How to get from Russia to Alaska across the Bering Strait

How to Cross The Bering Strait From Russia to Alaska, detailing everything from Vladivostok onwards for your convenience (last updated February 2016):

This article is going to explain the different options you have to get from the end of the Trans-Siberian Railway at Vladivostok, to Alaska (or vice versa), for those people who have looked at a map and thought, ‘gee, Alaska and Russia are real close, I bet I can go from one to the other.’ My friends, you are in luck, and I’ve done all of the hard work of research for you.

Background:

Why am I sharing this? Recently, I’ve been planning an ambitious if uber-budget (like, as cheap as it can get) round the world trip that will require me to get across the Pacific. My general preference is to fly the shortest distances at all times to the nearest land with an airport if it’s possible to go onwards, because let’s be fair, I could just fly on a plane around the world and it would be very, very boring.

It all started with a Trans-Siberian railway idea. You may already know that the Trans-Siberian railway ends either in Beijing or Vladivostok, depending which of the two you want to go to. Both take 6 days, I believe and they both cost about £450 for a one way trip in 2nd class (see Seat61 for more on train journeys across Russia).

That left me (on my proposed itinerary) stranded in Vladivostok with no onward travel. So I looked into whether it was possible to get from Russia to Alaska across the Bering Strait as one of several options (most of the others being to finish in Beijing and fly somewhere). In this article, I wanted to only talk about how to get from Russia to Alaska, since information on this appears to be very limited with loads of sites saying it can’t be done or being deliberately vague because they didn’t actually know.  When I updated the article in February 2016, I have also included information about how to get from Alaska to Russia which is MUCH easier.

The Specific Details of getting from Russia to Alaska:

Can you get from Russia across the Bering Strait to Alaska? Yes, you can, although the amount of effort or money involved may leave you changing trains and going to Beijing International Airport instead, for a flight to somewhere less undeveloped. The last thousand miles or so of Russia are still remarkably untouched, like a corner of the world that’s still how it was before agriculture caught on, punctuated with the occasional Soviet-era city or town, and many traditional settlements.

Here’s your options, assuming you are starting at Vladivostok, which is fairly accessible having both roads and rails going to it:

1. Fly from Vladivostok (or Khabarovsk) to Petropavlovsk-Kamchatsky, then get a flight from Petropavlovsk-Kamchatsky to Anchorage, Alaska, with Yakutia (www.yakutia.aero), a Russian airline. It’s about a 3 hour flight and goes every Saturday from 11th July to 29th August as it’s a seasonal flight.  You can also travel from Vladivostok to Khabarovsk (or get off the train early) and fly from there to Petropavlovsk-Kamchatsky.  This certainly seems to be the most reliable way to get out of Russia towards North America without going to Beijing or Seoul.  To get to Petropavlovsk-Kamchatsky, you can use any of the following airlines from either Vladivostok or Khabarovsk: Aeroflot (operated by Aurora, use the Aurora site to plan this flight), S7 Airlines, then Ural Airlines only goes from Vladivostok and Yakutia Airlines only goes from Khabarovsk.

Why do you need to fly from Vladivostok (or Khabarovsk) to Petropavlovsk-Kamchatsky? There are no roads. Literally, the last 800 miles or so of Russia has no roads or railways, not even dirt tracks, literally no thoroughfares at all, connecting places with each other, there are just the occasional towns and villages (which do have roads). Some, like Petropavlovsk-Kamchatsky, are on the sea and sometimes get freighter traffic.  Many other settlements in this area are inland and very isolated. These were the frontier towns during communism, and now, they lie abandoned, the new government seems disinterested in building roads to connect them to anywhere, and their concrete buildings are falling down.  There aren’t even any maps aside from Google Earth – literally, this sheet map is the furthest east I could find a paper map for, and it pretty much ends with Vladivostok!

It has been suggested that freighters are another way to get from Vladivostok to Petropavlovsk-Kamchatsky, but there are no regular sailings, I don’t speak more than two words of Russian, so I certainly can’t learn enough Russian to get a job or follow technical instructions by the time I travel, and anyway, I am female and therefore not being physically strong enough to do a lot of work on a freighter, even if the captain would allow me to try, which is unlikely, and freighters are unreliable as a mode of transport – your visa could run out while you waited for one to turn up, so I disregarded this option as impractical.

A note on Google: Petropavlovsk-Kamchatsky confused it on some of the ‘maps’ searches, Petropavlovsk did not, Kamchatsky did, so the best search term for information on this place is Petropavlovsk. Some people call it Kamchatka but Google struggles with that too.

