Russian Catamaran Rafts

Unique Russian catamaran & trimaran rafts

Russian rafters at the time were completely isolated from the world. Thus resulted in construction of rather unique rafts to tackle the Russian waterways. The catamaran rafts mostly consists of two inflatable tubes lashed together by local trees or aluminum frames. 

You would occasionally see trimaran rafts, yes with three tubes instead of two. It was quite a sight to see this large raft go over Class 5 rapids.

Mil Mi-8P Soviet Helicopter
Mil Mi-8P Soviet Helicopter

Our method of air transport on our rafting adventure was on a Soviet Mi-8P military transport helicopter. Chiefly designed to move troops, but has been configured as an airborne command post, gunship and even used as a reconnaissance platform.

This Helicopter has been in production since 1961. Can reach a maximum speed of 155 mph with a normal range of 280 nautical miles and hold up to 24 passengers and 3 crew.

These helicopter are used everywhere, still in production in Russia of today.

Bashkaus River Facts

The Bashkaus river is located in Altai Republic in Siberia, Russia. It is a left tributary of the Chulyshman River, which flows into Lake Teletskoye. The Bashkaus River is 136 miles long, and its drainage basin covers 3,000 square miles. It rises from a cirque lake (an amphitheater-like valley formed by glacial erosion) in the eastern part of the Kuraiskii Mountain Range. In its lower reaches, it flows in a narrow valley, which often turns into a rocky canyon. The mean annual flow rate near the village of Ust’-Ulagan measures about 1,100 cubic feet per second.

The Bashkaus river is widely considered one of the most challenging rivers for white-water rafting in the former USSR. In Russia, it is known as a Class 5 river meaning that its technical difficulty, (difficulty in navigating it in a raft or canoe) is high, while its remoteness or distance from assistance in the event of things going wrong is Class 6 (on the Russian scale of one to six.) 

Bashkaus River Topographical Map

World Rafting Championship History and Project RAFT

The World Rafting Championship has its origins in the international events of Project RAFT in which up to 50 teams competed in various disciplines including Slalom and Down River on the Chuya River, Siberia (1989), Nanthala river, USA (1990), Reventazón and Pacuare rivers, Costa Rica (1991) and Çoruh river, Turkey (1993). Project RAFT (Russians and Americans for Teamwork) was founded by California river guides Jib Ellison and Mike Grant and the first event, the Chuya Rally, was a collaborative effort between them and the Siberian river explorer, Misha Kolchevnikov. More information here.

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