This winter my colleagues, the guides of Yekaterinburg and I decided to explore the Southern Urals to see its touristic potential. Within 6 days we covered over 3000km by car, visited 3 regions of Russia populated by over 100 nationalities: Chelyabinsk Region, Orenburg Region and the Republic of Bashkortostan. Almost every day we were crossing the border of Europe and Asia, got into a severe blizzard in Step and drove through the thickest fog I’ve ever seen along the river of Ural. The temperatures in January varied from – 25 in the mountains to -7 Celsius in the step areas.
Here’s the first story of our staying in the land of Sinegorye (Blue Mountains).
On the first day we drove through the mountain region of National parks Taganai and Zyratkul along the spine of the Urals. The territory once belonged to the Bashkirs, muslim Turkic people but the Russians bought this piece of land for what the Bashkirs thought was a good price. However, the land appeared to be full of mineral resources, so apart from the National Park this western corner of Chelyabinsk region has many metallurgical and nuclear plants. The area became industrial in the 18th century but preserved the Turkic names, for example, Taganai means a moon holder in the Bashkir language.
We stopped at the village of Syrostan (Yellow place) with a lovely Russian Orthodox Church.
Between Syrostan and the town of Miass there is a Park of the Stone Age. Alexander, a local craftsman is making wooden sculptures of ancient citizens of the Ural mountains.
Walking among the wooden people our guide dressed like a shaman told us interesting facts for example, on how to catch and kill a mammoth!
Meanwhile, Alexander, the park owner was busy making a snow mammoth. As we came the mammoth was almost finished. So much work for one man knowing that his animal will melt down in two months!
The western corner of Chelyabinsk region is called Sinegorye (Blue Mountains): numerous lakes and the pines have a shade of blue. It’s especially obvious on sunny winter days.
Crossing the border of Europe and Asia there you get to Europe but only geographically because in fact you get to the autonomous Republic of Bashkortostan… and that will be the second story!
Arakul is a popular place for tourists who like hiking and spending weekends camping by the lake. Arakul is located in Chelyabinsk Region, about 140km South-West of Yekaterinburg.
Arakul also called as Arakulsky Shikhan is a 2km long mountain range that looks like the Chinese Great Wall only made by Nature. Its height is 60 meters from the surface. You can meet groups of professional mointain climbers but one can climb Arakul easily from the western side of it (opposit to the lake)
Archeologists found traces of ancient people here. Some still believe that round holes at the top of the range were places of secrifice.
From above you can spot 11 lakes. The nearest one is also called Arakul. Like many other lakes of Chelyabinsk Region Arakul is clean and full of fish.
by car - from Chelyabinsk highway turn to Kasli, then go in the direction of Vishenevogorsk and finally follow a sign to Arakul village. The village is located on the bank of the lake. The mountain range is seen from the lake.
by a local train - in the direction of Chelyabinsk you will need a train station Silach. Then 6km of walking to the rocks and 8km to the lake. The train goes only twice a day.
by bus - it's possible to get to Vishenvogorsk by local buses. Then walk 8 km to the lake.
Photos by Eugeniy Kochetkov