Crossing the Bering Strait?
Feb 12, 2006

Intro

Having a rough draft now seems much more useful than a polished draft later.  This page will can serve as a place to pool our knowledge about making the crossing. 

Much of this info comes from Matt on tribe.net.  Thanks Matt!

If you have any questions, or additional info, please post them in the comments section below.

============

UPDATE: I previously had a link to an article which stated that no one had ever crossed the bering strait by land.  That was incorrect.  While extremely difficult and dangerous, it is possible to walk across the Bering Strait.  I would _not_ recommend it unless you really know what you're doing. 

    By MARIA DANILOVA Associated Press Writer:  April 04,2006 | MOSCOW -- Russian authorities have detained an American and a British citizen in the far east after the pair made a rare crossing by foot of a frozen 56-mile stretch of the Bering Strait, officials said Tuesday.

    The two were arrested in Chukotka province for failing to register with the authorities ...  All visitors are required to register with police within three days of their arrival in Russia, even if they have visas.  ...  they reached Chukotka province Friday.  It took them 15 days to walk the 56 miles from Alaska to Russian territory.

    Bushby wants to be the first person to walk all the way around the world, his Web site says.  Since the beginning of his journey on Nov.  1, 1998, he has covered 17,000 miles, walking through South, Central and North America.

Here is a link to Bushby's website:  [ link ]

However, traveling a bit further South, by boat from Siberia to Alaska is much less dangerous and is done year-round by fishing boats.  The only question is if you can hitch a ride in one? 

Here's what I know...

First of all, some maps

Detailed maps of all of Siberia. Siberia Maps

A fantastic topographical road map of Kamchatka. Kamchatka Maps

Moscow => Vladivostok

You can take the Transiberian railway directly to Vladivostok.

Info here:  Seat 61

Moscow => Magadan

You can also travel by land up to Magan.  It's tough, but possible.  Some crazy guys even did it on their bicycles in the middle of Winter.  [link]

Beyond Magadan

I believe that there are NO roads at all after Magadan. 

UPDATE: Here's some info that Cash posted below.

    For your readers' info:  the shortest land route is between rivers.  From Magadan, head northeast further up the coast of the Sea of Otkhosk, to the northeast-most corner.  There's a river.  Take it NNE for about 80 Km (IIRC), then it bends west.  From that point, it's about 240 KM northeast to a river that heads southeat towards Anadyr.  But your chances of "catching rides" on either river are zero.  :-) The trek from Magadan to Provideniya is brutal; in the summer months when the temperatures are feasible, the rivers are nearly uncrossable.

Pusan, South Korea => Vladivostok

You can get a ferry from Pusan to Valadivostok, about 46-50+ hours.  Safe trip and economic.

About Vladivostok

Valadivostok is beautiful, but very dangerous at night, Mafia rules the town.  We had body guards first time in (1992) and we were thankful.

Vladivostok => Alaska

Valadivostok to Alaska will also be hard to do by boat.  But maybe (???) you can find a boat from Vladivostok up to Kamchatka. 

About Kamchatka/Petropavlovsk:

See the volcanos, tundra's, hot springs, wild animals, thermal pools etc...  you can get there by a cheap taxi ride out of town. Lenin Square, city markets and the "GUM" - state dept.  stores. Ride in an old MI-8 helicopter touring the region (don't let the duct tape on the rotors scare you, it held up nice).

Places to stay: Hotel Virginia, Hotel Avacha, Hotel Petropavlovsk

Kamchatka => Alaska

Only way I can see you do that via boat is to get a job on a freight/commercial ship.  I don't want to say never, but plan on getting a seat on an Alaska Air or Aeroflot to AK.

Petropavlovsk-Kamchatski is probably the best place to try and hitch a ride.  Being in Petropavlovsk (P-K) will give you many more options, the most important one the airport, if all else fails.  There are a few companies that sail frequently to the US.  A few of the companies are more likely to take bribes than others - I don't want to post that info here, but you can mail me for it.

Most American ships are heavily regulated (liability issues) so I think your chances of hoping on a commercial liner will be better with a Russian flagged vessel. Figure the cost from Kamchatka to Alaska by air then give the captain half (US currency only) along with some vodka (if he drinks, most likely he will).  Ports in Kamchatka have many vessels, start talking to the local Seamen to finds the ones sailing for Alaska and start talking.  Try trampers and smaller crabbers / trawlers.

