Sikhote-Alin Nature Reserve
The Sikhote-Alin mountain range between the Primorsky and Khabarovsk territories is home to a small but stable Amur tiger population. The world’s largest carnivorous feline species, the Amur tiger is in both the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species and the Russian Red Data Book. Russian law forbids the possession of Amur tiger fur and killing an Amur tiger is punishable by several years in prison.
The Sikhote-Alin mountain range, listed by UNESCO as a world heritage site in 2001, consists of three ridges running parallel to one another. Vladimir Arsenyev, an acclaimed Russian traveler and explorer of the Far East, referred to Sikhote-Alin as the “Great Forest.” The reserve is home to lynxes, red deer, musk deer, sables, badgers, raccoon dogs and even black bears. For tourists, however, the only way to see the wildlife is through binoculars as the Sikhote-Alin walking trails are located well away from areas inhabited by large predators.
The Tokarevsky, or Egersheld, Lighthouse is one of the oldest navigational beacons in the Far East and is often named “the edge of the Earth” as it marks the vantage point where the Pacific Ocean begins. The white stone tower rests on a 12-metre-tall octagonal foundation and was built on the site of an earlier lighthouse dating from 1876.
The Egersheld Lighthouse is situated on a narrow, artificial spit protruding from the Tokarev Cape. The 800-metre-long shoal between the shore and the lighthouse dries up at low-tide. In winter, the Tokarev Shoal is the perfect place to watch spotted seals, the only mammals that live in the Peter the Great Gulf all year round. However, not many tourists venture to Vladivostok in winter to admire this spectacular sight as the weather can be quite inclement and frosty. Vladivostok residents describe the local climate as “Crimean latitude, Siberian longitude.”
Primorsky Safari Park
If you want to see animals that inhabit the Ussuri Taiga, you don’t have to wander deep into the wilds of Sikhote-Alin — just visit the Primorsky Safari Park with its stunning variety of wild fauna and flora in their natural habitats.
Biologist and wildlife photographer Dmitry Mezentsev established the safari park, which is situated close to the Vladivostok-Nakhodka motorway, in 2007. The park boasts large populations of deer, roes, wild boars, Siberian stags, leopards, raccoons, eagle owls and pheasants, but it is primarily intended for Siberian tigers.
The Primorsky Safari Park recently became famous on Russian social media thanks to a viral video following an unlikely friendship between a tiger and a goat living in the park. However, the video later turned out to be a clever advertising trick played by the park’s public relations office, since the predator didn’t attack because it had been fed well enough.
Zolotoy Rog Bay
The Zolotoy Rog Bay, which is Russian for Golden Horn Bay, is a sheltered horn-shaped bay separated from the Peter the Great Gulf. The bay divides Vladivostok into two parts and plays a crucial role in the city’s history as a military outpost built here 150 years ago that became the birthplace of Vladivostok. The Golden Bridge crossing the bay ranks among the ten longest cable-stayed bridges in the world. Plans to build a bridge in the area first emerged in the late 19th century but the Russo-Japanese war, followed by two world wars, impeded the project. In 1959, Nikita Khrushchev encouraged the local population to turn Vladivostok into “our Soviet San Francisco,” although construction of the suspension bridge did not start until 2008. The official opening of the Golden Bridge only took place in 2012.
The fortress in the centre of Vladivostok is the only 19th-century coastal fortification in the Russian Far East that has survived until today. The most visited part of the fortress is the Bezymyannaya Battery, which accommodates a museum devoted to Vladivostok’s naval history. The museum is home to a vast collection of military equipment, from small cannons to coastal batteries and anti-aircraft mounts.