Krasnoyarsk Krai is a huge territory in western-central Siberia that extends north of the industrial city of Krasnoryarsk and the Trans-Siberian Railway to the Arctic Sea. Covering an area about two thirds the size of the lower 48 United States an dlarger than Greenland, it lies in one of the most resource-rich parts of Russia and is occupied largely by the Yenisei River basin. Many of the towns can only be reached by plane, helicopter or boat. There are few roads or railroads. Website: Tourist Information Portal of Krasnoyarsk Krai

Krasnoyarsk Krai is Russia’ second largest political entity after Sakha Republic (Yakutia) and third largest country subdivision in the world after Sakha and Western Australia. Krasnoyarsk Krai covers 2,339,700 square kilometers (903,400 square miles), is home to about 2.9 million people and has a population density of 1.2 people per square kilometer. About 76 percent of the population live in urban areas. The city of Krasnoyarsk is the capital and largest city, with about one million people.

Krasnoyarsk is relatively wealthy. It is endowed with large reserves of coal, minerals, oil, gas, and timber. After the collapse of the Soviet Union, the resources were exploited by a fair number of players, including crooked politicians, corrupt businessmen and gangsters. Turf battles, murders and assassination aimed to towards getting a larger piece of the pie were not unknown. Russian President Vladimir Putin brought some order to the region

Krasnoyarsk is one the main regions of Eastern Siberia, which is roughly defined by the Yenisei River to the west, the Arctic Ocean to the north, Mongolia to the south and the Far East to the east. Covered by tundra in the north and taiga forest to the south, it is a sparely populated area. Most people live along the Trans-Siberian Railway, the Baikal-Amur Mainline (BAM) railway, Lake Baikal or the Lena River.

Tourism in Krasnoyarsk Krai

Krasnoyarsk Krai stretches from the Sayan Mountains to the Arctic Ocean. Thanks to its geographical location, the region covers a variety of nature zones: from the wild and impassable taiga to the vast steppe and tundra. The Putorana Plateau with its innumerable waterfalls and lakes, the sacred Plotbishchenskoe Lake where a miracle-working icon was once found, and the Permafrost Museum in Igarka, are among the interesting places to check out.

Krasnoyarsk Krai is four times larger than France. It is home to Dikson, Russia’s northernmost village and northernmost place in Eurasia; Cape Chelyuskin; and Lake Taimyr, the largest northern lake in the world. The meteor craters of Chukcha and Popigai were left by giant meteors that struck Earth tens of millions years ago. Bolshaya Oreshnaya Cave is one of the longest in Russia. The 700-meter tall Talnikovy waterfall is the tallest in the country. The Podkamennaya Tunguska River area is where the Tunguska meteorite fell.

Getting There: From Moscow, airplanes fly to Krasnoyarsk and Norilsk. A flight to Krasnoyarsk costs 17,400 rubles; to Norilsk, from 50,000 rubles. An air ticket from St. Petersburg to Krasnoyarsk costs 34,600 rubles. By Train: A trip from Moscow to Krasnoyarsk costs 8,600 rubles, but the travel time is as much as three days. When traveling from St. Petersburg to Krasnoyarsk, you will have to make a transfer in Moscow. The ticket costs 16,000–20,000 rubles. (all prices are per one adult round trip).

Transport in the region: Road and railway network is well-developed in some parts of the region, however, not all corners of it are accessible by train car, or bus. The northern edge can only be reached by air, and also by the river in the summer. Schedule and ticket prices can be checked on the websites of the airport, bus station and river port of Krasnoyarsk, Alykel airport (Norilsk, Dudinka), and on the online scoreboard of Igarka airport.

Yenisey River

Yenisey River is the largest river in Russia in terms of volume and the largest river system flowing into the Arctic Ocean. . Running northward through Siberia for 3,450 kilometers (2,136 miles), The fifth-longest river system in the world, the Yenisei is the central of the three great Siberian rivers that flow into the Arctic Ocean (the other two being the Ob and the Lena) The Yenisey is only 25 kilometers shorter than the Ob.

The Yenisei (also spelled Yenisei) originates in Tuva in the Altay mountains in Mongolia and flows through, the Sayan Mountains, Krasnoyarsk and Yeniseysky into the Kara Sea, part of the Arctic Ocean. It's main tributary the Angara flows out of the Lake Baikal. The maximum depth of the Yenisei is 24 meters (80 feet) and the average depth is 14 meters (45 feet). In some places the river is several kilometers wide.

The Yenisei River passes through all climatic zones of Siberia and serves as a kind of natural border between the Western and Eastern Siberia , with the Western Siberian Plain to the west and the Central Siberian Plateau to the east. It flows almost strictly along the meridian from south to north and drains a large part of central Siberia.

The river Yenisei is the second largest rivers in Russia based on it basin area. Three hydroelectric power stations have been built on it: Krasnoyarskaya, Sayano-Shushenskaya, and Mainskaya. Krasnoyarsk sea is an artificial lake created during the construction of Krasnoyarsk HPP. In the summer, it is a favorite recreation spot for residents of Krasnoyarsk. The Yenisei has been polluted by waste from plutonium processing plants.

More than five hundred rivers run into the Yenisei. The river carries 600 cubic kilometers of water to the Kara Sea a year. The river is the most important waterway of Krasnoyarsk Krai. There is a regular shipping route between Krasnoyarsk to Dudinka that carries a fair amount of freight. The main embankment of Krasnoyarsk city goes along the river.

Boat Travel on the Yenisei River

During the summer ferries operate between Krasnoyarsk and northern destinations such as Dudinka and Vorontsovo, both about 1,900 kilometers (1,200 miles) north of Krasnoyarsk. The down stream voyages to the north takes about four days and the upstream trips back to Krasnoyarsk take about six days. It is possible to fly one way and travel by boat the other.

The boats leave every two to four days, and are usually not full but you may have trouble getting a ticket in the class you want. The boats stop in Yeniseysk (413 kilometers north of Krasnoyarsk), Bakhat (1023 kilometers) and Igarka (1744 kilometers). Dudinka is a seagoing port at the mouth of Yenisey. It is the capital of the Yaymar (Dolgan-Nenets) Autonomous District.

