Krasnoyarsk

Krasnoyarsk: the heart of Siberia

The city is the administrative center of the Krasnoyarsk Krai (state or region) which is the third largest sub-national region, by land, in the world (after the Sakha Republic in Russia and Western Australia). Situated at the mid way point of the Trans-Siberian Railway, 4,000km from Moscow, the city sits on the banks of the Yenisei River. The Yenisei River is feed by both the Tuul River that you may have noticed running through Ulaanbaatar in Mongolia, and the Angara River that you certainly can’t have missed, as the only river flowing from Lake Baikal. From Krasnoyarsk you could navigate the Yenisei north all the way to the Arctic. Check out the National Geographic film of Ben Kozel’s and Colin Angus’s complete navigation of the river.

The city was initially constructed around a fort on the confluence of the Yenisei and Kacha rivers. Krasnoyarsk grew as a buffer between the native peoples of the river who fell under the protection of the Cossacks and the Kyrgyz nomad tribes to the south, who often engaged in raids into the area. The fort was named Krasny Yar (Кра́сный Яр) meaning red steep riverbank, after the local name for the area on which it was built. In 1822 the village received official town status and became Krasnoyarsk.

To the south of the city sits Karaulnaya Mountain, offering a perfect view over the flatlands to the northwest. The Cossacks constructed a watchtower on the peak, formerly the site of a Tatar pagan temple. On the site today you will find a small chapel dedicated to Paraskeva Pyatnitsa (Paraskevi of Iconium), who in Russia is the patroness of traders, fairs and marriage. One story owes the chapel to the grateful generosity of a merchant by the name of Novikov, who was saved from drowning and in gratitude had a wooden chapel built on the site at the turn of the 19th century. Also of interest is a small memorial plaque found on the chapel in memory of the Russian scientist and one of the early inventors of the radio, Aleksander Popov, who in 1887 observed the solar eclipse from the chapel.

Located close to the midpoint of the various Trans-Siberian / Mongolian routes, Krasnoyarsk is still something of a hidden gem. There is a good argument to be made for visiting Krasnoyarsk, especially for hiking enthusiasts. In terms of splitting up the long-haul between Irkutsk and Moscow, it may not split up the journey as well as Ekaterinburg (you still spend three nights on the train from Krasnoyarsk to Moscow – the longest leg on the Ekaterinburg option is two nights from Irkutsk to Ekaterinburg).

Krasnoyarsk is the capital of the second largest administrative unit (ie. National region, State or District) which gives it some clout in terms of cultural sites, museums and theater. Though less grand in terms of historic and cultural buildings (it doesn’t have a Kremlin nor large churches of significance), Krasnoyarsk makes up for this with some real charm. The city sits on the Yenisei River and the Chapel of Saint Paraskeva Pyatnitsa sits above the city (a look out of sorts that replicates the old guard tower that once filled the space); one only has to take a look at the 10 ruble note to see the sights the city is renowned for. One of the bonuses of Krasnoyarsk (and a good comparison to a city like Ekaterinburg) is its size. It is small enough to walk in a few hours, one main street (Mira Prospekt), which finishes at the river where you can cross a pedestrian bridge over to the island offering great views of the city and the surrounding mountains. Surrounded by mountains on three sides, Krasnoyarsk breaks the rule of flat Siberian cities; the hiking in Stolby Nature Reserve is fantastic, and one of the main reasons for people adding in a stop here.

Railway Station, Krasnoyarsk
Stolby
Wedding party at the Yenesy river

Tour programs

Feel free to insert or substitute tour programs into any itinerary with a stopover in Krasnoyarsk, adding or subtracting days to coordinate with your interests and budget. Take a look at the Trains and Scheduling page for the specific details regarding onward travel.

 

City tour (3 hrs walking; 4 hrs car)

Available: all year round

Walking tour highlights: downtown Mira Prospekt, Communal Bridge – Yenisei river embankment, Svyatitel Nikolai steam boat, downtown churches.
Includes: English speaking guide.

Car tour highlights: downtown Mira Prospekt, the Chapel of Saint Paraskeva Pyatnitsa, Communal Bridge – Yenisei river embankment, Victory Memorial, Svyatitel Nikolai steamboat, Tsar-Ryba (King-Fish) lookout-memorial, churches.
Includes: English speaking guide, private car transportation.

 

’10-ruble’ tour (6-8 hrs)

Visit the landmarks as depicted on the ’10-ruble’ banknote: the Communal bridge, Yenisey River and Left Bank, Chapel of Saint Paraskeva Pyatnitsa, Power Station and Krasnoyarsk Dam, Railway Station, City Hall, along with other highlights of Krasnoyarsk.