You should look out for are the Asian fleets.  These vessels are mostly trampers and containers.  These guys are from Korea, Japan and China.  They sail for Alaska quit frequently to pick up supplies and finished catch from American vessels in the Aleutian Islands.  I hear these guys like to drink as well so that might be an opening in you bargaining.

I suggest getting a hotel and frequent the local markets, restaurants, and bar.  Talk to the locals, as they have wealth of information and may be able to help you out in seeking the right vessel.

Most ships sailing from Kamchatka/Petropavlovsk to Alaska seem to be Dutch Harbor bound.  Depending on weather and ship; the trip should take approximately 5 days.

Magadan => Alaska

If you don't make it up to P-K, Magadan has ports similar to Kamchatka and has regular service to US ports.

I'd hate to miss Kamchatka though...  it sounds amazing. 

Dutch Harbor => Alaskan Mainland

You should be able to make the trip by boat, but you may have to work for the ride.


Comments
jos luis - Mar 06, 2006

I have the intention to travel around the world by 4x4 car.  I would like to know is abailable a ferry to go from Vladivostok to Petropavlosk and after to Anchorage?

--

So far as I know, there are no ferry services at all between Alaska and Siberia. 

-Adam


Antonio - Apr 06, 2006

I'm also planning a RTW trip closer to the North Pole than the equator.
The Bering crossing on water was one of the highlights of my project.
Still not sure how to do it. 
Thanks for the info.
I'll come back if I find something new or to see if you have.
Ciao

--

Good luck.  Keep me informed on your progress...  and there is now a link to some guy's website who has made the crossing.

-Adam


Marc Casals - Apr 09, 2006

hi Adam,
Thanks for the web.  My girlfriend and I are very keen on trying to cross the Bering strait by boat/ferry this Summer. 

Even though the info in your web is very interesting, we need to get more info before venturing it.  I tried to find Matt's web in tribe.net but I couldn't, where can I find it?

It sounds like the best option is to try from Kamchatka or Magadan to Alaska.  It seems weird that it's not possible to do it from much nearer, i.e., across the 150km Bering strait itself; do you know if it is possible to get a boat from a town there, or is it that it's not even possible to get to a coastal town there?  I wonder if it's any easier from Alaska to Siberia instead, do you know?

If we decide to try Kamchatka or Magadan to Alaska, would that entail getting to US border posts in Alaska or is it all completely `clandestine'?  Are there not any official ferries doing this?  could you tell us what are the sailing companies most likable to take bribes?  It sounds like we'll have to load up with some Vodka....

Any further information you could give us about crossing the Bering strait by boat will be much appreciated!
Thank you very much and very good luck!

Marc

--

Hey...  nice to meet you Marc.  You'll get there much sooner than I will.  We should keep in touch.  Let me know how it goes.  I'll share any information that you give me for the benefit of everyone. 

"It seems weird that it's not possible to do it from much nearer, i.e., across the 150km Bering strait itself"

As I understand it, and I've seen maps, there are absolutely no roads anywhere North of Magadan.  Thousands of miles w/out a single road. 

"would that entail getting to US border posts in Alaska"

I don't know the regulations.  I was just going to find a way in....  and then find the first immigration post I could.

I think in the worse case, the navy might arrest me and hold me for a couple of days while they check out my story.  It'd make an interesting story in itself and I think that a navy brig would be more comfortable than some of the hostels I've stayed in.  Should you have a valid visa, I wouldn't expect too big of a problem. 

"Are there not any official ferries doing this?"

No.  There are expensive flights back and forth.  But I'm going to save that as a last resort.

"could you tell us what are the sailing companies most likable to take bribes?"

Sent in email. 

-Adam


John - Apr 17, 2006

Hi Everyone,

Firsly, thanks for the very interesting website!

I'm planning a RTW trip starting mid next year.  My plans are almost done, I just need advice on getting my car from Magadan (or somewhere near there) to Alaska (Anchorage or Nome maybe).  Please can anyone give me advice on this as it is really a crucial part of my trip and I'm really struggling to find info on the matter.

Also, does anybody know if the terrain north of Magadan is driveable in a 4x4?