On the Krasnoyarsk–Yeniseysk–Igarka–Dudinka ferry, Lonely Planet reports: “From mid-June to early October, passenger ships slip along the Yenisey River from Krasnoyarsk to Dudinka in the Arctic Circle (4½ days) via Yeniseysk (17 hours) and Igarka (three days and two to seven hours). There are three to four sailings per week, most departing early morning. Returning upstream, journeys take 50% longer so most independent travellers choose to fly back to Krasnoyarsk. Foreigners are not allowed beyond Igarka, as Dudinka and nearby Norilsk are ‘closed’ towns. Contact SibTourGuide in Krasnoyarsk for timetables, tickets and round-trip tours.”

Krasnoyarsk City

Krasnoyarsk City (kilometer 4104 on the Trans-Siberian Railway) is home to 1 million people and is a more pleasant place than Novosbirisk. Founded in the 17th century as a Cossack trading post on a two-kilometer-wide section of the Yenisei River, it is the second largest city in Siberia and still has a frontier atmosphere and many old wooden buildings and is the birthplace of the famous Russian historical painter Vasily Surikov.

The largest economic and cultural center of Central and Eastern Siberia, Krasnoyarsk is a major transit hub at the intersection of the Trans-Siberian Railway and historically formed trade routes along the Yenisei River. Like other towns on the Trans-Siberian Railway, Krasnoyarsk grew as resources around it were exploited and expanded greatly in World War II when defense-related factories were moved here. The city was closed to foreigners in the Soviet Union era because it contains a plutonium processing plant and a nuclear weapons-making plant. The city has attracted a lot of foreign investment. It factories produce IKEA furniture, Samsung televisions, BASF cassettes and other products.

Krasnoyarsk is located on a predominantly flat, forest-steppe territory, but the city itself lays in the picturesque basin of the northern spurs of the Eastern Sayans. Krasnoyarsk adjoins the Stolby state reserve. Ian Frazier wrote in The New Yorker: “Our passage through this almost-dead zone heightened the surprise a few hours later when we reached the river city of Krasnoyarsk. The name—from krasnyi, “red,” and yar, “cliff”—refers to the red cliffs near the city, which give the landscape with its broad valley a slightly out-of-context look, as if this place might be in eastern Wyoming or South Africa. The city occupies a prominence above the Yenisei River just upstream from where a series of mountainous, tree-covered cliffs along both sides of the river suddenly descend to level ground. Chekhov judged Krasnoyarsk the most beautiful city in Siberia, and he was right, from what I’d seen. [Source: Ian Frazier, The New Yorker, August 10 and 17, 2009, Frazier is author of “Travels in Siberia” (2010)]

“Krasnoyarsk opens onto the Yenisei the way St. Petersburg opens onto the Neva. And the Yenisei here is huge, more like an estuary than a river. Many of Krasnoyarsk’s streets end at the water and route its amplified daylight into the city; I recalled a similar effect on the streets of older Mississippi River towns. To get a better look at the whole picture, Sergei drove us to a scenic overlook he knew of on some heights west of town. This particular vantage dominated a graffiti-covered stone outcropping above a small parking lot. As we climbed up to it, a wedding party was coming down with surprising agility in their tuxedos and high heels. The viewing promenade, when we reached it, was strewn all around with shattered champagne flutes from their just completed toasts. While we stood there, a storm came up the river, and you could see almost its entire extent—the dark clouds, the advancing netlike pattern of smooth and rippled water beneath the clouds, the wispy paleness of the rain. The city itself, off in the distance, was only a thumbnail-size patch of the scene’s immensity.

“The long view also revealed that Krasnoyarsk puts out an impressive smoky haze of its own. During Soviet times, a lot of heavy industry relocated here. The first thing you see in the main hall of Krasnoyarsk’s regional museum is a banner with a slogan intended to inspire Soviet factory workers during the Cold War. In large white letters on a red background, it reads, “Dogonim i Peregonim Ameriku!”—“We Will Catch Up With and Surpass America!”

Accommodation: Krasnoyarsk Hotel is located in the city center. Most rooms offer views of Theater Square, the Opera and Ballet Theater, the communal bridge and the Yenisei. Buffet breakfast, conference rooms, Wi-Fi, laundry, dentist, tour organization. The rooms range from standard single (3,350 rubles) to top class suite (11,500 rubles). There is also a room for people with disabilities (5,200 rubles). Hilton Garden Inn Krasnoyarsk hotel has a fitness center, on-site business center, Wi-Fi, non-smoking rooms. Room rates range from 4,700 (single room with a large bed) to 6,800 (junior suite with a large bed) rubles. Hostels cost from 400 rubles per bed. Apartments can be rented from 1,000 to 1,800 rubles

History of Krasnoyarsk

The establishment Krasnoyarsk City and the development of the Krasnoyarsk Territory began at about the same time. In in 1623, the Yenisei voevod Yakov Ignatievich Khripunov sent a boyar son Andrei Dubensky to choose a place for a new fort and prison upriver from Yeniseysk. Dubensky picked the area on a high flat cape between the mouth of Kachi and the Yenisei. The new fort was called the Red Yar, after the color of the cliff on which the fort was placed.

Cossacks at Krasnoyarsk had to repel the raids of nomads until the beginning of the 18th century. For example, Krasnoyarsk was besieged by Oirats in 1667: the fort withstood the siege with great difficulty; all the surrounding villages were burnt, and the inhabitants were captured. The raids ceased only when the territory of the Prieniseysky Territory was finally annexed to Russia. Krasnoyarsk received the status of the city in 1690 and after life in the region was generally peaceful.

In 1735, the Siberian route, which has now become federal highway M53, was laid through the city. It connected Krasnoyarsk with Achinsk and the rest of European Russia. The next surge of the growth was connected with the discovery of gold in the province: Krasnoyarsk boomed and expanded during the Siberian “gold rush”. Gold was even found in the city proper. The gold miner Nikolai Myasnikov became so rich he used business cards made of pure gold just for laughs. The novel “Gold” by Dmitry Mamin-Sibiryak describes this period of Siberian history.