2. Travel from Vladivostok to Provideniya, the furthest airport towards the Bering Strait, from there, you can charter a plane from Bering Air, an Alaskan company. They fly Nome, Alaska to Provideniya, Russia and may be able to pick you up in Russia if all your visas etc are in order, and if you’ve arranged this with them. They will probably want you to pay the cost of a return flight because they fly out from Alaska for Alaskan tourists to have trips to this isolated part of Russia, but you don’t need to charter a whole plane; you can potentially do it as a “seat fare passenger” when a plane is bringing American tourists over. I would still expect it to cost some money, however. You need to book this at least three weeks in advance of when you wish to travel so they can arrange all the paperwork which needs time to get from Alaska to Moscow. Email them for further enquiries as they don’t have a scheduled service.  This method has the advantage of the shortest flight from Russia to Alaska, but the disadvantage of being complicated and unreliable and potentially expensive.

Getting from Vladivostok to Provideniya:
This is a complicated multi-step trip requiring more than one short-hop flight due to the lack of roadage. Basically, from Vladivostok you need to go back upwards to Khabarovsk (or get off the train early, but then you’d miss out on Vladovostok, which may or may not matter to you), then you can fly from Khabarovsk to Anadyr (Ugolny airport, which is 11km east of Anadyr), then from this airport you can get a flight to Provideniya, from which you may be able to charter across to Nome or Anchorage using the information in the paragraph above.

3. You can walk across the Bering Strait when it is frozen solid, however, it’s about 53 miles of ice, after 800 miles of no roads and wilderness in Russia, and the US immigration office might frown upon your arrival in this manner (but at least they probably won’t arrest you if you have all the correct documentation such as a Visa, not sure where you’d get your exit stamp for Russia, though). There has been one known case of someone doing this in the opposite direction (they described the whole adventure as “brutal”) and they got into a lot of trouble with the Russian authorities because, due to lack of roads, it was impossible for them to register themselves at any police station in Russia within 24 hours of their arrival in the country. Oops. Other alternatives may include horseback or cycling if your off-road biking skills are outstanding, still not sure how you would cross the rivers, however.

Those are all the options I’ve found so far, as there are no direct flights from Vladivostok to anywhere in the U.S or Canada (but you can go on a 35 hour flight changing at Moscow going back all the way around the rest of the world to get to Anchorage or Seattle or anywhere else in North America if you’re set on using a plane and have loads of money). None of them come up on flight comparison services because they are not really comparable with anything.  There is literally one option at every stage.  Pricing information is also a bust so I don’t know how much any of this costs at the present, but I would guess at least a couple of hundred at each new flight.  It’s also worth noting that the NAVTEX stations over that corner of the world don’t appear to be very well maintained so navigational information is often unavailable, which can lead to some scheduled flights being grounded.

Update: Alaska To Russia:
Since I wrote the original article, I have found a company offering charter flight services who may be able to take you from Anchorage to Petropavlovsk-Kamchatsky (or to Vladivostok or Provideniya) or (less likely) Petropavlovsk-Kamchatsky (or Vladivostok or Provideniya) to Anchorage. This cuts out ALL of the uncertainty and means you will be able to go straight from Alaska to Russia or possibly vice versa with an reputable, accountable company organizing your independent journey by finding you a pilot and a plane.  If you wish to book a chartered flight, you can find one here: Villiers Private Jet Charter. Villiers has lots of private pilots with planes around the world and is most likely to be able to meet your needs. Most charter flight services depend on where the individual pilots are based, but there are a lot of people in Alaska with planes so this is your absolute best option if you want to go from Alaska to Russia rather than the other way around, especially since you can book a flight for a date and time which suits you. There are some private charter jets offering the reverse journey (Russia to Alaska) but these are thin on the ground. To offset the cost, it would be well worth finding several other people willing to accompany you on this journey, and on a private charter flight you should be able to take items such as bicycles as well if you needed to.

Do you have any further information on how to cross the Bering Strait from Russia to Alaska, or in reverse? You can email me at invokedelight@gmail.com if you have managed to do this or if you have found any other ways of getting across, or know of a ship that travels this route and takes passengers (not freighters, as explained above), please do let me know I would love to hear how you have done this journey and can add your perspective to this article. If you have a first-hand account of the journey that you’d like to share with the world, I’d love to put you up as a separate article as a guest post (your name to your article, you keep copyright etc) if you email me. I am particularly interested if you’re female as all the articles I’ve read so far seem to be young men in their 20’s and 30’s who have even considered doing this journey. NOTE: I am not a travel agent, please don’t email me asking for detailed travel advice!

