I have been very fortunate over the years to have visited many different regions of the vast swathe of wilderness we loosely term ‘Siberia’.
I am a definite fan.
But I have only ever experienced this part of the world in the winter, when it is a playground of extraordinary frozen wonders and in the spring, when, by anyone elses standards, it is still pretty much winter (I traversed Lake Baikal in March, which is spring in Siberia, but the lake was still frozen with a solid layer of ice and felt very much like ‘winter’!)
So it felt like discovering this part of the world anew when I returned to Yakutia for the third time in my life, but in high summer. Standing in the central square of Yakutsk, the regional capital, under the outstretched arm of the ubiquitous statue of Lenin I was surrounded not by passersby in fur coats stretching from neck to ankle and sheltering their faces from the frost but by families in shorts and summer dresses eating ice cream and having picnics. It was a lot to take in!
Happy to report that Siberia in the summer is a lush paradise of fertile steppe dotted with wild flowers, rolling green hills and forest alive with the chirp of birdsong and the chatter of chipmunks….