My adventure trip started one early April morning. It was still very cold in Moscow and I hurried to the warm bus, which was about to go in the direction of the ancient city of Serpukhov.

In an hour and a half I peeked through the window and saw beautiful huge trees covered with a snow blanket. It seemed like the winter was never going to leave that place. I got off the bus, took a deep breath and stood still in surprise – it was the most fresh and clean air I’ve ever felt, so incompatible with the dusty atmosphere of my home city.

… a specially protected place full of thousands of rare plants, birds and animals …

It was Prioksko-Terrasny Nature Biosphere Reserve that amazed me, a specially protected place full of thousands of rare plants, birds and animals. Established in 1945, the reserve starts from the village of Danki, covering the territory of about 5,000 hectares. Since 1979, the reserve has been under the protection of UNESCO.

Our guide began the ecological tour and led us to the main attraction – a bison nursery. It was created in 1948 and became the center of rehabilitation and breeding of bison in Russia. We were invited to take a special environmental route so that to get acquainted with the unique nature and to examine the wildlife. What impressed me more was to see the herds of American and European bison from a very short distance. It was incredibly interesting to observe how adult animals take care of their young, and how babies learn to live on their own.

… famous for its ancient architecture …

From the fascinating Russian sanctuary we moved further to the nearby city of Serpukhov, famous for its ancient architecture and big number of churches and monasteries. When we entered the town, unknown to me, I felt like I moved several centuries back in time. Narrow twisting streets and cobblestone pavements, small wooden houses with carved window frames, old-fashioned traditional Russian restaurants, churches with colourful domes and tent-style bell towers, merchant buildings – all this aroused a strange sense of connection with the past.

The first mention of Serpukhov relates to 1339. During the struggle with the Mongol-Tatar hordes the city became a strategic fortress on the outskirts of Moscow. Today, it has more cultural than military significance and attracts tourists with numerous objects of historical interest.

… a great attraction for all animal lovers …

We were strolling along the streets, enjoying the quiet atmosphere full of beauty and spirituality, and I decided there and then to come back here again someday.

I got on the bus heading towards the final destination – an ostrich farm “Russian ostrich”. It is a great attraction for all animal lovers, tourists with children and other guests. Just arrived, our group gathered near the open-air cage and started to listen to the guide, telling us some interesting facts about physical characteristic, behaviour and reproduction of ostriches. However, the careful listening didn’t last long – funny birds with big eyes and unusually long eyelashes fully captured our attention. We spent much time feeding ostriches and walking at the farm. Apart from ostriches, there was another enclosure with a family of camels, very friendly to people. After the tour was finished, we had time to visit an ornithological gift shop with various pretty things. Some of us bought souvenirs and I was not an exception. Two big ostrich feathers of black and white colours now decorate my table and evoke philosophical thoughts as they remind me of black and white stripes that always make up our life.

Images courtesy of Natalia Semicheva

 

About The Author

Travel editor, columnist, blogger and a fan of London. MA International Journalism student at City University, London.

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