Russian Far East Travel Guide
Amur River, Russian Far East © Andshel
Located so far east that it might be called west, the Russian Far East consists of thousands of miles of wilderness stretching from Lake Baikal in Eastern Siberia to the Pacific Ocean, covering an area that's larger in size than the whole of Europe.
Commonly mistaken for Siberia, the Russian Far East is far more than an icy wasteland. Rather, it is a paradise for adventurous nature-lovers with a unique ecosystem that includes reindeer, whales, Polar bears, walrus, and hundreds of migratory bird species. The Far East is home to some excellent nature reserves and national parks, and even the remote volcanoes of the Kamchatka Peninsula, out of range to all but the most adventurous (and well-funded) travellers.
Southern Siberia is home to the Altai mountain range, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Due to the widely varying elevations of the mountainous area, it contains every kind of climate zone present in Siberia, from steppes to alpine vegetation. The Altai region is perfect for trekking and provides beautiful views of lakes, mountains, forests and rivers. In the summer months, from June through to August, the temperatures are moderate and the landscape transforms itself from winter's snowy wastes into lush green vistas dotted with wild flowers. It is possible to climb some of the mountains, none of which are very high or very steep, so trekking is suitable for most levels of fitness. In addition to viewing the abundant natural beauty, villages featuring traditional wooden houses with beautifully carved decorations are also plentiful. The region is home to a variety of ethnic groups, each with their own style of dress, traditions, beliefs and food, and cultural visits can easily be included in a trekking holiday to Altai.
Most of the towns in the Russian Far East are located along the Pacific coast, and port cities like Vladivostok and Khabarovsk (the ultimate destinations of the Trans-Siberian Railway), are a mix of Tsarist-era buildings and cosmopolitan sensibilities that contrast with more isolated rural towns like Yakutsk and Magadan.