Russian Far East Travel Guide
The Russian Far East consists of thousands of miles of wilderness, stretching from Lake Baikal in Eastern Siberia down to the Pacific Ocean. It's truly gargantuan, covering an area larger than the entire continent of Europe.
Commonly mistaken for Siberia, the Russian Far East is far more than an icy wasteland. Rather, it's a paradise for adventurous nature-lovers with a unique ecosystem that includes reindeer, whales and polar bears, as well as walrus and hundreds of migratory bird species. The Far East is also home to some excellent nature reserves and national parks, and even remote volcanoes like those of the Kamchatka Peninsula.
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, providing 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's 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. There are plentiful villages featuring traditional wooden houses festooned with ornate decorations. The region is also home to a variety of ethnic groups, each with their own style of dress, traditions and food, and cultural visits are easily included in a trekking vacation 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 which contrast with more isolated rural towns like Yakutsk and Magadan.