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Our first impression of Russia, after some ten weeks of traveling, is that rough camping is easy and safe. We drove from Vladivostok to Ulan Ude and up the east side of Lake Baikal so we can’t speak about ‘Russia’ in general, just about this tiny piece of it – my, this country is massive!
We felt safe rough camping and, unsurprisingly considering the size of the sparsely populated country, it’s not hard to find secluded spots to set up camp for the night. Along the Amur Highway, the main road connecting Khabarovsk and Chita, it was no problem to camp in parking lots – the latter weren’t particularly enticing but convenient.
A recommendation: When guidebooks detail the southeasternmost corner of the country, only Vladivostok gets a mention. However, the coast of Primorsky Krai is mind-blowing beautiful (although still cold at the beginning of April). Do calculate some time for exploring and rough camping (read here).
A World on Lake Baikal
On Lake Baikal’s eastern shore you can camp all along the lake up to the Svyatoy Nos Peninsula. It’s a stunning stretch of forest alternating with open beaches. I give one gps point below where we camped, but it’s not of any particular importance. You can pick from a ton of inviting spots (read here).
A Word on Toilets
As I mentioned in the Accommodation & Camping overviews of Korea and Japan, public toilets in those countries are from another world. It is a luxury to easily get used to and frankly, after two years, it’s not as easy to get used to the public toilets in Russia. Expect dirty, overflowing pit toilets in shabby constructions of wood or concrete.
Interestingly, to put it kindly, you may find them right along a bus stops in the middle of nowhere but not necessarily at gas stations (and if they have them, expect them to be dirty and overflowing too, even at the new HKK gas stations). The conclusion, as a local was quick to point out: “The forest is your friend”.
A Word on the Ticks
Talking about the forest. Whether you go there to respond to a call of nature, to go for a walk, or to camp, watch out for ticks. Particularly May and June are problematic. About 2 % of ticks are infected with Lyme and/or Encephalitis, serious diseases. When bitten, go to a hospital and if you find the tick on you, take it with you to have it tested in a lab to see if it carries either disease. More info here.
Thus far we stayed in one campsite, the Taiga Pitch just outside Ulan Ude. It’s in the process of being built with the intent to become a meeting point for overlanders. We wrote about it here, and find the Taiga Pitch website here.
Staying with Locals
It’s been a pleasure to be staying with locals. People we met in the street invited us, we got invitations via Social Media, and we used Couchsurfing (here; find us under ‘Coen Wubbels’). These stays have been a wonderful part of the first part of our journey.
Map with GPS Waypoints of our Camping Spots in Russia
Let there be no misunderstanding: no, you don’t have to go to these places. No, these are not by definition the best spots. In Russia you will have no problem finding your own places to camp. We decided to share our GPS Waypoints anyway, for overlanders who would like tips about camping spots which we enjoyed or found practical. Please note that this is always our personal experience.
You can also check out iOverlander where you can see where other overlanders spent the night. Please add yours too. Thanks.
|Vladivostok, Tsesarevicha Embankment |
Vladivostok, Tsesarevicha Embankment. Free of charge, kiosk with coffee and snacks. The public toilet (green plastic cabins) are open when the caretaker is there. This is generally in the weekend, and late afternoon and evening, when locals come here en mass to enjoy the waterfront. It can thus be quite noisy, until about midnight, but it didn’t stop us from sleeping here quietly. A practical place to stay when you need to do things downtown, which is within walking distance (March 2018).
|Vladivostok, Tokarevskaya Koshka Lighthouse |
Vladivostok, Tokarevskaya Koshka Lighthouse. For beautiful camping head to Vladivostok's southernmost point on the peninsula. Here we camped just before the tiny island with the lighthouse. It's a place for local people to stroll for the evening and weekend but we slept quietly. No public toilet (March 2018).
|Vladivostok, Russky Island |
Vladivostok, Russky Island. On this island you can find enough places to rough camp once you’re beyond the universities. We enjoyed staying at this bay. No facilities (March 2018).
|Baklan Bay |
Baklan Bay. You can rough camp all along the bay, however, during our stay the unpaved stretch was too muddy so we camped at this viewpoint, which is beautiful and quiet. No facilities (March 2018).
|Krabbe Peninsula |
Krabbe Peninsula ('Sleeping Dragon Beach'). 4WD/high-clearance vehicle is required to get to this most remote point of the peninsula. It’s a stunning drive and wild camp. Particular courtesy of this beach among campers: if somebody is already camped at the left side and right side (so maximum of 2 vehicles/groups on that beach), you go elsewhere. This is for true remote camping and great hiking. No facilities (April 2018).
|Near Groty (near Vityaz Bay) |
Near Groty (near Vityaz Bay). Blocked by stones, it is impossible to drive down to the bay (it is reachable on foot though we camped higher up on a flat terrain (a parking lot) that offered a great view. You need 4WD/high-clearance vehicle to get here and trees may be a problem for big/high trucks No facilities (April 2018).
|Telyakovsky Bay |
Telyakovsky Bay. A drive farther south from Vityaz Bay takes you to another beautiful rough camp, this time right along the waterfront. You need 4WD/high-clearance vehicle to get here and trees may be a problem for big/high trucks. No facilities (April 2018).
|Gamova Cape & Lighthouse |
Gamova Cape & Lighthouse. Remote, near the end of a narrow off-road trail with a stunning view of the sea. We loved camping here. No facilities (April 2018).
|Alekseevsky Waterfall |
Alekseevsky Waterfall. We camped along the side of the trail and the forest. It was beautiful and quiet but if the trail allows you to drive on to the end (it was too muddy when we were there), you’ll come to an open spot right along the river where you can camp. The waterfall is 650 meters of walking from here. No facilities (630 meters / April '18).
|Preobrazheniye Beach |
Preobrazheniye Beach. We had the long pebble beach all to ourselves but I imagine that in summers it may be busy here. Beautiful. No facilities (April 2018).
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