Enjoying the nature and getting an “information detox”

Enjoying the nature and getting an “information detox”

Today, a vacation in Karelia is possible in a variety of ways. It can be, for example, a typically recreational vacation when tourists enjoy staying at comfortable tourist centres or resorts, visiting iconic attractions like the Ruskeala National Park or the famous Kizhi. But there is also a vacation for experienced tourists travelling to this region to enjoy peace and quiet excellent fishing. The travellers stay at remote hunter’s cabins or in tents enjoying the real nature. The EcoTourism Expert’s correspondent talked with his old friends who had just returned from this lake region about arranging such a vacation “in the wild”, it costs and some ‘life hacks’.

Where Karelia begins

- How many years have you been travelling to Karelia?

Mikhail Kunbutayev: Since 2008, we have been going there almost every summer. Sometimes, not all of us, but usually, six or eight people definitely go there.

- And how did it all begin?

MK: We started going fishing and enjoying the vacations “in the “wild” in tents in our childhood, we went to some places in our Moscow Region. Then we grew up a little and began travelling to a more remote places located, for example, near Ostashkov where we spent time on the shores of the lakes of the Seliger cascade.

What’s the beauty of these places? After all, the same fish can be caught in Astrakhan, for example.

MK: By 2008, we realized that we had already become “experienced tourists”, could live in tents and, as they say, wash in the lake without any problems, so we decided to travel to other destinations. In fact, Karelia was rather popular, or we could go to Astrakhan that is much closer to the south of the country, in summer it is very hot there and basically, a vacation there is good for fishing, but there are no places to go hiking to. Well, maybe, there are places but we did not find them.

I know that you sometimes book a vacation destination for the next year before you have even driven a couple of hundred kilometres on your way home. Why do you do so?

Maria Romanova: We did the same this year, by the way! Karelia is really very popular, first of all, and very quickly, all the rooms are booked in the places you like to stay at. Secondly, when you just begin your trip home, you are still under the influence of this Karelian atmosphere … Well, it’s almost impossible to live without these lakes! That is why we make booking as soon as possible!

Nowadays, we live with such a huge amount of information and so many people around you that sometimes, you just want to get an ‘information detox’, live without a mobile, without crowds of people around.

And the sunsets are amazing there! You look at the sky: wow, everything is pink, you take a picture, but in a second, the sky becomes purple, you need to take another picture. There are no such beautiful sunsets like in Karelia anywhere!

A good plan is the key to a good vacation

- During such trips you do not have modern conveniences and experience the scarcity of domestic comfort. Is it really critical?

MK: When we went on tour for the first time, I remember that we were ready for quite harsh living conditions. That time, we had a house on an island in the lake and, of course, we could only get to it by boating, there were no shops on the island, there was only nature around. And we were proud that we could live eating what we got, for example, fish we caught, mushrooms and berries we picked up. So, for us personally, the lack of amenities was not critical.

- Do you need to specially prepare for such a way of travelling?

MR: Preparing for a trip requires a great amount of time. For example, we usually start preparing 2-3 months before we start. During this time, the list of products and things is discussed. Thoughts come very sudden, and during three months, for example, you think - at least once - of things like threads and a needle, and of some other things.

The main thing is that you should have one ‘organizer’ having ‘full power’. Because just like ‘Too many cooks spoil the broth’, several organizers can result in a trip to Karelia without fishing rods.

- By the way, did you have a really good biting this time or you had to ‘make efforts’ and use some ‘fishing hacks’?

MK: First, you should decide what you consider as a ‘many efforts’? In fact, it all depends on a few factors: while travelling more you fish for a longer time, you have a fine catch of fish and that’s it.

- Did you bring any fish from your trip?

MK: Bringing fish home is always rather difficult. On the one hand, it was possible to bring some fish and we did so several times. For example, this time, our mutual friend Dmitry caught some fishes and brought them to Moscow.

Dmitry Tarbayev: Yes, we managed to catch 8 good big perches and one pike. If you smoke the fish just before leaving, wrap it in foil, it can be brought home without any problems - you can eat it at home for a week. This year, in general, we caught perches and pikes. Of course, the locals told us about grayling and whitefish, but we were not lucky to catch them.

- Maybe, it was not the right season. What is the best summer month to visit Karelia?

MR: It all depends on the purpose of your traveling. If you want to travel there for fishing, August is the best month. Those who would like to enjoy cloudberries choose July. Those who want to experience the ‘white’ nights choose June. And if you are a hunter, you’d better go from mid-August and later.

We saved a lot on travelling on our own

- By the way, why do you travel by your own cars and not by public transport?

MK: Indeed, we made several trips to Karelia by public transport. It is clear that there were many transfers: we went by several cars, by train, by boat, and even travelled by Kometa (Comet) hydrofoil along Lake Onega.

In a word, we used many ways of travelling. But the problem is that our huge backpacks and other heavy items are hard to overload from one vehicle to another, they are large-sized and heavy. Also, a train, for example, stops at the station we need for just a few minutes, can you imagine how difficult it is for a large group with backpacks to leave the train? It’s rather hectic!

- Yes, I agree that it is not easy! Probably, it turns out to be more expensive than travelling by car ... How expensive is travelling on your own in Karelia?

MK: Let’s count! A round trip is 3,400 kilometres, which means that we spent a little more than 20 thousand roubles to buy gasoline. At the same time, a one-way ticket in a compartment car costs from 5,000 to 6,000 roubles. And we paid 4,000 per person for a round trip. If you use a car, it is 2 to 3 times cheaper.

Renting a house also needs money. Here, it is clear that ‘beauty knows no limits’. The house we rented was on the lake, designed for 6 people, for example, and it costed about 3 to 4 thousand roubles a day. Of course, it does not have all the modern conveniences that everyone is used to, but everything is compensated by the magnificent nature.

In general, a ten-day trip costs 25 to 30 thousand roubles per person, including driving to Karelia and back by car, accommodation, buying things for common use and food products.

Children and helpful hints

- And how to combine such a vacation ‘in the wild’ and a vacation with children? Is it possible?

MK: If you take a child from 10 years old, I think that such a vacation will be without problems. If the child is normally socialized, not obsessed with some things that remain ‘in the civilized’ life, then everything will be fine.

Alexander Chernykh: We took our youngest son to Karelia when he was 2-3 years old. In general, it all depends on your desire and preparedness to have vacations with children; if you can ensure safety and provide proper food to your child, why not?

As for food, you can always warm it up, of course. As for cooling, there are difficulties, although today, there are food products that can be kept for a long time, and milk that can be stored for a long time, so there are no particular problems.

And I am sure that children, even the youngest ones, still have impressions of such a trip. Our son, for example, still remembers Karelian fishing and how he went boating!

- I think that you are experienced tourists. What travel hacks could you give to those who wants to go fishing in Karelia, to pick up mushrooms and berries for the first time?

MK: The most important are those people who are next to you all this time of your vacation. Normally, there is nobody else on the island to talk to, and you need to be all the time with those whom you know, who know you, those people who perfectly understand what they would have to face during the trip, at least they should have the slightest idea about it. Then you can enjoy your vacation and the trip.

As for food, just think what you need, because it is unlikely that you will be able to go often to a shop. Take warm clothes - it’s a must as Karelia is in the North. In summer, of course, it will not snow, but the temperature can drop to just 5 degrees Celsius.

MR: You can also take a dress for taking pictures as the views are fantastic in Karelia. And I also want to advise you to book a trip much in advance because a month before the trip, all the good places are normally sold out - to those like us!

And I agree that you should only travel with people whom you know rather well.