Vitim River (Russian and Buryat: Витим Vitim; Evenki: Витым Witym; Sakha: Виитим Viitim [local pronunciation]) is a major tributary of the Lena River. With its source east of Lake Baikal, the Vitim flows 1,978 km north through the Transbaikal Mountains and the town of Bodaybo. The river peaks in June and freezes from November to May. It is navigable from the Lena to Bodaybo. Upstream, tugs can haul barges as far as the BAM, but this is becoming rare. Formerly, because of its swift current, goods were hauled overland from Chita 144 km to a place called Romanovka. There boats were built, floated down the river, and broken up at their destination. This lasted until the late 1940s. The Vitim is an excellent place for adventure rafting, but is rarely visited because of its isolation.
Along the Vitim
Going Upstream: Vitim town: the Vitim joins the Lena. Mama and Mama Airport, about 130 km south of Vitim. A muscovite mica mine from 1705 until the late 1930s. Now a small settlement. Mamakan, on an west-flowing stretch 200 km south-southeast of Vitim. In 1961 a 86MW dam on a left tributary was completed, one of the first dams built on permafrost. Bodaybo, just upstream, a gold mining center founded in 1864. Upstream, the port of Luzhki was the start of a road to the Lena gold fields. From here upstream the river goes crookedly east and then south. 240 km upstream from Bodaybo are the Uronsky Rapids and after 140 km more, the Parama Rapids. 40 km or so upstream, the Vitim is crossed by the Baikal Amur Mainline between Taksimo and Kuanda. Upriver there are more rapids and goldfields. South through the Stanovoy Mountains toward Chita, then west into the Vitim Plateau east of Lake Baikal
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