For these last ten days we have been enjoying Russia’s natural scenery. We went to Krasnoyarsk first to visit the Stolby Nature Reserve with Anatoliy from SibTourGuide (not sponsored). It was the most beautiful 20 km hike through one of the oldest nature reserves in Siberia. Although Anatoliy’s pace was sometimes more like long distance running, we enjoyed it a lot. The woods and rock formations were amazing!
Afterwards we took our last night train to Irkutsk. Irkutsk became our home base to explore Lake Baikal, The Great Baikal Trail and Pribaikalsky National Park. Our mission was to hike the 55 km trail alongside the lake from Listvyanka to Bolshoe Goloustnoe. We hiked through forests, meadows, on small trails next to steep cliffs and we also needed to clamber over some rather high rock formations. All in all it was a true adventure and challenge for us but we made it and met a nice Russian couple ( Mischia & Sonja ) on the way. Thanks to them our last camping night was a real treat. We cooked up a fire, they cooked fish soup, and we all ate it together. Of course there were ups as well as downs, and we discovered muscles and joints we didn’t know we had, but we were really happy. The fact that our home stay in Bolshoe Golostnoe had a Banya (Russian Sauna) helped a lot as well.
I personally think hiking the Great Baikal Trail was the highlight for Remo. Before we left on this trip he
invested a lot of time researching about the trail itself, the gear you need and other practicalities (He even made us a No Brick In The Belly cooking stove).
So in the end we were well prepared for this hike. You couldn’t tell him anything he didn’t know or hear already. Very impressive. Although it wasn’t always that easy. In order for us to be able to cook while hiking Remo bought a cooking stove that works on petrol. Of course we weren’t allowed to take this petrol with us on the airplane and thus we needed to find a replacement for this in Russia.
We started our searching as soon as we arrived in Moscow.
We needed two things:
a clean type of petrol to put in the cooking stove
alcohol to prime the stove
After some hiccups we found the petrol (Kolosha in Russian) in a hardware store in Suzdal, but finding the alcohol primer proved to be surprisingly difficult.
During our trip in Krasnoyarsk, Anatoliy (the guide), explained why we didn’t have that much luck with the alcohol… It turned out Remo had been going into hardware stores, pharmacies and outdoor shops asking for a type of alcohol that Russians relate to drunks, who just want to get a cheap, easy high.
And here we were, two tourists, communicating in everything except Russian, asking insistently of all the nice middle age ladies at all the pharmacies for cheap alcohol. Anyway, the stove worked without the alcohol, and at least we now know why we got all the weird looks, giggles and nyet’s during the past couple of weeks.
So make that the cat wise, we know how to camp in Russia!
* Literal translation of the Flemish: “Maak dat de kat wijs!”
English equivalent: Yeah Right!