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Ornithological Travel in Russia: to See 170 Bird Species and Pay
March 3, 2008 21:14

For 8 years already fellows of the Buryat State University organize specialized ecological tours to the Republic of Buryatia. Hundreds of tourists from different corners of the world are ready to cross thousands of kilometres for only seeing the birds, animals and insects or just to enjoy the view of beautiful nature.

The region stuns with a contrast of nature, big and small rivers, volcanoes and waterfalls. It also has a great number of mineral springs different in taste, quality and chemical composition of water that are situated at a very short distance from each other. According to the tour organizers, Buryatia is a place for spending holidays for many famous and influential Russians, including politicians, who normally try not to advertise their visits, and therefore, this fact is known to few people.

Ornithological tourism is the most popular in Buryatia, which is no wonder taking into account that 370 bird species, including some rare exemplars, dwell in the republic. While ornithological tourist is not new to the western countries, in Russia it is underdeveloped. English, Canadian, Swedish, American, German and tourists from other countries come to Buryatia to see the birds. The tour organizers do not have a goal to earn on such excursions, but the finances brought by foreign guests let the university conduct researches. The university fellows say they normally try to gather small groups for ornithological tours. The first foreign group in 2008 consists of 12 people – the majority of them are Swedish and one is Danish. The tourists age varies from 1939 year of birth to 1989.

The university normally makes a contract with every tourist and takes an obligation to show a certain number of bird species to every guest. On average they are obliged to show some 170 species but maximum number was 196. The organizers give a detailed explanation concerning any bird they show and of course they bring responsibility for every tourist. According to the university fellows, pensioners are the hardest group of tourists to deal with as they require a special way of treating.

Last year amongst the republics` guests were ex-Minister of Health Service of the US and deputy Minister of Natural Resources of the US. They learnt about the Buryat State University services on their own and contacted the organizers for a tour.

The main problem the university encounters is a shortage of staff for narrowly-specialized tourism: a good ornithology guide must have enough knowledge about birds and speak foreign languages well. The university fellows remember some cases when some of their interpreters did not have even the basic knowledge about the local nature and geography or were terribly afraid of the dark, taiga, bears, etc. Another problem is the absence of minimum service for tourists – at least a shower. The republic does not have infrastructure appropriate for offering civilized ecological tours.

Source -

Lavrentyeva Natalya

Tags: Active Travel Russian tourist destinations    

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