Republic of Tuva
It’s probably difficult to find any other region where the steppe, desert, and mountainous tundra come so close to each other. Just few hours’ drive across Tuva and the steppe landscape is replaced by pine forest, while windy bare semi-deserts are replaced by rapid mountainous rivers. The upper part of Kaa-Khem is a real oasis of Southern Siberia. The air is so fresh and clean, you can drink it. In this taiga region, for the last few centuries, you can find unique people – called “old believers”. Old believers are Orthodox Christians, who disagreed with church reforms in 17th century and since then, have been living in exile, preserving their culture and religion. You can meet them, learn the secret recipe of taiga pies baked without yeast, and even try to make your own “valenki” (traditional boots made of felt, one of the key symbols of traditional clothing in Russia).
The trip to Kaa-Khem is at least, for a few days, a way to escape the everyday routine of city life, to feel freedom, to have a rest from hustle and bustle, to listen to your inner self enjoy the nature and to see how Russia lived centuries ago. Plus the Kaa-Khem is an excellent place for fishing with expert advice from the old-believers.