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What’s hot in Siberia: remote gems for the restless

Journalist from Krasnoyarsk Anna Gruzdeva undertook a difficult task; creating her own guide to Siberia. RBTH asked Anna to share her travel experiences and offer some advice on where to visit in Siberia.

The idea originated from her own experience – one day, she came to the realization that she herself knew very little about her own land. In addition, she found out that she could not learn anything about it clearly and quickly from any source, so she thought about this and was not afraid to start developing such a large project from scratch. In the summer, Anna received two small grants then started to travel and write.

Currently, the project “Sibir i tochka” (Siberia and dot) is published in the text mode on the website of the online magazine Siburbia. At present, the guide is published only in Russian – it is intended for Siberians themselves and focuses on the development of internal “cognitive” tourism, but it will be of interest to all those who love to travel because it is difficult to imagine a more alluring area than the mysterious Siberia.

Anna Gruzdeva, the author of the project, says: “I am strongly convinced that even a tiny dot on the map of Siberia is interesting, so our “Sibir i tochka” is comprised of megacities, small villages, nature reserves, and natural parks. I would like very much to see people traveling across Siberia because you cannot spend every holiday in Turkey. This year we met Czechs in the Ergaki Mountains, who were greatly impressed with their beauty. They filmed August hail and how we fanned up the fire with our breath. We saw how tired they were after a rather difficult 10-hour trek. Nevertheless, no pain in the legs could prevent them from enjoying the mountains and the taiga. It seems to me that we also have to go to Siberia and marvel, because those rare and valuable experiences and knowledge you can obtain in our country are more valuable than a good Turkish suntan.”

We also asked the author of “Sibir i tochka” to select some of the most interesting places in Siberia that they have already visited:

Yeniseysk

The small town of Yeniseysk is located on the right bank of the Yenisei River and soon it will celebrate its 400th anniversary; it is one of the oldest towns in Siberia. The city is unique due to the fact that it has almost completely retained the image of a Siberian town of the 18th–19th century. With a map in hand you can go around Yeniseysk several times in one day and see the private and public stone buildings of the late 18th–early 19thcentury in the style of Russian provincial classics, buildings of 19th–20th centuries in the eclectic and modern styles, wooden mansions with balcony galleries and wooden huts with carved weather-stripping. Yeniseysk is also regarded as the spiritual center of Krasnoyarsk Krai, there are many churches and monasteries there, among which the Monastery of the Transfiguration of the Savior and the Church of the Assumption can be distinguished. This city is interesting for its own private museums, like the Fotoizba, which is a small house museum in the city center; here you will find a real Russian oven and many precious items related to the culture and life of a Siberian village. There is also the “Plane Museum”, which is included in the Russian book of records. The best thing about coming to Yeniseysk in August is the traditional August fair, which has been revived there recently, or in winter, listening to the snow crunching under your feet. You can get there by bus or by boat from Krasnoyarsk.

Yeniseysk was founded as a fort in 1619, and thanks to its favorable geographic position, it quickly became the administrative and economic center of Eastern Siberia. By the 18th century, the Yeniseysk Fair was the main center of the fur trade in Siberia. Fishing also prospered here. In the first half of the 19th century, the city became the base of a large gold-mining district, but by the end of the century it lost almost all of its functions and its population decreased. Traditionally Yeniseysk was a place of exile, archpriest Avvakum, some Decembrists, participants of assaults against emperors, members of Narodnaya Volya, and the philosopher G.G. Shpet, served their sentences here.

http://www.eniseysk.com (in russian)

Ergaki

The Ergaki Natural Park is a part of the mountain range of the same name, the real heart of the Western Sayan and one of the most popular national parks, not only in Siberia, but also in Russia. Peter Jackson could easily have shot the “The Hobbit” in Ergaki, if Tolkien had put his characters into the wild taiga. Yet these mountains are attractive, not only due to their magnificent views, but also due to their compactness. You can see almost all the main attractions of the park within one week – picturesque mountain passes and peaks, waterfalls and lakes, and in August, you can eat plenty of blueberries, bilberries, honeysuckles, pine nuts (these will still be “milky”, but tasty) and brew tea with sagaan dali leaves – the grass that is used as a tonic in Buryatia. The best thing is to go to the Ergaki from mid-July to mid-August, and preferably with an experienced guide, but if you like independent travel, you should take a map with you, which can be purchased at the park’s visitor center. It is important to know that there are bears in the Ergaki, so you have to follow certain rules of conduct; the first of which is to not leave food in places accessible to these animals. The best thing is to travel to the mountains from Abakan, the capital city of Khakassia, by car or to hitchhike on the road Abakan – Kyzyl (M54) or by a bus Abakan – Kyzyl from the bus station.

http://www.ergaki-park.ru/ (in russian)

Dudinka

This city is located to the north of the Arctic Circle on the Taimyr Peninsula and belongs to areas in the Far North. Dudinka is a major sea and river port on the Yenisei River, so here you can taste delicious river fish – Arctic cisco, whitefish, hake, and sugudai; a fish dish of the indigenous peoples of the North. Today, in Dudinka, unique and original cultures of small indigenous nations are found here – Dolgans, Nenets, Nganasans, Evenkis and Ents. Some of these are still engaged in reindeer herding. You can learn more about the aboriginal cultures in the Taimyr Regional Museum, which is rich in ethnographic antiquities and in the House of Folk Art. Then, in the Mukustur Workshop you can see how fur boots are made of reindeer fur. It is very cold in Dudinka in the winter, the average temperature is -28 °C, but sometimes it can go down to -50 °C. It is interesting that there is a notion of “robust weather” on the Taimyr Peninsula, which indicates low temperature in conjunction with a north wind. In winter, the polar night comes to the Taimyr Peninsula, which lasts 45 days, and the polar day, lasting 68 days, comes in the summer. You can reach Dudinka from Norilsk.

The first mention of the “Yenisei wintering place Dudino” dates back to 1667. Dudinka became the administrative and cultural center of the Taimyr (Dolgano-Nenets) National Okrug in 1930. In the 1970s, the experimental voyage of nuclear icebreakers to the port of Dudinka initiated year-round navigation in the Arctic.

http://www.gorod-dudinka.ru (in russian)

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