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The Urals: Taganay and Zyuratkul National Parks
July 30, 2015 21:23


The ridges are veiled with blue haze, stone rivers – kurums - stream down the slopes, cold rapid rivers flow into the valley. The nature is wild here. Flora and fauna are included into the Red Book. Discover national parks of the Urals.


A piece of the pristine taiga - Taganay National Park – lies between industrial Kyshtym, Miass and “the most polluted in the world” Karabashev, right behind the houses of Zlatoust, gunsmiths’ town. The dense relic forests hide powerful rocks - the fangs of old Ural Mountains: Otkliknoy Greben’,  Yurma, Itsyl. The highest point of Taganay is the Kruglitsa Mountain with an altitude of 1178 meters. 

It is not enough for “The Stand for the Moon”, as the name is translated from Bashkir Language – the young Caucasus and Altai Khan with their four-thousand meter mountains give a gracious smile. But Taganay has become a cult destination for generations of hikers without dizzying heights or impetuous waterfalls.

For this peculiarity it is praised by the bard Oleg Mitiaev. For many people Taganay begins as a simple hike to the woods - easy trails, ski slopes of moderate length and complexity. In winter it attracts skiers from Chelyabinsk and Miass.  The real Taganay begins further on, at a distance of a day’s trip when the road reaches the stone river, and the mountains appear above the pine masts.

The forests of Taganay became a good school for many Ural hikers, and many novice climbers trained and still train on its island mountains. The cordons of the national park and tourist shelters are situated so that the travelers could leave heavy backpacks and climb to the top light-handed. The Kruglitsa Mountains is located near the “Taganay” shelter, the ascent to the two-headed hill begins from the bottom of “Bely Klyuch”.

Experienced hikers have little interest in shelters. For them Taganay is the freedom, nights spent on rock plateaus and evenings around the campfire under the stars. But one shelter deserved respect even among experienced hikers - the weather station “Taganay Mountain”.   In order to get there you must pass 20 kilometers, 5 of them are a continuous uphill road. The road ends on a completely bare rocky patch, where the wind blows 250 days a year. A lonely house of the weather station stands in the middle of this patch.

A warm stove and hot tea is what a weary traveler needs. Welcome to mountain tundra. A caver from Chukotka, a musician from St. Petersburg and a team of photographers from Moscow and Yerevan can meet at this intersection. In evenings the guests exchange hiking tales and sing songs, feed the cat Zhulik caressed by tourists. On the next morning they sign in the guest book, throw a farewell glance at the bald top of Kruglitsa and set forward again.


The very high mountain region of the Southern Urals. The ridges are veiled with blue haze, stone rivers – kurums - stream down the slopes, cold rapid rivers flow into the valley, the Zyuratkul Lake attracts with its legends. The nature is wild here. Flora and fauna are included into the Red Book. The “Zyuratkul” National Park was founded in 1993 in order to protect this wild beauty.

The local geographical names are the evidence of the fertile imagination of the locals, but the name Zyuratkul is not especially liked in these places. It is the name of one of the two villages in the national park (the second one is Sibirka). It is the name of one of the many mountain ridges that is 1175 m high (the highest one is Nurgush, the “funniest” one is Bolshaya Suka (that sounds like and obscenity in Russian), the smallest one is Moskal).

The ridges Zyuratkul, Nurgush and Moskal surround the main treasure of the park – the Zyuratkul Lake, the highest mountainous lake in the European part of Russia. The National Park receives up to 50,000 visitors per year. These are basically the fans of wildlife and good fishing. The hunters have nothing to do on the territory of Zyuratkul: hunting is strictly prohibited at any time of the year.

The adepts of rest in the wild can stay at the lake in tents. There are campfires, benches, houses for men and women and numerous sheds. The frequent visitors of the tent camp are not representatives of the administration, but the bulls and cows (we mean usual cloven-hoofed mammals with horns). Cows approach the tents, wake the tourists with mooing and often leave their waste products. But this accommodation is free of charge.

A tent on the fenced camping site will cost 150 roubles per day. Yet the major attraction for Russian tourists looking for fun is not nature, but Kitova Pier – “Russia’s answer to Disneyland” - located next to the tent camp. The message about the demolition of Kitova Pier caused sorrow of many people in the summer of 2012.

The “Zyuratkul” National Park is also a home for bears. No tragic incidents have been recorded, but the guides are advised not to go off the path and not to go deep into the forest, as the predators prefer solitary places. High mountain region affects the climate. Summer is not too hot (although sometimes the temperature rises to 38 ° C), the winter is not very cold (even though the temperature sometimes reaches -50 ° C).

The rainiest month is November. The best time for a visit is summer. However, of course, parks works in winter as well, you just have to prepare for a visit in another way. The nature trails get swept in snowfalls, there is a risk of getting lost. The rise to the Zyuratkul ridge is steep in some places, so if you are climbing in winter you’ll need spiked shoes or reliable sticks.


Author: Anna Dorozhkina

Tags: Ecotourism Russian National Parks Urals   

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