Active rest in Karelia has been incredibly popular since Soviet times, when hundreds of water tourists rushed in the summer to raft along the fast Karelian rapids. Rafting on kayaks and catamarans has already become a classic in the Republic of Karelia.
Today, on the rivers of Karelia, they organize commercial rafting on rafts - large inflatable frameless vessels, which can immediately accommodate a group of tourists from six to twelve people.
In southern Karelia, Shuya is in the lead in terms of the number of people rafting and possible routes. The river is picturesque and abounds in easy rapids. Convenient access to the river makes it possible to organize here both one-day rafting and weekend tours, as well as multi-day trips. Shuya is chosen by both experienced tourists and beginners, as well as participants in corporate rafting. For corporate people, Shuya is convenient because it does not require previous experience of rafting, tourists master the simple wisdom of rowing at the very beginning of the rafting, and mistakes are corrected by the instructor sitting in the raft - the "captain". After the corporate rafting, tourists gather in a meadow prepared for a picnic, during which they usually taste all kinds of tinctures on local berries - cranberries, cloudberries, lingonberries.
Often, travel agencies combine one-day rafting with trips to the Museum of Wooden Architecture on the Kizhi Island. The island of Kizhi in Lake Onega is famous for its Transfiguration Church, created by the master Nestor almost 300 years ago, as legend says, without a single nail.
Fans of sports routes prefer rest in Karelia in its northern part. The Okhta and Pistajoki rivers are popular here.
Rafting on Okhta tempts with gambling overcoming a route saturated with rifts and rapids (lakes are passed under a motor), a serene atmosphere of relaxation in Karelia far from civilization, wonderful fishing. The Pista - Pistajoki River is one of the most sportingly entertaining rivers in Karelia. This is a border river without settlements; it flows through the amazing wild corners of northern Karelia. The Pista River, like the Okhta, attracts not only with sports rafting, but also with excellent fishing on the lakes.
In addition, participants in rafting on Okhta and Pistajoki have the opportunity to make an excursion to Solovki. On average, for those who come to Solovetsky, the tour takes about three days, but you can also choose a one-day voyage, which will allow you to get acquainted with the Solovetsky Monastery. For three days in Solovki, tourists make walking, bus excursions and bike tours to the most interesting places in Solovki.
In turn, the Kuzov archipelago unfairly remains in the shadow of Solovki. This is one of the famous "places of power" in Karelia, where ancient rituals were held, the secrets of which have yet to be comprehended. Silent witnesses of this are the stone seids and labyrinths of the Sami tribes and the amazing nature of the White Sea.
Among other options for active recreation in Karelia - kayaking on the lakes of Karelia. One of the most popular routes is kayaking in the skerries of Lake Ladoga, between rocky islands along straits and bays. For six days of the hike, tourists overcome about 90 kilometers along the Ladoga skerries and make an easy ascent to one of the highest observation points of the Ladoga skerries.
During the trip, tourists also have the opportunity to make a one-day excursion to Valaam, where the Valaam Monastery is located, one of the main attractions of Karelia.
In 2020, Russians were forced to discover domestic tourism. The Republic of Karelia is on the 31st place in the "National tourist rating", but it has the prerequisites to be higher. According to statistics, Russian citizens rank first among all nationalities entering neighboring Finland, which has now become temporarily inaccessible. It seems that Karelia has a chance to take advantage of the situation and replace the "northern neighbor" with tourists. What does the region have to offer?
The local nature was appreciated by the first persons of the Central Committee of the CPSU. Not far from Lake Ladoga there were party dachas where Yuri Andropov rested, and in the early 90s, on the instructions of Boris Yeltsin, the presidential residence "Shuiskaya Chupa" was built on the territory of the same complex. Later, the administration of President Putin sold the object at a public auction. Today the residence is owned by AFK Sistema. According to the investigation of the Dozhd TV channel, Vladimir Putin also has his own residence in Karelia.
Now Karelia is developing as a tourist region, and the current year in this sense has become quite successful for it - over 350,000 tourists visited the region during the summer season, which is 100,000 more than in 2019.
To the classic, still Soviet, excursion program today, options for active pastime, detox and eco-travel have been added. At the beginning of the 2000s, lovers of health hunger strikes began to travel to Karelia. On the territory of the republic is the flagship of Russian retreats - the sanatorium "Kivach". In the health-improving community, the sanatorium is still listed, despite the high, in comparison with other domestic Russian proposals, the price tag. A two-week check-in from January 3 will cost from 950,000 rubles for a program with accommodation in a suite category - almost like a vacation in the Maldives. But the center has its loyal fans.
