From Volga to Yenisei

Most Famous Rivers and Lakes of Russia

All the world knows that water is the cradle of life on earth, while big bodies of water are the source of humankind development. There is a good reason that first civilizations evolved in the valleys of the Nile, the Tigris and Euphrates, the Indus and Ganges, the Huang He and Yangtze. Just like for our ancestors, for us, lakes and rivers are not only the reserves of freshwater but the opportunity to travel and learn new things. In this respect, Russia is a true country of treasures. Which rivers and lakes are worth including in the route and what to do on their banks and shores?

The Purest and the Saltiest

Lake Baikal will always top the list of Russia's water treasures. It's a UNESCO World Heritage Site, which is not a surprise: it's the cleanest and deepest freshwater lake in the world and among the oldest ones on Earth. It evolved in the Mesozoic Era around 25 million years ago. In summer, thousands of tourists flock to Olkhon, the largest island in Lake Baikal; in winter, you can try ice diving or Baikal dog-sledding; in spring, make sure to watch the ice drift; while in fall, enjoy the view of vibrant trees that look like tongues of flame, reflected by the unruffled surface.

Koyash lake in Crimea will amaze tourists with its vibrant colors as well. This body of water changes its color depending on the season. Thanks to highly pigmented micro-algae and small crustaceans, in summer, the lake gets a rich red color, while in spring, it can get orange or pink. Salt water from Koyash lake has healing properties.

Koyash lake is not the only salt lake in Russia. In Volgograd Region, there's Lake Elton which water has 1.5 times higher concentration of salt than the famous Dead Sea. Thus, Lake Elton is the saltiest lake on the planet. In Astrakhan Region, you can bathe in Lake Baskunchak, which provides around 80% of all table salt in Russia.

Koyash lake in Crimea will amaze tourists with its vibrant colors. This body of water changes its color depending on the season.

Water and Culture

Picturesque Ladoga and Onega Lakes are Europe's first and second largest freshwater lakes accordingly. Each of them has an island of Russian culture, both literally and figuratively. Those are the State Historical and Architectural Reserve Museum in Kizhi island of Lake Onega and the Valaam Monastery in the Valaam archipelago of Lake Ladoga.

Those interested in the history of Ancient Rus should go to the Nerl river, on which bank there's the Church of the Intercession, an outstanding architectural monument of the Vladimir-Suzdal school constructed in the 12th century. The Church is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.All along the Nerl River, you have a chance to enjoy the calming beauty of authentic Russian nature. Situated in Yaroslavl Region, Lake Pleshcheyevo witnessed a number of historical events: young Emperor Peter the Great built his "poteshny" (i.e. toy, created for fun) fleet, which later became the base for the Russian fleet. Now, the Lake has a museum with a wooden boot "Fortuna", the only preserved vessel from the "poteshny fleet".

Most Famous Rivers

Russia's five biggest rivers are the Yenisei, the Lena, the Ob, the Amur, and the Volga. The Lena river is the longest: its length from source to mouth makes 4,260 km, while the Ob river ranks first in Russia and third in the world (after the Amazon, the Kongo, and the Nile) by its basin area (2.99 million square kilometers).

The famous Lena Pillars stretch along the banks of the Lena river for tens of kilometers. Each layer of theirs is sort of a chronicle of Eurasia's and the whole planet's development, as the Lena Pillars were formed from Cambrian limestone that dates back more than half a billion years. The rocks are covered with multiple ancient rupestrian drawings, petroglyphs, and runic inscriptions.

The biggest river by basin area in Europe, the Volga river extends over 1.361 million square kilometers. It has been the most important transport artery from ancient times and nowadays, while the Volga delta is a true "mecca" for fishermen: a great catch is guaranteed almost 365 days a year here.

While fans of another exciting activity — rufting — have a chance to practice it in the Shuya, the Okhta and the Suna rivers in Karelia, the Katun, the Chuya, and the Bashkaus rivers in Altai, and the Chegem river in Kabardino-Balkaria.

As long as no one can step in the same river twice, everyone should see the rivers and lakes of Russia with their own eyes at least once in a lifetime.

The famous Lena Pillars stretch along the banks of the Lena river for tens of kilometers. Each layer of theirs is sort of a chronicle of Eurasia's and the whole planet's development

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