понедельник, 16 октября 2017 г.

Reindeer herders of Northern Baikal lake

With reindeer of Northern Baikal
On the North of Baikal lake, in the highlands of Verkhnelenskiy mountain range there is a reindeer farm. This remoted place has preserved old unique culture, lifestyle of Evenki people - the native people of Siberia. They are called "Deer people" as reindeer breeding, hunting and fishing used to be their main activity. I was lucky to meet these people myself this June 2017. We stayed and travelled together for 5 days in dense untouched taiga and tundra. We have met no other people during all that time except for the Evenki who live there and watch for the reindeer.


A little piece from my notes which I made during my stay: "This trip is adventure of the lifetime. I still remember clearly the valley where our deer were eating the moss, the place where we set up our Chum, the meadows of the wild flowers and Rhododendron blossoming, the fresh footprints of bear on our path, the grace and mighty of this huge wild animal chasing away up the nearest slope, the sunrises in the montains and the most freindly animals in the world - reindeer with their warm soft fur on their antlers. It was joy leading the caravan of reindeer when we crossed tundra, to see how patient and hardworking they are and how grateful they are after I took them to the mountain river to drink the clear cold water after exhausting day! And the beauty of nature around and the views are fascinating! The place where Evenki people live, the nature around, the animals they breed - this is a beautiful boarder-less home! I am not brave enough to say "Good-bye" to this place. I will definately be back!"


Trekking to North of Baikal mountains with reindeer
 I would like to offer a similar trip for real enthusiasts who would like to get familiar with traditions and lifestyle of the native people of Siberia – Evenki. They still migrate from summer to winter camps in the mountain valleys and well adapted to harsh conditions of the North. One of the clans of Northern Baikal called Chilchigiry used to live in the valley of Upper Angara river mostly engaged in hunting, fishing, and reindeer breeding.  
    From the 30s of the last century till the end of the Soviet Union in the village of Uoyan there was a large reindeer herding collective farm in which the deer population reached 800. The collective farm has collapsed, but there were people, some of whom were engaged in the revival of their ancestors. They are real enthusiasts who, in conditions of lack of money, recreate the culture and crafts of the people little by little.
   Evenki live in nature, eat natural food, wear natural clothes, and getting there you become participants of a “real life”.
   In the proposed tour, we will try to preserve the normal lifestyle of the family as much as possible and give the participants of the expedition the opportunity to participate on an equal level in all daily matters. So get your backpack packed and travel into the wilderness to discover yourself! Below you will find a draft summer itinerary. It may be changed according to your demands and season.

Day 1. Arrival to Severobaikalsk city. Accommodation in guest house. Excursion to the observation point

North of Baikal with its wild pristine nature
After you arrive to Severobaikalsk city* you will be met by our guide or representative and will be accommodated in guest house of Severobaikalsk or hostel. After some rest you be dropped off by the border of the city and have a short trekking along ecological route to the observation point. This day we will meet with the rest of participants and get ready fot expedition. Sightseeing in Severobaikalsk. A ride to Nizhneangarsk to ethno center "Sinilga" where you will be performed a ritual. Return to Severobaikalsk. Dinner. Overnight. ( -, Lunch, Dinner).
*Severobaikalsk city is located on the Northern shore of Baikal lake. Expedition starts from this city. You can arrive here on your own by plane or train.
It is possible to get there by train or by plane from Irkutsk (airport is in located in Nizhneangarsk which is 20 km away from Severobaikalsk). Airplanes from Irkutsk go to Severobaikalsk twice per week - on Wednesdays and Saturdays. The flight is performed by local aviacompany "Angara".
If you are travelling Transsiberian railroad, you can get to Severobaikalsk by train.

Day 2. Severobaikalsk city - Noviy Uoyan village

Before the start of expedition to reindeer herders of Baikal
09.00 - breakfast in the guest house/hostel. 10.00 - Transfer Severobaikalsk - Noviy Yoyan village. (About 170 km distance). Accommodation in local guest house. Lunch in a local family with tasting the local cuisine. Time for rest and village sightseeing. There is Uoyan train station on Baikal-Amur railway. Dinner in the evening, overnight. (B, L, D).






