Worth a trip: Shihany Mountains

These ancient mountains hold deep meaning for the local people, who want to increase visitor numbers so that businesses realise their worth and don't destroy them for their limestone.

Today there are three peaks remaining (there were four but a factory business demolished one) and they are said to be some of the oldest mountains in the world, at around 285 million years of age.

Interestingly, they are composed of tiny coral rocks, demonstrating that this area was once deep under the sea. Today you can hike up the mountains and easily come across the coral rocks, some of which still have seashell fossils engraved onto them. Afterwards, it's worth taking a stroll around the local village Urman Bishkazak.

To get to Shihany Mountains, take a bus from Yuzhny Bus Station in Ufa to Sterlitamak (R300, 1½ hours, hourly), then take a taxi to the mountains (R250 to R300, 20 minutes; call 347-333 3222). Alternatively you can book a tour with In Ethnos.