Get stuck in the swamps

Tomsk Region

Russia Beyond
Russia Beyond
One step and your foot goes under the water up to your ankles and then up to your knees. You feel something stopping you from going deeper - a crumpled “mattress” from grass and moss, but it also is about to break through and then you will sink down to your chest for sure. Every once in a while, you get out on a thick mossy island and begin to spring on it like on a trampoline. It feels strange: you try to jump up, but the moss is gripping your feet, not letting you go further.

The Vasyugan swamps are the world’s largest bog, but not so many daredevils come here. And it’s quite understandable: it’s easy to get lost. The landscape is the same everywhere you turn. At a distance of 50 meters you won’t even hear a loud cry, as there is nothing for the sounds to bounce off of. When you step on the fluffy moss - it crumples, but then immediately returns to its previous form. But you really want to leave your “trace” here!

Vyacheslav Karmanov is the only traveler who knows how to lead tourists along a safe route. And there’s no shortage of people who want to join him. Many of them want to get a taste of freshly picked juicy cranberries, take a scoop of clear and absolutely sterile water and marvel at how colorful swamps can be.

In a tested location, where small trees do not block the view, the guide allows tourists to walk around on their own. Then you can listen to the marsh, or rather to its silence: no noise from the wind, no raindrops, not even an echo from your own voice. However, this silence is not oppressive, but rather soft and ambient. 

Walking on a mossy carpet gets you tired quickly. But you only manage to sit down on the trunk of a sparse stunted pine tree, which had fallen on its side.

It is necessary to return to solid ground before dark, so the group turns back, having gathered full bags of the most delicious cranberries and a bundle of impressions from a place mysterious and unlike anything else.

How to get stuck in swamps

Do you want to find out for yourself what the impassable Siberian swamps are like?

Then go for a day hike through the Vasyugan swamps with Vyacheslav Karmanov, the only extreme hiker-guide who conducts such escapades.

What you will need: 

1️⃣ Find out when the next tourist group is scheduled to go. Usually you go to the marshes in spring or fall. In summer there is nothing to do there because of hordes of mosquitoes and midges.

2️⃣ Arrive at the group gathering place, which is usually an hour and a half drive from Tomsk.

3️⃣  Wear OZK stockings. The guide will hand them out. Without special protection to move through the swamps, you won’t be able to go far. Rubber boots won’t help. On the contrary, they'll prevent you from getting out of the swamp if you get stuck.

4️⃣ Take a prepared stick, which will play the role of a third point of support for you.

5️⃣ Go and conquer one of the most inaccessible and little-visited places on earth.

Silent Hunting

“Where are the cranberries?” - this question tormented, it seemed, the entire group of swamp walkers. We were eagerly looking into the mossy hills, waiting for the red barrel of ripe berries to appear. “Just be patient, another half an hour and you will drown in cranberries,” the extreme-excursor Vyacheslav Karmanov answered.

There it is! The first berry is the most delicious… Hurry up and put it in your mouth! 😋

“Don’t fall behind! The best cranberries are ahead,” shouted the tour guide from behind the sparse birch trees.

What is the most important thing in silent hunting? That’s right: patience! The farther you go into the Vasyugan swamps, the bigger the cranberries get.

And here is the promised meadow. All covered with a carpet of huge bright red beads. You just have to grab it with both hands!

The freshly picked cranberry crunches and it is impossible to stop. Eh, it’s delicious like the Vasyugan swamps in the fall! 🤤

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