Thanks everyone!
John


Andoni Rodelgo - Jun 11, 2006

Hi!

we're travelling by bicycles and we wish to cross the Bering strait by boat. 
We're first planning to go from Yuzhno-sakhalinsk (coming from Japan) to Kamchatka.  Do you know if there are any boat or ferry for that crossing?

From Kamtchatka, we want to reach Alaska.  You quote:"A few of the companies are more likely to take bribes than others - I don't want to post that info here, but you can mail me for it".  We would like to receive those additional info, if you could.

Could you also tell us the state of the roads in Kamtchamka, if any...?

Many Thanks for all the info you already posted here.

Kind regards.



--

Andoni:
> We're first planning to go from Yuzhno-sakhalinsk (coming from Japan) to Kamchatka.  Do you know if there are any boat or ferry for that crossing?

The only ferry that I've heard of is from Korea.  That doesn't mean that there isn't another one though.  Let the rest of us know if you find out something.

> Could you also tell us the state of the roads in Kamtchamka, if any...?

I don't know anything about the road conditions, but I found a great map for you.  :-)

http://www.kamchatkapeninsula.com/kam_maps.html

Sending the other info in a private message. 

-Adam


Cash - Jun 11, 2006

Hey Adam!  a happy surprise to find your musings on this subject, I've been looking into it for about a week now.  I'm in Tomsk, Siberia, hitchhiking east. 

I have a short time schedule, so instead of trekking from Magadan where the road of bones ends, northeast to Provideniya (or Anadyr) and then crossing to Alaska, I'm going to make it as quick as possible.  I'll go to Sakhalin Island (thus skipping Magadan) and taking a ferry across the sea of Otkhosk to Kamchatka. 

My questions begin there -- so I appreciate your info on Petropavlovsk-Kamchatski.  I think I should be able to find fishers heading north to Anadyr, and I'm ***hoping*** to find a boat crossing to Alaska or some island close to Alaska from Anadyr.  I think Russian customs & US customs will be more easily avoided by staying off the most obvious crossing point, the 58-mile span between Provideniya and Alaska just north of the Diomede Islands.

For your readers' info:  the shortest land route is between rivers.  From Magadan, head northeast further up the coast of the Sea of Otkhosk, to the northeast-most corner.  There's a river.  Take it NNE for about 80 Km (IIRC), then it bends west.  From that point, it's about 240 KM northeast to a river that heads southeat towards Anadyr.  But your chances of "catching rides" on either river are zero.  :-) The trek from Magadan to Provideniya is brutal; in the summer months when the temperatures are feasible, the rivers are nearly uncrossable.

My most pressing questions at this point are about landfall in Alaska --- how well-policed is it?  I'm a US citizen, so I've no problem, but my girlfriend is Russian and we don't have time to go through the extremely difficult visa process for her (besides which, they'd turn her down, as she's a doctor with no real assets to keep her in Russia).  I'll pass on easier rides if they're going to make a visible customs entry, and opt instead for smaller boats and being unnoticed.

If you could email me info on contacts or flexible companies in the P-K area, that would be great -- and any other info you might have.  And thanks again for your awesome blog.

cheers!

--

Cash,

Thanks for the info.  I put some of what you said in the article above.  Here are some very good maps which might help you out. 

http://www.kamchatkapeninsula.com/kam_maps.html

http://www.globalforestwatch.org/english/russia/maps.htm

Sorry, but I don't have any details on how well policed the border is.  I will only be traveling as an American so I don't expect any real problems in being let in. 

Can you find me whatever you know or find out about the ferry from Sakhalin Islands to Kamchatka.  Also on getting to the Sakhalin Islands.  I'll add it to the article for everyone's benefit.

I'm sending the other info in a private message. 

-Adam


Cash - Jun 11, 2006

P.S.  Adam, I hope you have some edit control on your page.  It seems to me you receive all comments and must approve them before they appear.  Could you please remove my full name from the comment and replace it with "Cash"?  Thanks!  (Firefox did auto-complete for me and I let it go...)

BTW, Here's a nice pic of the area showing many of the relevant points:  http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/2/29/Sea_of_Okhotsk_map.png/657px-Sea_of_Okhotsk_map.png


Me Too - Jun 24, 2006

Hey Adam; I'm ammazed at your page!  I'm looking for anyone out there who wants to give me a ride to Magadan from anywhere in Siberia in late August 2006; please post me to all the people whose emails you have who might be in the area at that time.  Btw...  Here's my list of "me too"s
I was born in Oakland too; I was educated in Bay Area public schools too; I'm trying to get RTW too.  I've been to Addis too; I have that pic of the Indian ocean off the coast of Zanzibar too early May of 2005.  Lots of time in Spain drinking too, 10 months. 