Helpful Map

This map shows an overview of the ways you can get from Russia to Alaska by air. Click to enlarge. Base map: Google maps Additional layers: me.
This map shows an overview of the ways you can get from Russia to Alaska by air.  Click to enlarge.  Base map: Google maps.  Additional layers: Invoke Delight.

Resources:
Bering Air website.
Travel Article on crossing the last part of Russia and the Bering Strait Please note this information is all very old and was last updated in February 2006, after which the author appears to have lost interest in further research into this topic.
Yakutia airport website flights from Petropavlovsk Kamchatsky to Anchorage, Alaska, this is the flight schedule, they only fly on Saturdays in July/August and not at all the rest of the year.
Off the unbeaten track Travel information for Petropavlovsk Kamchatsky.
The Other Side of Russia: A Slice of Life in Siberia and the Russian Far East by Sharon Hudgins: This is the only book written about extended travel in far Eastern Russia although I don’t think she offers much helpful advice for making the journey between the Bering Strait and Alaska, there is a lot of information in this book which gives some eye-opening insights into life in this part of Russia.
Villiers Private Jet Charter the website for the private charter jet services.

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Silver Shampoos Reviewed

This is the updated version of one of my most popular articles, I have had to re-write it due to Amazon Associates axing my account, and thought I’d add in the shampoos I’ve tried since I first wrote this article.

silver shampoos
A rounded up photo of all the silver shampoos from my original article. The pro-voke one isn’t pictured because it was so bad that I haven’t bought it since the last lot ran out.

A hairdresser who I know, who shall remain anonymous, believes that all silver shampoos are created equal. I have also seen conflicting advice on the internet about how, exactly, you’re supposed to use silver shampoo, with some people seeming to think it is used to tone the hair.  See this article on toning to find out about my toning routine.

For new and aspiring platinum and silver blondelets, here is a breakdown of how you get any light cool shade of blonde, basically you stop when you’re happy with the colour, although see my other articles to find out SPECIFICALLY what I mean:

1. You bleach your hair. I would use a powder bleach and developer combo, such as John Frieda B Blonde High Lift Powder Bleach (or L’Oreal Quick Blue in the US) and bottles of peroxide (see my other hair articles to learn more about bleaching and what products I’ve used, and why I use the ones that I do), although I have had success with box dyes in the past.

2. You wash all the bleach out.

3. You tone your hair with a toner. These work like either semi-permanent colours (directions silver toner or directions white toner, any of the toner mousses, Jerome Russell Platinum Blonde Toner, Manic Panic Virgin Snow) or permanent colours (Bleach London White Toner; Wella Color Charm T18 White Lady). Basically, if your toner requires a developer, it’s not semi permanent.

4. About a week after you toned your hair, start using silver shampoo and/or conditioner as a maintenance to prolong your toning. Use it once or twice a week, depending on how frequently you wash your hair.

5. If you wanted platinum blonde, and your hair is getting too silvery, use the silver shampoo less.

I have tried out four different silver shampoos so far this year. I will post pics and review them in order:
Superdrug Wash-In Wash-Out Conditioning Colour (this is a shampoo with a tint to it – someone on another review of this used it as a conditioner – please don’t do that, condition after with a nice repair mask or silver conditioner)
Balea Silber Glanz (that’s German for “Silver Shampoo”)
Pro-Voke A Touch Of Silver
Bleach London Silver Shampoo
L’Oreal Professional Silver
Tigi Catwalk Silver

In order, then:

Superdrug Effects Cool Blonde 8.1

superdrug colour effects 8.1 light ash
Superdrug Colour Effects 8.1 Silver Shampoo

 

http://www.superdrug.com/Superdrug/Superdrug-Effects-Cool-Blonde-8-1/p/401021#.VJCd_TGsW4Y

The Superdrug one is a-maze. It only comes in a tiny travel size bottle so if you’re going on holiday, I think you could get it through carry-on security without any issues, although check before you go as I drive to my exotic holiday destinations because I loooove road trips. This Superdrug one came with me to Rome the first time I went, in 2006, and I am convinced it protected my hair from the sun. One of the things I love about **being a light blonde abroad** is that your hair reflects the sun’s heat and you get less hot. The Superdrug shampoo is the cheapest to buy but not the cheapest per-100ml, because the bottle is tiny. It says up to 3 applications but my hair is waist length and super thick, and I get 2 applications out at the very most, so I’d say if your hair is shoulder length you’ll get more than 3 applications out of this.

