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Volcanos, glaciers and dunes among natural jewels of Siberia’s new national park

The park is famous for its beautiful wildlife, sheer rocks, canyons, forests, glaciers and more than 570 lakes
The Chara sand dunes Vladimir Sayapin/TASS
The Chara sand dunes
© Vladimir Sayapin/TASS

CHITA, November 9. /TASS/. A new national park with a total area pf 500,000 hectares will be soon created in the northern part of the Transbaikal Region, South Siberia, the regional ministry of natural resources told TASS.

Kodar National Park will be accessible by plane from Chita, the administrative center of the Transbaikal Region, or by train given that the Baikal-Amur Mainline (BAM) crosses the area.

The idea of creating this national park has been on the table since the late 1960s.

The future park is famous for its beautiful wildlife, sheer rocks, canyons, forests, glaciers and more than 570 lakes. The largest of them, Lake Nichatka, is 27 kilometers long and was dubbed ‘Little Baikal’ for its pure water, picturesque shores and rich fauna.

Kodar is also home to volcanoes and sand dunes stretching for 10 kilometers and surrounded by the deep taiga forest. Famous for its unique flora and fauna, it has more than 350 species of plants, 45 types of mammals, 150 kinds of birds, 350 species of insects and 20 varieties of fish.

The national park holds enormous opportunities to develop ecological, extreme, ethnographic and research tourism. Kodar glaciers, Lake Nichatka, the volcanoes, the Chara sand dunes and thermal springs are the park’s most popular tourist sites. In addition, skiing, hiking, water and mountain tours for its visitors are available.

"Some 80 tourist groups, or more than 1,000 people, visit our region every year. These tourists come from various Russian regions, as well as from Europe and the United States. Some of them are experienced skiers and mountain climbers," Vitaly Orlov, the head of a local search and rescue service, told TASS.

July and August are the peak tourist season in the north of the Transbaikal Region, Orlov said, adding that some tourists who prefer ski journeys come in February and early spring.

The new national park is also expected to attract divers and visitors interested in the deer-raising traditions and life of the Evenk ethnic group.

The region also hosts several ethnic, cultural and tourist festivals.

"Our chief problem is the undeveloped infrastructure. Rich tourists are ready to come to the north of the Transbaikal Region to enjoy our beauty, they can tolerate bad weather or gnats in the summer but they are scared away by the lack of comfortable accommodations and proper food service," said Pavel Romanov, head of the local administration.

According to him, the new national park will not only attract tourists to the region, but also create new jobs and contribute to the unique nature preservation.

Kodar National Park will consist of two clusters. The northern 320,000-hectare cluster will include the central part of the Kodar mountain range and its glaciers, including its tallest 3,000-meter peak BAM, Lake Nichatka, the Marble Gorge and the Chara dunes. Volcanoes, mineral springs, the Odokan lava plateau and numerous lakes will make up the southern cluster.

The Russian Ministry of Natural Resources will soon submit a resolution to the government to approve the park’s creation and outline its future borders. The final decision on the park’s creation is expected to be made in 2017.