Turn into a swan princess

Altai (Krai)

Russia Beyond
Russia Beyond
If you want to feel like a character from a Pushkin fairy tale, be sure to come to the Altai Region. Every year about 800 whooper swans come here for hibernation.

The water temperature in the lake does not drop below +5°C, so birds from Chukotka and other regions fly over at the end of November and stay until March. Because of the temperature difference, the trees near the water are covered with frost and the views here are truly fabulous!

How to turn into a Swan Princess?

Lake Svetloye on the territory of the swan nature reserve is a popular place: during the season, there is nowhere for an apple to fall! You should plan your trip several months in advance if you want to reserve hotel rooms near the lake or in the neighboring villages Sovetskoye and Urozhaynoye.

A ticket to the reserve costs 50 rubles (approx. $0.90) and children under six years of age can enter for free. At the entrance, there is a parking lot and a small fair where you can drink tea from a samovar, purchase Altai honey and food for birds.

It is not possible to walk around the lake, since the territory of the reserve is fenced, but you can admire the swans from at least three specially equipped viewing points:

  • from special bridges
  • from the observation deck at the hotel @loelebedinoe
  • from the balcony of the viewing pavilion

And, if you’re not afraid of the deep snow, you can try to climb into the cranberry bushes to get close to the snow-white beauties and take your best shot.

If you want to be alone in the pictures, it is better to arrive at the reserve by 9 am, so you will have time to catch the cinematic morning haze, empty bridges and beautiful light.

But to hope that the best shooting time will coincide with the breakfast of the birds is not worth it. The birds in the reserve are not fed according to a schedule, so they do not become too lazy to search for food on their own.


We thank the Tourism Center of the Altai Krai @visitaltai.info and the Ministry of Natural Resources and Ecology of the Altai Krai for their help in organizing our trip and their warm welcome!

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