Monday, 8 May 2017

Welcome to the 2017 season

Welcome back to the Varzuga blog.  I have been following this blog for as long as it has been going and it is great to have the opportunity to be the author.

We flew out to Murmansk last Wednesday to do the last minute shopping and to ensure that our container of goods cleared customs.  It is extraordinary that a process that was started last July takes until the last minute to actually be completed and it is a reminder that nothing is easy to implement up here.
The bus fully loaded with supplies for camp
One thing I was staggered by was the improvements to the city since I was last here 4 years ago.  It really is a different place with very smart shops, excellent restaurants and the hotels are now very comfortable indeed.  We used to dread overnighting in Murmansk but now it is something to be looked forward to.
A new shopping centre in Murmansk
It was very cold in the city and we were told that the Varzuga had not broken, there was lots of snow and it was still freezing at night.  All of which sounded rather ominous and our journey down here (8 hours by bus) was pretty much a white out.

An aerial view of the ice on the river, looking back from Lower to the village
We got to the village yesterday evening to be greeted by Misha, the Russian camp manager at Lower Varzuga and Feorder, the head guide.  It was perhaps a sign of things to come that they greeted us on skidoos having driven up the centre of the river on the thick ice.

Feoder on his skidoo
Very quickly it became obvious that we are sadly going to have to cancel the first week of the season. The local advice is that it is going to take up to a week to start the ice break and that it will take a few days after that for the ice to have fully cleared so that it is safe to be in the water.

Taking supplies into camp
We have got plenty to be getting on with; not least clearing the duckboards so that we can get to the office, the container and the lodge without getting soaked but there is no doubt that there is an air of disappointment amongst all of us that we are not going to be welcoming our first clients on Saturday.

Trying to get to the container
It is a beautiful day today with temperatures at around 4 degrees but it was very cold last night.  One thing in our favour is that the river froze at a very low level in the Autumn so that once the thaw starts, it will not take much melt to lift the ice “off its moorings” and start the break up process which is something we are all looking forward to seeing.

Giving the drone a fly above Lower
We will keep be posting daily from the river and look forward to bringing you more news.

Jack Selby.