The Land of Seven Wonders
Khabarovsky Krai, washed by two seas and two straits, is a land where man exists in absolute harmony with the majestic nature full of contrasts and drowned in the bright heavenly light. It is here that the harsh taiga can be found side by side with thickets of southern grapes, and the diversity of flora and fauna defies imagination.
More and more tourists are rushing to the east of Russia to touch the mysteries of nature and see the wonders of Khabarovsky Krai with their own eyes. We will present just seven of these wonders, although in reality there are, of course, many more.
Petroglyphs of Sikachi-Alyan
About a century ago people discovered stone rocks with images carved on their surface on the bank of the Amur River, near the village of Sikachi-Alyan. The age of Sheremetyev Stones, as they are called, is, according to scientists, over 12,000 years. The 147 stones, which may seem quite regular boulders from a distance, are covered from top to bottom with writings that will take you hours to study. But what exactly the ancient men wanted to say by their inscriptions and drawings still remains a mystery. The petroglyphs have remained almost intact, which can be explained by the proximity of the historical monument to the frontier post: for “strangers” access here has always been restricted not only by natural conditions, which would be quite normal for Khabarovsky Krai, but also by the guarding activities of the authorities. The main subjects of the “paintings” are hunting and fishing. Among the concentric circles and dots one can see the images of animals, snakes, birds, masks…
The fifteen Shantarskie Islands are located on the margin of the Sea of Okhotsk. The climate here is probably the most severe in the whole region: the land remains free from ice for only two months in a year, and sometimes even less than that. In July, you have a good chance of seeing icebergs, and the first snow falls by the end of September. Nature itself, as it were, protects the baby-like purity of this place: it is not easy to get here. But if travelers still decide to overcome all obstacles, their reward will be great: here you will not be disturbed by numerous tourist groups; you will absolutely forget about the noisy crowds; you will not see any garbage in the sea or on the land. Previously, only a few whalers inhabited the islands; now only the weather station personnel live here. All around you will see only the colorful motley rocks, the wild taiga, and the sea that lives its own separate life. Probably the most incredible thing is watching the tide in these places. At low tide the seabed with all its riches is exposed for many kilometers around, while during high tide the height of the waves reaches seven meters with the speed of the current reaching eight knots – every time it looks as if a giant dam has burst through. The roar of the tide can be heard a few kilometers away. It is not mere chance that the strait between the islands, in which the largest fluctuations in sea level occur, got the name Opasny (“Dangerous”). Every now and then you can see whales passing along the shore; seals come here to grow fat. On land, too, there is a lot to see: rocks of all the colors of the rainbow (jasper, marble, malachite come out of the soil to the surface); fogs looking like clouds that have descended to earth; and extremely abundant fauna. Paradise for photographers! Island landscapes vary depending on the season. For instance, in summer dozens of waterfalls drop here from the steep rocks (by October they already stop).
Toki Island is situated in the Tartar Strait, between the mainland and Sakhalin Island. It is the place where you can see largha seals, or spotted seals, distinguished by their unusually light multicoloured spotted fur. Males reach a length of 1.7 meters, females - 1.6 meters. The rookeries of the seals on Toki are so numerous that their roaring drowns the wash of the waves. Largha seals are very shy and can’t stand being near humans, so you will have to work hard on camouflage and your skill of moving inconspicuously through the thick grass. But the game is worth the candle! The island is a private nature reserve; it is on the list of specially protected natural areas. Fishing, hunting, navigation, or any other economic activity is prohibited in the area within two kilometres around the nature reserve. However, tourists are free to visit these places. In recent years, free tours around the island have been organized for everyone.
Lighthouse in Sovetskaya Gavan
Nowadays this lighthouse bears the name Krasny Partizan (“Red Partisan”) to commemorate the bush warriors shot by their enemies in the years of the Civil War. However, its story started as early as in the 19th century, when the emperor decreed to build a lighthouse on St. Nicholas Point, at the entrance to the bay. This was done after a steamship was wrecked here in 1893: the ship lost its bearings in the fog and ran aground. Construction works were mostly carried out in 1896, and involved 300 people – mostly exiled criminals from Sakhalin Island, as well as hired workers from Japan and Korea. The new lighthouse met all the most up-to-date technical requirements of those times: French crystal lenses provided luminous intensity of 15,000 candles. Hard to believe, the same lenses are still used today. Until 1945, the lighthouse had featured a match lock cannon, which gave the last two salvos on September 2, in honor of the victory over Japan.
