A Land of Lakes and Forests Tour / 5D

5 Days National Park Russian Countryside Deep Into Russia

Tours Russian North Tours  A Land of Lakes and Forests Tour

  A trip to a far off corner of Russia – the city of Kargopol and the Kenozero National Park. Your trip here to this unique national park in the Russian North will take to a place which seems to exist in a different time and at a different temp, where the wooden architecture and old customs of Ancient Rus coexist with pristine nature.

  You will learn about the culture and traditions of the welcoming people who live here, get to try the local cuisine which is made using only organic and ecologically natural products and visit many wooden chapels decorated with unique painted panels called “heavens” (“nebesa”) which decorate the interior of the dome and where elements of Paganism have blended into Russian Orthodoxy. And all this is surrounded by an enormous lake with bays and islands.

  In addition to the park you will visit Kargopol - one of the oldest cities in the Russian North. As it was overlooked when plans for railway lines were drawn up, the city has thankfully managed to retain its former glory and avoid much of the destructive elements of modernisation. Still standing here are many architectural monuments characteristic for the Russian North. The city is located on the River Onega, which runs north to the White Sea.

 Can be combined with:  Solovetsky Islands • Karelia Republic  • Kizhi Island • St Petersburg • Arkhangelsk

Moscow → Plesetsk  → Vershinino →  Kargopol → Nyandoma → St Petersburg



 Evening transfer from the hotel to the railway station.

 Departure by premium train from Moscow's Leningradsky Station to Plesetsk.


 Arrival in Plesetskaya and transfer to Vershinino. 

 Duration: about 2½ hours |  Distance: 165km

Upon arrival in the village of Vershinino - the centre of Plesetsk Section of the Kenozero National Park - check-in at the guest house.

 Lunch at the cafe.

 Transfer to the village of Filipovskaya. This village is surrounded on three sides by water. It was once a big and well-off village, but today it is uninhabited except for a couple of inspectors from the park. The main sight here is the Pochozersky church complex.

 Distance: 20km

 Guided tour of the Pochozersky Church Complex - this "troika” ensemble consists of two churches and a bell tower. It is one of five of such complexes in the Russian North (three of which are in the Arkhangelsk Region). The complex is of significant historical and architectural value and extremely rare among Russian wooden architecture. The summer church is dedicated to the Procession of the Venerable Wood of the True Cross (but it is also known as the Saviour Church) and was built around 1700. It is connected via a gallery to the winter church which is dedicated to the Finding of the Head of John the Baptist. This church, in turn, is then connected with the tent-dome bell tower.

 Transfer to the village of Ust-Pocha.

 Distance: 11km

 Guided tour of Ust-Pocha - for local standards, Ust-Pocha is a rather large village where people live for the whole year-round. The village is located on a spit, on one side washed by Lake Svinoe and on the other by the River Pocha. The village started out as a crossing point on the busy trade route between Veliky Novgorod and the north-west of the Olonets Governorate. Later, with the foundation of St Petersburg, this route lost its strategic importance, although in Soviet times the surrounding forests were used for timber.

 Visit St Nicholas’ Chapel - this 18th-century chapel was once surrounded by centuries-old pine trees but now the forest has been replaced with wooden houses which somewhat obscure the chapel. On the inside, the chapel looks bigger than it is thanks to the “heaven” (“nebesa") painted panels decorating the interior of the chapel's dome. These decorations are only found in this part of Russia. The chapel’s heaven panels are unique as these were the first to be discovered by the artist Fyodor Zakharov, who painted the panels in 1881.

 Tea and pies at the Folk Craft Centre – here you will have a break and get to try some tasty traditional fruit pies.

 Master class at the Folk Craft Centre – this centre's aim is to preserve the traditional local handicrafts and you will have the opportunity to take part in a master class to make a tradition product. You can either weave a headband or small box out of birch bark, forge an amulet at the blacksmith or make a small valenki boot out of felt.

 Transfer to Vershinino.

 Dinner at the cafe.

 Russian Banya.

 Night in Vershinino.


  Breakfast at the cafe.

