrenty you can also reach Uelen by helicopter or off-roader, then walk 10 km on foot to Cape Dezhnev.