Wrapping up Siberia

This was my first trip to Russia so I feel like I ought to have learned a little bit about the country, something besides just spending a bunch of days wandering around the mountains of Siberia.  However, I’m not sure that I know much more about Russia now than before I left.  Our trip was like going to the US and just visiting a couple national parks in Alaska, say Denali and the Wrangell Mountains (it’s a comparison I can justifiably make since I’ve done such a trip :)).  You can see some incredible scenery, maybe some animals, and meet other like-minded trekkers from various parts of the country.  Even the meeting people part was difficult for me since I don’t speak any Russian.

We did pass through a number of cities and towns in Siberia: Gorno Altaysk, Barnaul, Novokuznetsk, Abakan, and last but certainly not least Krasnoyarsk.  Before getting to Krasnoyarsk, I was afraid I’d have to report that I didn’t see a single nice urban area in Siberia.  I felt it was like Indonesia in that regard — a great place to visit for nature, but they sure don’t know how to do cities.  Krasonyarsk wasn’t wonderful, but it was nice enough and gives me some hope for other built up places in Siberia and Russia in general.

Krasnoyarsk’s bridge over the Yenisei River, the 5th longest river in the world, is so exciting that it’s featured on the 10-ruble note.

IMG_20190902_154127 by bryandkeith on flickr

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Trekking in Ergaki National Park

The story goes that during Soviet times mountain-loving Russians headed off to the Pamirs, Kyrgyzstan, or other Central Asian mountains.  Only with the collapse of the Soviet Union did Siberia’s Ergaki National Park start to get popular.  Even today the area is hardly visited by non-Russians — we didn’t come across a single foreigner during our week there.  It’s amazing to me that such a beautiful place is still such a secret.  As I mentioned in my last post, it was only thanks to Alex that Özgür and I ended up in Ergaki National Park.

Özgür, Alex, Bryan by bryandkeith on flickr

Also it was only by pure coincidence that the one week we had left for Ergaki after the Altai Mountains was the same week that Alex was in the park guiding his last group of the season.  One day at a yet another beautiful view Alex asked, “Bryan, if this were in the US, don’t you think you’d see photos of it all over the world like the Grand Canyon?”

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Siberian vacation: my day in a Russian police station

continued from the last post…

Özgür and I ended up spending 12 days backpacking in the Altai Mountains (aka Golden Mountains of Altai, a UNESCO World Heritage Site).  My favorite spot was the area called Seven Lakes.  After our rain-forced rest day near the shore of Akkem Lake, we packed our heavy bags and walked up the trail to Seven Lakes, an area that most visit as a day trip.  Wow, I was glad we spent the night.  My favorite time was spent in the evening after dinner walking from hill to hill, enjoying the various views of the various lakes with the snow-capped-mountain backdrops, and watching five pairs of ducks swimming and flying between the lakes.  It was a magical hour.

IMG_20190819_110820 by bryandkeith on flickr
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Adventures on Mt. Belukha, Siberia’s highest peak

With the lure of escaping Antalya’s oppressive August heat, Özgür didn’t have much trouble to convince me to come with him backpacking in Siberia.  We flew via Moscow to Gorno Altaysk where we picked up our pre-arranged permit to visit the border region of Russia’s Altai Republic.  We provisioned ourselves with about 18kg of food and 2.6l of fuel and started to wonder how we’d possibly carry everything.  From Gorno Altaysk an eight-hour small bus/large van ride took us to Tyungur, the start of our adventure into the wilds of Siberia.

IMG_20190808_053416 by bryandkeith on flickr
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The ancient city of Lyrbe (aka Seleucia)

Seleucia (also spelt Seleukeia), according to the Freytag and Berndt map that I have, is one of the top 10 attractions in (the province of) Antalya.  I’ve been wanting to visit for years and, well, had kind of high expectations.  On our drive back from Kapadokya to Antalya with my family, we spent the night in Seydişehir which gave us plenty of time to look around Seleucia the following day.

There’s actually so little known about Seleucia that only recently did archaeologists conclude that the site the maps call Seleucia isn’t actually Seleucia at all.  According to the sign on site “the site was wrongly identified as Seleukeia in old publications.”  It goes on to say that Seleukeia had a harbor and is probably west of Side, putting it a fair bit SW (15km?) of what’s now known as Lyrbe.  Lyrbe is in a pine forest in the hills north of Manavgat.  There definitely could not have been a harbor here.  The main reason to visit Lyrbe is to see “the best preserved example of Agora in Pamphylia”.

IMG_20190604_130249 by bryandkeith on flickr

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