 Morning excursion by boat around the southern part of Lake Kenozero - the highlights of the excursion include:

  • Bear Island – the largest island in Lake Kenozero. Today it is uninhabited but the buildings of the village of Medvezhye still stand, including the 19th century St Blaise’s Chapel. The island is also known for the Juniper Alley – rows of juniper trees which were especially planted here. The island’s nature is very picturesque with hills overlooking the lake.
  • Village of Zekhnovo – this village is located on a beautiful bay on Kenozero which runs deep into a pine forest. It is named after Zekh who is believed to have been one of the first Christian settlers here. The village has retained its original structure with houses standing around on a pond which is connected by a stream to the main lake.
  • St John the Theologian's Chapel in Zekhnovo – this pretty chapel stands on a hill named Buyi-Gora and next to it are tall fir trees which are remains of a Holy Copse. It is believed that the heaven panels here are the oldest in Kenozero, painted at the end of the 18th century by masters from Olonets following the traditions of Old-Believer icon-painting. Also located nearby is a reconstruction of a 19th-century watermill.
  • Village of Tyryshkino – one of the most beautiful places on the lake. The village is only really inhabited in summer and only a few people live here all year round. One of the smallest chapels in Russia is located here; only one person can enter and only then on their knees.
  • Tea and pies - after the excursion, you will get to try local cuisine consisting of pancakes with millet or oat flour, kalitka pies with potatoes or tvorog and tasty tea with local herbs.

 Transportation: by boat |  Duration: 4 hours

  Lunch at the café.

 Excursion around Vershinino village.

 Free time in Vershinino. You can use this time to walk around the village or to rent a rowboat or bike to explore further. You could alternatively book an extra tour around the village, including a visit to one of the symbols of the Kenozero National Park – St Nicholas’ Chapel in Vershinino.

 Dinner at the café.

 Russian Banya.

 Night in Vershinino.


  Breakfast at the cafe.

 Transfer to Kargopol. During the transfer, you will travel through one of the most picturesque parts of the Arkhangelsk Region – small villages, endless forests and deep blue lakes. Part of the road (around 65km) is a dirt road so take travel sickness tablets if you are not good with bumpy rides.

 Distance: 132km |  Duration: around 2½h

Upon arrival in Kargopol a tour of Kargopol - Kargopol is a small historical city located on the banks of the River Onega among the lakes and forests of the Russian North. It is officially considered to be the same age as Moscow. It is one of the best-preserved cities in the Russian North with whole architectural ensembles and the Catherine the Great-era town planning surviving to this day. On this excursion, you will see the city's main square with its ensemble of white stone churches including the 16th century Nativity of Christ Cathedral and its bell tower, the embankment of the River Onega and the remains of the Valushki fortress.

Transportation: walking |  Duration: 1½ hours

  Lunch at a cafe.

 Transfer to Nyandoma guest house.

 Distance: 80km

 Night in Nyandoma.


St Petersburg

 Morning transfer to the railway station

 Train to St Petersburg.

Evening arrival in St Petersburg.


  • This tour can be held from May to October. Although it is best to visit from June to September
  • In June mosquitoes are at their most active so don't forget to bring insect repellent.
  • May to July is also tick season and so you should also bring tick repellent, wear suitable clothing (shorts and flip-flops should be avoided when walking in forests and in long grass) and make sure to check yourselves regularly. It is possible to get an inoculation against tickets one to two months before your trip.
  • As there are only a few guides who work in the park, some of the excursions may be part of a group excursion.
  • In the village of Vershinino the only mobile operator that works here is Megafon. On many islands and in some villages there is no mobile coverage at all.
  • There are some small shops in Vershinino where you can buy food and water. You can also buy ecologically clean produce (milk, tvorog, fish, meat, honey, berries) from locals. The guest house has an electric hob for cooking food.
  • There is no bank, currency exchange or cash point in the village. You should bring all the cash you will need with you.
  • Optional excursions should be booked before the start of the tour to schedule the itinerary.
  • You should take into account that there are no luxurious hotels, restaurants, bars or restaurants on the National Park.
  • The tour is available in  English  - other languages upon request. 
  • As there is only one English-speaking guide in the whole park, if this guide is busy on the dates you want to visit, it will be necessary to add USD575 to the cost of the tour to cover the expenses of a translator accompanying you.
  • During the high season (July - August) and on public holidays we recommend you book the tour in advance as accommodation facilities in the park are very limited.






Date of the tour


Number of travellers

Children (6-16):


Cost of the tour in
  • Trains tickets Moscow-Plesetskaya, 2nd class
  • Train tickets Nyandoma - St Petersburg, 2nd class
  • Transfers on a private car according the itinerary
  • Accommodation in a guest houses with indoor WC
  • Russian Banya
  • Excursions according the itinerary
  • Meal according the programme
  • Transfers hotel / railway station in Moscow and St Petersburg
  • Permission for visit area with a regulated visit regime for foreigners
  • 24h emergency support during the tour
  • Visa support documents
Not included
  • Tips for a guide or driver (optional)
  • Personal expenses
Country of residence
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