A railway came to Krasnoyarsk in 1895. The city still remains a major transit hub at the intersection of the Trans-Siberian Railway and historically formed trade routes along the Yenisei River. During the Soviet era, Krasonoyark was a major plutonium production center. It was closed to foreigner until the last years of the Gorbachev era. Waste from plutonium processing plants near Krasnoyarsk have ended up in the Yenisei River.

Sights and Architecture in Krasnoyarsk City

Attractions in Krasnoyarsk include cheap skiing, boat rides, and tsar-era brick buildings. The Pokrovskya Cathedral features gold domes, pink-and-white walls and a wonderful collection of icons. St. Parcascvea Chapel is located on a hill and is reached by a pleasant walk. Among the museums are the Surikov Museum estate, the Surikov Art Museum, and the Local Studies Museums. The Sv Nikolai Paddle Steamer, which carried Lenin to exile in 1897, sits in the Yenisei River, The main embankment of Krasnoyarsk goes along the river.

Ian Frazier wrote in The New Yorker: “ Many buildings in the city center were from the later nineteenth century, and in a style of brickwork done decoratively, almost whimsically. Recent renovations had emphasized a color scheme perhaps based on the earth-toned reds of the Yenisei cliffs, and with white or light-blue trim for intensity. The downtown boutiques, restaurants, clothing stores, and galleries called to mind shopping districts in any of a thousand gentrified antique-ish towns and small cities in America. And although a line of storefronts bearing the logos of Wrangler and Reebok and Benetton and Nike would not gladden me if I encountered it in New Jersey, seeing it in Siberia did, somehow. [Source: Ian Frazier, The New Yorker, August 10 and 17, 2009, Frazier is author of “Travels in Siberia” (2010)]

The oldest building in Krasnoyarsk is Intercession Cathedral, built in 1785 to 1795 and restored in 1977 to 1978. On the top of the Karaulnaya Hill, originally a pagan shrine, later occupied by the Krasnoyarsk fort watchtower, the Paraskeva Pyatnitsa Chapel (1804, rebuilt 1854–55) still stands. The chapel, displayed on the 10-ruble note, is one of the iconic images of the city. The chapel was abandoned and fell into disrepair during the Soviet era and only when Perestroyka came was it regained by the Yenisei bishopric. Another unofficial symbol of Krasnoyarsk is the incomplete 24-story tower located at Strelka. Construction of the tower had been started just before Perestroyka and then frozen due to the administrative crisis. The outline of the tower is clearly seen from many places in the city.

A bridge near Krasnoyarsk carries the Trans-Siberian Railway across the Yenisei. This structure, one of the longest at the time, was constructed between 1893 and 1896 to an award-winning design by Lavr Proskuryakov. When approved for the inscription on the World Heritage List in 2003, the bridge was described by the UNESCO as "an early representation of a typical parabolic polygonal truss bridge in Russia" which became "a testing ground for the application of engineering theories and the development of new innovative solutions, which had numerous successors"

Among other notable buildings are the mansions of the merchant Nikolay Gadalov (beginning of the 20th century), the Roman Catholic Transfiguration Chapel, 1911, also known as the Krasnoyarsk Organ Hall), the Krasnoyarsk Krai Museum stylized as an Ancient Egyptian temple, the Krasnoyarsk Cultural/Historical Center and the triumphal arch at the Spit (2003), the regional administration building flanked with two towers known as the "Donkey Ears". There are a number of two-story wooden houses in the city built mostly in the middle of the 20th century as temporary habitations. Many urbanized villages located inside the city keep the remnants of the traditional Russian village architecture: wooden houses with backyards, many somewhat dilapidated now but still inhabited.

In the summer boats travel in the Yenisei River between Krasnoyarsk and Divinogorsk, the site of the huge hydroelectric dam that provides Krasnoyarsk’s energy and creates the Krasnoyarsk Sea (Reservoir). About 700 kilometers north-northeast of Krasnoyarsk, close to the small trading post of Vanavara, is where the famous Tunguska explosion took places in 1908.

Krasnoyarsk Dam and Power Station

Krasnoyarsk Hydropower Station (30 kilometers upstream to the south of Krasnoyarsk in Divnogorsk) is, familiar to many by the image on the ten-ruble note, was the most powerful in the world before the Sayano-Shushenskaya hydropower station was built. Today, it's the second largest in Russia in terms of installed capacity (6000 MW) and one of the ten largest hydroelectric power stations in the world.

Krasnoyarsk HPP is the first hydroelectric power station built on the Yenisei River. The total length of the hydroelectric complex along the ridge is about a kilometer, the average height is 117 meters. The total weight of the dam is 15 million tons. The construction of the hydropower plant lasted from 1956 to 1972. There are 12 hydraulic units in the building.

Visitors can tour Krasnoyarsk hydroelectric power station and its enormous and spillway. A night view of the illuminated building is stunning. Energy production is by no means the only thing the power station does. It works as a distribution center in the transmission of energy to the eastern markets, and is also a reserve and guarantor of energy security during emergencies, which entails the de-energization of the largest enterprises, cities and towns. If their power is cut Krasnoyarsk HPP’s generators serve up an alternative energy source.
The Krasnoyarsk Dam significantly influences the local climate. Normally the river would freeze over in the bitterly cold Siberian winter, but because the dam releases unfrozen water year-round, the river never freezes for 200 to 300 kilometers downstream from the dam.In winter, the frigid air interacts with the warm river water to produce fog, which shrouds Krasnoyarsk and other downstream areas.

Krasnoyarsk Sea

Krasnoyarsk Sea (41 kilometers on the highway from Krasnoyarsk is a reservoir created on the Yenisei River by the Krasnoyarsk hydroelectric power station. It is among the ten largest artificial lakes in the world and in Russia it is the top three with the Samara Reservoir on the Volga and Bratsk on Angara. Krasnoyarsk Sea stretches over 400 kilometers from the town of Divnogorsk to Abakan in the Republic of Khakassia Abakan. Also called, Krasnoyarsk Reservoir, the reservoir extends southwards from Krasnoyarsk and covers an area of 2000 square kilometers is 15 kilometer wide at its widest place and 105 meters deep at its deepest place.

