St.Petersburg , Pushkinskaya str 11A-33
From theáUral Mountains to the great Lena River, the sheer size of Siberia is hard to comprehend. Fearfully cold in winter, swelteringly hot in summer and with a history of banishment and cruelty - for Westerners Siberia's image doesn't readily suggest a tourist destination. But Russians disagree.áSouthern Siberia's beautiful peak-tickled underbelly offers world-class rafting, hiking and mountaineering. Amid endless forests are ramshackle wooden-cottage villages, and certain Siberian cities hide evocative historic cores behind their harsh Soviet exteriors. Of these,áTomsk andáTobolsk are the most memorable.áIrkutsk andáUlan-Udealso have a certain charm and offer launching points to visit Siberia's greatest attraction,áLake Baikal. Visiting all four cities, plusáOmsk andáKrasnoyarsk, makes sense by breaking a continental crossing into painless overnight hops using the Trans-Siberian Railway. Away from the railway tracks ináTuva,áAltai,áBuryatiyaand Khakassia, local Buddhist and shamanistic beliefs remain closer to those ofáMongolia oráTibet. Here local cultures retain their own sports, passions and languages while their fascinating ancient histories are faintly visible in mysteriousákurganyá(burial mounds), standing stones, petroglyphs andákameny baba(moustachioed stone idols).