Charting a course across the cold treacherous Bering Sea the ferry from Alaska to Russia represents a unique vessel connecting two different continents.
Spanning a distance of 50.2 miles or 3.8 kilometres it’s the only maritime route available between America’s Alaskan Peninsula and Russia’s Chukotka Autonomous Region.
While the adventure of crossing presents a draw for some it’s essential to navigate a plethora of logistics environmental challenges like icy waters and volatile weather and rigid political protocols.
But is there an easier way to head from Alaska to Russia without taking to the skies?
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Alaska To Russia
Understanding the similarities and differences between Alaska and Russia is key to comprehending the challenges associated with traversing from one to the other. Alaska and Russia are separated by the Bering Strait which is a narrow body of water measuring 55 miles at its narrowest point.
There’s no connecting land or bridge between the two countries making it impossible to drive a car across. The sea in the Bering Strait sometimes freezes in winter but it isn’t stable due to strong currents creating canals in the ice.
Due to this it is illegal and extremely dangerous to attempt to cross the Bering Strait by vehicle whether driving on the ice or attempting to ship or fly a car across.
The ports often used for shipping to Russia include Vladivostok and in North America options include Vancouver in Canada and Seattle in the USA. If planning on shipping a car on a container ship be prepared for a significant cost.
Experts often recommend sharing a container with another vehicle to help offset these costs. In terms of permits please note that a travel permission is required to enter the entire region of Chukotka in Russia including eastern Russia and Siberia.
Despite the need for permissions there are no official immigration offices at the edge of the Bering Strait making the prospect of gaining the appropriate permits even more complex.
Crossing the Bering Strait
The crossing of the Bering Strait is not for the fainthearted. It’s a route filled with deep sea waves volatile weather and incredibly cold sea temperatures.
These factors make the journey across the strait in a small boat exceptionally perilous. Two cases are known of individuals walking from Alaska to Russia crossing the strait on foot when the sea ice was solid.
However these endeavours ended with the walkers being detained and then deported upon their arrival in Russia.
Political impediments also complicate the journey as it is nearly impossible for a westerner to receive permission to arrive on the Russian shores of the Bering Strait. These challenges may seem insurmountable but rare cases of successful ice crossings have been reported.
It is however advisable to be well prepared and fully aware of all risks involved in attempting such a feat. Moreover although Big Diomede and Little Diomede islands could potentially serve as resting points during a Bering Strait crossing maintaining a low profile is crucial to avoid detection by the military stationed on Big Diomede.
Overall crossing the Bering Strait involves not only physical endurance but also overcoming a host of logistic political and legal issues. Whether you plan to manage the crossing by foot sail swim or kayak make sure you have a well-funded and well-planned strategy to maximize your chances of success.
Shipping Options For Alaska-Russia Travel
The Bering Strait with a distance of 55 miles (roughly 3.8 kilometres) separating Alaska and Russia makes it impossible to independently drive or trek across to either side. Shipping or flying becomes the only viable options to transport any vehicle across.
Typical ports used include Vladivostok in Russia and Vancouver in Canada or Seattle in USA.
For vehicle shipping container ships are normally utilized. It is however a costly endeavor with prices easily skyrocketing towards US$2000.
To manage these costs it is advisable to share containers with other vehicles.
Contrary to hopeful assumptions there exist no ferry lines operating between Alaska and Russia specifically for passenger travel. This is mostly due to the remote geographic locations and the challenging meteorological conditions of the Bering Strait.
Traveling From Alaska To Russia
Traveling from America’s Alaskan Peninsula to Russia’s Far East side in Chukotka Autonomous Region is an expedition that involves navigating the frigid and volatile waters of the Bering Sea.
Crossing the geographical obstruction of the Bering Strait can prove to be a risky venture particularly in a small boat. The shallow depth tumultuous weather patterns and extremely cold sea temperatures pose a dangerous threat to such attempts.
The Little Diomede and Big Diomede Islands stand en-route the crossing which could be used as resting points. However for uninvited guests the heavy military presence on the Big Diomede mandates the maintainance of a low profile.
Traveling beyond the Alaska-Russia border and entering Eastern Siberia requires comprehensive official paperwork which includes a Russian Visa rasporyazheniye permit a detailed itinerary special permits for communication devices and an approval from the Russian Coast Guard.
This journey also requires passing through the 5000 km wilderness of the Beringian Gap which is a vast expanse of forests rivers and boggy tundra disconected from both Russian and American road systems.
Bering Strait Transportation
The Bering Strait the body of water separating Alaska and Russia measures a mere 2.4 miles (3.8 kilometres) at its narrowest point. This small distance lends to the idea of a simple crossing however the reality is far from straightforward.
Despite the close proximity of the two landmasses there is no ferry line between Alaska and Russia nor can one drive a car between the two due to the absence of a land connection. The sea in the Bering Strait does freeze over in winter but the strong currents create channels in the ice making it impossible to drive on.
The only way to migrate a vehicle across is by shipping or flying it. Ports generally used for shipping include Vladimirostok in Russia and Vancouver in Canada or Seattle in the USA.
Challenges Of Alaska-Russia Travel
Attempts to journey between Alaska and Russia are fraught with obstacles both geographical and political. The extreme climate absence of infrastructure and strong north-flowing currents and unpredictable weather of the Bering Sea are among some of the many challenges faced by would-be adventurers.
Moreover there are no immigration offices to check in or out of the countries for those trying to cross the Bering Strait on foot kayak or by swimming. To enter the Chukotka Autonomous Region in Russia one would need to obtain a travel permit.
An individual would require a visa a rasporyazheniye permit a detailed itinerary a special permit for communication devices and the approval of the Russian Coast Guard. Violation of these rules have led to previous adventurers being detained and deported upon their arrival in Russia.
In addition lack of collaboration between the American and Russian governments has meant there is no bridge or tunnel enabling transport via car. Two humans crossings have been reported but these were immediately followed by detainment at the hands of the Russian authorities.
Added to this the north-flowing currents volatile weather and extremely cold sea temperatures make crossing in a small boat a dangerous proposition.