The main task of the Krasnoyarsk Sea is to regulate the water level in the Yenisei and to ensure the smooth movement of water transport through it. Among the fish found in the reservoir are pike here, peled, ide and bream. The Tuba, Sisim, Buzz and Biryusa rivers flow into the Krasnoyarsk Sea, forming bays at their confluences. The coastal cliffs contain numerous caves, including Biryusinsk, which are up to six kilometers in length and have, passages, halls and caves that attract tourists and spelunkers.

The Krasnoyarsk Sea is a popular place for summer recreation for residents and visitors of Krasnoyarsk city. There are sloping shores and sandy beaches suitable for swimming. There numerous camp sites and caravan sites. Water-related activities boating and riding on jet skis, catamarans, kayaks, water skis, "bananas" and "buns".

Popular destinations include the Gulf of Buzz, close to the Krasnoyarsk hydroelectric power station and where you can arrange sailing charters; Biryusa picturesque bay, where you can admire the cliffs and explore caves. In the winter recreation you can try winter fishing or take a ride on a snowmobile. The Krasnoyarsk Sea can be reached from on the highway M-54 or country roads. There are reservoir ferry connections, in particular from the village of Novoselov.

Krasnoyarskye Stolby

Krasnoyarskye Stolby (10 kilometers southwest of Krasnoyarsk on the south side of the Yenisei River) is one of the nicest things about Krasnoyarsk. Located in the spurs of the Eastern Sayan Mountains, on the right bank of the Yenisei River, it is a 472-square-kilometer nature reserve, located right next to the city, It features wooded hiking trails and over 100 unusual stone pillars that reach 100 meters in height. The reserve is divided into two parts: a small tourist area where most of the rock formations are located and the wild area, where it is not recommended that you go without guide.

Tens of millions of years ago, volcanoes erupted here and the lava hardened. Over time, softer rock eroded away, leaving behind rock towers, 60 to 90 meters tall, standing alone and in groups. More than half a million tourists come here every year. Some of them are professional climbers, but most test themselves on “trickies”, short but complicated tracks up to five meters high. There are several tour routes in the reserve, for traveling both on foot and by car. The distance from Krasnoyarsk to the reserve is about 18 kilometers. You can get there either by car or by bus No. 19, 78, 50, 50a, 50k (Turbaza stop).

Krasnoyarsk Stolby was nominated to be a UNESCO World Heritage site in 2007. According to a report submitted to UNESCO: “The nominated area is located on the northwestern spur of the Eastern Sayan. Its natural borders are right tributaries of the Yenisei River; in the northeast the Bazaikha, in the south and southwest - the rivers Mana and Bolshaya Slimeva. In the northeast the territory borders on the suburb of Krasnoyarsk...150 years ago at "Stolby" a unique mass sport movement, called "stolbism" appeared. Its essence is freestyle mountaineering. "Stolbism" in its ethno-social sense should be preserved as people's non-material heritage. [Source: Ministry of Natural Resources, Berzyozovka district, Krasnoyarsk territory]

The species composition of flora and fauna of the upper reaches of Mana is similar to the flora and fauna of the Eastern and Western Sayan. On the banks of the river grow Siberian pine and pine, spruce, fir, larch, birch, aspen, mountain ash, bird cherry, willow, and others. In the forest and the mountains, you can see a bear, wolf, lynx, deer, moose, musk deer, squirrels, chipmunks, hares . Among the birds are the most numerous nutcrackers, jays, woodpeckers, crossbill, capercaillie, ptarmigan, grouse. Rivers usual Siberian grayling, goldilocks and trout.

Krasnoyarsk Pillars (in Krasnoyarsk Stolby) are the tall, narrow rock formations between 60 and 100 meters high. Some are the pillars are comprised of gray-pink granite; other by rock dated to between 450 to 600 million years old. Each of the main pillars an pillar groups has its own name, mostly based on what the stones look like. One of the most famous is the pillar of Santa, which resembles an old man with a huge bushy beard. Beside him is his "family": the great-grandfather, granddaughter, grandmother and Gemini. Among the rock formations with names associated with animals and birds are Feathers, Lions Gate and Tusk. Some of these are climbed by experienced climbers and inexperienced ones.

Geology of Krasnoyarskye Stolby

According to a report submitted to UNESCO: According to geomorphological division the territory where "Stolby" is located lies in the zone of contact of Altai-Sayan mountain country with Mid-Siberian plateau and Western Siberian plain. The rocks are mostly of sedimentary and volcanic origin, aged from the Cambrian (more than 600 million years old) to the Carbon period. Stolby's massive, comprising all the known rocks ("stolby"), is a part of Shumikhinskiy intrusive complex formed of pinkish-red quartz syenite. It has a linear shape and stretches in the northeastern direction, where the ancient remains - "stolby" - are located in the form of a chain. [Source: Ministry of Natural Resources, Berzyozovka district, Krasnoyarsk territory]

Petrographic structure is plain, rocks are mostly formed of potassium feldspar - orthoclase. On the whole, Stolby's massive has a shape of a stock (drop-like or cylindrical shape) 'and in accordance with geophysical data goes down to a significant depth. In the process of cooling of melting magma, which penetrated from the depth of 500 - 1500 meters into a layer of peneplain there formed a system of cracks naturally spread across the whole massive. Selective weathering along those cracks led to the formation of mattress-like prismatic detachments, which caused all the diversity of the rock outcrops. In the region of syenite intrusion there are more than 600 rock outcrops and about 60 of them are 50-100 meters high.

The newest rise and division of the territory has continued during the Cainozoi era (30-35 million years) until nowadays. Ancient peneplainized surface risen in the regicrn of the nature reserve up to 700-900 meters above sea level was considerably influenced by water erosion, which was the cause of the formation of winding arcs of Listvyazhnyi, Central (Abatakskiy) and Kaidynskiy ridges, each one about 11-16 kilometers long. On the Carnbrian deposits surrounding "Stolby" from the North, East and West karst areas appeared. Among them there are fields of karst craters, caves up to 200 meters deep, rivers disappearing under ground, the so-called "stone city" etc.

