Great Vasyugan Mire: The Biggest Swamp In The World

On May 23, 2015 by Tim Newman

Vasyugan Mire - Biggest Swamp Russia - Sunset

The Great Vasyugan Mire is located in Russia, in the Novosibirsk, Omsk, and Tomsk regions. It is epic in the original sense of the word, it covers an incredible 53,000 km² in total. That’s bigger than Switzerland, or, if you prefer, it’s more than 30 times the size of Greater London (or about 600 Brighton and Hoves).

The Vasyugan swamp accounts for around 2% of the earth’s entire peat bog area and it’s considered the largest in the world (or largest in the Northern Hemisphere at least). In Russian vernacular the ‘Vasyugan Mire’ is synonymous with ‘vast’.

Vasyugan Mire - Biggest Swamp Russia - Winter Holiday 2

The Vasyugan swamp has been around for about 10,000 years and it’s still growing. The area is home to a great number of endangered species thanks to its isolation and uninhabitability. Because the swamp is in Siberia it has long cold winters and short warmish summers.

Vasyugan Mire - Biggest Swamp Russia - From The Air

People have never been too keen on living in the area which is great news for the wildlife. The swamp’s inhabitants include reindeer, golden eagle, white-tailed eagle, fish hawk, great grey shrike, squirrel, elk (as many as 10 per km2 in the winter), sable, wood grouse, willow grouse, hazel-grouse, black grouse, mink and otter.

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Vasyugan swamp is a major source of fresh water for the area and according to some it helps purify the region’s air. On the flip side the area is a hot bed for weird sightings of “orbs” and other ghostly goings on. I’m assuming this is swamp gas igniting. People who have gone for a wander are reported to have got lost and/or drowned. Possibly overcome with gas, or high as a kite from the fumes.

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Because of the area’s size and natural beauty it is being considered by UNESCO to become a World Heritage site. You might think that an area this huge with so few humans doesn’t need protecting. But, unfortunately, with gas and oil exploration spreading ever wider, it might be in the firing line at some point (although no resources have yet been found there). So it would be good to protect it just incase.

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This year the first set of “holidaymakers” visited the Vasyugan swamp with the Russian Geographical Society. The intrepid explorers braved nippy conditions to chart some of the bog’s twist, turns and creatures. The only female participant on the “holiday”, Svetlana Pakhomenko, had a nice time by the sounds of it:

I felt a real sense of infinity. Everywhere we went there was a fantastic sun. Never have I seen such a beautiful setting sun. It gave us a cosmic feeling!

Vasyugan Mire - Biggest Swamp Russia - Winter Holiday

Others seemed less enthused by their time in the swamp:

It was very hard psychologically to get out of the sleeping bag in the morning because of the cold. We had ordinary tents and the temperature inside them was almost equal to the temperature outside.

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The Vasyugan swamp isn’t a place I will be choosing as my next holiday destination, but it’s fascinating nonetheless. It’s always a pleasure to find out about somewhere which is still so truly wild. Its terrain is still difficult enough for it to be unattractive to greedy human eyes. Long may it remain so.







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