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'In Siberia… the land is richly blessed and all that is needed is to make the most of it'
Dostoevskiy

Unmasked: a new natural Wonder of the World, not yet on ANY tourist trail

By The Siberian Times reporter
01 August 2016

It is only in the vastness of Siberia, perhaps, where a crowdfunded recce trip can lead to such a jaw-dropping discovery...

'My education gives me a clear understanding of how exactly this landscape form appeared (geologically), yet even this did not stop me feeling as if this Wonder was hand-made.' Picture: Sergey Karpukhin 

...yet this is something that is rather magnificent about Siberia: that even in our modern, advanced world, there are still such places as this - Ulakhan-Sis - not yet properly mapped, and still not given the TripAdvisor or Booking.com (no disrespect). 

In most countries around the globe, such scenery would be a highly prized national park, and hopefully a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

It would fill guidebooks, and appear on bucket lists. But here in Russia's largest constituent republic, Sakha, better known to the outside world as Yakutia, it's Arctic remoteness means it is only now being shown to the world in all its glory thanks to the work of two great photographers. 

Prominent wildlife photographer Sergey Karpukhin has just returned from a crowdfunded trip to this epic scenery, and he is believed to be the first man to see and photograph these particular buttes. 

Unmasked: a new natural Wonder of the World, not yet on ANY tourist trail


Unmasked: a new natural Wonder of the World, not yet on ANY tourist trail


Unmasked: a new natural Wonder of the World, not yet on ANY tourist trail
The site Sergey visited is some 3,000 kilometres north-east of the republic's capital Yakutsk. Pictures: Sergey Karpukhin 


Sergey made his journey after his appetite was whetted by seeing aerial pictures shot from a passing helicopter by biologist and photographer Alexander Krivoshapkin during a trip to count wild reindeer herds around the Ulakhan-Sis mountain range in the north-east of this vast republic, almost as large as India. 

Like ancient Arctic warriors on the march, suddenly petrified by a magic spell

Until now, more easterly examples of these striking granite buttes - known as the Sundrun Pillars - have never been photographed, it is believed. 

'Many heard about my project called Unknown Landscapes of the Planet - Yakutia,' said Sergey in a blog post on his latest adventure and its spectacular results as he came face to face with what he calls a 'granite civilisation'. 

'We have been to an expedition to one of the most inaccessible and practically unknown areas of Yakutia, the mountain ridge of Ulakhan-Sis. 

'The expedition was partially crowdfunded. So does this butte landscape in the western part of Ulakhan-Sis in the polar area of the Indigirka River basin really exist? 

'Yes it does - and it is stunning! I might sound too excited, but I cannot find less emotional words'.

Unmasked: a new natural Wonder of the World, not yet on ANY tourist trail


Unmasked: a new natural Wonder of the World, not yet on ANY tourist trail


Unmasked: a new natural Wonder of the World, not yet on ANY tourist trail


Unmasked: a new natural Wonder of the World, not yet on ANY tourist trail


Unmasked: a new natural Wonder of the World, not yet on ANY tourist trail
'It is stunning! I might sound too excited, but I cannot find less emotional words'. Pictures: Sergey Karpukhin 


'What I saw was way above my most optimistic expectations,' Sergey said. 'It was something unbelievable. It was a true wonder of nature.

'There are buttes which we named that were like granite towns, and there were some that had such clearly defined and pronounced structure that you didn't need fantasy to help you complete the image.  

'My education gives me a clear understanding of how exactly this landscape form appeared (geologically), yet even this did not stop me feeling as if this Wonder was hand-made. 

'I don't think this is an overstatement to say that this part of Ulakhan-Sis should become a part of the world landscape heritage, just like Cappadocia (in Turkey).'

Unmasked: a new natural Wonder of the World, not yet on ANY tourist trail
It is only in the vastness of Siberia, perhaps, where a crowdfunded recce trip can lead to such a jaw-dropping discovery. Pictures: Sergey Karpukhin 


When we published Alexander's pictures in March, seeking to boost Sergey's crowdfunding efforts, we said the eastern pillars were like 'ancient Arctic warriors on the March, suddenly petrified by a magic spell'. The site Sergey visited is some 3,000 kilometres north-east of the republic's capital Yakutsk, itself one of Russia's most  secluded cities in the world, as well as the coldest.

