In May of 2013 four women embarked on a source to sea descent of the Amur River, the world’s third longest free-flowing river. They traveled from the remote Mongolian highlands to the far and hyper remote North-East of Russia. From the birthplace of Genghis Khan to the Pacific Ocean delta. This “Nobody’s River” expedition was embarked upon to tell the story of this widely unknown but highly threatened watershed. Pollution and hydropower projects kill the vast biodiversity in this part of the world and the four women wanted to stop it…..This is their amazing story.
The Amur river
The Amur-Heilong River Basin spans Mongolia, the Far East of Russia, and China. The headwaters begin in the Khan Khentii National Reserve as the Onon river. This reserve lies in Northeastern Mongolia, approximately 1 day of travel north of Ulaanbaatar. The source of the river lies very near the sacred mountain and birthplace of Genghis Khan, Burkan Khaldun. The ~818 kilometer Onon travels through the wilderness of the Khan Khentii reserve, across the Mongolian Steppe, and across the Russian border.
In Russia the Onon eventually meets the Ingoda River to form the Shilka. From here the Shilka River flows 555 kilometers to its confluence with the Argun River where it becomes the mightly Amur-Heilong River. The Amur-Heilong meanders on ~2824 more kilometers. It forms the Russian-Chinese border for much of that distance before heading north through Russia to the Pacific Ocean. According to Russian math, this distance corresponds to approximately 580 bottles of vodka.
The Amur River is an incredibly unique river. As the 3rd longest free flowing river in the world it traverses the vast and widely untamed landscapes of Mongolia, China and Russia for more than 4000 kilometeres before it reaches the Pacific ocean. It is the most biodiverse watershed in Asia supporting enormous Taimen (a fish in the Salmon family), rare birds, Siberian Leopards, Tigers and countless other unique plants and animals. It is a living reminder of what we have lost by damming more than 60% of the world’s rivers. It therefore stands as a symbol of the incredible wild places that still exist–and should be celebrated.
And to do just that four women decided to follow the entire river source to sea…
Amur river source to sea Expedition
And so it was that during the summer of 2013 Krystle Wright, Amber Valenti, Sabra Purdy and Becca Dennis set out from the North of Mongolia (a nation that other adventurers golfed across) to flow down the entire length of the mighty Amur river. They traveled, by a number of different crafts and methods, from the Onon River headwaters and the birthplace of Genghis Khan all the way to the Pacific Ocean Delta–5,000 kilometers in total. The girls took their chances amongst the untamed mountains of Mongolia, the great expanses of Southern Siberia, and the complex Russian-Industrial Complex. Mongolian horses. Kayaks. Ferries. Trans-Siberian trains. Paragliders. You name it and it was a part of their kickass journey.
With their departure slogan of “Mongolia or Bust” – inspired by Richard Feynman’s great Russia adventure “Tuva or Bust” the girls generated serious media attention and set off on an adventure of a lifetime
Nobody’s River documentary
The Nobody’s River team joined forces with award-winning director Skip Armstrong to capture the story of their expedition along the Amur River. Over 70 days, from Mongolia to Russia, and traveling 5,000 kilometers along a wild, free-flowing river, the team documented the challenges, triumphs and, more often than not, hilarious adventures of this incredible journey. Armstrong lent his skills to the project to edit the footage into a short film that screened for nearly 2 years, winning film festival awards and igniting the imaginations of audiences worldwide.
The documentary film is a unique masterpiece that blends images from this seldomly visited part of the world with a true girlpower adventure spirit.