Introducing The Urals
The physical reality of the Urals is not as dramatic as it sounds. The Urals are as low as famous mountain ranges go, failing to top 2000m anywhere. Nonetheless, for outdoorsy types the mountains provide endless opportunities - from hiking and biking to skiing and spelunking. Rafting in the Urals is a spring tradition, when the melting snow augments the river waters. Adventurers will appreciate the undulating hills covered with birch and pine forest, and vast stretches of taiga dotted with mountain lakes and rocky outcrops.
While the Urals are a goldmine for outdoor adventurers, it is difficult to organise such expeditions independently, which explains why the region is still relatively undiscovered by foreign travellers. A few agencies in Yekaterinburg offer active excursions.
The Urals have been vital to Russia for centuries as a major source of metals and minerals, which gave rise to industrial cities such as Perm, Yekaterinburg and Chelyabinsk. Today, these cities are vibrant economic and cultural centres, each with its own intriguing - and sometimes dark - history.
Yekaterinburg is on the east side of the Middle Urals - the lowest part of the mountains - which is why many travellers miss the mountains entirely. The highest peaks are in the far north, culminating at Mt Narodnaya (1894m).
The Urals destination guides
Trans Mongolian Express
From the Great Wall of China to the Hermitage in St Petersburg, travel halfway around the world in three incredible weeks. Board one of the world’s great trains and ride the rails on this once-in-a-lifetime trip across the grassy steppes of Mongolia and through the taiga forests of Siberia.
Travel to Russia and experience a country where extreme landscapes, diverse cultures and turbulent histories coexist. From the forests of Siberia to the beautiful canals and Baroque architecture of St Petersburg, and the church domes of medieval Suzdal to the sombre, bloody history of Yekaterinburg, Russia fascinates and captivates all those who travel within its vast lands.