The Vitim River in the Trans-Baikal Territory. In general, Vitim is not an easy river for a traveler. Severe as a Siberian man. But with an uneven and arrogant, like a bad country woman, character.
In many ways, this water river is insidious. Quiet stretches give way to stormy rapids. Deep places are shallow. Smooth surfaces like a mirror suddenly bristle with stones as sharp as knives. Although the Vitim River in the Trans-Baikal Territory has always attracted adventure seekers.
Where is The Vitim River
Vitim begins with the confluence of two tiny rivers in the foothills of the Ikat ridge in Buryatia. And, having made a winding path of 1979 kilometers, having absorbed innumerable large and small tributaries, it flows into the mighty Lena River.
The stream passes along the border of two gigantic subjects of Russia the Trans-Baikal Territory and Buryatia. It is also a watershed between two time zones. When it’s six o’clock on one bank, another five on the other.
Scattered along the banks of Vitim and semi-precious stones. Like sand underfoot sunny chalcedony. Turquoise is less common. Very rarely jasper. But the real king of these places is jade. Crowds of prospectors roam the water’s edge with their heads bowed low. The gem is easiest to spot in the river. Experienced search engines say that jade glows in the water as if it had a light bulb inside it.
Russian people came here back in 1640. The Cossack Maxim Perfiliev, famous not only for his courage, but also for his diplomatic skill, led his detachment from Lena with the aim of “seeing new lands around the free Vitim.” He swam a great distance upstream to the confluence with the Tsipa. Thanks to his efforts, a huge land rich in fish, timber, furs, precious stones and metals was annexed to Russia.
And most importantly, one of the many forges was opened, where the true Russian character was forged.
Prince Peter Alekseevich Kropotkin became the second great explorer of the Vitim expanses. Together with a Cossack detachment, he created the first professional maps and descriptions of these places.
Surprisingly, since the Kropotkin and even Perfilian times, Vitim has largely undergone few changes. And tourists of the 21st century will see the same untouched places as the Cossacks from the first Russian troops of the 17th century Traditionally, rafting on the Gloomy River starts from the settlement with the royal name of Romanovka. The village is old, significant for the life of Vitim. Two special castes of professionals have long lived here.
Two special castes of professionals
Firstly it is the pilots who know the nature of the river. Their knowledge of the fairway depended on the safety of the goods going down the river. Why things, human lives depended on them! How many people drowned in the local rapids Especially in the most terrible Paramsky.
Secondly life and craft depended no less on the second caste the master carpenters. These people got along boats and karbas. Pine-planked vessels, assembled without a single nail, were ideal for the restless and rapids of Vitim.
Caravans of karbas and simple wooden rafts went down the river until the 80s of the twentieth century. They carried grain, hay, potatoes, canned food, frozen meat, tea, and other manufactures to them. Even building materials and products for BAM were delivered.
And the steamers had already gone up the river. This happened only at the end of the 19th century. One of the first was the wheeled John of Kronstadt. But they walked in strictly limited places, unable to overcome the stormy rapids.
The “big capitals” that attracted to the Vitim shores were, first of all, gold. A lot of gold was mined here in the 19th century.
In 1844, the first official mines appeared on the Tsipa a tributary of the Vitim. And twenty years later, the city of Bodaibo, the capital of the “golden land”, was founded on Vitim itself.
The classic route for rafting down the Vitim River starts in the Buryat village of Romanovka and then goes along the Trans-Baikal Territory. There are three options.
Shortened: until the intersection of the river with the BAM, where you can take a passing train.
Medium: to the capital of gold diggers Bodaibo (from there a plane flies regularly to Chita).
Long: before the confluence with the Lena, where the village of Vitim stands. From there you can get out on a regular boat.
What sights to see
Firstly the river itself, amazing in beauty and quite different in character. Quiet stretches give way to stormy rapids, the most stormy and famous of which is the king of all rapids Paramsky, in a full-flowing period similar to a raging ocean. Previously, boat barges with tank engines drove through it. There was even a dynasty of pilots working in Parama the Sukhanov brothers.
It is very difficult and dangerous for couples to pass, therefore it would be wiser to enclose equipment and an inflatable boat along the shore.
Quieter, but no less iconic and beautiful places of Vitim are the rocks Church and Three Brothers. The first cliff rises at the confluence of Vitim and Yumurchen, a group of the second rises at the bend of the river, not far from the village of Ust-Karenga.
Another great place is the confluence of its tributary Tsipa into Vitim. This river is only slightly inferior to Vitim in terms of fullness. It is Tsipa that is famous for the best variety of jade in the Vitim basin light-colored, which is very much appreciated in China. At the place where the two rivers meet, there is a natural miracle a majestic cliff.
Mount Shaman is the highest point of Vitim, 2374 meters. This is not only the symbolic height of the South Muya ridge, but also a natural barometer: a clear mountain top there will be good weather, a haze has appeared there will be rain the next day.
IOC Promising braid
IOC Promising braid. A place where there are more stones, perhaps, than on all Vitim. It resembles a square of giants, paved with gigantic cobblestones of all shapes and colors. The spit is located at the mouth of the Broad River running from the slopes of the Shaman.
In addition once there was a village of hydrogeologists preparing for a gigantic construction project the construction of a hydroelectric power station for the needs of the BAM. The matter was settled there was even a ten-year school in the village. Now everything has collapsed and overgrown. And we must try pretty hard to find traces of a person. But only thirty years have passed.
Kuandinsky (Devil’s) bridge.
It is located next to the railway bridge at the intersection of BAM with Vitim, the most famous car ferry is located. Temporary structure made of metal pipes and sleepers. But, as you know, there is nothing more permanent than temporary. The temporary bridge, erected in 1985 to serve the construction of the main one, remained standing. And work.
Walking across the bridge is a favorite pastime of tourists who have reached this point, and a rather everyday life of the locals.
It’s really scary to walk on it. The whole structure shakes even from steps. Many sleepers are rotten, pebbles and waves are visible through them. But there are daredevils who cross it by car. It is impossible to look at this without horror for an unprepared person. Yes, and the prepared spirit is breathtaking.
Bodaibo is called the capital of the golden land for a reason. A huge amount of the precious metal has been mined in the area. The heyday of the city and the region fell on the 70-80s of the last century. It was about these places that Vladimir Vysotsky sang in the songs “About the river Vachu and fellow traveler Valya” and “Bodaibo”.
There is a local history museum in the city that tells in detail about the history of gold mining and the Mamakan hydroelectric power station the first in the world, built in permafrost conditions.
Vitim at different times of the year
The preferred time for rafting is summer and early autumn.
Vitim is the most calm in summer. And in autumn it is the most beautiful, like any other river, flowing in the frame of autumn yellow-crimson landscapes.
The local nature is beautiful. Practically untouched by man, she lives on her own.