Pro’s: The colour is very grey, and covers a multitude of sins including uneven toning and bleaching, accidental use of argan oil, and smoking. When I was pure white in 2008, I used this shampoo to get rid of nicotine stains from my housemates’ 40 a day habit.

It’s good for airport carry on – the bottle is tiny.

It’s easy to use, and you can leave it on for up to 15 minutes for a stronger colour result (it doesn’t say that on the packaging any more but it still works).

Con’s: The colour is a very DULL grey, I don’t like the lack of sparkle to my hair after using this too frequently.
The colour builds up very quickly, meaning your hair colour keeps changing. I find this annoying.

The bottle is tiny, and at the price, it gets expensive if it’s your regular use one.

Conclusion: Take this one on holiday (in its own sandwich bag – if this leaks, you got a purple MESS), don’t use regularly at home, but can correct toning errors as long as you use another silver shampoo regularly.

Balea Silber Glanz:

The most gentle silver shampoo
The balea silber-glanz shampoo is sadly not for sale in the UK at the moment. Sometimes it appears on Amazon. 😦

I found this in Austria, where it was E1.65 for 200ml, I bought one for the rest of my journey. Then I found it in Germany, on the way home from Italy, where it was E1.45 for the exact same bottle, so I bought 6 to bring home for personal use. Recently, I found out Balea are selling to the UK on Amazon. I like this as a maintenance silver shampoo.

Pro’s: The UV filter protects your colour (no I don’t know how that works, but I tested in August in Rome; no colour shift at all and minimal drying to hair).
It comes in a very reasonable bottle size, unlike Pro:Voke or Superdrug.
It has a gentle effect so it never builds up.

Con’s: It has a gentle effect, so if you need something stronger you might want a different product.
You can only buy it cheaply in Germany, or slightly more expensively in the rest of mainland EU; the prices on Amazon Marketplace UK are shocking, I’ve seen Balea shampoo go for over £4 which I wouldn’t mind but it’s E1.45 in Germany! Stock is also limited on Amazon, to the point that it’s currently sold out.

Conclusion: I really love this shampoo, but it’s hard to get hold of and doesn’t deposit much colour, so I might be in a minority. You’ve got to hand it to the Germans; they really know how to take care of Ag and Pt hair for cheap. I’m looking forward to seeing if Sweden has similar exciting products if I ever get to go!

Pro:Voke A Touch of Silver Shampoo and Conditioner:

This is a really confusing one to review because they actually do two different shampoos and two different conditioners – they do tiny, more expensive bottles which are supposed to be the stronger stuff, known as Touch Of Silver Twice A Week Brightening Shampoo 150 ml for less regular use, and they do the cheaper, larger bottles called Touch Of Silver Daily Shampoo. I’ve finished an entire bottle of each of the four products – two shampoos, two conditioners – and am finally ready to comment.

Pro’s: They’re relatively cheap and readily available.
The tiny bottle of twice-weekly shampoo makes a bit of difference to your hair.

Con’s: The regular use shampoo and both conditioners are less than useless. I get a much better result from using a better silver shampoo and a decent non-blonde conditioner made for normal people’s hair. Both conditioners left my hair dull and dry, despite claiming to contain optical brighteners. The tiny weekly shampoo didn’t make that much difference to my hair, even after 20 minutes, and the result was always uneven, no matter how long or short I left it on for. Personally I am not going to buy this range again, and I suspect they’re only so popular because people don’t know what other silver shampoos are out there.

Conclusion: These are for sale everywhere and if I totally ran out of every other silver shampoo and this was the only thing for sale, I would buy the weekly use shampoo. If I had absolutely no other choice, I still wouldn’t buy the regular shampoo or either conditioner again they have done more harm than good and my hair looked less silver after using them.

Bleach London Silver Shampoo:

The absolute best silver shampoo and conditioner I've used.  Ever.
Bleach London’s silver shampoo and conditioner. These are so good they should be for sale in every shop. Even bakeries.