More sophisticated tourists prefer therapy with minerals, for this in local sanatoriums you can take a course of shungite therapy. From Finland came the fashion for northern floating - swimming in inflatable overalls in icy water, which, as local experts say, has a beneficial effect on the nervous system.
Almost all major players in the tourist market have made programs for Karelia for the New Year holidays. Marketing Director of Intourist Daria Domostroeva told Forbes Life that if last year the tour operator did not even offer the region, then in 2020 tours to Karelia accounted for 10% of the sales of all tours in Russia. Intourist has relied on bus and rail tours starting from Moscow and St. Petersburg. It is noteworthy that until 2020 Karelia was in demand among foreigners - according to Domostroeva, trips to Chinese citizens, as well as tourists from Scandinavian countries, were selling well. “From January 1, tourists from India will be able to enter Russia on an electronic visa, and by the summer we expect many guests from this country in Karelia, as they show great interest in this particular region,” Domostroeva notes.
The region is developing areas that are called family and "children's" tourism. According to the founder of the travel agency in Russia Svetlana Vavilova, holidays in Karelia are perfect for families: “Tours sell especially well for this category of travelers - up to a quarter of clients go there with children, and for those who want to send their children to a camp, the price is for ten days of stay will be from 45,000 rubles. There are also camps where parents can live with their children if they do not want to let go alone. "
At the end of winter, you can go here for the northern lights. And also play exotic ice golf
Karelia has an amazing fauna: in the summer season you can find here a special species of seal - ringed seal, beluga dolphin. There are whales in the White Sea. There are many rare birds. “Birdwatching is gaining popularity in our country - non-professional ornithology or observation of bird life in the wild. In the world, this is a fashionable hobby among wealthy people, ”says Vavilova. In her opinion, “the international birdwatcher community will find it attractive to have rare species of waders and species of eider” after the lifting of restrictions on entry.
Since the significant territory of Karelia is located beyond the Arctic Circle, at the end of winter, you can go here for the northern lights. And also play exotic ice golf, for which you usually have to fly to Lake Baikal, and ride a snowmobile on the Ladoga skerries.
“Before opening our company, my husband and I visited each of the 85 regions of our country, were in more than 300 cities,” says Svetlana Vavilova, founder of the travel agency Adventure Travel. - If you want to start your acquaintance with Russia, the best place to start is Karelia. About 20% of our sales this year can be attributed to this region, it is overtaken only by the Caucasian directions and Baikal. "
Karelia is a unique world that amazes with its majestic nature and mystery.
To this day, there are untouched rivers, lakes and forests, the cleanest in Europe. And it is not for nothing that tourists come here who have escaped from the stone jungle for a breath of the purest air, for the beautiful nature that caresses the eyes.
But not only amazing landscapes attract tourists here, the culture of this unique place, a fusion of northern Slavic and Finno-Ugric tribes, is quite mysterious and mysterious. For example, Mount Vottovaara, considered sacred. In its vicinity there are seid stones, which were worshiped by local residents. They argue that if you perform the pagan ritual "karyala-aho" near them, you can see the demi-people-demigods who lived in those days, perhaps even the Atlanteans, through many centuries.
It's a fairy tale or not, judge for yourself, but mysterious and inexplicable phenomena occur in the vicinity of this mountain, which only enhances the mystery of this place. However, you can learn more about everything in the numerous books sold in Petrozavodsk or Medvezhyegorsk.
In Karelia, there are also preserved monuments of wooden architecture, the famous island of Kizhi, Valaam, founded by Andrew the First-Called, a monastery on Ladoga.
Well, now let's go down to earth and deal with this edge in more detail.
First of all, tourists come here for active, cultural and ecological tourism thanks to the numerous historical and cultural monuments, virgin nature and vast spaces, where no human has set foot (at least not "left behind").
Water tourism lovers come here, who are waiting for a variety of entertainments here, ranging from cruise ships along Ladoga and Onega Lake to rafting on mountain rivers lasting from several hours to a week.
Motorists and cyclists, fishermen and hunters travel here. Jeep tours passing along the old roads connecting the once ancient Karelian villages are quite popular.
A tourist-hunter is drawn here by a huge wealth of diverse fauna. The license, which can be obtained from the regional offices of the State Committee for Hunting of Karelia, will allow you to hunt elk, wild boar, bear, beaver, and from birds, black grouse and wood grouse. However, the number of licenses is limited, and without it, hunting is possible for hares, foxes, minks, squirrels, ducks, hazel grouses, etc. For tourists, beginners or those who love comfort, there are hunting tours with meals and accommodation.
