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Gulags

Siberia has a dark history, and eastern Siberia even more so. From the 1920s to 1950s, millions of “enemies of the people” passed through the gulag system. Sadly, many froze, starved or died of exhaustion in camps across the USSR. The location of these camps was a closely guarded secret. To this day most locals do not know the whereabouts of gulags in their region.

Some are little more than ruins after decades of exposure to the harsh Siberian elements. Others, on the other hand, have survived almost untouched. Conveniently, one of the most intact gulags is in the Kodar Mountains east of Lake Baikal. Its name is Borskiy. Thousands of people mined uranium here for Stalin during the race to build the world’s first atomic bomb. At an altitude of 2000m and ringed by 3000-metre peaks, it is Russia’s most beautifully situated gulag. It may also have had the worst conditions. At sea level in this region winter temperatures can hit an 

 

incredible -60°C. Although nobody ever measured temperatures at Borskiy, they must have got even colder due to the altitude. Nevertheless, today the huts that the prisoners lived in remain intact. Visitors will also see well preserved watch towers, barbed wire fences, mine shafts, equipment, a small railway and more.

Despite its stunning location, great condition and historical significance, very few foreigners have ever visited due to its remoteness. This is therefore a real expedition that takes you well beyond the usual frontiers of adventure travel.

You can do Borskiy as a standalone trip or combined with a visit to nomadic reindeer herders. Please see our set itineraries below. However, please also be aware that the trek to Borskiy includes a 700-metre elevation raise over two days. Guests will therefore need to have a certain level of fitness.

 

Siberia has a dark history, and eastern Siberia even more so. From the 1920s to 1950s, millions of “enemies of the people” passed through the gulag system. Sadly, many froze, starved or died of exhaustion in camps across the USSR. The location of these camps was a closely guarded secret. To this day most locals do not know the whereabouts of gulags in their region.

Some are little more than ruins after decades of exposure to the harsh Siberian elements. Others, on the other hand, have survived almost untouched. Conveniently, one of the most intact gulags is in the Kodar Mountains east of Lake Baikal. Its name is Borskiy. Thousands of people mined uranium here for Stalin during the race to build the world’s first atomic bomb. At an altitude of 2000m and ringed by 3000-metre peaks, it is Russia’s most beautifully situated gulag. It may also have had the worst conditions. At sea level in this region winter temperatures can hit an incredible -60°C. Although nobody ever measured temperatures at Borskiy, they must have got even colder due to the altitude. Nevertheless, today the huts that the prisoners lived in remain intact. Visitors will also see well preserved watch towers, barbed wire fences, mine shafts, equipment, a small railway and more.

Despite its stunning location, great condition and historical significance, very few foreigners have ever visited due to its remoteness. This is therefore a real expedition that takes you well beyond the usual frontiers of adventure travel.

You can do Borskiy as a standalone trip or combined with a visit to nomadic reindeer herders. Please see our set itineraries below. However, please also be aware that the trek to Borskiy includes a 700-metre elevation raise over two days. Guests will therefore need to have a certain level of fitness.

 

Gulag tours on Lake Baikal