These lonely sentinels guarding their expansive landscapes are to found above the Arctic Circle between the Soviet-era GULAG region of Kolyma and the Sundrun River.

'Right in the middle of the bare tundra were buttes some 10 to 20 metres high, standing in groups and alone, like some warriors on march, who were suddenly petrified with malicious intent of a local shaman centuries ago,' said Sergey, captivated by Alexander's images. 'Or like the ruins of an ancient city, which was inhabited by a hitherto unknown people. 

'At the time, Alexander could only take some pictures through the porthole. It was not a photographic expedition, but only for aerial counting. When I saw these these pictures, I was fascinated.

'Ulakhan-Sis is quite elongated and those relict buttes - vividly reminiscent of the idols of Easter Island, but of natural origin - which can be seen in the photos, are common in the eastern part of the range.'

Unmasked: a new natural Wonder of the World, not yet on ANY tourist trail


Unmasked: a new natural Wonder of the World, not yet on ANY tourist trail


Unmasked: a new natural Wonder of the World, not yet on ANY tourist trail
Prominent wildlife photographer Sergey Karpukhin has just returned from a crowdfunded trip to this epic scenery. Pictures here and below: Sergey Karpukhin 


Yet there were also believed to be such sights in the west of the range, and it was these that Sergey wanted to explore. 

'Locals too cannot tell anything about this landscape, although the western part seems more accessible, as it is closer to the Indigirka River.'

The weird shapes are believed to be sculpted by relentless freezing and thawing of the granite and surrounding more eroded Devonian sandstone. 

In the Yakut language, these warrior lookalikes are known as 'kisilyakhi', from the word 'kisi' meaning man. 

Unmasked: a new natural Wonder of the World, not yet on ANY tourist trail


Unmasked: a new natural Wonder of the World, not yet on ANY tourist trail


Unmasked: a new natural Wonder of the World, not yet on ANY tourist trail


Unmasked: a new natural Wonder of the World, not yet on ANY tourist trail


Unmasked: a new natural Wonder of the World, not yet on ANY tourist trail

Comments (8)

The photos are really fascinating and impressive.

But you should pay attention because some hallucinated (or hallucinating...) Italian "journalist" has written on "Voyager"(a magazine on Atlantis angels, UFOs et similia) about Ulakhan-Sis stating that the Sundrun Pillars are the ruins of a town built by some unknown civilization...
Antonio Bartolozzi, Italy
29/09/2016 00:34
0
0
Siberian Times you should get together with the Siberian Tourist Board to promote this breath-taking & (yes) it really is a new "Wonder of the World". It is spectacular & the photographers should be really proud of their work. The nearest sight like that to me is the Giant's Causeway, in Bushmills, Co Antrim, Northern Ireland. It is very well promoted & so should your beautiful "Stone Warriors", I am smitten by them. Smitten in my neck of the woods means, Love.
Jaker, Dundalk
17/09/2016 12:23
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They need to declare it a national park. It is a place of true spiritually inspiring beauty and must be protected.
Richard Sanchez , Vancouver, Canada
16/09/2016 08:01
2
1
Brilliant, its very fascinating, would love to visit this site.
Najeeb Ahmed Khan, Himalayan Holidays (Pvt) Ltd Islamabad Pakistan
28/08/2016 14:34
1
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What a wonderful landscape. It's look like a prehistoric place that's magic !!
Guilloux Christophe, Caen/Normandy
01/08/2016 23:30
13
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Incredible. Wonderful photos.
Maureen, Oregon, USA
01/08/2016 23:23
12
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Speechless….
Jack, Spain
01/08/2016 22:30
14
0
What a wonderful rock formation and place tp go. How do I get there. Are they far from Ulan Ude.
Fiona Macleod, New Zealand
01/08/2016 14:23
19
0
1

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