Remote Heli-Rafting in Siberia
8 days / June - September
Pricing is based on group size and seasonality, please check with us to secure the best pricing.
• A 170km, eight-day, adrenaline-soaked rafting trip down the Snezhnaya River, culminating in a pair of truly awe-inspiring Class VI rapids named Zhaba and Snezhinka.
• A helicopter ride to the start of our adventure, offering an unparalleled view of the breathtaking Lake Baikal.
• A chance to try your hand at fishing in one of the world’s most remote and unspoiled waterways. You might catch grayling or goldilocks.
Day 1: ZUN BAIRY
Our day’s start depends on the weather. When we get the all-clear, our MI-8 helicopter will fly us across Baikal to the Snezhnaya River, a beautiful body of water with headwaters in the Khamar-Daban mountain range. We land at a place called Zun Bairy and spend the rest of the day assembling and inflating the catamarans, cooking dinner, and setting up a tent camp.
Day 2: URDE ZUBKOSUN
After breakfast we’ll start packing up. The first day this usually takes a long time since you have to figure out exactly how all the equipment and food gets fixed onto the catamarans. It needs to be done very securely, because there are no supplies along the route and anything that’s lost is gone forever.
After the team is split into crews, you’ll get the basic safety course. Please note that not all of our guides are fluent in English, so you have to make sure that you understand exactly what commands are given and how you are supposed to respond. After all the preparations we set off and raft as far as Urde Zubkosun. While the guides and the cook make dinner, you will have some time to try your luck at fishing.
Day 3: SNEZHNAYA RIVER
Today we’ll tackle our first serious obstacles, rapids #13 and #26. We do boil water for hot tea and coffee but we’ll eat a boxed lunch because cooking a proper lunch on fire takes up a lot of time that you would probably rather spend fishing in the evening. When we’re doing our meal planning, we never count on fresh fish from Snezhnaya River, but we generally have a steady supply of fresh fish, which taste a lot better than the canned rations!
Day 4: SNEZHNAYA RIVER
Our day starts with rapid #29, also known as “Caliber.” You can guess from its name that you need extraordinary accuracy if you’re going to shoot this rapid. If you miss it by even a foot, you can get stuck. After getting through Caliber, you will encounter a whole cascade of smaller rapids and rollers. We’ll camp for the night right opposite a rapid called “Twister.”
Day 5: SNEZHNAYA RIVER
After breakfast the crews and their guides scout the rapid. This is a vital part of a safe passage since everyone needs to clearly understand the necessary maneuvers. While the first catamaran is storming through the rapid, other participants can wait downstream on the shore, hoping to get a lucky picture or standing by in case someone needs help.
Day 6: SNEZHNAYA RIVER TO THE KHARMIN DULU WATERFALL
We continue our adventure down to the Kharmin Dulu Waterfall, where we’ll have to unload our vessels and portage them in parts, since the falls are impassible. We’ll carry the load about 1.5 km downstream, making several trips before the job is done. (A catamaran alone weighs more than 50 kg, plus we have to carry personal things, food, tents, etc.) After we’ve passed the falls, we’ll set up our tents and cook dinner. After dinner, we’ll recon tomorrow’s rapids – the Class VI Zhaba and Snezhinka rapids.
Day 7: SNEZHNAYA RIVER
After breakfast, we’ll paddle through the so-called Gloomy Canyon. And for dessert, we’ll challenge ourselves to two of the toughest rapids in the world. You won’t believe the awesome power and beauty of these two long rapids. Once we’ve overtaken them, we’ll set up a tent camp at the confluence of the Snezhnaya and Selenginka rivers
Day 8: SNEZHNAYA RIVER TO LAKE BAIKAL TO IRKUTSK
Our last day is a relaxing one, with hardly any rapids at all. We’ll finish our adventure by flowing into the immense body of water known as Lake Baikal. We will take another few hours to disassemble the catamarans and dry them out, after which we get into a van and drive back to Irkutsk where we can check into a hotel and take a well-earned rest! Finding dinner on your own won’t be any trouble after your eight-day adventure!
Unfortunately, current Russian environmental standards differ from Western ones. On this expedition, we follow Russian (local) standards. In Siberia, we leave all the organic refuse for the animals and fish, burn our paper, and pack out all of our cans, plastic, and glass. We use firewood (not gas stoves) when convenient.
On this expedition, there are no organized camping grounds with toilets, or special places for tents and fires. It’s a truly remote destination – which is why we need the helicopter.
We will make one fire for cooking and another for drying our clothes. We will remain friendly to nature but may have to cut down a tree or a bush if it grows on a spot we find ultimately convenient for our camp. Naturally, we do not cut living trees for fire wood, but instead look for dead/downed trees.
In general these standards are very different than our intended practice or environmental standards at Wandrian Adventures and we believe it will take generations to change the situation. However, we promise you that our expeditions will be part of the solution and not part of the problem.