Where can you get it?
You can buy it here: http://www.boots.com/en/Bleach-Silver-Shampoo-250ml_1401400/
And here’s the conditioner: http://www.boots.com/en/Bleach-Silver-Conditioner-250ml_1401402/

As far as I know, this is a relatively new product. Since I first saw it’s empty shelf with a price tag in Boots, it’s been sold out every time I’ve been in, for a few months, but I finally ran out of the Pro:Voke last week so could buy this guilt-free and it was FINALLY in stock. I got the shampoo and conditioner, but I haven’t tried the conditioner yet, and here’s why: The shampoo is enough. Literally, it leaves my hair more silver, but doesn’t dull it or leave a nasty residue, the colour result is even and smooth, and I’ve washed it again with non-silver shampoo since I first used it, and this silver shampoo hasn’t faded at all.
Pro’s: See above. Plus you don’t seem to need as much product to cover your hair as any of the others I’ve tried.  Update June 2015: I have used a full bottle of the conditioner now, and feel it’s nowhere near as good as the shampoo, and it’s not very conditioning either.

Con’s: It’s the most expensive out of all the ones available in normal shops, at £5 a bottle (as of 2015), but it’s worth it, and I know that bottle will last because I don’t have to use it every time I wash my hair, or even every two times. I could finally wait ten days between silver applications! You do get product build up with this one though, which dulls the colour of your hair, and it’s quite harsh on the hair, and very drying.  I team it with Schwarzkopf Gliss Liquid Silk Gloss Conditioner to get more sparkle from my hair strands. The silver conditioner is definitely good for extra cool tones.

Conclusion: It’s good on the colour side if you want dark silver, it’s less good for white or platinum.  I would buy it again but only if I couldn’t afford either the L’Oreal Professional silver or Tigi Catwalk Violet shampoos.

L’Oreal Professional Silver Shampoo

Where can you get it?
I bought it from a professional hairdressing store, they generally sell to the general public these days; otherwise it’s available online at the well known shopping giant Amazon.  I found the lid was quite flimsy so I wouldn’t order it online unless my local professional stockists stop selling it.

Pro’s: I absolutely love this one.  It’s the most even coverage, gives the best silver result, doesn’t dull down the colour of your hair, and offers the least product build up.  It’s nowhere near as abrasive on the hair as the Bleach London one.  It’s about £7.50, making it the most expensive gram-for-gram, but it’s the best one there is, and of the six I’ve tried, this is the one I’ll be buying again, once my Tigi runs out.  It also has a more blue base than the others, so it brings the hair to a whiter silver than the Bleach London or the Superdrug ones.

Con’s: It’s lid is really flimsy which means that I wouldn’t trust a mail order company.  Also it’s hard to acquire if you don’t live in a city with a professional hairdressing store.

Conclusion: I love this shampoo and once I’ve finished the Tigi one, this is what I’m going to buy again.

Tigi Catwalk Silver Violet Shampoo

Where can you buy it?
Again, it’s available either from professional/specialist hair stores, or you can get it online.

Pro’s: It was £17.50 for about a litre and a half of this stuff.  So it’s the cheapest per gram of any of them.  It leaves your hair really soft and nourished, and is the least abrasive of any of the most pigmented ones.  It has a pump top so in the shower you can just press down on it to get the product out of the bottle.

Con’s: It’s in a really big bottle, so if you don’t like it, you’re stuck with it for ages.  Its coverage isn’t quite as even or as pigmented as the L’Oreal one, and it really works best on towel dried hair rather than wet hair in the shower.

Conclusion: I like this shampoo, and I’m about 2/3 of the way through the bottle now, but I don’t think it’s quite as good as the L’Oreal one, so I’ll be using the L’Oreal one once this bottle is finished.

So there you have it, my favourite is L’Oreal Professional’s Silver Shampoo. Obviously this is my subjective opinion based on results I have observed on my own hair, so I don’t want to urge you to rush out and buy it, but personally, I’m so glad I did.

Also, it’s not good for your hair to use a silver shampoo every time you wash. With the exception of the Balea one, none of the others actually clean your hair much, they just fix the colour. Only if I’ve used dry shampoo on my hair, I would shampoo with a non-silver before using a silver shampoo just to clean my hair so it’s ready to take on the colour. I do this because when I was a brunette last year, I had the brown dry shampoo, and two wet shampoos later, I’d still be getting brown residue of dry shampoo washing out of my hair. At the end of the day, dry shampoo is still a product and it still builds up in your hair, it’s not a real shampoo, it’s actually powder that absorbs grease, and it needs to be washed out before you use silver shampoo otherwise your colour result will be disappointing because it’ll stick to the dry shampoo residue and wash straight out.

28-03-15 For a review of what I’ve used between silver shampoos, I’ve written a separate article which is now published!

Here’s my silver and white hair Q and A

I’ll add my white hair tutorial once it’s uploaded on Youtube.