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Mari El Republic: beware of bears, returning to nature
October 18, 2010 18:09

Mari El Republic: beware of bears, returning to nature

Mari El Republic is one of the Russian regions, interesting with their intact nature. More than half of the territories of the Republic are covered with forests. This region is ideal destination for those who is fed up with urban life. Rivers, lakes, forests and sacred grooves are waiting for guests to return them back to nature and give rest their nerves. Mari El Republic is situated on the banks of Volga river, in the European part of Russia. If we have a look at region's map we can see that there are very many rivers but very few roads in this region. There are two nature Reserves on its territory: Mari Chodra and Bolshaya Kokshaga. They are available for hiking, but it is not recommended to hike there without any guidance. Most popular services of the republic are lithographically tourism, horse-riding tours and national reserves.

Ethnographic tours

Ethnographic tours include accommodation in the village circumstances (of course, adapted for megalopolis residents). It includes guided excursions along the village and its vicinity to demonstrate the tourists different sides of country life and rural economy. But the most interesting thing is excursions to the pagan sacred groves. In spite of Christianization, the Mari preserved their traditional beliefs.

A sacred groove is usually situated southwards from a water source, or one of the sacred trees. A sacred tree is tied round with lime-tree bast. The prayers take place in the sacred groove, led by a priest. The people bring special sacrificial food to the grooves. Earlier there was a practice to offer animals in sacrifice. There was a special entrance for those animals, but now this tradition has come to naught.

The tourists are also offered such services as: horse rides, hiking, picnics in the forest or on the lake, a night can be also spent in the forest, in tents. All this is offered to the tourists in the village of Arda, Kilermarsky District. The program includes ethnographic festival, horse riding, acquaintance with traditional Mari crafts (if you want, you can try yourself in them) and visiting local museums.

Horse riding

Horse riding now is a very popular service of active tours in Russia, but here, in Mari El, it is not yet so expensive as in the Moscow Region and Altai. Horsed tours are offered to experienced riders and to beginners as well: training for newcomers is also included into programs. The tours distinguish in duration and complexity, and everybody can find one for her or his own level and taste. Camping equipment is usually provided by organizers, the tourists' things are transported by jeep, following the group.

Horsed tours are provided in Chkarino village, in an equestrian tourist complex of Riding cruise. The most popular routes: Mari Volga, Around Pugachev places, Along oak woods of Surskij, Legends of Mari Forest.

Hiking in nature reserves.
Hiking in the nature reserves is maybe the most interesting thing there, because the forests are absolutely intact ones. You can see wild animals in their environment which was not changed by human activity. The tourists are not recommended to delve into the woods without map, guide and experience. It can be dangerous. Different rare animals, like beavers, elks and bears can be seen there. Rivers, flowing in the reserves of Mari Chodra and Bolshaya Kokshaga are very cold because of mineral springs, so temperature of water is 6 -7 C degrees even in the summer time.

There is also a light version: accommodation in one of the tourist complexes and spa centers next to the reserves. You will be able to visit a real forest without any extreme.

For example, Klenovaya Gora (Maple Mountain) spa complex provides mineral waters, mud baths and koumiss baths. Koumiss is a part of national color. It is actually drink from mare's milk. First of all, it is a drink, but now is used for spa-procedures as well.

Tags: Russian tourism Mari El Republic    

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