Russia may seem about as faraway from the U.S. as one can get. But from Nome, it’s just one hour away! Hop in a twin-engine plane and you’ll be soaking up an entirely different culture in the Russian region known as Chukotka. This is no tourist center: there isn’t much in the way of shopping, restaurants, or entertainment. But you will find a truly unique part of the world.
Nome-based Bering Air operates flights from Alaska, and the experience, while not luxurious, is unforgettable. This is a closed region of Russia, and its people have had very limited contact with the rest of the world. You’ll fly into Provideniya, a deep-water port along the coast that’s surrounded by steep, treeless mountains. Here you’ll find a blend of cultures: Russian, Chukchi, and Siberian Chukchi.
Because this is a closed region, though, you’ll need a visa and an entry permission document (see below).
Options For Flying To Russia From Nome
Charter a flight. If you have a group, it’s not as expensive as you might think. This option also requires at least 3 weeks advance notice. Flight permits are issued through Moscow, and it takes 14 days to process a flight request.
"Seat fare" is flying an already scheduled charter flight on a space-available basis. It’s a much cheaper way to go, but you have to be flexible, since charters can be canceled. Email Bering Air your name and the approximate dates you want to travel (email@example.com) or call 907-443-8988. They will let you know if a charter gets scheduled (and if you make it onto a charter, you will be guaranteed a seat back).
Visa. Get a one-time entry visa. If you live in a major U.S. city, go to the consulate and you can get it issued in one day. In Alaska, the easiest way to obtain it is to use a Lower 48 travel agency that specializes in processing rush visas, such as Red Star Travel; figure on one day to process and a couple days for shipping. If you’re already in Nome, courier services take 3 days to Seattle. (Since FedEx doesn’t go into Nome, the Anchorage - Nome shipping is by USPS.)
Entry Permission Document. This is the tricky part. Because this is a “closed” region of the Russian Federation, you also need an entry permission document. Someone from the region needs to invite you, and it takes at least six weeks to process. Alaska.org recommends Roman Bratslavsky (firstname.lastname@example.org) in Anchorage, who has relationships with residents in the Chukotka region who can process this for you.