Guest post by Victoria Moretti
Globeteller for a day
Due to the extent of its territory, Russia offers plenty of outdoor activities in direct contact with nature, from mountain to sea, from volcanoes to canyons, lakes, rivers and geysers. We have choosen for you our top 10 must-see activities for nature lovers who visit Russia:
1. TRANS-SIBERIAN RAILWAY
The Trans-Siberian route is an experience that those who love to travel by train must try at least once in a lifetime. The Russian territory is huge, but the Trans-Siberian railway gives you the chance to see a good part of it: the passengers have the opportunity to perceive the many geographical differences in the transition from one region to another.
This 9.289 km long railway (the longest in the world) crosses the Eurasia, from Europe to Siberia, ending its race in the Far East. The entire route takes a whole week, the stops are about 1,000 spread across 7 different time zones!
At each stop you can get off, visit the city, stay overnight, and take the train again the day after.
COST: 200-500 €, according to the itinerary and class.
2. SLOW NAVIGATION
The Russian territory is full of waterways. All over the country you can navigate on lakes, rivers, seas, or channels, that have always played an important role in the Russian economy and society. You can sail on cruise ships or boats. The most famous Russian river cruises are the ones on the Volga or those along the Way of the Tsars, from Moscow to St. Petersburg for 1,817 Kms.
Before buying a ticket, make sure that there is someone who speaks English on board (if you do not speak Russian).
COST: 10-2000 €, according to the route, the time and the type of boat.
Russia often means cold and snow. One of the main activities that can be done here is, in fact, skiing: there are many ski resorts, the most famous of which is in Krasnaya Polyana. Located in the southern Russia, in the Krasnodar region, Krasnaya Polyana is part of the city of Sochi, near the Great Caucasus mountains, where the Winter Olympics were held in 2004. Other famous resorts are Sheregesh, Abzakovo, Dombaj, Lake Bannoye and Kirovs.
4. BEACH LIFE
Yes, in Russia you can also sunbathe on the beach. The temperatures are quite mild, about 22°, but in summer the beaches are crowded with Russian tourists who sunbathe and swim. Among the beach resorts, the one with the longest and most famous beach is Yantarnyy.
5. THE GEYSER VALLEY
The Valley of Geysers is part of the Kronotsky Nature Reserve, in the remote Kamchatka peninsula. It is listed among the UNESCO heritage sites and it is one of the 7 wonders of Russia. Access to the valley is very limited, you can get there only by helicopter. Once on site, you have to pay a lot of attention, because the geysers temperature can reach the 250°.
COST: 200-500 €
6. THE GRAND CANYION
One of the main point of interest for the wildlife lovers in Russia is the Grand Canyon, known as Canyon Chegem Nalchik.
In its gorges there is a beautiful waterfall, where each day at around 11:00 you can see the magnificent rainbow that is created by the play between the sunlight and the water. If the view is very nice in summer, during winter it is truly amazing: with the temperatures below the zero, the waterfall, the river and the jets of freezing water form a lunar landscape that seems made of crystal candles and chandeliers.
The mountains are from 1000 to 3000 m high. The valley in which it is located is full of cafes and local craft shops.
COST: free entry.
As you can imagine, there are a lot of trekking and hiking routes in Russia. The most renowned is on the Altai mountain range, bordering Kazakhstan, Mongolia and China. It is a UNESCO heritage site for being the cradle of many peoples. The peculiarity of these mountains lies in the variety of natural landscapes that offer steppes, forests, lakes, mines of different kind and rivers. Even if the region remained isolated and inaccessible for long times in the last centuries, today there is a wide range of hiking tracks to choose among.
In Russia there are more than 20 volcanoes, many of which are still active: the last eruption dates back to 2007. The higher one is the Shivelush (3307 m). Many of these volcanoes are accessible by hikers and trekkers.
9. THE KUNGUR QUARRY
Situated in the Urals near the town of Kungur and discovered in 1703, this quarry is one of the main tourist attractions of the area, thanks to its ice formations. Since 1914 it is open to the public and there are 3 different tours:
Classic tour: 1.20 h - 1,5km
Long tour: 1:40 h - 1.8 km
Big tour: 1.50 h - 2 km (maximum difficulty)
Inside the cave there is a path called 'the Lady route“. Legend has it that a princess coming from far away visited the quarry and, at some point, she fell: when back home, she found a husband. Since that day, if a woman falls on that route, it is said that she will surely marry soon (this does not apply fot those who fall on purpose).
COST: from 5 to 10 Euros. Some agencies offer tours to 250 €, but it is simply a scam.
10. FLY IN SOCHI
This city, in addition to the winter sports, offers an outstanding sky park surrounded by nature: 'AJ Hackett Skypark '.
This park offers:
Suspension Bridge: this 439m-long bridge is the longest in the world, hung at the height of 207 m.
Bungee jumping: you can jump from 69 m or from 170 m
Megatroll: harnessed and suspended, this activity can be done also in two or three, flying at 150 km/h at 200 m above the canyon gorge.
Swing: suspended in the sky, like the megatroll, it reaches the speed of 500 km/h
Observation deck: for those who do not like extreme adventures.
The park is open all year round, children allowed from 7 years on.
COST: The basic package is € 13, while the cost of the attractions varies from 23 to € 100.