Hop in the Land Cruiser, buckle up and enjoy the views from our windshield as if you are behind the wheel or riding shotgun. Can you feel the energy of the trusty diesel coming to life at the turning of the key? Enjoy the ride – we have some 2,000 kilometers to go (Here you will find our maps and guidebooks for this trip).
Russia’s Far East comprises the country’s extreme eastern territory. Often thought of it as Siberia the locals are quick to point out that, no, this is not Siberia. For one the Far East borders the Pacific Ocean and Siberia doesn’t, and, second, its climate is distinct (oceanic vs. continental climate).
Counting 600,000 inhabitants, Vladivostok is Russia’s largest port and situated on the Pacific Ocean. In 2015 Putin gave the city (and surrounding districts) the status of a free port which was one of the reasons to spend a lot of money on improving the city’s infrastructure.
The main privileges for residents are the possibility of obtaining state land, fiscal benefits on property and on land tax, and the free customs zone.
Primorsky Krai (south of Vladivostok)
Marvel at what this little corner (900 kms long and 280 kms wide) of Russia has to offer: 6 natural reserves, 13 wildlife sanctuaries, 3 national parks and about 900 natural monuments! In Primosky Krai live only about 2 million people (1,5% of all population of Russia) and 615,000 of them live in Vladivostok. The average population density is 12 people per square kilometer. It’s a rich region in terms of nationalities with, among others, people from Central Asia, Korea, Japan, China, India, and different groups of native people (the Udege, Nanai, Oroch, and Taz).
We drove hours without seeing a soul. We’d have all the washboard to ourselves! It was freezing when we were here (in March) which was the main reason we didn’t stay as long as we would have wanted to. But for the short time we did, we had some great adventures (read about them here).
East Primorye: Land of the Tiger
“… And we saw our tiger!
Faded to orange in summer,
with black on this golden fur,
as a dragon that left the temple,
with his back as a mountain range,
he descended from the heights.”
~Ilya Selvinsky (Russian poet 1899-1968)
We didn’t see a tiger, or any wildlife for that matter. Maybe they were still all hibernating. Roads were long and empty, campsites along the coast offered fabulous views. We’d love to come back one day, in summer, and follow more of the coastline all the way up.
Around Khabarovsk – Birobidzhan
An easy-going 200 kilometers of asphalt that runs parallel with the Trans-Siberian Railway. Better known for adventurous journeys among non-Russians, it is, in fact, a super busy railway with lots of endlessly long cargo trains and railway crossings are part of the route.
The idea of having to drive 2000 kilometers through the wilderness to get from Khabarovsk to Chita was a bit daunting, to be honest. But long stretches of the Amur Highway (or Russian Route 297) turned out to be among the most scenic landscapes we have seen. As if the distance wasn’t long enough, we took our time to check out some of the sand paths leading into beautiful birch forest.
Only a short part of the Amur Highway runs through the Far East and continues east to Siberia. More on this route in our next Windshield-Views episode. Stay tuned!
Did you enjoy this Windshield-View episode? Here is another one on Asia.