Thinking about Russia one of the first things that comes into one’s mind is a cold place, where bears play on garmoshka, the Russian national music instrument. However, such stereotyped thinking will evaporate when you will see all beauties that the world’s largest country offers its visitors.
Here are seven ‘must see’ places in Russia you probably did not know about:
A chain of spectacular rock pillars stretched for kilometers along the banks of Lena River is a natural wonder located in Khangalassky region of Yakutia, far northeastern Russia. With vertical rocks of 100 meters high Lena Pillars is considered by locals as a sacred place, who believes that these pillars were frozen statues of people created by the unknown otherworldly powers. The unique appearance of Lena Pillars that resembles a stone forest is a result of million year's movement of the Earth's crust and erosive weathering.
There is a 220-kilometre long distance from Yakutsk to the Lena Pillars and the vehicle that you can choose to get there is depends on the season. In summer, you can reach to the Lena Pillars by motor ships, motor boats and speed boats, and in winter - by car and snowmobiles. If you are interested in winter travelling then you can join tours to the Lena Pillars organized by the local travel companies.
Mir diamond mine
Yakutia shines bright like a diamond thanks to one of the world's largest diamond mines. Mirthat has the shape of glass and resembles a huge funnel located in Mirniy city of the western Yakutia. Mir, which means “peace,” is 525 meters (1,722 ft) deep and a diameter of 1,200 meters (3,900 ft). The formation of the region is a result of a volcanic eruption, when gases were broken out from the bowels of the earth under huge temperature and high pressure through the earth's crust interior.
Mirniy is located 900 kilometers from Yakutsk, which you can reach by plane from Moscow, Novosibirsk, St. Petersburg, Yekaterinburg, Krasnoyarsk, Irkutsk, Yakutsk and many other cities. There is no railway communication in the city, so the only option to reach the mine is by bus or by taxi.
Volcanoes of Kamchatka
A real gallery of scenic volcanoes stretching along the entire Kamchatka peninsula is one of the most outstanding views you can observe in Russia. There are more than 300 volcanoes surrounded by incredibly rich flora and fauna, some of which are still very active. Each of Kamchatka's volcanoes has the beauty of their own but an unarguable leader can rightly be called Kronotsky volcano in Kronotsky Nature Reserve for its enigmatic beauty, lies between the Pacific Ocean and Lake Kronotsky, Kamchatka's largest lake. With height of 3.5 thousand meters Kronotsky volcano can be compared only with Kluchevskoy, Koryaksky volcanoes.
There are two types of expeditions to Kamchatka - by land and by sea. Kronotsky Nature Reserve is a popular tourist destination, where you can get only as part of organized tourist groups. As a rule, groups make trek to the Lake Kronotsky, and go back to Petropavlovsk-Kamchatsky by helicopter.
One of the largest Russia's open-air museums, Kizhi Museum-Reserve is a unique monument of Russia's cultural heritage built back in mid-twentieth century. Located in the Karelia Republic on Lake Onega, Kizhi Museum-Reserve with dozens of historical log buildings can transport you back in past to show you Russian peasants lived hundreds years ago. There are an ensemble of wooden building, containing of the Transfiguration Church, the symbol for Kizhi Island, along with the Church of Intercession, a hexagonal bell tower, and a small cemetery.
Kizhi Island was an interesting stop for a few hours. One can get there by taking a boat from Petrozavodsk to observe the structures on Kizhi Island.
Kungur Ice Cave
A mysterious ice cave with several lakes of clear and transparent water inside it is considered as one of the most famous and popular tourist destinations of the Urals in Perm Krai. In winter, when the temperature reaches -20 degrees, 5 700-meter long Kungur Ice Cave covers with beautiful needle-shaped crystals, what makes the place looks like starry sky.
The best time to visit the Kungur Ice Cave is the end of winter - the beginning of spring, the period from February to April, when the ice formations reach the most impressive sizes and shapes. You can get to the Kungur Ice Cave by car or by train. Driving along the Yekaterinburg-Perm highway turn to Kungur city.
Beautiful and simultaneously frightening rock formations located west of the Ural mountains, also called as "Seven Giants" or "Seven Strong Men", resemble the Easter Island heads, also known as Moai. The Manpupuner rock formations, a set of 7 gigantic stone pillars, was created due to natural weathering by rain, snow, wind, cold and heat that destroyed the mountains, especially the weaker rock. One of these pillars stand somewhat apart from the others, and with its narrow bottom and broad mid-section resemble a huge bottle, turned upside down.
According to a local legend, the stone pillars were once an entourage of Samoyeds giants walking through the mountains to Siberia in order to destroy the Mansi people. However, the men were confronted by a shaman with the white face, called Yallingner, who turned all the warriors into stones. Yallingner himself was turned into a stone, and since then, the seven formations have been standing in the area, with one facing the other six.
There are many ways to get the Manpupuner Plateau: by foot, by car, by helicopter and etc. At the first stage, you will need to get to Syktyvkar, then leave to Troitsko-Pechorsk Syktyvkar by train or car, from where you can reach Yaksha settlement and sit into the bout to cross 200 meters distance to Manpupuner Plateau.
Located in the western Urals region of Russia, the Ordinskaya Cave with cold, crystal-clear water became a perfect place for diving. The largest underwater cave in the country is about 4400 meters long and reaches deeps of 43 meters.
To get to the Ordinskaya cave that is located near the south-western edge of the village of Orda you need to drive along the Yekaterinburg-Perm highway to Goldyrevsky village, where you have to turn from the Permian road to the Horde. Drive through the entire Orda, move along the dam of the pond to the other side. The base of divers and the cave will be in the upper reaches of this pond. Also to the Orda you can get there by bus from Perm.