Vegetation and Animals at Krasnoyarskye Stolby

According to a report submitted to UNESCO: With change of absolute height of the area soil and vegetation also change. In the lowmountain area (200-500 meters above sea level) sub-taiga and forest-steppe leaf-bearing and light coniferous forests are spread on mountain grey forest soils. The higher areas (500-800 meters above sea level) are covered with the light coniferous and dark coniferous taiga on mountain podzolic soils...Continental climate of the territory is slightly softened by mountainous relief and differs -from borderline forest-steppe by higher air humidity, precipitation (686mm) and shorter vegetation period (138 days). The average annual temperature at "Stolby" is - 1.2'C, in the forest-steppe - +0.3 "C. [Source: Ministry of Natural Resources, Berzyozovka district, Krasnoyarsk territory]

On the nominated territory pine and silver fir forests predominate. Siberian pine and larch forests are less spread. Aspen and birch forests are spread in transformed areas where selective cutting down of trees was made. On the steep south slopes there can be found small (up to 3 ha) steppe pieces in the middle of the forests which are parts of ancient steppes, formerly much more extensive. According to some data, 4-5,000s years ago real steppes extended over a significant area on the territory of the reserve. In the caves bone remains of marmot (Marmota baibacina) and Myospalax myospalax - steppe inhabitants - were found. The total area of those pieces is not more than 1 percent of the reserve's territory. In those steppe parts a third of all Stolby's higher plants is registered. The flora of the territory is represented by 728 species of angiospermous plants, 6 - gymnospennous plants, 40 - fern-like plants US$ 3 - Lycopodiophyta, 257 - moss-like plants, 17 1 - lichens, 148 - fungi, including 114 relic and endemic plants of Siberia.

The fauna of the vertebrate animals is rather well-studied. There was described 1 species of cyclostomes, 22 species of bony fishes, 4 - of amphibians, 5 - of reptiles, 212 - of birds and 58- of mammals. The fauna of invertebrate animals has lack of researchers' attention. So, out of all the diversity of living beings in this area there was described 1 species of sponges, 4 - of turbellaria, 28 - of oligochaeta, 6 - of leeches, 2 - of polyzoa, 18 - of mollusks, 28 - of crustaceans, 59 - of arachnids, 1 165 - of insects.

Most of the animals are forest and taiga species. Out of the mammals sable was reacclimatized, and such acclimatisants as American mink and muskrat populated the reserve independently. On the territory of the reserve species from the Red Book of the Russian Federation were registered: 1 species of butterfly - Parnfssius Apollo L. and 8 species of birds (Ciconia nigra L., Pandion haliaetus L., 'Aquila chrysaetos L., Aquila heliaca Sev., Aquila rapax Temrn., Falco cherrug Gray., Falco peregrius Tunst., Bubo bubo L.).

Achinsk: Pollution Capital of Siberia?

Achinsk (184 kilometers west of Krasnoyarsk) is a small city with about 110,000 people with a lot of factories on the right bank of the Chulym River near its intersection with the Trans-Siberian Railway. It is one of the oldest known inhabited places in the area. In caves two kilometers east of the city, paleontological have found evidence of people dating back to 28,000–20,000 B.C. Among the factories are a refinery and wax, brick, dairy and electrical plants. Major industries in Achinsk include construction materials, including wood and asphalt, food processing, meat processing, footwear and furniture. The largest enterprise is the Achinsk Alumina Plant and a cement plant that produces about two million tons of cement per year.

Ian Frazier wrote in The New Yorker: “Environmental blight resumed the next morning as we approached the city of Achinsk. Never, under any circumstances, go to Achinsk. I’m still coughing Achinsk out of my lungs to this day, probably. During Soviet times, ninety-five per cent of everything—buildings, roads, bus shelters, playgrounds, fountains, telephone booths, lampposts—was made of cement. A particular kind of five-foot-by-eight-foot cement panel often used in fences and walls seems to be the basic visual element of urban Siberia. [Source: Ian Frazier, The New Yorker, August 10 and 17, 2009, Frazier is author of “Travels in Siberia” (2010)]

“Well, all that cement, or a hell of a lot of it, is made in Achinsk. Achinsk has mineral refineries, too. The thick, dusty air of Achinsk coats grass blades to death and desertifies everything in a wide radius around the city. Still forty minutes away from it, we rolled up the windows and sweltered in the van rather than breathe the emanations of Achinsk. Skirting the city at a far remove, we never actually saw it, but only its cement-dust cloud, which densified to a dark gray at what I took to be the city’s middle. For a second or two, a haze-blurred smokestack could be seen.”

Mana River

Mana River (south of Krasnoyarsk) is a major tributary of the Yenisei River. It is 475 kilometers long and sides by beautiful mountains and taiga landscapes. It originates at Verhmanskom Lake. At the junction of the Mana, and Kuturchinskogo Kan Belogoriya, at a distance of about 12 kilometers from the source, the river flows for almost a kilometer underground. At a distance of four to 20 kilometers from the right bank of the mouth of the Mana River borders the Krasnoyarsk Nature Reserve.

The Mana river is a popular holiday destinations. You can swim, fish and relax or rafting. A popular rafting area is around the the village of Ust-Mana. A longish trip takes two to two and half days. At Verhmanskie there are III-V rapids (depending on the water level). In the spring and summer, the Mana River hosts a number of festivals and events including the tourist rally Festival Tour Mans, - Manskiy festival, - Song Festival Vysotsky and Siberia, Rock Festival Manske and Invasion Biker Festival.

Mana's River Loop (southeast of Krasnoyarsk) is one of the most beautiful places on the Mana River. The river makes a big bend here and forms a rocky isthmus about a hundred meters in length. To get there you have to travel on foot. From the village of Mansky, best reached by car, descend to the bank of the river at Krasnoyarskaya and Solnechnaya streets and head towards the highest mountain with a slightly bald head. If you do not have a car, you can get to Mansky on the “Krasnoyarsk-Divnogorsk” bus to the village of Ust-Mana. From there you can walk along the shore or the road or wait for the bus to Mansky.

Ergaki Reserve

Ergaki Natural Park (southern Krasnoyarsk Krai, 400 kilometers south of Krasnoyarsk city, 150 kilometers northwest of Abakan in Khakassia and 80 kilometers north of Kyzyl in Tuva Republic ) is a popular tourist center located in the Western Sayan mountains with beautiful lakes, clear rivers, rich Siberian taiga, and beautiful granite peaks. Local people believed that gods liked to rest here, and the mountains are their stone toys they brought with them. According to another legend, the rocks are fingers of an arrogant man turned to stone by the gods for trying to reach the sky. “Ergaki” means“fingers” in Turkic.

