Once perceived as desolate and inaccessible, the world’s image of Siberia is beginning to change. As travel connoisseurs seek new, exciting and unspoiled places to relax, play and explore, Siberia is emerging as an uncrowded alternative to traditional adventure tourism destinations. Now, thanks to a specialist tour company, 56th Parallel, experiencing Siberia’s wonders is easier and more luxurious than ever.
Based in Sydney, Australia, 56th Parallel’s goal is to not only promote Siberia’s extraordinary opportunities for wilderness adventures, but also its unique blend of Russian and indigenous culture and vibrant city life. The birth of the company came about during 56th Parallel founder Michael Schneider’s numerous business trips to Siberia over the past 12 years. Humbled and astounded by both the natural beauty of Siberia and the hospitality of its people, he began taking groups of friends on adventure holidays to the region and making connections with people in the local tourism industry. Working with an experienced team in Australia and Russia, he has this year launched a brand new 56th Parallel website (www.56thparallel.com) with the aim of sharing Siberia’s true splendour with the world.
56th Parallel takes its guests to some of the most picturesque and exciting destinations in Siberia while providing a level of comfort (think boutique 4 and 5 star hotels, VIP transfers and high class restaurants) far beyond what most people associate with Siberia.
The company offers a range of itineraries catering to all tastes, from action-packed ‘adrenaline’ tours through to more leisurely experiences based around exploring Siberia’s ancient and modern cultures, customs and cuisine. 56th Parallel also provides the opportunity for guests to create completely customised, private itineraries.
Siberia’s extraordinary vastness and its diverse geography means the choice of activities on offer is unparalleled. In winter, Siberia offers skiing and snowboarding at both world-class resorts and spectacularly remote, crowd-free mountain slopes. Guests are able to add a distinctly Russian flavour to their tours, with experiences such as the banya (Russian sauna), hovercraft rides, husky dog sledding, Russian ballet performances, and of course, tasting the world’s finest vodka. A summer tour is recommended to make the most of Siberia’s surprisingly warm sunshine and the opportunity to hike in the taiga forest, go rafting and rock climbing, kayak along the rugged Pacific coast, or cruise the turquoise blue waters of Lake Baikal, the oldest and deepest lake on earth.
With over 9 unique sites recognised by UNESCO and close to 100 sites under consideration, Siberia’s natural beauty has attracted Russian tourists, artists, photographers, wildlife lovers and adventure sports enthusiasts for generations. Now the Russian government is making a concerted effort to promote international tourism within its borders, and is currently in talks with the EU to offer visa free travel for tourists. In addition, the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi is set to give Russia a massive tourism boost. Within Siberia itself, full service tour companies like 56th Parallel, along with a flurry of new developments from major international hotels mean Siberia is readier than ever to welcome travellers of every persuasion.