Today’s city dwellers, tired of the fuss and the noise surrounding them, dream of feeling at one with nature, walking through silent forests, breathing pure mountain air and listening to birds sing. Russia provides a wealth of opportunities for enjoying the majesty of the natural world to tourists through a wide variety of ecology tours.
The Central State Forest Reserve, especially attractive to fans of the great outdoors, is located in the western part of the Tver Region, close to the Valdai Plateau. One of the most famous places for rest and enjoyment in the western part of Russia is Seligher Lake. In Central Russia, one can visit Meshchera, an area in the lower reaches of the Oka River, where all four geographic zones – taiga, deciduous woods, forest steppe and regular steppe – can be experienced first-hand. One may encounter bison or visit the world’s only nursery of white cranes in the biosphere nature reserve located in the Oka River area.
Karelia has been named “the lungs of Europe” – this is because over 50% of its territory is covered with forests, and another 26% by lakes. The “Vodlozero” National Park, the largest of its kind in Europe, and the “Paanajarvi” National Park in Northern Karelia are opened to visitors. Fans of active vacationing in the wilderness will be spellbound by the reserves and national parks in Karelia, including the “Kurische Foreland” National park, a narrow strip of land separating the Kurische Foreland from the Baltic Sea. The main feature of the landscape there is the sand dunes, the second highest in Europe, which stretch along the coast sometimes reaching a height of 60 metres. Fans of rural tourism are welcome in numerous local farms and manors scattered amidst Karelia’s scenic beauty.
The Northern Caucasus is Russia’s highest mountain chain, with as many as five peaks reaching higher than 5 kilometres above sea level. The most famous of them are Elborus and Kazbek. Ecotours go through the damp subtropical areas where evergreen trees line the Black Sea coast.
The Altai Region is much diversified, with mountains, crags, coniferous woods, glades covered with bright carpets of wildflowers, semi-desert intermountanous steppe, quiet lakes and rapid rivers. The Sayans are extensive and majestic highlands in the south of Siberia (to the east of Altai). The most interesting sights in the area are considered to be the Sayan Corridor along the Yenisei River, waterfalls at Dotota, Khamsara and Biy-Khema, extinct volcanoes named after Kropotkin and Peretolchin in Eastern Tuva, as well as the numerous lakes of the Todjin trench.
Sixty percent of over 2,500 endemic species of animals and plants can be found only in or around Lake Baikal and nowhere else on Earth. Some very specific ecology tours are organized within this unique area.
The natural landscape of the Vladivostok and Khabarovsk Regions in the Far East are vast territories of large forest, picturesque valleys, taiga rivers and mountain spurs untouched by civilization. One of the most attractive places for ecology tourism here is Sikhoteh-Alin, a nature reserve where world-renowned Siberian tigers still dwell.
On the island of Sakhalin, cleansed by the warm Japanese and cold Okhotskoye seas, one may also witness many splendours of nature. Travellers are greeted with grandiose rocks and bays, unique mud volcanoes on the island’s south coast and rapid rivers perfect for rafting, as well as with the silence and repose of forest lakes.
In the Kamchatka Peninsula, the most significant and unique natural sights are active volcanoes, hot and cold mineral springs and the world-famous Valley of Geysers.