Covering a massive area of 17,075,200 square kilometers, the dramatic beauty of scenery and landscape that can be found in Russia can hardly be matched anywhere in the world. With extreme diversity in climate, flora and fauna, National Parks of Russia make up a vivid and exciting image of a uniquely preserved nature and wildlife. In order to make your next journey easier, we’ve picked out five must visit Russian Nature Reserves.
Stolby Nature Sanctuary (Красноярские Столбы)
One of the most well known ecological reserves in Eastern Europe, Stolby National park has more than 200 000 visitors per year and is a nominee for a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Famous for breath taking rock complexes, its location on the spurs of Sayan Mountains makes it a real treat for all nature and hike lovers. Nevertheless, Stolby flora and fauna are just as exciting as its exquisite terrain and surroundings. Stolby Park is known as a home to animal and plant species characteristic for taiga and steppe biomes, such as Siberian Musk Deer, steppe polecat, peregrine falcon and sable, as well as military orchid, lady’s slipper orchid and fan orchid. Surrounded by the Bazaikha River, Mana River and Bolshaia Slizneva River, this picturesque national park can be reached by a city bus that usually takes off from the nearby city of Krasnoyarsk.
Russian Arctic National Park (НП Русская Арктика)
Spanning over the area of almost 15 000 km2, Russian Arctic National Park land mass is located on the territories of Novaya Zemlya and Franz Josef Land in the northern part of Arhangelsk Oblast. This remote and far northern region is inhabited with bowhead whales and polar bears, animals this park is worth visiting for alone. Extremely numerous bird colonies can also be seen in the area, and the wildlife in general is a representation of merciless, yet dramatically beautiful landscape. Originally founded as Franz Josef Land Conservation Area in 1994, this national park went through significant expansion during the first decade of millennium, as well as an extremely expensive cleaning up project during which more than 150 000 tonnes of oil barrels and vehicle remains were removed. Also renowned as a protected area for species of marine mammals such as Grey Whales, this park is a true delight for adventurous and cold tolerant tourists.
Yugyd Va National Park (НП Югыд Ва)
Founded in the Northern Ural region, Yugyd Va National Park is located in Komi Republic, one of the republics which make up the Russian Federation. It’s the second National Park in Russia by size, and was founded more than two decades ago with the goal of protection of sensitive taiga forests. Inhabited by rare species of birds and fishes, Yugyd Va Park is also a home to many mammals such as reindeers, wolves, bears, hares and squirrels. Hunters are welcome in this park, but the hunting permits must be provided several months in advance. Other sports activities characteristic for Yugyd Va Park include boating, hiking, skiing and rafting. Also, this park is very close to Pechora-Ilynch Nature Reserve that is recognized by UNESCO as World Heritage Site, which provides Yugyd Va visitors with a great opportunity of an additional visit at a minimal cost.
Prielbrusye National Park (НП Приэльбрусье)
Located on the highest mountain in Europe, Mt. Elbrus, Prielsbrusye National Park stands at over 5000 meters above the sea level. Founded in the isolated part of Caucasus Mountains, this park is characterized by an extremely high level of endemism and rare species of flora and fauna. Although approximately 15% of the park is in permafrost, its location provides it with one of the biggest ecodiversity levels in the world. Due to being the meeting point of various ecosystems, Prielsbrusye National Park offers a highly varied flora including pine forests, wild roses, berries and alpine meadows. But it’s not advised to go too far off when looking for berries to pick, as wolves, jackals, bears and boars make up the standard animal world in this region. You can find accommodation in a nearby city of Nalchik, as well as inside of park, where tour guides, ski and climbing equipment are also available.
Tunkinsky National Park (НП Тункинский)
Placed at the meeting point of alpine, steppe and taiga ecosystems, Tunkinsky region consists of diverse and spectacular scenery. Located between two major lakes of Siberia, Lake Hovsgol and Baikal, its alpine border terrain gradually transitions into a flat valley named Irkut. Perfectly suited for tourists, Tunkinsky National Park offer includes a resort town Arshan, where you can find hotels, cafes and of course, all sorts of spa treatments. A source of mineral carbonate springs, this central Siberian region is a must visit for all rock climbers, kayakers and mountaineers. For those who are not as sport savvy, there is a unique nature to be explored, with more than forty endemic plant species. Also, more than sixty animal species who live in Tunkinsky National Park belong to the rare and endangered groups, so taking a walk and getting to know flora and fauna will definitely be a once in a lifetime event.