There are few places on this earth where you can feel truly alone. Siberia is one of them. In the middle of the taiga or tundra, at the top of its mountains and along its rivers, the Siberian space provides a feeling of solitude and freedom. If you have exhausted the catalogue of "nature holidays", Siberia is for you. Track skiing, dog sledding, river cruises, helicopter flights over volcanoes or simple meditation in front of so much beauty, this immense territory reveals its charms to anyone who wants to cross the Urals. It takes seven days by train to cross this country, 500 kilometres is a healthy walk and some northern regions are cut off from the world several months of the year. But it is well worth it.
The culture shock :
The impression that these spaces provide as far as the eye can see is so strong that you feel uncomfortable when you return to the city after a few days of hiking or trekking. But this feeling of discrepancy quickly passes: the Siberian cities have a sense of welcome and are of a comforting tranquility. Far from being architectural ugliness, the oldest ones are even very beautiful such as Irkutsk or Tomsk.They are also an opportunity for the traveller to observe the Siberian melting pot. Russians, Ukrainians, Poles, Caucasians, Asians... Siberia is the birthplace of about thirty ethnic minorities who have absolutely nothing in common with the Russians and who are divided into several linguistic families: the Ugrian peoples (cousins of the Finns... and Hungarians!), the Uralic peoples (cousins of the previous ones), the Tungus, Mongolian and Turkish peoples belonging to the Altaic family, not to mention the hyperborean peoples who have not finished enraging linguists. Siberia is also this mixture of peoples and cultures, at the crossroads of Europe and Asia, as a question mark on Russian identity.
© Dominique Auzias & Jean-Paul Labourdette