Now in Fes city after three weeks packpacking the hash fields and the roadless Mediterranean coast of northern Morocco;

We are out here reading.  Keep on inspiring people with your blog.


Craig - Jul 28, 2006

Hi,

These guys rowed across the Bering Sea:

http://www.expeditioncanada.com/

Good luck!

Craig

--

Thanks for the link!

-Adam


Mee too - Aug 29, 2006

Hey if anyone one wants to make the crossing,I'm willing to split the cost of a private charter from Chukotka to Nome or other Alaskan city.  Oct 6, 7, or 8


poopy - Sept 25, 2006

this was good and bad but it was just ok,:]but when i saw this info i thought it was cool to be on mountains and in territory.:] {woooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo oooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo ooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo}


Dave - Jan 06, 2007

Hi Adam,

Hopefully your still reading the comments....

We are planning a trip from Amsterdam to China to America to Argentina to Amsterdam.
Besides the crossing you are mentioning do you know any other boat crossings between China (or Japan) and America (or Canada)?  Flying is an option but on a boat gives it more the feeling of traveling (for example were taking the train from Amsterdam to China).

Greetings
Dave



subastik - May 06, 2007

just a check


subastik - May 06, 2007

Hi Poopy,

another check


Angel Cauffman - Jun 22, 2007

Hello,
I am interested in buying one or more native working dogs from Chukotka.  Any information that you could give me on how I may aquire these dogs/puppies would be most helpful.  Please forward this to anyone that may have access to these dogs.  If you or someone that you know can obtain these dogs, let me know that price in USA dollars.  If at all possable, i would like to see pictures.  I would also consider buying semen for artificial insemenation.
Angel


Elson Park - Jun 24, 2007

Hi Adam,

If you are still reading the comments, I also would like to receive the info to your quote:"A few of the companies are more likely to take bribes than others - I don't want to post that info here, but you can mail me for it".  I am planning to reach Alaska from Siberia this summer.

Thanks,
Elson


Larry - Jun 25, 2007

Hi - My brother and I are trying to figure out how to get a car from Anchorage to Russia.  It looks as if Magadan is the best place to end up.  I thought at first just cruise up to the Bering Straight and get a ferry across, but there are no roads to Nome.  Also who knows what's on the other side.  Anyone know the cost, length etc.....
-Lary


Chris Tsoi - Jun 26, 2007

I am planning to reach Alaska from Siberia in next year summar.  The first choice would be travel from Vladivostok to Dutch Harbor.  I would like to know when will be the best time for the travel.  Also, it will be great if anyone can provide more information on the cost, hotel, etc.

Thanks


nik - Aug 20, 2007

some info on Kamchatka/Petropavlovsk to alaska?
maybe a boat for some cash
send me an email
peace
nik


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Stasya - Sept 14, 2007

Hi :)
I and my husband have been traveling around Latin America for almost two years, and now would like to continue our trip through Alaska, and into Russia.  We are both from the Former Soviet Union, and traveling in a 1971 VW camper bus that we would like to take along with us to Russia.  I understand that crossing the Bering Straight with this car (or it on board a cargo boat) is virtually impossible.  Is it?  We wouldn't mind being the first ones :)
What is the best route to take then?  Would the boats you've mentioned from Anchorage to PK, and PK to Magadan take a car? 
We would appreciate any information you can give on this route, including the bribing tips :)

Thank you,
Stasya and Shurik

-------
HopStopTravel.com is our blog


Martin - Sept 18, 2007

Hi Adam!

Thanks for this really informative website.  At the moment I'm staying in San Francisco for a few days.  Later I wanna travel north and find a boat in Seattle, Vancouver or in Alaska going to Russia.  I wanna do the Transsib from Vladivostok to Moscow.  And then going back to my home country Germany after more than 2 years in Latin America.

My question is if I could get a ride (perhaps working on a vessel or something) from any of these ports in America to Russia, maybe directly to Vladivostok.  Or is it more difficult than from Russia to Alasca?  Or almost imposiible?

Thanks for your kind support!  Thank you for the info you posted already here!!!

Martin


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