There’s more to Russia and Central Asia then vodka, woolly hats and Borat. This area of the world is abundant in natural wonders.
Lake Baikal, Siberia
Located in the region of Siberia, Baikal is the most voluminous freshwater lake in the world, containing around 20% of the world’s fresh water.
For nature lovers, this banana shaped lake is the perfect place to spot rare animals as two thirds of the plants and animals that inhabit the lake cannot be found anywhere else in the world.
In the winter, the iced-over surrounding areas provide a perfect opportunity for people to try their hand at ice diving and other snow sports.
Kamchatka is one of the world’s most spectacular wildernesses, home to wolves, arctic foxes, golden eagles and reindeers.
One of the most challenging activities here is volcano hiking. You can visit the Klyuchevskoy Nature Park, home to Eurasia’s highest active volcano, the Klyuchevskoy Volcano.
Popular spots also include stone sculpture parks, lakes in craters, geysers and mineral springs. You can also cruise to the Commander Islands Preserve to see a variety of seabirds and sea mammals.
Hell’s Gate, Turkmenistan
This burning crater of gas located near the small town of Darvaza has been spewing flames and smoldering since a Soviet-era drilling accident nearly 40 years ago.
The ground beneath the drilling rig collapsed leaving a large hole with a diameter of about 50-100 metres, and because of the large amounts of methane there, the crater was set alight.
This unique and eye-catching site is a popular tourism spot for travellers, especially at night when the phenomenal red glow of the flames are visible from up to 40 kilometres away.
The sweeping grassy steppe lands of Saryarka are some of the most desolate and enigmatic areas in all of Kazakhstan.
A far cry from the Kazakhstan showcased in the 2006 film Borat, Saryarka is a wilderness area so precious, it is a designated UNESCO World Heritage site.
The area is a popular spot for bird lovers where migratory water birds, including globally threatened species, such as the rare Siberian white crane, the Dalmatian pelican and Pallas’ fish eagle inhabit the wetlands. Wolves, marmots and saiga can also be seen in the area which is a combination of virgin steppe and lakes.
Boy Bulok, Uzbekistan
As well as a host of surprising surface attractions, Boy Bulok shows off Central Asia’s attractive underside.
Each year, hundreds of travellers make the special expedition to the deepest cave on the Asian Continent.
Situated in the Surkhandarya region of Uzbekistan and burrowing to a depth of 1,415 metres, Boy Bulok is the perfect reward for a thrill seeking adventurer.
While the entrance to the cave was discovered a long time ago thanks to a stream flowing out of it, the lowest point was only reached in 1995.