Ask anyone about Russia and the first few words that comes to their mind is usually Vodka, largest country, military, Moscow, cold war, nuclear weapons and St. Petersburg.
But for us, it is more than concrete buildings and a past full of war and terror. For us, Russia is one of the most beautiful destinations in the world.
We fell in love with this winter wonderland and how! After successfully completing Russia expedition back in 2017, we were all geared up to do it again. So with a group of 27 people in tow, we landed in the beautiful city of Moscow that welcomed us all with bitter cold. But hey, we aren’t complaining. In fact it had a reverse effect on us all and made everyone even more excited to begin our Snow Drive in Russia!
Soon after landing in Moscow and being greeted by the bitter cold temperatures in this land full of snow all around, we got down to exploring Russia’s cosmopolitan capital. From Ice staking rinks to Ice sculptures and snow parades, there was a lot to see and we couldn’t pack it all in.
The next day, all the participants were introduced to their UAZ Patriot Vehicles, which was apt for the extreme driving conditions we were going to face in the following days. Under the watchful eyes of a professional instructor, we all tested our snow driving abilities, before continuing our drive on snow covered roads to reach Sergiev Posad, also known as the “Russian Vatican”. We visited some beautiful churches where we even got to hear the wonderful choir singing.
The following morning, after a hearty breakfast, we continued driving deeper into the country side on our way to Uglich, which is also a part of the Golden Ring, a popular destination for Russian tourists. The Golden Ring is a collection of historic Russian cities, northeast of Moscow and is perfect for anyone who wants to enjoy the quiet and peaceful life in the Russian province, beautiful countryside views, and ancient architecture.
After exploring this fascinating city and driving on ice-covered rivers en route, we continued our drive towards Rybinsk to get some good night’s rest.
Next day was a long driving day, with approx. 563 km of driving distance. But what makes a long drives such easy are the various stop over amongst beautiful countryside. We stopped for a quick breakfast at Cherepovets, located on the shores of the Rybinsk Reservoir, before continuing our drive. On our way to Valday, we crossed and stopped at many small Russian villages to meet locals and pose in front of stunning architecture covered in a blanket of snow. We even stopped at Borovichi which is a beautiful town located next to the Mtsa river for Lunch before continuing our drive to our destination for the day i.e. Valday.
Before hitting the road next day, we decided to explore Valday and took our time to visit some strikingly beautiful places, like the ensemble of ValdayIversky Monastery, the Presentation Church and the Valdaysky District Museum. In the afternoon, we continued our drive towards Veliky Novgorod, where we spent the night.
After a relaxed sleep, we took out some time to do sightseeing in Veliky Novgorod. Apart from visiting some tourist sites like St. Sophia Cathedral and Novgorod Kremlin, we got to experience horse sledding as well. Snow, sleds, and horse… we couldn’t have asked for a better experience.
After some fun filled time, we got behind the wheels and drove to our final destination i.e. St. Petersburg.
Between our drive from Moscow to St. Petersburg, we covered many remote villages, enjoyed multiple cups of coffee/tea and soups, tried caviar, pelted each other with snow balls, built our own snowman, and took dozens of snowy pictures. And if all this wasn’t enough, we had a bunch of boys who braved the frosty weather and went topless on a frozen lake. Now that definitely takes some courage!
But what truly takes the cherry on the cake was our Republic Day celebrations!
They say “You can take an Indian out of India, but you can never take India out of an Indian” and this indeed holds true. With great pride, we celebrated our Republic Day on a frozen lake, holding our flag and singing national anthem together. The feeling of patriotism filled our hearts as we all got together as Indians in a foreign country, joined in by British and Russian citizens in the celebration of such a special day together.
Not to miss the ride in the SHERP ATV, which was no less of an adventure. Honestly, Sherp ATVs are what dreams are made of. It will just go anywhere, over water, on ice, on really rough and almost impossible terrains. Experiencing a bumpy ride in these monster trucks is something that all of us would remember for years to come.
We can go on and on and on about the food, the snow drive in UAZ Patriot Vehicle, the cultural experience, the picturesque landscape and more.
A winter drive in Russia was not just ravishingly beautiful, it was exhilarating!