Worth a Trip: Yeniseysk

Easily reachable by bus, historic Yeniseysk makes an engaging excursion off the Trans-Sib from Krasnoyarsk, 340km away. Now being spruced up for its 400-year anniversary (due in 2019), it was once Russia’s great fur-trading capital, with world-famous 18th-century August trade fairs (recently revived for tourists), and 10 grand churches punctuating its skyline. Eclipsed by Krasnoyarsk despite a burst of gold-rush prosperity in the 1860s, the town is now a drowsy backwater with an unexpectedly good Regional Museum, some faded commercial grandeur along ul Lenina and many old houses; over 70 are considered architectural monuments. Most appealing of the surviving churches are the walled 1731 Spaso-Preobrazhensky Monastery and the Assumption Church with its unusual metal floor and splendid antique icons.

To reach Yeniseysk, take a bus (R620, seven hours, 10 daily) from Krasnoyarsk's bus station. The journey time makes a day trip impossible so organise accommodation beforehand through SibTourGuide in Krasnoyarsk.

From mid-June to early October, passenger ships slip along the Yenisey River from Krasnoyarsk to Dudinka in the Arctic Circle (4½ days) via Yeniseysk (17 hours) and Igarka (three days and two to seven hours). There are three to four sailings per week, most departing early morning. Returning upstream, journeys take 50% longer so most independent travellers choose to fly back to Krasnoyarsk. Foreigners are not allowed beyond Igarka, as Dudinka and nearby Norilsk are ‘closed’ towns. Contact SibTourGuide in Krasnoyarsk for timetables, tickets and round-trip tours.

Worth a Trip: Divnogorsk & Ovsyanka

From Krasnoyarsk, a popular day trip by bus follows the Yenisey River 27km to Divnogorsk town through a wide, wooded canyon. Some 5km beyond Divnogorsk’s jetty is a vast 90m-high dam. Turbine-room visits are not permitted, but if you’re lucky you might see ships being lifted by a technologically impressive inclined plane to the huge Krasnoyarsk Sea behind. A few kilometres beyond you can observe ice fishing from December to March or, in the summer, boats and yachts can be hired.

The Krasnoyarsk–Divnogorsk road has a panoramic overlook point at km23 and passes quaint Ovsyanka village. From the main road walk 100m (crossing the train tracks) to Ovsyanka’s cute wooden St Inokent Chapel then 50m right to find the house-museum of famous local writer Victor Astafiev, who died in 2001. Directly opposite in Astafiev’s grandma’s cottage-compound is the more interesting Last Bow Museum giving a taste of rural Siberian life.

Regular marshrutky (R100) leave from Krasnoyarsk’s bus station. Ask the marshrutka driver to drop you off at Ovsyanka, 30km away from Krasnoyarsk. SibTourGuide in Krasnoyarsk offers various tailored excursions in English or will include the Divnogorsk loop as part of its ‘Ten-Rouble Tour’.