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Hackers On A Train: Russian adventure will take you to sights across Russia, via the BAM and/or Trans Siberian.

The trip is planned for August of 2013.

Your Mission (should you choose to accept it)

Travel across Mongolia and Siberia via train.

Intercept contacts along the way and pass along the spirit of DIY technological innovation.

Explore sites of interest.

Engage in environmental monitoring and other projects.

Spread good will along the way.


About Baikal Amur Mainline (BAM) from: Off the Beaten Track -

The Baikal-Amur Mainline (BAM) is one of Russia‘s two great railways. The other, the Trans-Siberian Railway, is much more famous and well-travelled. The BAM, however, running parallel but about 500km to the north, takes you through much more spectacular scenery, much less spoilt parts of Lake Baikal (the world’s oldest and deepest lake) and through some towns that feel as though the Soviet Union never ended and very rarely receive any foreign visitors.

Some facts

Stretching nearly 2,000 miles (3,220km) from Lake Baikal in Siberia to Khabarovski Krai on Russia’s Pacific coast, BAM negotiates 7 mountain ranges, 11 alpine rivers and areas of high seismic activity. And for almost half of its length, it runs through the permafrost.

Building BAM through this difficult terrain required 142 bridges over 100 m long and more than 200 railway stations and sidings, as well eight tunnels, including Severo-Muysky, which at 15.3 kilometres is the longest tunnel in Russia and the fifth longest in the world.

When traveling along the BAM, pay attention to the design of each train station. It has an ethnic touch of the former USSR members. It was done on purpose to underline the unity of many cultures living in the USSR. Some of BAM train stations are true architectural art built of granite, marble, and metal. The BAM tunnels deserve special attention.. particularly the 15-kilometer (9 miles) Severomuysky Tunnel.

Basic Route Plan (See attached map)

Leg 1: Sovetskaya Gavan (Sowieckaja Gawan) to Severobaikalsk (Sewierobajkalsk) via BAM.

Leg 2: Catch a ferry down Lake Baikal, north to south

Leg 3: Irkutsk to Ulaan Baator (Mongolia) via Trans Mongolian

Leg 4: Ulaanbaatar to Beijing via Trans Mongolian

Quick facts

Duration: Approximately 3 - 4 weeks.

Time: Summer 2013 (June / July / August)

Number of people: have quotes for 9 people.

Approximate cost: ____ Yen

Route Stops

Week 1

- Sovetskaya Gavan to Komsomolsk-na-Amure (15 hours on the train)
- 2 days in Komsomolsk-na-Amure
- Komsomolsk-na-Amure to Tynda (38 hours on the train)
- 1 day Tynda (to stretch legs)
- Tynda to Severobaikalsk (26 hours on the train)

Week 2

- 7 days around Severobaikalsk (renting a place / cabin) to explore around Lake Baikal, work on projects, meet people. 

Week 3

- Ferry from Severobaikalst along Lake Baikal to Irkutsk (12 hours)
- Irkustk (lots of research centres around here) (3 days)
- Irkutsk to Ulan Bator (Mongolia) via Trans Mongolian. (7 hours)

Week 4

- 7 days around Ulaan Baator (renting a place / cabin) to explore, work on projects
- Ulaanbaatar to to Beijing via Trans Mongolian (2 days)

Starting point options

1: Ferry across from Hokkaido Japan to Sakhalin, then onto Sovetskaya Gavannb. need to add on travel time.

2: Fly to Beijing and do it the other way (Sokol suggested this so we're not dependent on weather and ferries crossing from Japan. If we're delayed at the start of the trip, all the train schedules will be out)

Sights to See

Lake Baikal

Stunts and Contacts


Weather projects: NOTE: If you doing measurements without any big and bulky equipment, it's possible

* Water: same thing, depending on when you are going to analyze the samples. 
* Depth sensoring and Monitoring: there is a good Baikal Research laboratory/museum in Listvyanka (village on Lake Baikal, about 2 hrs
  drive from Irkutsk). 

Photography: easy - but in Russia one can not take photos in research areas and institutions, unless they have special permission. Most of them are considered to be military objects and therefore have high security requirements.

Cooking: no probs. Can be organized in local families

People to Meet

Sokol can organize a tour to local Universities / schools where you can meet local tech students, possibly see their work. In Irkutsk for example, there is a large Technical University.

Logistics and Inventory



Agencies we've contacted

Sokol Tours


Baikal Complex - provided quote (see pdf attached)

Points to Consider

- cabins x 4 people with two top and two bottom bunks (2nd class cabins).
The cabins are small.
- there is no wifi on the trains
- limited power supply (one/two power points per carriage of 39 ppl total) turned on at the discretion of the conductor
- In summer most Unis are on annual leave so we'd need to prearrange visits
- The thing to understand about Russia is: the country still has some sort of communistic mind. So for any research etc you might have to ask an official permission from the local administration, especially if it's a big group of you. But if all your research can be done without attracting too much attention from authorities, then you don't need any special permissions.

More on what to expect and what to bring

Social & Political


  • Siberian horse gnat
hackers_on_a_train/russian_adventure.txt · Last modified: 2017/09/26 14:51 by thsadmin