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9 Jul, 2010 09:37

Karelia – feeling the sense of adventure

The Russian Republic of Karelia is famed for its forests and breathtaking views. Its rugged region is also an ideal place for adrenaline packed journeys.

The quiet depths of the Karelian forest were once thought impassable to man until now. Now thrill-seekers go on adventure tours in the region and camp all over the republic. They love nothing more than crashing through the undergrowth in their 4x4s.

“When you live in a country with vast forests, lack of roads, few people, and far from a metropolis, it is natural and interesting to drive around looking for new places you have never been to. There are lots of lakes and beautiful places; there are different kinds of fish and animals. An offroader is a perfect car for all that,” says Denis Kuznetsov, a 4x4 tour leader.

Karelia has 90,000 square kilometres of forest and contains 60,000 lakes. It is the region's water that provides some of its main sources of fun. Rafting as well as more sedate boat tours are increasingly popular here.

“Talking about this place, right here we are very close to civilization. As for the northern rivers, they are quite off the beaten track. There are only some small villages that don’t even have food stores, or other things, and people who go there for a week are really isolated, they hang out with each other. There is no one else around, there is no civilization around. Unless you arrange an airdrop,” says Anastasia Klopot, the leader of tourist club “Skif”.

Three specially preserved islands lure thousands of sightseers every year eager to peruse historical architecture, monastic life and the isolation of remote living.

“Tourists who come here, they have an opportunity to enjoy the whole combination of history, culture and nature gathered all together,” says Maria Golynskaya, local tour company manager.

Outdoor pursuits in Karelia are doing well for a fledgling industry with camping tour companies offering an increasing array of outdoor activities in all seasons and striving for access to more remote parts of the region's forests.

“We take tourism as one of the possible solutions for the challenge of trying to find a sustainable way of development. It is also to combine the need to preserve the brilliant nature we have for future generations,” says Dmitry Kislov, from the local Ministry of Economic development.
All of which makes Karelia more and more synonymous with a sense of adventure.