Built by Kazakhs, Novaya Chara is about half way between Severobaikalsk and Tynda, and has a population of about 4000. There are several large copper deposits in the region, and it is a common stopping point for expeditions into the Kodar Mountain ranges and several local gulag sites.
By train on the Baikal-Amur Mainline.
The city can be covered on foot. Taxis and minibuses make the trip between Novaya Chara and Staraya Chara (Old Chara), about 18km to the north west.
The railway station, with a peaked aluminium roof.
The regional museum, with an interesting section on natural history, local history, the gulag, the railway, the original town plan, and so on.
Chara sands - probably the reason you came here. A mysterious 37 square kilometre patch of sand dunes about 7km north west of the town. Theres two ways of accessing them:
1) From an old road behind Staraya Chara, use a GPS or local knowledge to find the trail, then walk about 4km on very boggy terrain and across a river, and you'll find them. You ll sill have to walk several kilometers on sand to find the highest dunes. Sand dunes on 600m of permafrost - it's a bit odd! Be aware that doing it on your own means crossing a river that can be 1m deep (if you find the right spot) and hiking through deep mud for many kilometers. Going back and forth in one day is nor really possible this way.
2)There is an access way from novaya chara, but it needs a river crossing by (inflatable)boat and then a 4km hike through deep swamps. The advantage is that you will arrive right at the place where the highest dunes are. Alexander Sacharchenko (+7 914 526 45 77, [email protected]), the former hunting and wildlife director of the region (and now photographer and part time guide in the region) can take you this way, he has an inflatable boat and can provide you with rubber boots. For two person he asked 4000Rub. for the whole day in 2016 including 4WD drive to the tiver, inflatable boat an provding rubber boots. If you can contact him in advance, as he is not allways there. The only hotel in novaya Chara also have his contact details.
There are souvenirs available in the train station. Also, there's a deep purple rock that occurs only here called 'charait', someone might try and sell you a bit.
There's a shop not far from the railway station, though fresh produce is sometimes difficult to find, even in summer.
The Novaya Chara hotel, opposite the railway station, is a common stopping off point for travellers in the region, and has rooms available for between 2000 and 3000 rubles. It is clean and nice, but still a bit overpriced. It is always possible to sleep in the station's waiting room, but the station does not have a hostel.
There are no public internet facilities, but mobile phones work.
There are several excellent trips in the area.
The Kodar Mountains to the north are an ideal location for a hike lasting several days to several weeks or longer. Alexander Sacharchenko (+7 914 526 45 77, [email protected]), the former hunting and wildlife director of the region (and now photographer and part time guide in the region) can help you organise or accompany you. Accessible in this way is several reasonably well preserved gulags that originally mined Uranium. They are also accessible by helicopter. Photos and artefacts from an expedition there are visible in the museum.