Treks in Russia
The Russian countryside is spectacular with amazing volcanoes of Kamchatka to the far east, the great mountain range of the Caucasus including Mount Elbrus in the south and the mystical Altai region on the border with Mongolia. We offer a selection of the best under the expert guidance of our guide and author Sasha Lebedev whose books of the regions are famous in Russia.
About Trekking in Russia
Once you travel outside the main cities and the capital then you enter a very special world of the Russian 'outback', very traditional and very friendly, with a culture that changes with every area you visit. It may be the same country but the people you meet in Kamchatka are very different to the Siberians. Most of them still live the way they did centuries ago and it is a fascinating experience to see how they have adapted. Local festivals are an occasion to visit, but also just the chance to see a place that is not on the usual tourist radar.
Kamchatka is a geothermally active area, with 29 active volcanoes in the area.
Our trekking in Russia in programme is mostly for small groups on a bespoke schedule, we can provide the logistics for most itineraries and also the best advice because Sasha is a well-known travel writer and photographer. His commentary and wit is as good as his ability as a 'fixer' in this part of the world, plus he knows every plant and animal.
The treks themselves are not arduous but they are in the wilderness and we use local helpers to assist with the cooking and sometimes navigation across the mountains. If you are looking for something more adventurous where you are unlikely to meet other groups then these places will give you that solitude and sheer enjoyment of the wilder places.
Trekking Mount Elbrus
Mount Elbrus is Russia’s highest Mountain. Located in the Caucus Mountain Range it is surrounded by rugged peaks. The south route provides more of a trekking experience compared to the more remote North route. We go quite in depth about what it is like to climb Mt Elbrus on our Peaks and Mountains page.
Trekking up Mt Elbrus, the tallest mountain in Europe, via the Southern Route.
Hiking in the Altai Region
Nestled along the borders of China, Mongolia, Russia, and Kazakhstan, the Altai Mountains combine unique culture with dramatic landscape. The combination of high alpine terrain and high-altitude steppe create a mystical backdrop where snow-capped mountains meet lush green forest and grasslands. Glacial rivers and runoff add to the drama with their brilliant turquoise waters.
The people who inhabit the North Asian Steppe believe strongly in shamanism. Shamans or Kam’s are an important part of the traditional nomadic lifestyle that still dominates the region. The horse still the main mode of transport, and families traditionally live in yurt or ger camps. They roam where the best grasses are for their livestock and still uphold a traditional way of life, despite the influx of solar panels and cell phones.
Reflections of Mount Belucha in the Altai.
The area is rugged and mostly untouched. Exploration here is a far cry from the more crowded areas surrounding Mt Elbrus. Siberian wildlife dots the landscape from red deer to brown bear, sable, ibex, and even the secretive snow leopard. Our itinerary explores the Katunksy Ridge, Kucherla River, Akkem lake, and Kucherlinkskii Lake.
Trekking in Kamchatka
A world away from the hustle and bustle of western Russia lies the remote region of Kamchatka. Located on the east coast of Russia, the Kamchatka region is one of the world’s premier habitats for bear, wolf, and eagle. It is also a designated UNESCO World Heritage site.
Kamchatka currently houses more the 300 volcanoes and 29 are considered active. This pristine sea-surrounded landscape is home to some of the best opportunities for volcano trekking in the world. Feel like you are trekking on the moon by walking along the lava stones of the Kamchatka volcanoes. The moist air means that the lower areas are heavily vegetated with healthy populations of flora and fauna.
Geothermal vents, mineral-rich lakes, and snow-capped volcanoes dot the landscape of Kamchatka.
Kamchatka remains largely unspoiled by development or human interference. This pristine area offers a chance to trek among lush forests and snow-capped volcanoes without the hordes of tourists. It’s an amazing place to spot wolves, musk deer, bear, seabirds, eagles, and several other species of bird.
How Difficult is it to Trek in Russia?
Trekking in both the Altai and Kamchatka region require some hiking experience. Trekking in both of these regions is moderately difficult. Going over any mountain pass or up a volcano involves long, uphill grinds. However, there is no technical skill required, so if you are in reasonably good shape and are able to walk with a backpack you should be fit enough to trek in Russia.
Views of snowy volcanoes in Kamchatka.
Trekking in Russia involves travel to extremely remote regions. The Altai is especially remote and wild. Travel by road is often difficult and arduous. Experience traveling to more remote destinations is not required, but it certainly is a plus. It is recommended to be in good general health, as medical care is quite far away. Be prepared for timing and travel durations to be longer than expected, as rough roads and unexpected obstacles are quite common in remote areas. Keeping a positive mindset and a good sense of humor helps the morale of the group.
The Best Time to Trek in Russia
Due to the extreme cold in the winter, the best months for trekking in Russia are during the short summers. For the Altai, July and August mark wildflower season. Much of the area is blanketed in the color of wildflowers. It’s an excellent time to trek. Like much of the Northern Hemisphere, the weather is warmer and quite pleasant during the summer months. If you can’t make it for the bloom, May through September are also great times for trekking in the Altai. In the mountains, be prepared for temperature swings between night and day, as sun exposure greatly contributes to the feel of the air temperature.
An endless sea of wildflowers in Russia's stunning Altai Range.
Kamchatka is much the same. Winters are bitterly cold and windy, so it is best to avoid travel during the winter season. The best time of year to visit Kamchatka is from May to September when temperatures are a bit warmer and the weather is milder.
What to Pack for Trekking in Russia
Your packing list should include several layers from warm to cool so you can be prepared for any type of weather. While hiking on a volcano, you are quite exposed to wind and rain, so a shell layer for both pants and jacket are essential. Sun protection is also a must.
A sturdy, well-broken-in pair of trekking boots will help with any rocky trails and keep your feet happy. Trekking poles are also recommended, as hiking with poles is easier on the knees.
Although we provide all of the required equipment for cooking food, we do ask that you bring your own method of water filtration.
Dramatic fall views in the Altai. Winter comes early here, so it's best to visit during the summer months.
Is Trekking in Russia Safe?
Some people may feel that a trek to Russia is somehow difficult or even dangerous. Nothing could be further from the truth; the local people are friendly and unassuming. They live a peaceful life, often existing off the land. The natural beauty of the land frames their lives perfectly and a holiday to this part of the world is an experience not to be forgotten, if only because few people seem to know about the culture and the sights of places like Kamchatka. The Altai region was made famous by Ewan McGregor during his Long Way Down series, when he described the Road of Bones in the Altai region as the most beautiful part of his whole journey.