Mammoth tusk hunters 2

This trip is very similar to our other tusk hunters itinerary, but is more suitable for film crews. Guest will get to accompany a band of three or four indigenous Yakut mammoth tusk hunters in their search for legal ivory. We will be able to watch and film them searching for, extracting, cleaning, storing and transporting the tusks, as well as hunting and fishing to keep themselves fed during the three-month tusk hunting season. The area is not so far beyond the Arctic Circle and is therefore easier to access and requires no special permits. The tusk hunters in this area also work for a licensed company, so are 100% happy to be filmed and give interviews. We can also make a deal with the tusk hunters so that before we arrive they find some tusks, leave them in the ground and extract them when we arrive, so that we are guaranteed to see the whole process.

Sink hole in Verkhoyanskiy District, Arctic Yakutia, in which woolly mammoth remains can be found

Sink hole in Verkhoyanskiy District, Arctic Yakutia, in which woolly mammoth remains can be found


Day 1: Fly in to Moscow. Evening flight from Moscow to Yakutsk.
Lenin statue in Yakutsk

Lenin statue in Yakutsk


Day 2: Arrive in Yakutsk between 5am – 1pm, depending on which flight we chose (it is a 7-hour flight and 6 time zones east of Moscow). Check in to hotel. If required, we can visit the city’s mammoth museum, displaying some of the many mammoths found in Yakutia.
The mammoth museum in Yakutsk

The mammoth museum in Yakutsk


Day 3: Flight from Yakutsk to Batagay (2-hour flight, one time zone further east). In Batagay meet one of the young tusk hunters who we will be following throughout the shoot. We load all equipment into a transport tank and head out into the wilderness where the band is searching for tusks. These transport tanks were designed under the USSR for transporting people and goods in the roadless north but to be easily convertible into military tanks during time of war.

Overnight in tents near tusk hunting site, which is a huge sinkhole that appeared mysteriously around ten years ago. At its deepest it is around 100 metres deep, and is up to 800 metres wide and 1.5 km long.

The Yana River in Verkhnoyansk District, Arctic Yakutia

The Yana River in Verkhnoyansk District, Arctic Yakutia


Day 4: Watch how the tusk hunters search for tusks at the sinkhole. They find a bit of overhanging cliff or a part of one of the walls that looks like it could easily be dislodged. They then drive long poles into the ground until they cause that part of the wall to collapse in a small landslide. They then search through the resulting debris at the bottom of the sinkhole to find the tusks.
Sinkhole, Verkhoyanskiy District, Arctic Yakutia

Sinkhole, Verkhoyanskiy District, Arctic Yakutia


Day 5 – 7: Head further out in the tank to the River Adycha area. Rivers in Arctic Siberia are very meandering, with lots of twists and turns. So at these turns the river current slams into one of the banks and is constantly eroding it, bringing bones and tusks closer to the surface. Sometimes they see a bone protruding in these areas and start searching for nearby tusks, or sometimes they just search in a spot that looks promising. They search using a water pump to blast away the earth from the river bed, creating tunnels in the bank to expose the tusks. Once the tusks are exposed they use more delicate tools such as chisels to excavate it.They sometimes also trawl the river bed with a kind of huge rake attached to the boat. We will spend these days travelling with them, watching the tusk hunting and extraction process and if so desired, accompanying them on fishing / hunting trips.
A tunnel in a river bank created by tusk hunters to extract their legal ivory, Verkhoyanskiy District, Arctic Yakutia

A tunnel in a river bank created by tusk hunters to extract their legal ivory, Verkhoyanskiy District, Arctic Yakutia


Day 8: Return to Batagay
Transport tanks, often the only way to get around in Russia's roadless Arctic, but also easily convertible into military tanks in time of war

Transport tanks, often the only way to get around in Russia’s roadless Arctic, but also easily convertible into military tanks in time of war


Day 9: Fly to Yakutsk. Visit the workshop of the company who the tusk hunters work for, watch how they carve ornaments and make cosmetics from raw tusks.
In the workshop of the company that employs the tusk hunters, Yakutsk

In the workshop of the company that employs the tusk hunters, Yakutsk


Day 10: Fly to Moscow

Price:

Number of people Price per person
5 625,000 rubles
4 730,000 rubles
3 900,000 rubles
2 1,205,000 rubles

Included in price:

• Flights Moscow – Yakutsk – Batagay – Yakutsk – Moscow
• Accommodation in Yakutsk and Batagay in twin rooms
• All transport and transfers in Yakutia
• Rental of clothing, tents, sleeping bags
• Rental of all-terrain vehicle and boat, plus all petrol and driver’s fee, to follow the hunters
• All food and drinks in Yakutia
• Accompaniment by English-speaking interpreter and all his expenses
• Accompaniment by Russian-speaking representative of the company the mammoth tusk hunters work for, and all his expenses
• Fees for mammoth tusk company and tusk hunters
• All activities and entrance fees as per itinerary, including on the spare day at the end
• Satellite phone for emergency use
• Generator and petrol for charging equipment
• Invitation for single-entry Russian 30-day tourist visa

Not included in price:

• International flights
• Accommodation, transport, guiding and food in Moscow
• Personal expenses
• Excess baggage over 20kg
• Personal expenses
• Insurance
• Drinks other than water and tea
• Satellite phone for work or personal calls
• Expenses caused by delayed flights or other force majeure situations

Payment:

A 35% deposit is required to reserve your trip. As there is only one guide (me) who can run this trip and my time is booked up far in advance, it is recommended to pay this as soon as possible if your dates are not flexible. The balance must be paid no later than 2 months before the trip start date.