As the world's largest country, Russia spans almost half the globe, some 9,000 kilometers from east to west and about 4,000 kilometers from north to south. Dividing into eleven time zones, it occupies much of Eastern Europe and northern Asia. The country's terrain is diverse, with extensive stands of forest, numerous mountain ranges, and vast plains. On and below the surface of the land are extensive reserves of natural resources that provide the nation with enormous potential wealth.
Northern Russian extends into the Arctic Circle. This area is primarily tundra and forests, with thousands of lakes. Siberia is a combination of frozen tundra, with rolling hills rising to plateaus, and numerous rugged mountain ranges. The northeast, south-central and southeast areas are covered by a wide variety of mountain ranges. A few on the Kamchatka Peninsula contain active volcanoes.
The Ural mountains cover 2,500 miles of eastern Russia. From the western border to the Ural mountains is the North European Plain. This is a large rolling plain with rich soil and grasslands. The Caucasus mountains cross the southern part of Russia, from the Black Sea to the Caspian Sea and contain the country's highest point, Mt. Elbrus. The central and southern areas include large fertile areas, marsh, steppes (plains without trees) and massive coniferous forests.
Russia has more than 100,000 rivers with a length of 7 miles, or greater. Significant rivers include the Volga, Dnieper and Dvina (west), the Lena, Ob, and Yenisey (central) and the Amur in the far east. Lake Baikal is the deepest lake in the world, at 5,310 ft. (1,620m).
Electric Supply and Plugs
Electricity in Russia is 220-240 volts. The European style round 2 pin plug type is used. This can be either Type C, Type E or Type F.
There are eleven time zones in Russia from GMT+2 to GMT+12, more than in any other country of the world. European Russia (including Moscow) is currently GMT+3 and Kamchatka in the far east is GMT+12. Russia's time zones change over to daylight saving time on dates in accordance with European Summer Time.
The national language is Russian. We recommend that you take a pocket phrase book with you and learn some basic Russian such as common greetings and typical polite enquiries. Any attempt to speak the local language is usually warmly appreciated and is all part of the fun of adventure travel.
With an area the size of Russia, it is difficult to give any sort of general advice about the climate and weather except that summers are warm to hot, and winters get very cold in some areas. In general, the climate of Russia can be described as highly continental influenced climate with warm to hot dry summers and (very) cold winters with temperatures of -30°C and lower and sometimes heavy snowfall. Sometimes very strong easterly winds, called Buran can occur, bringing freezing cold temperatures and snowstorms. Precipitation varies from region to region; the Western parts of Russia have the most rain (up to 750 mm), the southern and southeastern areas in the Russian Steppes are the driest with an annual average below 200 mm.
The official currency of Russia is the Rouble (RUB), which is divided into 100 kopeks. Most major credit cards, like Visa and Mastercard are accepted in the larger hotels and at places that deal with foreign tourists. Currency can be changed at banks, currency exchange booths and hotels. Travellers cheques are difficult and expensive to cash, but if necessary it is advised to take them in US Dollars or Euro. ATMs are widely available in major cities. It is hard to get rubles outside Russia and travellers are advised to take good condition US dollars or Euro notes to change once there.
All clients will need a passport with at least 6 months remaining validity and a single entry visa for our Russian trips. In order to obtain your Russia visa you will have to present full details of your itinerary and a letter of introduction (in Russian) which we will forward to you. When you receive the letter of introduction, you should apply for your visa immediately.
For UK passport holders, application must be made online at ru.vfsglobal.co.uk. Once you have completed and printed the online application form, you can take this along with the required documents as per the website instructions to the nearest Russian Visa Centre (in the UK there are visa centres in London and Edinburgh). From December 2014, all foreign nationals are required to provide biometric data (fingerprint scan) in order to apply for the visa. Postal applications will no longer be accepted. To do this, individuals are expected to travel to the visa application centre in person to complete the process. Please ensure that you include all required documents, the fee in the form of a postal order, and a pre-paid, self-addressed Special delivery envelope (500 grams) for the return of your passport. We advise that you use only Royal Mail Special Delivery to post your passport and documents.
You should attend your own doctor and dentist for a check-up. Your doctor will have access to the most up to date information on the required vaccinations for the country you are visiting. In general we recommend vaccinations against the following: Polio, Tetanus, Typhoid, Hepatitis ‘A'.
A very good online resource is fit for travel: fitfortravel.nhs.uk