Siberia: The White Beauty

Embark on a slow travel journey through the icy rugged terrains
2021-01-15
/
/ Kolkata
5/5 - (41 votes)

Known globally for its long, harsh winters and of course possibly the most famous son of the soil, Rasputin, Siberia offers unparalleled and vast stretches of white beauty that can only be explored if one embarks on a slow travel journey through its icy rugged terrains.

Though geographically, Siberia is located entirely in Asia, as it is a part of Russia, it is culturally and politically a part of Europe as well. European influences, specifically Russian, are predominant in many parts of the south and central part of the region. The first great modern change in Siberia was the Trans-Siberian Railway, constructed during 1891–1916. It linked Siberia more closely to the rapidly industrialising Russia under -Tsar Nicholas II (r. 1894–1917). Almost all the population lives in the south, along the Trans-Siberian rail tracks. And through this railway mainly, tourists started exploring the region.

The continental subarctic climate of Siberia varies dramatically, but it typically has short summers and long, brutally cold winters. On the north coast, north of the Arctic Circle, there is a very short (about one month long) summer. The Trans-Siberian Railway is the most popular mode of transport to Siberia to and from various parts of Russia. No direct flights are available to reach Siberia from India. It is best to reach Moscow and take the train.
From the crown of Siberia, Lake Baikal to the rides in Trans-Siberian railway; from the fascinating Altai Mountains to picturesque cities – Siberia has its own ways to entice the visitors. Cities like Novosibirsk, Tomsk, Irkutsk, Ulan-Ude, Omsk and Krasnoyarsk take pride in their own beauties.

Novosibirsk is not just the capital of Siberia, but also the most pulsating city with thriving cultural scenes. Tomsk is an architectural heaven absolutely one of its kind, offering endless photographic spots. Irkutsk is not just the gateway to Lake Baikal, but also a great example of contrasts between new and the old. Ulan-Ude is a tranquil Buddhist city that can’t be missed either. Hence a checklist is drawn to help in making a comprehensive tour plan. (See Box 1: Bucket List Siberia). Those who are fond of wildlife will have a trip of a lifetime as there are numerous animals which can be only seen in the Siberian terrain. (See Box 2: The Siberian Animal Kingdom).

Cuisine can be a bit challenging, especially for Indians, so packing some ready-to-cook food would come handy. However, a few local dishes can be tried and tasted like Borsch Kievsky, (classic soup), Syrniki (fried pancake), Pryaniki (sweet cookie), and the national dish Stroganina (raw, thin, long-sliced frozen fish) often paired with Vodka.

Those who love to shop souvenirs might consider buying unusual and unique things in Siberia such as Kazakh rugs, wooden eyeglasses, Angara pinewood crafts, cedar-cone jam, lacquered boxes, medicinal herbs and not to forget, the Matryoshka dolls.

Siberia is not meant for an average traveller. The romantically frozen wildernesses, monochromatic white landscapes and the savage realities of challenging life in the cold climate cook up a warm deadly attraction that many extreme adventure seekers find hard to ignore.


Bucket List Siberia

Siberia is an ideal location for travellers who want to encounter the untouched white beauty of nature, the mighty mountains and their unexplored enigmas. Here is a bucket list without which a trip to Siberia is not complete!

Trans-Siberian Railway

Trans-Siberian Railway

Trans-Siberian Railway

The legendary Trans-Siberian Railway boasts the longest railroad in the world, with 9,289 km of rail tracks connecting Moscow with Vladivostok. The once-in-a-lifetime experience gives a taste of Russian, Mongolian and Chinese culture, heritage and spirit inside the carriage, while sightseeing the breathtaking scenery. One can travel the entire country just by sitting inside the train holding a cup of coffee in the hand marvelling at the awe-inspiring sights outside the window. It is perhaps the best way to inhale the true essence of Russia, combined with excellent service inside the carriage. Taking eight days to complete the journey, the rail stops at most of the significant towns and cities; and one can even plan to get down at a city station and spend some pleasant slow time there in solace.

Lake Baikal

Lake Baikal

Lake Baikal

Tagged as a World Heritage Site by the UNESCO, the deepest lake in the world has the shape of a giant half-moon. As the biggest reservoir of fresh water on earth, it is considered a sacred place for those who live there. The water is not just clean and fresh, but also contains small amount of mineral salts, which makes this water distilled. It also contains a lot of oxygen. Almost 300 rivers and streams flow into Baikal, but only one river named Angara flows out of it. In winters, people come to Lake Baikal mainly for skiing, but activities like riding the snowmobiles, dog harnesses, skating, and mountain skiing are also popular among the tourists. Tourists are assured of breathtaking views of the frozen lake, the ice caves as well as some chilling icy-activities.

