Kuanda river, too much water near Chara Sands & warm welcome in Olyokma.

Day 47-48, “BAM”. 165 & 243 km.

Every few kilometres on the BAM road you have one or more possibilities: intact bridge, or broken bridge with water crossing or if water crossing too deep: the railway bridge. Kuanda river is alway an obstacle because it is nearly alway too deep. The region had heavy rains in the last days and the river was even for a Kamaz truck too deep (planned to hire one). We were offered a crossing with a 12-20 ton tank but unfortunately it had some engine problems – so no show time… The bridge it was… Strategical important bridges a guarded in Siberia – but Johan found a “solution” and after a lot of farewells to him and one of his sons, we were able to cross the river. Thank you Johan for your help and great hospitality! We tackled the road to Novo Chara with some rotten bridges and quite dry rocky sections. The landscape with high mountains at the horizon was amazing. In Novo Chara we had some minor difficulties to find a hotel – but a friendly Russian showed us the way to a hotel which was not fully booked. The next day we tried to reach Chara Sands near old Chara. It is a sand desert in the middle of nowhere (see google earth pic below). Wikipedia: “It is a small desert 3 kilometers wide by 6 kilometers long, located in the Charsk basin amid the valleys of Chara, Middle Sakukan and Upper Sakukan rivers. The rapid change from the pine and larch forests and peat bogs to the sand has no transition zone—this is one of the peculiarities of this unusual area, besides the roaming sand dunes and the oases that emerge among them.” It has Sahara like dunes and we were really looking forward to visit this place. Unfortunately we met impassable bogs with high water levels and turned around just 2 km after the village…


We continued to Khani and thought of staying there before some rough sections on the BAM – but the village had no place to stay. We met Alexander – a super friendly Russian biker who guided us some km on the BAM road. Where are some broken bridges nearby and he showed us the best paths onto the railway to bypass the deep rivers. Thank you Alexander!!!!! You saved our day! (If you read this – please send me an email!!!! The address on the backside of the sticker does not work…).


In the early evening we reached Olyokma. The village has 500 approximately residents and officially no hotel or B&B. We stopped at one of the many small stores/supermarkets in this place and asked for a B&B. No chance… But everybody was really friendly and a women stopped, made a phone call and went with me to the fire department. We picked up a key and when she guided us to a nice flat with kitchen and shower. I asked her about the costs and she said it is not her flat but it is free of charge – just leave the key at the fire department… Amazing – everyday on this journey I meet wonderful Russians who are so generous, hospitable and always go an extra mile to help you. Can’t imagine what would happen in Europe if we only had 10% of it…

We spent the evening at a store and met the youth from the village and other wonderful people. What a welcoming place! Thank you!

One thought on “Kuanda river, too much water near Chara Sands & warm welcome in Olyokma.

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