Can you travel to Siberia from Alaska?
Updated: Oct 25, 2020
The answer is yes, you can! But such travel requires sufficient preparations as you need to apply for a visa and book your flight (or a boat).
Image by Alex Glebov (Unsplash)
Even though Alaska and Russian Far East are 20 hours apart, they are divided by the Bering Strait, which is 85 km (53 miles) wide only at its narrowest point. Given this rather short distance, many travelers contemplate the opportunity to cross the strait and set foot on the Russian soil.
How can you get from Alaska to Siberia?
The easiest, safest and most reasonable way to travel from Alaska to Siberia is by plane. After just a one-hour flight, you’ll be exploring the closed region of Chukotka which is cut off from the rest of Russia and, for this reason, has preserved a unique combination of Russian and local Chukchi cultures. With Bering Air, you can flight from Nome to different destinations in Siberia, such as:
On the map, you can see four destinations in the Far East to fly to from Nome.
Bering Air requires a $500 non-refundable deposit when booking a charter to Russia and travelers have to pay the remaining amount two weeks prior to the flight. You can also book a charter flight with a private pilot on Villiers Private Jet Charter, and some of them also offer the reverse journey.
However, you’ll need to plan your trip at least two months in advance to prepare your visa, entry invitation as well as entry permission papers if you are going to the closed region of Chukotka. Visa issuing could take around two weeks, while getting an invitation might drag on for two additional weeks.
Another theoretically possible option is crossing the Bering Strait by a ferry. But foreigners are unlikely to be granted permission to arrive on the country’s shores by water, so if you still want to pull that off, you’ll have to do so illegally.
However, from time to time the press reports attempts of crossing. For example, in 2006 Karl Bushby and Dimitri Kieffer crossed the Bering Strait by foot, but upon arrival to Russia were detained and deported. Another attempt was made in 2018 by a 47-year old John Martin.
Taking into account that the Bering Sea is an extremely dangerous water body due to cold temperatures and unstable weather conditions, it’s strongly advised against such bold endeavours.
Can you see Russia from Alaska?
Residents of some locations in Alaska can actually view Russia from their doorstep on a clear day.
Diomede Islands. Located only two miles apart, Big Diomede Island (belongs to Russia) and Little Diomede Island (belongs to the United States) are the closest points of land between the two countries. They are also known as “Tomorrow Island” and “Yesterday Isle” respectively, separated by the International Date Line, which puts Big Diomede Island 21 hours ahead.
St. Lawrence Island. You can also view Russia from the village of Gambell on the St. Lawrence Island. Although the village hosts only 700 residents, it has an airport, clinic and a school.
Wales. This is the westernmost community on mainland North America and the only place in Alaska where you can view Siberia on mainland.
How can you get there? All three locations are remote, so the best way will be to book a flight to Nome, the closest major airport, and then fly to one of these communities on a smaller plane. Check this post for more information about the locations.