Kamchatka Volcanoes

Kamchatka Volcanoes

Kamchatka Volcanoes

The long peninsula in the Russian Far East famous for its active volcanoes is also a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Klyuchevskaya, Kronotskaya, Ichinskaya, Avachinskaya, Koryakskaya, and Karymskaya volcanoes, as well as Shiveluch, are considered to be the most famous ones in Kamchatka frequented by the tourists. There are 14,000 rivers, lakes and streams and 414 glaciers in Kamchatka. Home to the Valley of Geysers with lots of hot springs, the area has the second-largest concentration of geysers in the world and is the only geyser field in Eurasia. It also has a lake of acid. Kamchatka is good for those who are fond of extreme tourism, especially in winter, as it gives the chance to climb not only the mountains but volcanoes as well. River rafting, skiing, trekking and bird watching are some great ways to explore the place.

Altai Mountains

Altai Mountains

Altai Mountains

The majestic mountains of Altai stretch over 2,000 km and have always been a highlight of Siberian tourism. One can do a lot of activities or just spend some lovely time with the family in the woods. The highest point of the Altai mountains and of the Siberian Region as well is the Belukha Mountain (4,509 metres) which is completely covered with snow, from its peak to its bottom. Now very popular, it has become quite interesting offering activities tourists enjoy like climbing, snowboarding, hiking, skating, mountain skiing, trekking, cycling, diving, rafting, kayaking, sailing, swimming, and fishing. Many people go there for more passive relaxation, such as spa, collecting healing herbs etc.

Golden Horn Bay

Golden Horn Bay

Golden Horn Bay

Zolotoy Rog or the Golden Horn Bay is a sheltered horn-shaped bay of the Sea of Japan, located in the coastal area of Primorsky Krai within the Russian Far East. Vladivostok, which lies on the hills at the head of the bay, is a major city and Russian port on the Pacific. Vladivostok stands apart from some of Siberia’s more grey-scale cities with its majestic mountains overlooking the network of bays, historical architecture and vibrant dining and nightlife scenes. The sprawling city is also where thousands embark –or finish– the epic overland Trans-Siberian railway trip to or from the Russian capital, Moscow. A three-hour cruise excursion is an excellent opportunity to have a close-up view of the Golden Horn.

The Siberian Animal Kingdom
It is no surprise that the largely uninhabited lands of Siberia have long been the home to some of the world’s most spectacular animals, many of them are only found in Siberia. Here are a dozen most intriguing animals that one should keep an eye out for if heading out on a Siberian adventure!

Siberian Husky

Siberian Husky

Siberian Husky: Bred by the Chukchi tribe for sledge-pulling which is now a major tourist attraction in the region, this dog can be instantly recognised for its thick fur wolf-like features.

Siberian Amur Tiger

Siberian Amur Tiger

Siberian Amur Tiger: A solitary animal hidden deep within the woodlands and birch forests of the Siberian heartlands hunted near to extinction on several occasions.

Siberian Amur Leopard

Siberian Amur Leopard

Siberian Amur Leopard: Perhaps the most endangered of all large cats with only around 100 remaining in the wild, this nocturnal predator species is now a rare sight even in its native place.

Polar Bear

Polar Bear

Polar Bear: This native of the Arctic Circle is the key figure in the material, spiritual and cultural life of circumpolar peoples mainly living on the ice and hunting seals.

Siberian Musk Deer

Siberian Musk Deer

Siberian Musk Deer: One of the most unusual but precious species of deer, they have tusks rather than horns or antlers which are often used worldwide in fragrances, cosmetics and medicines.

Siberian Grey Wolf

Siberian Grey Wolf

Siberian Grey Wolf: Named after the colour of its coat, it is the largest of its kind, a smart and social animal, usually hunts in packs and can kill animals far bigger than themselves.

Eurasian Lynx

Eurasian Lynx

Eurasian Lynx: A capable predator wandering the forest-steppes, it subtly changes colour from a reddish-brown coat in warm temperature to a long silky greyish coat during the winter.

Arctic Fox

Arctic Fox

Arctic Fox: Also known as the white fox, polar fox, or snow fox, this Arctic native adapts very fast to cold weather, camouflages with large fluffy tail and preys on small creatures.

Siberian Seal

Siberian Seal

Siberian Seal: Also known as the Baikal Seal, this is one of the smallest true seals and the only exclusively freshwater pinniped species with white, silky, natal fur coats.

Wolverine

Wolverine

Wolverine: A solitary animal, it has a reputation for ferocity and strength out of proportion to its size, with the documented ability to kill prey many times larger than it.

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