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Ecotourism in Russia: Oka Biosphere Reserve in the Ryazan Region
February 27, 2020 17:03

The Oka Reserve on the map of the Ryazan Region is located in the north, along the banks of the Oka, and occupies part of the Meshchera Lowland (in the southeast). This is a unique natural area, which received protected status in the 30s of the XX century. Initially, the reserve was organized to protect muskrats. The Oka Reserve was then called "Vykhuholevy."

In 1986, the territory received the status of "Biosphere". 3 years later, its territory was significantly expanded and reached the size of 77 thousand hectares. In the early 90s, the reserve received a category “A” diploma from the Council of Europe for its high compliance with international environmental standards.

Today, Oka State Nature Reserve is a pleasant and informative place for a family visit. Excursion service is well organized, you can stay in guest houses in Spassky district and enjoy the nature of the Meshchera.

Visit Prices
The visit center of the Oka Nature Reserve is open year-round. Here you can visit the museum and book a tour of the Oka Reserve. About 200 species of fauna are presented in the Museum of Nature of the Oka Reserve in the form of realistic forest dioramas. Expositions are accompanied by the sounds of the forest - the cries of birds and animals.

Museum of Nature 

In the visit center you can book a 1.5-hour excursion along a 2 km route, which includes a visit to the banks of the Pra River (about 500 beavers live on the banks) and 2 nurseries: a crane and a bison. You can visit the route any day except Monday. Excursions are held from 10:00 to 17:00. Groups of more than 10 people must book an excursion in advance calling the visit center: 8-910-908-87-44 and 8-920-981-88-10. By the same telephone numbers, individual tourists can book an excursion in advance.

Bison nursery 

The cost of excursion services (in groups of 7 people):
Adults - 180 rubles.
Students - 120 rubles.
Schoolchildren - 60 rubles.
A group of up to 6 people - 900 rubles for all.

Visit to the Museum of Nature:

Adults - 70 rubles.
Students - 50 rubles.
Schoolchildren - 30 rubles.
Prices for master classes and individual excursions (official site of the Oka Reserve).

Flora of the Oka Reserve

Plants of the Oka Reserve are a typical taiga flora. This distinguishes the protected area from the surrounding oak mixed forests. Among the trees, pine and birch prevail. In marshy areas, blueberries and lingonberries grow. One of the most beautiful landscapes of the Oka Biosphere Reserve is floodplain meadows. The terrain is incredibly poetic. In June, meadows bloom with herbs, and a little later delicious wild strawberries grow here.

Fauna of the Oka Reserve

The fauna of the reserve is represented by 61 species of mammals, 266 species of birds and more than 3,000 species of invertebrate animals. Red-book animals live here, for example, Russian desman. Among the rare animals of the Ryazan nature reserve there are insectivorous shrews, brown hare, dwarf bat, flying squirrels, stone martens, roe deer, wild boars, wolves, and foxes. The birds of the Oka Reserve are represented by several species of storks, owls, doves and other inhabitants of the forests of Central Russia. 

The protected area includes 2 nurseries.

Bison nursery

The visiting card of the Oka Reserve in Ryazan is purebred Caucasian-Bialowieza bison. You can see them in numerous photos from the Oka Reserve. Animals live in a spacious territory. Bison were brought to the Oka Reserve in 1959 (19 individuals). A walk in the nursery is accompanied by an educational tour.  

Crane nursery

The nursery contains 7 species of cranes, rare for our country. Among them: Japanese and gray cranes, Demoiselle Crane and others. The rarest species is the Siberian Crane or White Crane. It was to preserve its population that a nursery was originally created. Visitors not only observe rare birds, but also learn interesting information - each group is accompanied by a guide. The tour is especially useful for children, as they are told about the importance of nurseries and their activities to restore wildlife. 

How to get to the Oka Biosphere Reserve in the Ryazan Region

Oka State Biosphere Reserve is located in the southeastern part of the Meshchera, 300 km from the Russian capital and 100 km from the regional capital, Ryazan. The road by car from Ryazan will take about 2 hours.  From Ryazan and Moscow, one-day excursions are organized with a visit to the bison nursery. But you can also get there yourself. Buses and intercity minibuses leave from the Prioksky bus station in Ryazan to the village of Brykin Bor (about 2 hours on the way).

Author: Anna Dorozhkina

Tags: Russian natural reserves Russian National Parks Ryazan Ryazan Region  

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