Russia is a vast country, encompassing deep forests, swamps, tundra, mountains, steppes and deserts. Some of the world's greatest natural wonders are there, and, amazingly, they remain largely unspoiled by man. Russia's national parks and wilderness preserves have been under financial pressure for many years and have recently turned more and more to ecotourism as a means of making ends meet. This opens up the great wilderness of Russia to a wide variety of visitors, ranging from day hikers to adventurers looking to spend a month trekking the countryside.
Weekend Ecotrips to the "Green Ring"
Moscow might be Russia's capital and largest city, but it is also located almost in the center of European Russia. The result is that it is not very far from some truly wild areas, and the city is almost surrounded by a network of national parks and "zapovedniks," or wilderness preserves. This makes a short ecotrip possible for travelers who are otherwise focused on the urban delights of Moscow. These are accessible by guided tour, or the intrepid can make their own way out to and into these areas. Longer tours of up to a week are also available, and those looking to trek and camp on their own can inquire with the Russian authorities about what is permitted. Arguably, the most prominent part of the Green Ring is the Central Forest Reserve.
Central Forest Reserve
Nelidovsky Region, Tverskaya Oblast
Lake Baikal might eventually prove to be the crown jewel of Russian ecotourism. Located in remote South Siberia, it is the oldest and deepest of the world's fresh water lakes. The lake holds as much water as all the American Great Lakes combined. Baikal presents a truly unique, and not especially well-studied, ecosystem. The waters are packed with fish, many of them unique to Baikal, and the surrounding lands are made up of three zapovedniks and two national parks. Ecotours are available that can last up to two weeks, and making one's own way to and around Baikal could prove the rewarding challenge of a lifetime.
Pribaikalsky National Park
Tel: (+7 3952) 38-53-00, 38-54-87
FAX: (+7 3952) 39-63-18
The Yenisey Meridian is an ecotourism route that winds its way through a network of parks and reserves in Central Siberia. It includes the Yenisey river valley, crossing the Tamir tundra, and concludes in the Tuva desert. Doing the entire Meridian takes an estimated four weeks, although a fit party in a hurry could probably reduce it to three.
Stolby State Nature Reserve,
26-A Kar'yernaja 660006
Tel: (+7 3912) 61-17-10
The Altai Mountains
Another popular ecotourism destination is to the Altai Mountain Range and its surroundings in Central-Western Siberia. There are guided trips available in this region that can last as long as two-and-a-half weeks, covering terrain that ranges from green mountains to endless steppe.
Article Written By Edwin Thomas
Edwin Thomas has been writing since 1997. His work has appeared in various online publications, including The Black Table, Proboxing-Fans and others. A travel blogger, editor and writer, Thomas has traveled from Argentina to Vietnam in pursuit of stories. He holds a Master of Arts in international affairs from American University.