07 Aug 2019

Sunshine on the Bering Strait

Wrangel Island: Across the Top of the World

You'd hardly believe we were close to the Arctic Circle and on the shores of the Bering Strait with the blue sky, warm summer sun and glassy water lapping a pebble beach. A perfect morning to explore the small settlement of Lavrentiya on the Chukotka coast of Russia's far east, the town was established in the Soviet era by amalgamating several villages. Today its population is an ethnic mix of Chukchi, Eskimo and Russians.

At the local museum we enjoyed a tour with an elderly Eskimo lady who told us how she had been born in a traditional hut in a remote village. She'd certainly seen many changes in her lifetime and both she and the museum gave us a fascinating insight into traditional Eskimo and Chukchi life, as well as local natural history.

After strolling through town, we gathered near the centre where a remarkably tasty meal of various whale dishes, walrus intestines, local berries and steaming hot tea had been prepared. Sitting in the sun, we enjoyed the Chukotka equivalent of café culture as we were entertained by an enthusiastic group of singers, drummers and dancers dressed in traditional costume. Many of their dances re-enacted aspects of daily life including fish smoking and walrus hunting.

Then it was back to Kapitan Khlebnikov and on to the imposing cliffs of Cape Dezhnev on our way to the Arctic proper and further adventures.

Image from file (c) H.Ahern

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