Go back to Russia.
Go back to Anadyr.
We were back on the airport-bound ferry as it crossed the estuary the following morning to catch our flight to Bilibino. With its Soviet era planes, it’s archaic booking system (in person only), and totally opaque (random? crooked?) system of charging for luggage, flying Chukotavia Airlines was not the highlight of the trip. Though on the upside, we missed our chance of flying in a 40 year old Antonov in favor of a Canadian produced Twin Otter (and the airline is a state subsidized enterprise providing – in some cases – the only link to remote communities). A three hour flight got us to the Keperveyem Airport (with its dirt strip) some 35 kilometers from Bilibino where we were met by our pre-arranged driver, Vadim. Actually we were both pretty amazed to had gotten this far along on our trip.
Our impressions of Bilibino were that it felt like a small island cut off from the outside world by hundreds of kilometers of road less tundra and taiga…which it pretty much is. Vadim deposited us in a hostel inside one of the concrete blocks, basic but very clean and – as is pretty much true of everything in Chukotka – very expensive (and the only game in town), with a promise of going shopping for some “yum yum” a bit later.
Bilibino’s power plant.
After picking us up from the hotel as promised, Vadim then handed us off to another driver (Vanya). We then went on to what must’ve been a dozen small stores in search of some basic provisions (getting some eggs was the real challenge). Do keep in mind that Bilibino is probably less than 1 by 5 km in size (with about 5000 inhabitants). The last English we heard had been Alexander’s back in Anadyr and so it was never clear to us who we were going to get handed off to next or even more broadly what was going to happen next. We also stopped by and chatted (well, we just listened) with a guy who we had presumed would be our driver the following day. When the conversation turned to the topic of where in the mountains we wanted to go (I know since we were asked to show photos and the GPS coordinates), we heard many enthusiastic “Da, da, da!!” responses that somehow rang hollow.
And so we pinged Evgeny in the evening to see if he’d be willing to give our driver (through Vadim) some pointers on how to reach our desired valley. Evgeny quickly came over to our place and offered to chat with Vadim on the phone. We could hear more loud “da, da, da!!” on the other side followed by a “click”. Things were not looking up though Evgeny did give us an overview of how to get there (“lots of up and downs and backtracking”) as well as a can of bear spray.
Heading back to the airport for our flight to Bilibino (July 2018).
The car ferry (July 2018).
Once again crossing the estuary (July 2018).
Anadyr Estuary (July 2018).
We shared the ride to the airport with two American NatGeo photographers who were headed for some indigenous village in Chukotka. Neither they nor we were traveling light (July 2018).
Getting dropped off by Alexander (July 2018).
Older model UAZ at Anadyr airport (Aug. 2018).
Sounds pretty good (July 2018).
Airport sights in Anadyr (July 2018).
Boarding a Chukotavia flight to Bilibino (July 2018).
Chukotavia’s Antonov 26s lined up at Anadyr airport (July 2018).
Shirley psyched for the last (air) leg of the journey (July 2018).
A brief opening in the clouds on the flight to Bilibino (July 2018).
Shirley’s preferred way of flying anywhere (July 2018).
Yeah, we could not believe that we had made it this far (July 2018).
Disembarking (July 2018).
Bilibino’s tiny airport with an unpaved runway (July 2018).
Bilibino (July 2018).
Welcome to Bilibino…or Keperveyem anyway (July 2018).
The start of a long shopping adventure in Bilibino. Our main driver Vadim is in the lead (July 2018).
One of many small grocery stores we visited in Bilibino (July 2018).
Our hostel in Bilibino, Severyanka (Aug. 2018).
A sweet looking pup in Bilibino (July 2018).
Outside of our hotel in Bilibino (July 2018).
Packing up at our hotel (July 2018).
The shared kitchen in the Severyanka hostel. Bilibino reportedly has one restaurant but it’s only open on Friday and Saturday nights (and then it’s mostly for dancing according to our driver Vanya). So we were eating camping food even before setting foot in the backcountry (Aug. 2018).
Exploring Bilibino on our own during our evening there…well, here we’re headed back to a store to pick up another bottle of something (July 2018).
Bilibino near to our hotel (July 2018).
A church and a guy walking his dog…well, the dog is walking while the guy’s on a motorcycle (July 2018).
Bilibino (Aug. 2018).
Go to Into The Mountains.
Go back to Russia.