16.01.2018  21:22
Winter Safari on Lake Peipsi
Winter Safari on Lake Peipsi

As a child you probably read a book or two about polar explorers discovering new places on fully frozen landscape. Today, adventures like those described in books are no longer just fiction – on our winter safaris you'll be able to experience similar conditions but, naturally, in a more convenient and comfortable manner. Argo amphibious ATVs can successfully travel on both wet and dry land, the only thing they're (currently) unable to do is to fly. Our 24-hour polar safari will give you the true feel of a polar expedition as the adventure will start from the frozen bogland of Emajõe Suursoo Bog, which has only 5 to 6 steady all-year-round residents, introduce you the strange and secretive world of ice fishermen and the innovative means of transportation they use on Lake Peipsi and take you to a tour in the completely secluded villages of Piirissaar Island. And the night will be spent at our cosy Raft House located on the frozen waters of the Emajõe Suursoo Bog.

Period: 1.5 - 2 months a year – usually late January to early March. The event is only available under suitable weather and ice conditions and Border Guard authorisation!

Number of participants: 10 - 20.

Duration: About 24 hours. The route is approximately 60 km long.

Location: Frozen bodies of water on the eastern border of Estonia and EU: Emajõe Suursoo bog, Piirissaar island in Lake Peipsi


The safari is held with Canadian-made ARGO AVENGER 8X8 and ARGO CONQUEST 8x8 amphibious vehicles

Lunch and overnight stay in the Raft House on a body of water in Emajõe Suursoo bog.

We will start the trip by meeting up at Ahunapalu village, in a sparsely-populated area at bog frontier.
Our tripleaders will be waiting with the amphibious vehicles. Each participant will receive a life jacket. It will help to protect you from the wind, and it's always better to be safer. We will load your gear on a sledge and you will get on the vehicles. We will drive to the Raft House on river ice. The riverbanks in Suursoo bog are rare and picturesque. We will be seeing many beaver nests and, if lucky, some wild animals. After lunch at the Raft House, we will get into our warmest clothes and head for Lake Peipsi where hundreds of fishermen will already be waiting. We will probably see some Karakatitsa or the homemade ice buggies of the fishermen of Lake Peipsi. Old car bodies have been fitted with enormous tyres to ensure the vehicles stay afloat. Many fishermen will have arrived in their passenger cars, defying all risks and pushing through snowdrifts. We will continue to Piirissaar island near the border between Estonia and Russia. The Russian border is just 400-500 metres from its eastern shore. The island will be our first landing since starting out from Ahunapalu. So far, we will have travelled on ice only. Piirissaar is a fascinating place. It is tiny, just 7,5 sq. km - and even that is mostly marshland. The island has just 55 hectares of habitable land and three villages - Piiri, Tooni and Saare. Most inhabitants are Russian Old Believers who have for centuries been maintaining their distinctive culture and living habits in seclusion. We will visit all villages, see their churches and graveyards.
After a tour, we will return to the lake.
The trip will continue over the dusky icefield straight to the Raft House. Arrival at the Raft House will be especially gratifying. Hot tea and hot stove will suddenly feel very convincing. The following will be business as usual. Dinner and sauna or sauna and dinner – it's a matter of taste.
And even the bravest will eventually fall. Asleep.
We will serve coffee and pancakes in the morning, followed by a trip back to Ahunapalu.

Gear: This adventure requires a very careful choice of clothing. The regular "warm clothing" will not be sufficient. All participants must have hats and thick gloves. It's always better to have more clothes on than you think you might need. Ski goggles and a facemask is very convenient but sunglasses and a scarf will do as well. The eight wheels of an amphibious vehicle will create snowbursts, causing discomfort to uncovered faces.
A sleeping bag is required for overnight stay. Pillows and mattresses will be available in the house. Sauna lovers should also bring their towels.

Safety: We are obsessed with your safety and will do everything to ensure a safe trip. Most routes will be checked by our tripleaders the day before to verify the condition of ice. We will also consult with local conservationists, border guards and fishermen before each departure. Life jackets, ropes and other appropriate safety equipment will be provided. The Border Guard usually won't allow traffic on Lake Peipsi until the ice is thick enough to carry a passenger car. We will require your contribution towards safety as well: you will be asked to stay sober and dress warmly. Unsober or sparsely clothed adventurers will have to skip the Lake Peipsi safari but will have the chance to spend good time at the Raft House. However, the aforesaid shouldn't be taken as a warning of any explicit danger. It's a perfectly safe and fun adventure, we just try to avoid any risks whatsoever. Note that we will be travelling in amphibious vehicles, i.e. if the ice should ever break, they will stay afloat like boats with you on board! We will then just winch the vehicles back on the ice and carry on.

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