Includes: English-speaking guide service, private car transportation, entrance tickets; lunch scheduled but not included in price.
Distance covered: 120km

 

Krasnoyarsk Dam tour (3-5 hrs)

The Krasnoyarsk Dam is the pride of Siberian engineering. The impressive dam, completed in 1968, has a capacity of more than 6 million kilowatts. The construction project employed 20 thousand and took 16 years to complete. Interestingly, seventy percent of the electricity from the dam is consumed by only one plant in Krasnoyarsk, the Krasnoyarsk Aluminum Plant, the second largest aluminum plant in the world. The dam has a self-moving ship elevator, like a giant bathtub that takes barges up to the top of the dam and back down to the river.

Includes: English-speaking guide service, private car transportation.
Distance covered: 100km

10 Ruble banknote
Krasnoyarsk Dam, Russia
Stolby National Park, Krasnoyarsk

Stolby Nature Reserve

One of the main reasons for a visit to the area is the unique volcanic pillars that dot the Stolby Nature Reserve, making it a popular destination for rock climbing enthusiasts. Day or overnight hiking excursions take you along well maintained trails and offer spectacular views. Our guide can arrange special guest accommodation within the reserve at the climber’s hut or comfortable guesthouses, or return to your accommodation in the city.

Full-day hike in Stolby Nature Reserve (6-8 hrs)

Transfer from hotel / hostel to Stolby Nature Reserve (approx. 1 hr). The hike begins along an uphill 7km section on a dirt service road to the first Stolby pinnacles. Once at the first outcrop, it is easy to visit other nearby formations: ticking off ‘Little Elephant’, ‘Grandfather’, ‘Feathers’, Lions Gate’, and a number of other unique formations, depending on your level of fitness and energy for the day. It is also possible to hike further to the more southern pinnacles, ‘Firma’ and ‘Manskaya Stenka’, a few kilometers away. The full-day is reasonably strenuous, but with plenty of chances to rest while taking in the stunning views, you can pace yourself and tick off as many or as few of the formations as you wish.

Included: – return transfers: city <> reserve, English-speaking guide, picnic lunch on the rocks.
Distance: 22-24 km; optional: use of chair lift (tickets are extra). The chair lift extends the distance but avoids hiking uphill for 7 km.
A decent pair of hiking shoes is preferable, as is long pants, to guard against ticks (especially in early summer).
Bring water and trail mix for extra snacks throughout the day.

Half-day hike to Takmak Rock (3-5 hrs)

The hike to Takmak Rock is a terrific option if you don’t feel up for the full-day hike in Stolby Nature Reserve, but still want to immerse yourself in nature and catch some stunning views. Begin with a short drive from your hotel or hostel to the base of the ski hill (visible from downtown Krasnoyarsk). Save yourself the uphill hike, and enjoy the views back towards Krasnoyarsk, by taking the ski life to the peak. Hike to Takmak Rock, which puts you on the fringes of Stolby Nature Reserve, offering spectacular views over the reserve on one side, and the city in the opposite direction.

Included: return transfers: city <> reserve, English-speaking guide.
A decent pair of hiking shoes is preferable, as is long pants, to guard against ticks (especially in early summer). Bring water and trail mix for extra snacks throughout the day.

Stolby nature reserve, Krasnoyarsk, Russia

Dacha experience and picnic (4-6 hrs)

Available: July to April

Visit our local guide’s traditional Russian holiday ‘dacha’ cottage. The dacha community is nestled in the taiga forest approximately 40 mins from downtown Krasnoyarsk. Urban-dwelling Russians own these tiny cottages and gardens in the countryside as a retreat from the stress of city life. They typically travel to their dacha every weekend during the summer agricultural season to cultivate their plots.
During your time at the dacha, relax at the cottage, chatting with your guide about local customs and experiencing first-hand this very Russian tradition; learn about the kinds of vegetables and berries grown in their gardens. Pick fresh raspberries and strawberries in July and August or collect mushrooms in August to add to your BBQ picnic. Enjoy a local salad and a shashlyk (kebab) and the tranquility of country life.

Note: the dacha visit is not offered during May and June due to tick season.

Sasha's Dacha, Krasnoyarsk

Dacha overnight

Available: summer: July to September; winter: October to April

Visit our local guide’s traditional Russian holiday ‘dacha’ cottage, enjoying a BBQ dinner and staying overnight.
Stop by the market on the way, and bring some beer, wine or vodka and spend the night discussing Russian history and present day life, as well as sharing with your guide tales from your home.
The dacha is ideal and comfortable for 2-3 people. The structure itself is a small wooden cottage with a sleeping area, a small kitchen and a porch with outdoor cooking area. There is a well maintained pit toilet.
During your time at the dacha, relax at the cottage, chatting with your guide about local customs and experiencing first-hand this very Russian tradition; learn about the kinds of vegetables and berries grown in their gardens. Pick fresh raspberries and strawberries in July and August or collect mushrooms in August to add to your BBQ picnic. Enjoy a local salad and a shashlyk (kebab) and the tranquility of country life.
In winter, enjoy cross-country skiing, or simply have fun in the deep snow.

In summer, guests stay overnight by themselves and the guide will collect you the following day.
In winter the guide will stay with you to ensure your safety and comfort in the freezing conditions.

Note: the dacha is not offered during May and June due to tick season.