Scientists still cannot arrive at a single opinion about the nature of this phenomenon: whether these magnificent pillars were carved by man to be used as a cult object hundreds, thousands or even millions of years ago, or, like Nikolaev Pillars, they came as a result of seismic processes, an instantaneous eruption or a rock dislocation.
The ancient Nanais had their own explanation for the origin of the unusual mountains. According to the legend, the daughter of a local shaman – beautiful Adzi – fell in love with a simple hunter. The father did not consent to the marriage, and the lovers tried to elope. But the enraged shaman rushed in pursuit, turning into a bear. The shaman and the hunter fought to the bitter end, but the girl, to whom both men were equally dear, turned to the kindly spirits with a fervent prayer, and they stopped the time to prevent murder. And the shaman, the girl and the hunter turned into motionless stones...
The beautiful legend is contradicted only by the fact that there are actually more pillars in the valley: they would be enough for a small internecine battle. But an epic will be an epic - in every culture there must be a place for a Romeo and a Juliet.
Komsomolsk-on-Amur is the second biggest city in Khabarovsky Krai. It was built in 1930s by efforts of political prisoners, free-hired citizens, and Komsomol activists from the central regions of the USSR. However, thanks to Soviet propaganda, the role of the first two categories of builders was kept secret for many decades, and the city in the midst of the taiga not only became Komsomolsk, but also was nicknamed the City of Youth. Today it is one of the biggest industrial centers of the Far East, relying heavily on the enterprises of military-industrial complex. The city is developing high-tech machinery, oil refining industry, ferrous metallurgy, as well as electric and heat power engineering. During the Soviet times the city was closed to foreigners and put on the secret list. Thus, the Komsomolsk-on-Amur Aircraft Production Association named after Yu. A. Gagarin allegedly produced Cosmos bicycles and furniture, and the Amur Shipbuilding Plant – furniture and washing machines. The cultural life of Komsomolsk-on-Amur began at the same time, in 1932. It was in the year of the founding of the city itself that the first local club Udarnik was founded, though it was a barrack type building. Today you can learn more about the history of the city in the Local History Museum. Its employees organize thematic guided tours around Komsomolsk, hold seasonal exhibitions, and give lectures.
Annensky Mineral Waters
Annensky Mineral Waters was historically the first resort of the Amur River region, established in 1866. Nowadays it is a spa resort where you can have a pleasant holiday and take a course of treatment with thermal spring water. Its temperature amounts to 53° C, the composition is alkaline, slightly mineralized. If you like, you can also have a mud bath or a mud mask. Indications for treatment include conditions of joints, peripheral nervous system and skin, as well as gynecological disorders. There is a health resort for children and a balneological clinic here. The resort of a modern type was established in mid-1960s, although a balneary existed here even before the Socialist Revolution; during the tsar epoch it was the most popular one in the country. At that time patients and tourists had to get to the “recreation zone” on a steamer across the Amur.
Vanino district means…
Favorable geographical location. Access to two railway mainlines: Trans-Siberian and Baikal-Amur. Sea gate to the Asia-Pacific region.
Natural resources. Sea and river waters, with a total area of 22,000 km2, are rich in fish. The forests are home to wild animals and upland fowl. 97% of the district’s area is taken up by forest resources.
Natural parks. National nature parks; thermal radon sources; natural monuments – rookery of pinnipeds on the island of Toki, relic “Petrified Wood” in Siziman area, Silantiev Bay; nature reserves: spawning grounds for salmonids – Khutinsky, Tumninsky, Verkhne-Tumninsky.
Minerals. Gold, tin, tungsten, molybdenum, lead, mercury, fluorite, graphite, copper, titanium, zinc, heat-resistant and refractory clays, sand, sand and gravel mixtures, etc.
Tourist potential. Rich natural landscapes, nature reserves and rivers form the basis for the development of ecotourism. Fishing, hunting, hiking and horse riding, rafting on rivers.
The sea gate of Khabarovsky Krai. Vanino Bay was opened in May, 1853. The name was given to the bay in honor of the cartographer Vasily Vanin in 1878.
A major transport hub. A seaport of federal importance, Vanino is among the top ten ports of Russia in terms of cargo handling. Vanino handles shipments to regions of Russia and to the countries of the Asia-Pacific Region.
Free port regime. A wide range of privileges, preferences and free customs zone regime help attract major investors.
Key construction. 346 km long highway Vanino – Lidoga.
Economic rise. Development of the transport industry, stable growth of the forestry and fishing industry, construction of coal terminals.