The natural park includes the Ergaki mountain group, located in the central part of the Western Sayan. From east to west, the Ergaki mountain range is about 80 kilometers long, and its maximum width is 70 kilometers. The Ergaki range has a very dendritic network of ridges. Each peak of these ridges has a unique appearance. The highest of them are Aradansky Peak (2,466 meters) and Zvezdny Peak (2,265 meters). The Artists Pass is a popular hiking destination. From here, one can see a wide panorama of the central part of the Ergaki mountains, including the peaks Ptitsa (“Bird”), Zvezda (“Star”), Zub Drakona (“Dragon's Tooth”), Konus (“Cone”), and Zerkalny (“Mirror”). In the center, far below, you can clearly see two sharp peaks, the so-called Brothers or Parabola.

The symbol of the Siberian mountains is the legendary mountain called Sleeping Sayan. “Stone Town” is also an amazing sight. In the winter, Ergaki is a combination of blue sky, white snow, evergreen taiga, and magnificent mountains. In the summer you can explore subalpine and alpine meadows, of waterfalls, narrow river canyons, and mountain lakes. Among the lakes in Ergaki Natural Park worth checking out are Raduzhnoye (Rainbow), Mramornoye (Marble), Svetloye (Bright), and Zolotoye (Golden). Their waters are stunningly clean and transparent. Numerous rivers and streams, flowing down between the mountain ranges, form many rapids and waterfalls. Mramorny waterfall is incredibly beautiful and the most popular with tourists. Here, the water falls almost 30 meters in two steps.

The winter season lasts from late October to mid-June. Snowmobiling, alpine skiing, cross country skiing and snowboarding. In the summer, you can go on hiking and horseback riding. Rafting of varying degrees of difficulty is offered on the Uss and Oya mountain rivers. There are plenty of places you can go fishing or pitch a tent. Extreme sports enthusiasts come here for base jumping. There’s a hookah bar in a yurt called "Temple of the Smoke" where you can sample 50 different varieties of tea, taste mead hrenovuha, pepper vodka and liqueur made of special recipes while listening to ethnic music remix treatments by local Djs.

Sights in the Ergaki Reserve

Parabola Scala is a mountain rock formation shaped like a parabola, and known locally as the "Brothers." The two peaks that stand side by side: the big, fat brother and the smaller, slimmer. On the saddle of the pass Parabola climbers climb to the top of the north ( "Big Brother"). Raising short and simple, special equipment is required. From the top of a beautiful panoramic view of the ridge Ergaki. In front of the Parabola is the Lake of Artists, one of the the most beautiful places in Ergakov.

Stone Town (in Sharypovo district) is a large group of mounds and burial grounds near the village of Little Lake. Dozens of mounds — large and small — and enclosed vertical gravestones date to the Tagar culture and Dinlin people who lived in this area in the first millennium B.C.

Hanging Stone is a huge rock stands on the edge as if hanging over Raduzhnoe Lake. This huge block weighs up to 500 tons and looks as if is going to fall over at any moment. According to the legend when the stone falls and goes directly into the lake, the splash of water will cover the Sleeping Sayan and it will wake him up.

Lake Mountain Spirits is a sacred lake associated with many legends that attracts New Age folks and people into UFOs. The emerald mountain lake is 100 meters deep and shaped like a rectangle with rounded edges. According to one storey the lake was a gift to Ingiri, a skilled throat singer who bewitched spirits and could cure anyone with his singing. Lake Mountain Spirits can be reached only on foot by hiking over passes. Some people camp at the lake for several days.

Shushenskoye Historical and Ethnographic Museum-Reserve

Shushenskoye Historical and Ethnographic Museum-Reserve (southern Krasnoyarsk near Abakan) is an open-air complex that recreates a central part of the Siberian village of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. The total area of the museum is about 16 hectares. The central part of the exhibition features 29 homes: 23 of them originals built in the late 19th century. The homes and other buildings recreate life of Siberians, showing their farming, industries and crafts. The two houses, where Lenin lived while in exile are here,

The museum has about 110,000 items divided into more than 30 different collections: memorabilia, books 19th - early 20th centuries, vehicles, furniture, clothes, dishes, samovars, musical instruments, religious objects, numismatics, drawing, painting, farming tools, animal husbandry, hunting beekeeping, fisheries, weaving, wood processing, forging, and shoe-crafts.

Tours by the museum introduce visitors to the farms of rich and poor rural people and a township with a prison, commercial shops and tavern. Among the themed tours are demonstrations of ancient crafts, peasant food, entertainment and traditional drinks. Among the popular folklore and entertainment programs are "Siberian Gatherings", "Winter Yuletide" and "We Have Tea." Children's educational programs include "Living in Antiquity" and "History of the Region’s Culture." There are also playgrounds and a children's museum.

Visitors can check out pottery and cooperage workshops and art processing of a tree and try on the national costumes of different ethnic groups.. Exhibition Hall of the Museum-Reserve offers documentary-illustrative, ethnographic, and art expositions. If you want you travel back to a hundred years ago and live in a peasant's hut and use 19th century tools and objects of everyday life or learn traditional crafts. Also make time for a visit to the "New Village" architectural and ethnographic complex next door. Every year Shushenskoye welcomes more than 250,000 Russian and foreign tourists.

New Village Architectural-Ethnographic Complex Museum is a Siberian village of the late 19th century, with its streets and houses, and six estates reconstructed in the styles of the Angara region and southern Krasnoyarsk region. Various programs of the museum acquaint visitors with the traditions and customs of the past and peasant life. Here you can taste peasant dishes, learn the basics of crafts, participate in games and amusements, ceremonies and celebrations. New Village is equipped with a sauna, a sauna with a pool and a recreation room, children's playground.