Since the beginning of the tourist season, about a third of all tourist centers and many natural attractions have already begun active work in Karelia. If your choice of a vacation spot fell on this republic, then you will be pleased to know that 140 hotels and recreation centers are available to accommodate guests. All of them are located in the Ladoga region.
PHOTO: avatars. ds. andex. et
The popular and unique nature reserve "Kivach" and the mountain park "Ruskeala" are also open and receive visitors in small organized groups. When entering the territory or on the official websites of such enterprises, all those present will be notified of the restrictions, obligations and quarantine regulations that will be required to comply at the time of being here.
For one day, the capacity will be limited to 300 tourists. The minimum distance, which is urged to observe between groups, is at least 50. Groups of 10 people are allowed to pass, with a break of 20 minutes, the group itself must consist of 5 people.
PHOTO: avatars. ds. andex. et
Also, it is planned to organize the work of tourist routes, allowing to connect Karelia with European countries. Namely, it is planned to operate a cruise route along the White Sea-Baltic Canal, from the coast of Norway to Arkhangelsk and St. Petersburg.
Russian and foreign tourists have long "laid eyes" on the Karelian region. And the point here is not only in its virgin nature and unique architectural monuments. The main reason is simple: the tourist season in the republic is not limited to three summer months - the travel season is open in Karelia all year round. Here you will find for themselves a spiritual rest and lovers of active tourism, and those who love relaxing trips with the whole family.
PHOTO: avatars. ds. andex. et
Karelia is located in the north-west of the country and is part of the North-West Federal District. This is a republic within Russia: it has its own coat of arms, flag and anthem. About 50% of the territory of the Karelian region is covered with forest, and a quarter is covered with water. Karelia is the "land of lakes", there are more than 61,000 lakes, 27,000 rivers and 29 reservoirs. The largest lakes are Ladoga and Onega, and the largest rivers are Vodla, Vyg, Kovda, Kem, Sunna and Shuya. Karelia is crossed by the Blue Road, an international tourist route connecting Norway, Sweden, Finland and Russia.
The main types of recreation in the region are: sightseeing tours (Kizhi - Valaam - Solovki - Kivach Waterfall - Marcial Waters - Ruskeal Marble Canyon), active rest (ATV safari, river rafting, hunting and fishing, hiking , ski trips, bike tours, jeep tours), children's and youth holidays in camps, holiday tours, rest in cottage and tourist complexes. The capital of the republic is Petrozavodsk.
PHOTO: avatars. ds. andex. et
At the end of January 2019, Ekaterina Biktimirova again headed the Tourism Department of the Republic of Karelia. In an interview with AiF, the head spoke about what hinders the development of the tourism industry in the republic, what support entrepreneurs can receive in exchange for coming out of the shadows, and what does the Chinese have to do with it.
Anton Soloviev, AiF-Karelia: Are you making progress towards the goal of one million tourists?
Ekaterina Biktimirova: Judge for yourself. If in 2017 Karelia was visited by 780 thousand people, then in 2018 already 800 thousand. This number includes both sightseers and tourists. Hotels and display facilities are under construction. The transport infrastructure is improving. The level of service is growing.
- The tourism industry used to be under the jurisdiction of the Ministry of Culture, but now it has moved under the wing of the economic department. Why?
- Because they decided to develop tourism at the federal level, focusing on economic efficiency. Assistance to investors has come to the fore. The republic can be called conditionally an investment project. At the same time, everyone can find a niche in it - both individual entrepreneurs and large chains. We are ready to work with everyone, help, advise. For example, if an investor has no ideas, we tell him about the possibilities of each district, pay attention to possible difficulties. And if the project has already started, we will prompt, advise how to direct the tourist flow through the investor's facility. There is also financial support. In 2018, the Ministry of Economic Development and Industry began to provide subsidies to the owners of guest houses, and in 2019 we plan to allocate money for the purchase of small equipment - for example, snowmobiles and ATVs.
- In my opinion, they have become more active, and in addition, they have begun to more actively come out of the shadows. Yes, the shadow sector is still large. There are many unregistered guest houses that host a large number of tourists. We explain the need for registration.
- How much money does tourism bring to the republic?
- The share of the tourism industry in the gross regional product is about 4.5%. One and a half times higher than the national average. But we must not forget about the multiplier effect.
- Is it possible to advertise Karelia at the federal level?