Russia, one of the world’s largest nations, sprawls across 11 different time zones. There are numerous adventures to be had in this vast country filled with cosmopolitan cities, snow-capped mountains and the world’s oldest and deepest freshwater lake. Russia is about more than just tasting borscht and shopping for matryoshka dolls.
The Valley of Geysers
Located on the Kamchatka Peninsula, the Valley of Geysers is one of its kind in the Eurasia region. It is the second largest concentration of geysers in the world with about 40 of them and is part of the UNESCO World Heritage Site called ‘Volcanoes of Kamchatka’. You can even see a geyser go through the four stages of eruption. A trip by helicopter is a must.
With an elevation of 5,642 metres, Mt Elbrus is part of the Caucasus Range that straddles Asia and Europe. Mount Elbrus isn’t technically a mountain — it is an inactive volcano located in the Western Caucasus mountain range, near the Georgian border in Kabardino-Balkaria and Karachay–Cherkessia, Russia. It is the tallest mountain in Europe and one of the Seven Summits, the highest peaks in each of the continents that elite climbers aspire to conquer. While it can be a dangerous climb, it is considered amongst the easier summits to reach.
Located in South-East Siberia, Lake Baikal is the oldest, largest and deepest freshwater lake in the world. It is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and contains 20 per cent of the world’s unfrozen freshwater reserve. Known as the ‘Galapagos of Russia’, its age and isolation have produced one of the world’s richest and most unusual freshwater fauna.
Kronotsky Nature Reserve
This nature reserve is used for the study of natural sciences in the remote Russian Far East, on the coast of the Kamchatka Peninsula. It was created in 1934, and its current boundary contains an area of 10,990 sq. km. The reserve is also described as the Land of Fire and Ice due to its harsh climatic conditions. The nature reserve is home to over 700 brown bears, some of the largest in the world that weigh in at 540 kg! The bears in the reserve can often be seen in groups at salmon streams in the park.
Founded in the ninth century on the ancient trade route between Central Asia and Northern Europe, Novgorod was Russia’s first capital. Veliky Novgorod is so old and well-preserved that it’s regarded as a city-museum housing more than 50 architectural masterpieces of great historical value. Many ancient churches, frescos, and monuments still stand here, including a kremlin that was built in the 15th century, as well as one of the oldest Russian stone buildings, the 11th-century church of St. Sophia. Veliky Novgorod is a popular tourist destination that’s very conveniently situated on the way from Moscow to Saint Petersburg.