Day 3. A ride in the forest by 4WD, meeting the reindeer and Evenki people, crossing the lake by boat (snowmobiles in winter). Banya on the shore of the lake.

Loading reindeer by Evenk
09.00 - breakfast in the guest house. 10.00 - Transfer by 4WD cars along the forest road for about 70 km distance. It usually takes about 3-4 hours to ride. The road passes some bumpy and swampy areas, crosses the valley of river. When you get to the place, you will be met by Evenki people and reindeer. Lunch in the forest as picnic. After lunch you will get your luggage loaded on reindeer and start trekking to the lake hidden in the mountains. The trekking distance is about 7 km until you reach the lake. Then you will cross the lake by motor-boat. About 4 km long. This night you will spend in a wooden house which stands on the very shore of this picturesque lake. Don't miss your chance to try Banya which stands near-by and you must definately try to swim in the clear water of the lake afterwards!!! Dinner in the evening, overnight in wooden house. (One shared room, toilet outside).

Day 4. Trekking from the lake to the reindeer farm. Accommodation in wooden house. Tasting the local cuisine.

Trekking in mountains with reindeer herders of Baikal
09.00 - breakfast 10.00 - loading the reindeer. Trekking for 4 km from the lake to the reindeer farm. Upon arrival to the farm you will be accommodated in a wooden house. (One shared room, toilet outside). Rest, meeting the rest of the deer. Lunch. After lunch you may walk to the river near-by and to try fishing. Evenki who live of the farm will tell you about fishing and hunting techniques, as well as about wildlife here as they know the animals and life in taiga best. Return to the farm. Banya. Dinner with tasting the local cuisine. Overnight. (B, L, D).

Day 5. Start trekking from the reindeer farm to hunter's winter house ​

Watching a bear on the opposite slope
09.00 - breakfast 10.00 - loading the reindeer. Trekking from the reindeer farm together with reindeer and Evenki people. Evenki are ofter called "taiga people" as they can orientate in endless taiga forest and mountains without any navigators, they "read" the weather, tell which animal has been at this place recently, can easily identify the bear sleeping place and the tree where it scratched its claws. Lunch on the way as picnic. Trekking distance is about 10 km. You will arrive to the winter house where hunters used to stay when they go hunting. Overnight in a house or tent. Enjoy stories (truthworthy) told by Evenkis from their lives living in taiga, sitting by the evening fire. (B, L, D).

Day 6. Trekking to the mountain pass. Overnight in tent or tchum

Mountain valley before the pass
09.00 - breakfast 10.00 - loading the reindeer. Trekking for about 12 km to the mountain pass. This pass was used since long ago by Tunguz people to enter the mountains from Upper Angara river. Today you will trek to the foot of this pass. On the way you will pass alpine meadows with blossoming flowers in summer. It is possible to collect local herbs which are used in tea and other fields, especially with healing qualities. Lunch on the way as picnic. After you arrive to the place you may set up a tent or spend the night in conic-shaped tchum - traditional "house" of Evenkis. Dinner, overnight. (B, L, D).


Day 7. Climbing the mountain pass, trekking down to the forest zone. Transfer by car to Uoyan village. Hot springs. Arrival to Severobaikalsk.

Trekking in the mountains of Northern Baikal
08.00 - breakfast 10.00 - loading the reindeer. Today you will ascend the mountain pass with a nice panoramic view to the near-by mountains of Verkhne-Angarskiy mountain ridge. Trekking down for about 10 km. You will be picked up by a 4WD car on the forest road. It is difficult to say "Good-bye" to this magnificent animals and people who became your family for these last 5 days. Transfer to Uoyan village. Lunch. After lunch you will have transfer to hot springs Dzelinda (about 80 km ride). It is always nice to relax in hot springs after trekking. Transfer to Severobaikalsk city. Accommodation in guest house/hostel. Dinner. (B, L, D).

Day 8. Departure day

After breakfast you will have transfer to the airport/train station. Departure. (B, -, -).

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