Republic of Tuva
It’s probably hard to find any other region where steppe, desert and mountain tundra come so close together. Just a few hours drive through Tuva and the steppe landscape is replaced by pine forest, while windy semi-deserts are replaced by fast, mountainous rivers. The upper part of Kaa-Khem is a true southern Siberian oasis. The air is so fresh and clean you can drink it. In this region of the taiga, in recent centuries, you can find unique people – called “old believers”. The Old Believers are Orthodox Christians, who disagreed with church reforms in the 17th century and have since lived in exile, preserving their culture and religion. You can meet them, learn the secret recipe for unleavened baked taiga pies, and even try to make your own “valenki” (traditional boots made of felt, one of the main symbols of traditional clothing in Russia).
The trip to Kaa-Khem is, at least for a few days, a way to escape the daily routine of city life, to feel freedom, to rest from the hustle and bustle, to hear your inner self enjoy nature and see how Russia lived centuries ago. In addition, the Kaa-Khem is an excellent place to fish with expert advice from the old believers.