Saturday, April 27, 2013

On-the-road impressions.

I spend the night of April 22nd on the banks of the Manych. I woke up to the sound of rain and someone signing deeply woke me up. The camels on the photo above were the ones signing. They come from a farm that I photographed below.

All along my way I see spring blossoms. The fruit trees in bloom make me happy when I see them in the villages I pass by.

Originally posted at

April 22nd is 12th day of my expedition. This is an expedition map:

A - Bryansky Les Nature Reserve (10.04.2013)
B - Национальный парк Орловское Полесье
С - Воронежский Заповедник
D - Воронеж, Воронежская область (15.04.2013)
E - Элиста, Калмыкия
F - Природоохранный фестиваль тюльпанов в Калмыкии (20.04.2013)

Sunday, April 21, 2013

The first environment-oriented tulip festival in Kalmykia (Russia).

Yesterday morning was cold, windy and uncomfortable. The sun only appeared for a minute at the sunrise and hid in the clouds for the rest of the morning. I was crawling between the tulips in the morning frost, looking for inspiring view, but all in vain. Cold and tired I was going back to my home on wheels...

And as I reached it I found a surprise!

Several more photos from The first environment-oriented tulip festival in Kalmykia (Russia)..

Today is April 21, 11th day of expedition. Photos taken yesterday.
Originally posted at and

Friday, April 19, 2013

Kalmykian steppe.

Steppes are open, there is no shelter for a human or animal. It is a not an easy place to live. At nights it's freezing cold, and during the day, the heat of sun is interlaced with cold winds.

Above is a photo of local shepherd.  Below is this morning view, full of tulips.

Today is April 19th, day 9th of my expedition.

Originally posted at and

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Two villages are so different, but still in one country.

It has been just one week since I left home for this expedition. I took the top photo after my first overnight stop not far from Orlovskoe Polesye National Park. 

Bottom photo is from this morning in the steppe of Kalmykia. The tulips are blossoming! 

Wednesday, April 17, 2013


In the middle of the day today I made it to this southern city, Elista, and did my grocery shopping. After that I headed to the steppes, to wild tulips, 100 km away from the city. Just before going to bed, I found out that 3G internet is working well here. Stay tuned for tomorrow report!

Originally posted at

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Sunrise in Voronezhskiy Nature Reserve.

Early morning in high spring waters at Voronezhskiy Nature Reserve (Воронежский Заповедник). The snow is gone, fresh air is filled with birds' love songs... First spring flowers are covering the forest floor... Wonderful and happy morning for me...

Originally posted at

Bisons in Orlovskoye Polesye National Park.

First night I spent in Orlovskoye Polesye National Park (Национальный Парк Орловское Полесье). There, I was entrusted to feed supplement food to wild bison population. It is the most amazing feeling to be surrounded by these ancient animals. However, I had to escape to the roof of the truck from them: they are no bears, I don't know what to expect from them :)

Bisons were reintroduced to this area in 1996, and now mostly wild population is around 200 bisons. These animals gather for the supplemental food during harsh winters. Read more about this park in my earlier story here:

Originally posted at

Photo from the road.

First two days I was mostly driving; landscapes are passing by my windshield. Sometimes, the view outside catches my eyes, and I have to stop my truck to take a picture. Like this village in Bryansk Region called Krasnyi Kolodets (Красный Колодец - Red Well in Russian)...

Right now I made it to Voronezh Oblast.
Originally posted at

Friday, April 12, 2013

I am on my way to a dream expedition!

Since my childhood I had a dream to travel across Russia recording the beauty of wild nature... Today I am starting a journey of my dreams. It is planned to take 3 years for me to go in this car above from Western border of Russia to far East, all the way to Kamchatka and back. The photo above is taken by my brother, Nikolay Shpilenok. I am leaving my home Nature Reserve - Bryansky Forest.

At first I will be heading south to catch wild tulips blooming. Blossom of millions of wild tulips in steppes is one of the most spectacular nature event I have ever seen. I plan to participate in First Tulip Festival in Kalmykia, organized by nature activists. It will take place from 20th to 30th of April and everyone is welcome to join!Read more about this event here:

You can read more about my expedition here and here. And below are the photos from my previous, one month long expeditions around my home in Western Russia. Photos are by Nikolay Shpilenok.

Originally posted at:
Уже в дороге! 
I am on my way.
Приезжайте на фестиваль тюльпанов в Калмыкии!
Join me at Wild Tulips festival in Kalmykiya!
Почему в этом году я не полечу на Камчатку.
Why am I not flying to Kamchatka this year.
Живет во мне мечта...
I have a dream...

Thursday, April 11, 2013

What was I doing 30 years ago?

30 years ago I lived started living in an abandoned ranger station in the middle of the forest. This place now is included in Bryansky Forest Nature Reserve. In the photo above is a house where my oldest sons grew up. Only in 1983 and 1987 the spring water raise so high it entered the house. It never happened since.

Living in the forest we had to mostly grow our own food. Even when we had some money (I worked on two jobs: as a school teacher and as a forest guard), there was not much to buy in nearby stores: bread, canned fish, cheap candies. Would you believe it that I first tried bananas after I was thirty, only when I started working at newly established Nature Reserve and had to visit Moscow.

We always had plenty of fresh milk. But that required mowing all summer long...

My younger brother, Nikolay, and I are stacking hay.

My father and I are riding our only means of transportation.

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Nearby village - Smelizh.

There are no stores in my village, it is too small for that. The nearest store is in a neigboring village, Smelizh, 8km away. The store is open only twice per week, but if a villager needs something urgently, the sellerwoman, Katya, will open the store as a favor. She is one of the most important figures in this village.

Every time I go there I feel nostalgia for my childhood: the store changed very little over years. The only difference is that during my childhood there were no oranges or bananas...

This is a general overview of the village in December and below is the road I take every day to take my sons to school in Smelizh.