Koryo Tours' newest adventure - epic
journey to a unique and forbidden
From 2,100 USD per person
Please apply by 1st June, 2019.
Koryo Tours' newest adventure
- epic journey to a unique
and forbidden place!
From 2,100 USD per person
Closed to outsiders since its foundation as a forced-labour nickel mining colony, Norilsk has since grown into an absolutely fascinating and utterly remote region of apocalyptic industrial landscapes, stunning natural beauty, a fascinating and hardy local population, and so much more for pioneering adventurers to discover – see this very remote and very special area with Koryo Tours!
Saturday July 6th. Our tour begins in Norilsk! You need a special permit to enter this area (which has been closed to foreigners since 1937) and we will provide this. You arrive at Norilsk airport and we pick you up here. All flights here are domestic Russian flights, the most convenient are from Moscow and Novosibirsk, we can help plan these tickets with you. Once in Norilsk we will drive from the airport to the town of Dudinka, on the mighty Yenisei River. Dudinka was founded as a settlement in 1667, due to its position giving it access to both the interior of the Russian north as well as the river flowing from the arctic ocean down deep into Siberia. The modern town functions mostly as the site from where the main product of the region, nickel, is shipped to the outside world on barges. A somewhat sleepy but highly interesting settlement you can find sports facilities, shops, monuments, and much more here.
We will visit some of the highlights of Dudinka, including the port area itself with its fascinating collection of aged cranes, the de rigueur Lenin statue, the city museum which contains fascinating exhibits of northern culture, indigenous peoples, and the often-tragic history of this area, War Memorials, and more! We’ll walk around the city centre and soak up the vibes too – prepare for an amazing first day! We’ll have lunch as a group but free time in the evening for dinner and evening exploring – remember it doesn’t get dark at all so keep an eye on the time!Overnight: Dudinka
Sunday July 7th. After breakfast we head for the city of Norilsk, a 90 min drive away. We’ll make the time to stop at some of the outer mining settlements, amazing for photos and dotted with quirky sites such as an old plane used as a town marker in one case, as well as other scenic spots. On arrival in Norilsk we will check into our hotel and begin a long walking tour of this most-amazing of cities. Leninsky Prospekt, the main street through the centre, is designed to evoke St. Petersburg’s Nevsky Prospekt (you have to squint a bit and use some imagination, but the similarity is there!), we’ll walk this street, see some monuments around the city, pass the World’s most northern Mosque, see good old Lenin again, stand on the foundation stone of the city, see the First House (built by prospectors surveying the area), a WW2 monument, the Zapolyanrnik recreation ground (with one of Russia’s omnipresent Pushkin parks nearby), and so much more too! We will stop for a hearty lunch, coffee shop break and so on but we will cover as much ground as possible and see as much of the city as we can. While Norilsk is not a huge place it is still big enough to contain many gems and a range of buildings. Of specific architectural interest are some of the older buildings (of which several are derelict now), as well as some of the utterly massive Soviet-era apartment buildings that stretch for enormous distances. As this is the arctic all buildings are on stilts above the permafrost, gas pipes run through the city also providing heating and energy, churches, shops, bars, restaurants, and much more exist here too – for the free time in the evening you’ll find much to do as well – it’s a surprisingly lively town for somewhere so remote and shrouded in mystery!
Wear good shoes for this day – we will see and do a great deal and cover a long distance – at the end of the day you’ll have a much better sense of what it is like to live in such a cityOvernight: Norilsk
Monday July 8th. This morning we will take a drive to Staryy Gorod, the ‘Old Town’ in a place founded less than a century ago. This is the original mining settlement here, an area still used for mineral extraction as well as some of the administration of the mines. Here some buildings survive form the early days such as the first hospital, former gulag admin buildings and so on, most re-purposed and still in use for various reasons. The first mine can be seen and the difference between this simple wooden structure and the modern behemoths is stark. The first miners here didn’t come voluntarily; they were prisoners and victims of the Great Terror. Shipped here in their thousands and put to work in this unwelcoming environment very few of them ever left. To the memory of these unfortunates there is a Gulag Memorial; a tasteful small chapel and some evocative monuments in this area, we will visit these and have an explanation of how this place came to be and the dark history of the area.
We’ll continue our drive around the old town and stop at some curios such as a small abandoned factory, a quirky marker stone, and a well-done Komsomol Monument, before crossing back to the ‘new’ town for lunch and the rest of the day at leisure (we can recommend some extra activities if you like, there is much more to see and do and areas of the city to explore)Overnight: Norilsk
Tuesday July 9th. There are in fact three settlements in the Norilsk area, and today we head for the third of these; the town of Talnakh. This is just a short distance from Norilsk but strangely seems to have a different micro-climate and general vibe too. We take a drive through a wooded area, doted with (some derelict, some still in use) sanitaria and dachas. We will stop at the bridge over the Norilskaya River and see some of the fishing and pleasure boat fleets that are moored here (also great for photos), and on arrival at the edge of the town of Talnakh will have a peek at their very own ski resort (one slope, no other real facilities, quite quirky). We’ll drove on to a hilltop viewpoint that will give us a good sense of the topography of the area and show how dominated by mines this part of the world is. There are many massive nickel mines surrounding the city and employing almost the entire labour force here. We’ll have a picnic on this hill and then descend to visit the massive abandoned Noriskgeologiya Research Facility site. This was a geological research and study centre which fell into disuse and lies derelict – locals use it for various things such as a base for free wood as well as a place to play a violent form of Russian paintball set in a post-apocalyptic landscape, you will see how very apt this is when you’re there!
After exploring here we finally make our way into the town itself, past monuments to miners we will go to a central viewpoint to see what the settlement looks like from up close and above (there is a cliff in the middle of the place, allowing for amazing views), and then get down into the streets to see the local museum and have a walking tour of the central part. This town is much smaller than Norilsk but it is compact and easy to navigate, you’ll love it!
A free evening follows (we can recommend interesting places to have some dinner and drinks)
Wednesday July 10th. As you know now, and as will be abundantly clear when we are there, nickel mining is the lifeblood of this entire area. Without nickel there would be no larger settlements here at all (and much less environmental damage too!). We will have the rare chance to visit one of the nickel mines here, to speak to workers and to find out what they do, where they come from, what it is like working in such a place, what nickel is and does, and so much more about the place; direct from the mouths of local people. The degree of access to the mine is not confirmed yet (don’t expect to be hacking away at the rock-face underground though!) but we will get as much as possible and see this heavy industry up close – essential to modern technological life, but disastrous for the environment and the health of many who work up close to it, this industry in many ways characterizes the harshness as well as the stark beauty and wonder of the environment and the place we have come to visit
We head back to Norilsk city – on arrival checking back into our hotel and then you’re free for a final afternoon of exploration, souvenir shopping (yes there are some places to get local souvenirs – we will show you where), relaxing, sending postcards, walking around some of the remoter parts of town, whatever you like really! We will meet up for a group dinner at an excellent restaurant - a final dinner for this fast-paced but comprehensive and guaranteed life-changer of a trip!Overnight: Norilsk
Thursday July 11th. Departure Day – Flights depart from Norilsk airport, again all are domestic flights within the Russian Federation. We arrange transfers to the airport and then you can head home or continue your adventures in the amazing and massive country. Let us know if we can be of any assistance in recommending further travels of course! This is the end of the adventure but the start of many years of amazing memories of this remarkable place!
All hotel rooms on our all-inclusive group tours feature twin beds, and will be shared. If you'd like a room to yourself then you can upgrade for an extra 40 EUR per night.See more
Please apply by 1st June, 2019.