THE PURPOSE OF THIS WEBSITE IS TO GIVE A BRIEF ILLUSTRATED DESCRIPTION OF ALL RUSSIAN ADMINISTRATIVE TERRITORIES WITH SOME EMPHASIS PUT ON ADVANTAGES OF TRAVELING BY ROAD. I INTEND TO UPDATE THE WEBSITE ON A REGULAR BASIS ADDING PICTURES AND INFORMATION OBTAINED DURING RECENT TRIPS.
Traveling by car gives you freedom and flexibility you never have when traveling by train, plane or coach in organized groups as a regular tourist. You do not have to be on time on the coach and to listen to a torrent of facts, figures and “true” fabulous stories impartially narrated by the guide.
Are you wary of the language barrier, unfamiliar road conditions, strange driving manners, corrupted Russian traffic cops, unable to drive a car yourself? This is where I can help you.
My name is Mikhail Rybochkin. I am Russian. I speak English and some Spanish. In the past, I took part in organization and execution of a number of skydiving, skiing, mountaineering expeditions in the North Pole, Antarctica, Caucasus, climbed Kilimanjaro and Mount Elbrus. In 1995 I and seven other skydivers landed on the east summit of Mount Elbrus (5621 m ASL) having exited the helicopter at the altitude of 7000 m. I traveled by car across the USA, Argentina, Chile, United Kingdom, Portugal, Cyprus, etc., sailed in the Atlantic and Arctic Oceans. I am a former military officer and parachute stuntman. Over the recent years, I have driven through 83 out of 89 Russian administrative territories extended from the Russian-Norwegian to the Russian-North Korean border, completed three drives Moscow – Vladivostok and back, Irkutsk - Magadan - Yakutsk - Irkutsk and many, many others.
In winter a road trip can be combined with a snowmobile trip to a truly hard-to-get destination like the spectacular erosional pillars Man-Pupu-Ner located deep in Urals taiga.
Choose the direction or destination you would like to go and I will develop a detailed itinerary. The choice of the itinerary, sights of interest, accommodation, meals is generally yours. I make an offer and it is up to you to accept, modify or reject it.
You will travel individually or in a small group of like-minded people looking to stretch their limits and appreciate the thrill of discovery and personal achievement. The specific itinerary can be customized to meet your specific demands. The trip can start and end in any point. The itinerary agreed before the trip is not considered to be cast in stone. Changes to the itinerary, time schedule, etc. can be made at any time in the course of the trip.
Actually innumerable number of itineraries can be developed. Russia is big and diverse enough. Some people are attracted by historic sites and architecture, others by nature and mixing with locals. Some think in terms of miles driven, territories and cities visited. All these requirements will be met if you choose to undertake a car trip across Russia with me as your personal guide, assistant, translator and driver.
A ROAD TRIP ACROSS RUSSIA
First comes an unsophisticated drive as long as the entire Russia (11 -15 thousand km) that can be counted as an achievement. Nowadays much fewer people traveled all the way across Russia by road then visited the North Pole. Please believe me: I guided hundreds to the top of the world and only a few across Russia. This is something you could be proud of. I mean the drive Moscow - Vladivostok (VVO) (or Moscow – Magadan) Options: St.Petersburg - VVO (or Magadan) or Murmansk - VVO (Magadan) - a trip truly across the entire Russia from the Barents Sea to the Sea of Japan (the Sea of Okhotsk if you choose Magadan as your final destination).
During any of these trips one crosses 9 time zones, rides through many climatic zones, sees diversity of Russian nature (tundra, taiga, steppes, mountains, lakes and rivers), culture, architecture, visits 15 - 20 major cities of Russia, 22 - 30 Russian territories populated by different nationalities practicing all major religions: Christianity, Islam, Buddhism, Shamanism (national republics like Tatar, Chuvash, Bashkir, Buryat, Khakassia, Tyva and so on). If you cannot afford much time, the drive can be completed within 14-16 days.
Based on my previous experience I suggest the following itinerary: Moscow (meeting and seeing major sights: the Kremlin, Red Square) - Nizhny Novgorod - Ulyanovsk (my home town and the birthplace of Lenin, BBQ and sauna at my dacha, a short insight into life of a Russian family) - Ufa (the capital of the Bashkir republic or Bashkortastan) – Chelyabinsk – Omsk –
(Instead of Ufa from Ulyanovsk we can go to Kazan the capital of the Tatar republic or Tatarstan. From there we proceed to Izhevsk capital of Udmurtia the birthplace of the world famous Kalashnikov submachine gun. Then we visit Perm, the Kungur ice cave and so-called Perm anomaly zone frequented by all kind of extraterrestrial vehicles, creatures and unknown phenomena. Then Yekaterinburg where the last Russian tsar's family was killed in 1918. We can visit the site where the royal remains were discovered in early 90-s. Then Tyumen and Omsk)
- Novosibirsk - Krasnoyarsk (aprx. half way to VVO, a one day stop is recommended to give a respite to our eyes and bums; a long walk can be taken to the so-called Krasnoyarskie Stolby nature reserve to flex the muscles and ventilate the lungs. The Stolby are peculiar rock formations located amid pine forest on the hills surrounding Krasnoyarsk.) - Irkutsk and Lake Baikal - the largest reservoir of fresh water on Earth. The water is cold and crystal clear. We can stay at a hotel right on the shore. An alternative place to have a respite. A comfortable boat can be rented for a day or two which will take you away from crowds to a quiet bay for a BBQ and overnight) - Ulan-Ude the capital of the Buryat republic. They are Buddhists) - Chita - then a three day drive along mostly dirt and bumpy Amur highway to Khabarovsk, visiting on the way the capital of the Siberian Promised Land the town of Birobidzhan the capital of the Jewish Autonomy and finally VVO where we will celebrate the arrival at the best pizzeria in Siberia run by an Italian guy.
According to the clients' wish deviations from the itinerary, longer or shorter stays are easily possible.
We will mostly stay at centrally located hotels so there will be a chance to see central parts of the cities we will overnight in.
The purpose of this website is to give a brief and illustrated description of the major sights and attractions, which are worth seeing when traveling from the uttermost northwest (Murmansk) to the uttermost southeast (Vladivostok).
So, let us go region by region. “Region” is “oblast” in Russian. Wikipedia uses this Russian word "oblast" to designate administrative territories of Russia. Therefore, we are going to stick to the word “oblast” as well. Some Russian administrative territories are called "krai". In this meaning "krai" is synonymous to oblast. National formations are called "republics" or "autonomous oblasts".