Endless ice-bound winters, kiln-hot summers, a history of imperial exile and Stalinist savagery – Eastern Siberia (Восточная Сибирь) may not sound like everyone’s first choice of holiday destination, but there’s much more to this vast region than blood-craving mosquitoes and blizzard-lost Gulag camps.
Focus is given to the map by glorious Baikal, the world’s deepest lake. Only Siberia could possess such a phenomenon with its crystal waters, mind-boggling stats and long list of outlandish endemic species. The lake presents a major obstacle to the Trans-Siberian Railway, which cradles Siberia in a string of intriguing cities such as architecturally grand Irkutsk, exotically Asian Ulan-Ude and youthful Krasnoyarsk.
But the trick to enjoying Eastern Siberia is in escaping the cities – hit the Great Baikal Trail, go hunting for Tuvan standing stones or seek out far-flung Buddhist temples in Buryatiya – the possibilities are endless, almost as endless as the immense sweep of geography they occupy.