Siberia – The Unexperienced Wilderness
Endless landscapes, unspoiled nature and icy forests – This is Siberia. The desolation and solitude of this large landscape still fascinate many people – and scare them at the same time. Because Siberia is often connected to the terrorist policy of the Soviet Union. It was the perfect place for Stalin to create the gulag system and to get rid of political prisoners and opponents. Until today tourists can visit Perm-36 in Kutshino, a prison camp in which, inter alia, Alexander Solzhenitsyn – author of “The Gulag Archipelago” and “One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich” – was imprisoned. Shacks and punishment cells, parts of the fence and furniture were preserved or restored to its original. It is strongly reminiscent of a concentration camp memorial, only on Russian soil, without crematorium. It will send cold shivers up and down your spine.
Perm-36 is located near to the city of Perm, which is known as the gateway to Siberia. It’s worth it to go by the Trans-Siberian railway from there further to the north, to Vladivostok or even to Beijing. A travel with that train is a wonderful experience. Only the interiors are bubbling over with nostalgia and charm. Windows draped with heavy curtains, wooden floors, red velvet couches and paneled bedrooms create an unique atmosphere that stirs every romantics blood. A glance out of the window suffices surely completely to generate a honeymoon-feeling; or to feel like being in olden days. Exploring the countryside by train, that has some merit! You have time to think, dream, enjoy. You should book a ticket for the Trans-Siberian Railway as early as possible because the seats are at a premium and the prices are more favourable.
Among the largest cities in Siberia, there are Omsk, Vladivostok, Novosibirsk, Irkutsk and Yakutsk, which are ideally suited for city trips or as a starting point for excursions. Irkutsk, as an example, is located on the outflow of Lake Baikal, the deepest freshwater lake in the world, which is more than 1.5 kilometers deep. Seal diving, hiking and bear observations are just a few activities that are possible around the lake. Likewise, you can undertake a hiking tour from Yakutsk to the East Siberian mountains. Extreme climatic conditions are not uncommon there. In summer the thermometer often rises above 30 degrees Celsius; in winter temperatures below 40 degrees Celsius are no rarity. Therefore you should think carefully when doing your hiking tour.
There are still other more exciting things outdoorsmen and adventurer can experience in Siberia: You can fish in one of the many lakes and rivers, do whitewater rafting, ride a reindeer sled, go for hunting or even live with indigenous people for a few days. Of course it is also possible to travel as a backpacker through Siberia. But that can be very dangerous if you can neither speak Russian nor know the area very well. Finally, in the less populated areas there live many wild animals, such as bears and mooses, along the Amur even tigers and leopards which like waiting for one or two snacks. An overnight stay outdoors should therefore be better undertaken only with a special guide or a local person.
In today’s hectic times, Siberia is like a true place of rest, a return to traditions and to the tried and tested. The unspoiled state, the roughness, of this large landscape makes it so mystical and unique. And especially exciting for anyone who is looking for a slightly different journey.