Sayano–Shushenskaya Dam and Hydroelectric Plant

Sayano-Shushenskaya Dam (150 kilometers from Abakan) is Russia's largest hydroelectric dam. Built between 1975 and 1995, the dam is 242 meters high, one kilometer long and 105.7 meters wide at the base and boasts 640,000 kilowatt turbines. The hydroelectric power plant was built from 1961–1975. Forming the upper plant of the Yenisei Hydroelectric Plant Cascade, the plant supplies electricity to Khakassia and adjacent regions. The 280-kilometer-long reservoir behind the dam is closed to visitors uness .

The Sayano–Shushenskaya dam and plant is one of the most immense industrial construction projects ever undertaken not only in Russia but in the whole world. Construction of the entire facility took nearly 30 years, beginning in 1963 and continued until 1990. It was fully commissioned only in 2000. The building of this hydroelectric plant, the largest in Russia, used enough concrete to pave a highway from Saint-Petersburg to Vladivostok.

The majestic Sayano–Shushenskaya Hydroelectric Plant blocks the Yenisei River at a place called Karlov Stvor. It makes use of the Yenisei River drop at the 280-kilometer long Sayany Corridor — a place where the Yenisei cuts through the ridges of the Western Sayan. In August 2009, turbine failure at the plant killed 75 people and crippled the facility, leaving hundreds of thousands of people without power. A turbine at the power station burst apart, sending rocks, shards of metal, and a flood of icy water rushing through a room where people worked. The hall's ceiling collapsed, trapping people beneath the water.

Valentina Gulina, an equipment engineer working in the turbine hall told Radio Free Europe."We tried to do everything we could," she says. "We put a chair up on a table so that someone could climb up. We did whatever we could so at least someone's life would be saved." Gulina, who couldn't swim, figured her chances were slim. "I decided that I wasn't going to grab onto anyone or cling to them, because I didn't want to be a burden," she says. "I went underwater and that saved me, because those who were on the surface and holding on were swept away by a wave." The tragedy was one of Russia's worst industrial accidents.

Abakan-based tour operators offer bus excursions to the power plant. The price is RUB 1,500 per person. The excursion includes a visit to a fishery on the bank of the Yenisei where you can see Yenisei trout and eat them for lunch. From May through September, boat excursions are offered around the Sayano–Shushenskaya reservoir for RUB 2,850 per person.Next to the station is the Cheremushki workers settlement. In the winter, do yourself a favor and stay for a few days to go skiing and snow tubing down the hill of the Cheremuhovy Log ski complex. The plant looks most impressive at night, when it is illuminated. Accommodation: In Cheremushki, you'll find the Borus hotel with rooms available from RUB 2,200 to RUB 8,700 a night, as well as the Joy hotel complex for RUB 1,100 a night.

East of Krasnoyarsk

Ian Frazier wrote in The New Yorker: “The road got worse after Krasnoyarsk, and soon deteriorated thoroughly. Long unpaved sections with many big rocks and yamy made for a bumpy and dusty ride. The van’s low clearance underneath, which I’d worried about before, now caused problems as we began to scrape, and we almost high-centered from time to time. A boulder in the path knocked away a foot or so of tailpipe. A worse bump on an uphill grade crushed and scraped away the remaining two or three feet, leaving no pipe extending from the muffler’s outlet to carry off the exhaust fumes. Immediately, the air in the van, which had never been good, became unbearable. Now I could detect an actual blue fog. I tried to remember what the signs of monoxide poisoning were. Sergei, as expected, refused to go to a garage or muffler shop or do anything about the problem. That was not necessary, Sergei announced, sitting beside his open window and its plentiful incoming dust. Finally, Volodya, the swing vote among us, switched to my side and told Sergei that we had to fix the tailpipe right away or we’d all suffocate. Sergei said he would fix it, and with some annoyance he pulled over to the shoulder. [Source: Ian Frazier, The New Yorker, August 10 and 17, 2009, Frazier is author of “Travels in Siberia” (2010)]

“He got out. Volodya and I watched. Sergei was just wandering around a weedy patch of ground that paralleled the road, looking down and kicking occasionally at the dirt. After a minute or two, he bent over and stood up with something in his hand. It looked to be a piece of pipe. When we got out to see what he’d found, he showed us a somewhat rusty but still serviceable meter-long piece of tailpipe that must have fallen off another vehicle. It was exactly the same width as the one we’d lost. With Volodya’s help, Sergei scooted under the van and wired the length of tailpipe in place at the muffler outlet and other points leading to the rear bumper. When we started driving again, the fumes were much better, though not by any means gone. Still, I had to praise Sergei for what an ingenious guy he was.

“Beyond Krasnoyarsk, the road also began to run closer to the tracks of the Trans-Siberian Railway, crossing it over and back from time to time. Each crossing was watched over by a guard in a small shed. When the guard, usually a short, stout woman, saw a train coming, she would walk into the road, wave a flag to stop the cars, and lower the barricades. If the train was a long and slow one, as many were, the people in the waiting cars would unpackage drinks and snacks, throw their doors open, stretch their legs out, and get comfortable. After the train had gone by, the guard would walk onto the tracks, look both ways to make sure all was safe, raise the barricades, and wave the cars through with her flag. At regularly spaced intervals on the road, piles of snack remains showed where each car had been.

“Sometimes in the evening we camped not far from the tracks. During lulls in the train traffic, I climbed up the stones of the roadbed and looked down the rails to where they disappeared around a distant bend. As on the old Sibirskii Trakt, phantoms thronged along the railway. I pictured the flag-bedecked, celebratory trains that passed by here when the railway was first completed, in tsarist times, and the soldiers of the Czech Legion in their slow-moving armored trains in 1919, and the White Army soldiers dying of typhus by the thousands along the route, and the slave laborers who laid the second set of tracks in the nineteen-thirties, and the countless sealed Stolypin cars of prisoners dragged along these tracks to the deadly Gulag camps of the Soviet Far East. Osip Mandelstam, the great poet, on his way to death at the Second River transit prison in Vladivostok, had gone along this line. The ties and the steel rails and the overhead catenary wires all leading determinedly eastward still had a certain grimness, as if permanently blackened by history.

