Siberia and Trans-Siberian trip, what to see

September 23, 2019

Apparently, Siberia means "sleeping land", but actually Siberia is able to give you exciting emotions, among majestic landscapes and unforgettable meetings with the local population.

Reindeers in Siberia

Siberia, whose name probably means "sleeping land" in ancient Turkish, is a vast region of Russia, stretching from the Ural mountains to the Pacific Ocean, from the Altai mountains to the Arctic Sea. The population that inhabits this huge territory is very scarce, even if with great differences from region to region.

From this point of view, in fact, Siberia can be divided into three parts: Western Siberia, a flat territory from the Urals to the Jenisei; Eastern Siberia, more mountainous, from the Jenisei to the Lena, and the Far East, including the Amur valley, the Pacific coasts and the Kamčatka peninsula to Vladivostok.

If you are about to leave for a trip to Siberia, you are intrepid and courageous travelers, who do not fear the cold and the great silences. But this land will give you unique emotions, both in terms of natural beauty and meeting with the local population.

A group of wild horses in Altai, Siberia
Wild horses are common in Siberia

The climate of Siberia

The climate of Siberia is extreme continental, characterized by long, cold winters and short, rather hot summers, with a more pronounced temperature range in central Siberia. The longest and coldest winters are those of eastern Siberia, where the temperature is even -40 degrees Celsius. The Russian Far East boasts slightly milder temperatures due to the influence of the summer monsoon and ocean currents.

Due to climatic differences, there are also differences in terms of vegetation. The northern region, where the climate is arctic, is covered by the landscape of the tundra, without trees and rich in moss and lichens. As you descend to the south, the forests of the taiga appear, where the climate becomes more markedly continental. In the extreme south, characterized by hot summers, there is finally the steppe, without trees, but with grasses and bulb plants.

The Siberian fauna is rich: the symbolic animal is the reindeer, both wild and farmed. We can also meet bears, wolves, elk, roe deer, siblings, squirrels, martens, skunks and foxes. These fur animals are very sought after by hunters of indigenous peoples.

Altai mountains, Siberia, Russia
A lush landscape at the Altai mountains

The Trans-Siberian Railway

If you want to visit Siberia, you generally plan to cross it by train, along the famous Trans-Siberian railway. The Trans-Siberian is indeed a fascinating journey, where you can clearly see the landscapes changing from the window, crossing different habitats and different cultures.

The Trans-Siberian railway connects the most extreme and distant parts of Russia, from Moscow to Vladivostok, arriving, with a different route to Beijing in China.

It was built by Tsar Alexander III in the nineteenth century to help the development of Siberia. Today, after several extensions, it is almost 10 thousand kilometers long and is the longest railway line in the world.

You can travel several routes: the Trans-Mongolian, which from Moscow arrives in Beijing, passing through Ulan Bator, the capital of Mongolia; the Trans- Manchurian, which crosses Siberia to Beijing and the real Trans-Siberian that crosses all of Siberia to the city of Vladivostock, the easternmost of Russia.

The average travel time on the Trans-Siberian is one week, crossing seven time zones.