Russia, Komi Republic

Journey of a lifetime deep into the taiga

Workcamp: Heart of Taiga

The story was written for us by Ola Pogoda

Komi Republic. Syktyvkar. Yugyd Va. How many of you know these names? Hands up!

Until a few months ago, I didn’t know either and they turned out to be the places where I spent the two most interesting weeks of my life.

I came across the “Heart of taiga” workcamp completely by accident on a search engine. I had a holiday booked for the first two weeks of July and I was looking for a trip connected with nature. I was hesitating between Portugal, Iceland and Russia. Eventually, I decided that if I want to go, I should go all the way. Where else would I have the opportunity to test myself in such a way than over 3000 km away from home in the virgin taiga with no access to phone or internet?

I started the journey of my life with two flights: Warsaw – Moscow and Moscow – Syktyvkar, where I met up with the rest of the workcamp participants: Amanda and Sara from Ireland, Damiano and Davido from Italy, Woo and Yun from South Korea, Katrii from Finland, Mar from Catalonia and our only translator, coordinator Svetla from Russia. We then travelled by train (the same as the famous Trans-Siberian railway) to Uchta and then by bus to Vuktylu. From this town in the middle of nowhere, where access is cut off twice a year for about a week depending on the state of the river, established 50 years ago to service a gas pipeline, we set off for the final leg of the journey: by car to the heart of the UNESCO Yugyd Va National Heritage Park.

During the workcamp we travelled 120 km down the Pechora river, stopping at campsites along the way, cleaning them, mowing and raking the grass or repainting the rooms. The work was not hard and with 10 people it was done in one go. We spent our free time on international talks, initiating discussions, playing Mafia, taking care of good relations in the group, taking a bath, organising food for ourselves or chasing away the ubiquitous mosquitoes.

The location was the main advantage of this workcamp, I don’t think you can get to this national park on your own. And what a beautiful place it was! Luscious greenery, crystal clear water and light fresh air. I was surprised by the white nights, I didn’t know we were far enough north to experience them. They made an incredible impression and also made camping very easy. And the silence and the awareness that there was no human being in the distance, no matter how many kilometres away, was incredibly cleansing.

After staying in this unique place, I had a thought that if everyone once in a while retreats to such wilderness, it is impossible not to gain distance, a different perspective, peace, patience and understanding towards our everyday life, resulting in happiness and gratitude for what we have. And less bitterness in people would translate into a more pleasant and compatible relationship with each other. Additionally, there is a wonderful type of people going on workcamps: kind, helpful, open, generous, funny, curious about the world, not demanding, not complaining, also being with them during such a trip restores one’s faith in humanity (or strengthens it depending on one’s experience).

The taste of tea, when you wait for water to boil for an hour; warming up in a banya and then jumping into a cold river after a day of trekking; discovering that people from every corner of the world are in fact very similar to you and have the same problems, joys and dreams, all these feelings are priceless, but absolutely priceless is the feeling of a fulfilled dream. I came back to Poland happy, fulfilled and inspired. I already can’t wait for the next workcamp!

The workcamp took place in 2017.

If you have any additional questions feel free to contact me.