Yeniseisk, the Father of Siberian Cities

Yeniseisk (300 kilometers north of Krasnoyarsk) is the oldest city in Eastern Siberia. In 2019, it turned 400. The Yenisei Museum, founded in 1885, has priceless collections featuring household items of the indigenous inhabitants of these places: mammoth ivory smoking pipes, Kezhemian Tungus clothes, as well as ancient fishing and hunting equipment. In the old days, the town was called the Jerusalem of Siberia for the beauty of its churches. The Trinity and Epiphany cathedrals and other ancient buildings, were restored for the 400th anniversary, and streets were repaved. A trip to Yeniseisk means traveling not only in space but also in time.

Yeniseisk(also spelled Yeniseysk) is a town with about 18,700 people (down from 22,900 in 1989), Located on the Yenisei River, it was founded in 1619 as a stockaded town—the first town on the Yenisei River and played an important role in Russian colonization of East Siberia in the 17th–18th centuries because of it location to the Siberian River Routes from the Urals. Its old town is included by the Russian government in the country's tentative World Heritage List. The August Fair is held annually in Yeniseisk to revive the tradition of the 18th-century fur fair.

Getting There: You can ride a train from Moscow, Krasnoyarsk, or Achinsk to Lesosibirsk, and then transfer to a bus. Travel time by bus is 7 hours. Taking a car can be a little faster, six and a half hours. In the summer, cruise ships from Krasnoyarsk call at Yeniseisk.

History of Yeniseisk

Yeniseisk is one of the oldest cities in Siberia. Its history is inseparably linked to the take over of Eastern Siberia to Russia. Yeniseisk was founded upon the order of Tsar Mikhail Fedorovich in 1619 by a squad of Cossacks who set up a military fortress there and then were based there. For over one and a half centuries the town was the main point of entry to Eastern Siberia. To reach it travelers went from the Ob, up the Ket River and portaged to Yeniseisk, from where they had access to the Yenisei basin and the eastern Arctic. The great Russian explorers Semyon Dezhnev, Erofei Khabarov, and Vitus Bering set off on their travels from Yeniseisk.

In the second half of the 17th century Yeniseisk became a major industrial center. By the end of the 17th century it had become the second largest center of crafts and trades in Siberia after Tobolsk. Yeniseisk was trade thoroughfare to Moscow and Tobolsk, to the east and the south of Siberia, to the Amur, and China. The goods made by Yenisei blacksmiths, silversmiths and founders, wood carvers, leather workers, and icon painters became widely known .

Until the end of the 18th century, Yeniseisk was the capital of a vast region. In the 19th century Yeniseisk, the largest city in the province, was listed in the top ten district centers of Russia. Yeniseisk was also one of the most beautiful towns in Siberia: architects who worked here were talented people who created beautiful and original buildings.

Beginning in the 18th century, Yeniseisk hosted a fur fair which was well-known in Russia, Asia, and Europe. Goods were brought from both the European and Asian parts of Russia. Merchants came here from Moscow, Kazan, Tomsk, Krasnoyarsk, Irkutsk, and Kyakhta. The products sold at the fair included Dutch bells and strings, English tobacco, Chinese silk and tea, oriental brocade, and canvas. Yeniseisk was famous for a number of goods, particularly furs and ironware. Yeniseisk became less important when roads and railways were built further south.

Sights in Yeniseisk

Yeniseisk has been designated a historical town by the Russian government. The Historic Center of Yeniseisk was nominated to be a UNESCO World Heritage site in 2000. The first object recognized as a monument of history and culture of national importance was the complex of Our Savior's Monastery, while another 28 items were included in the list of historical and cultural heritage of federal importance. 82 items were included in the list of historical and cultural monuments of local importance. The most valuable monuments include the stone architecture of the 18th century: The Epiphany Cathedral, the Resurrection, Assumption and Holy Trinity churches, the surviving parts of the Savior-Transfiguration Monastery with Our Savior Cathedral, the Gate Church of Zechariah and Elizabeth, the building with the monk's cells and the fence, and a fragment of the Nativity of Christ Monastery with the Iveron Church. The Epiphany Cathedral, founded back in 1709, is the oldest surviving structure of the Yenisei region.

The central part of the town may be termed an open-air museum, where visitors admire merchants” mansions and estates: Yevseyev's House, the Governor's House, Gryaznov's House, the building of the government offices, the cells of Spassky Monastery, and the magistrates” building, all constructed in the 18th century. Today, the main and the largest group of objects of cultural heritage consist of wooden manor houses which lend the urban environment a provincial atmosphere. The main construction materials were larch and pine. They still give the town and its houses a unique appearance. A distinctive feature of the monuments of wooden architecture is their varied carving which frames windows, pediments, and friezes of buildings and the gates.

According to a report submitted to UNESCO: “Founded in 1619 on the left bank of the Yenissey as a fortress, it facilitated the expansion of the Russians to the East. The location of the town on the crossroads of the most important rivers, as a fertile region, rich in game, fish, iron ore and salt, told favorably on the development of the town. Yeniseisk reminded the biggest city of East Siberia until the end of the 18~ century. Due to its favorable location between the rivers Kjem and Angara which were convenient waterways via the Ob and the Yenissey from the European part of Russia to East Siberia and further on to the China, Yeniseisk became a very important center of farming, shipping and trade. At the beginning of the 19th century Yeniseisk was on the list of the ten best provincial cities of Russia and was one of the most beautiful cities of Siberia. The city's view was picturesque - two white stone monasteries and ten churches among the green of the gardens. Not once did Yeniseisk live the times of prosperity and decay. Up to our days it preserved the image of an old town, though it suffered irretrievable losses. The general view of the city is determined by the architecture of the 18-19~ centuries. Its most remarkable sight is the Spasso-Preobrazhenski Monastery. Alongside with a small number of old churches of Tobolsk, Tomsk, Irkutsk this monastery can be regarded as the initial step in stone construction in Siberia. [Source: UNESCO Chair in urban and architectural conservation]

Image Sources: Wikimedia Commons

Text Sources: Federal Agency for Tourism of the Russian Federation (official Russia tourism website ), Russian government websites, UNESCO, Wikipedia, Lonely Planet guides, New York Times, Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, National Geographic, The New Yorker, Bloomberg, Reuters, Associated Press, AFP, Yomiuri Shimbun and various books and other publications.

Updated in September 2020

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