A Porsche road trip through Russia’s vast wilderness
Off-roading in the vast Karelia region of western Russia
The rocky shoreline of Lake Ladoga in Karelia
Everything about the Russian region of Karelia feels big. It’s a natural landscape gifted with more than 25,000 rivers, over 60,000 lakes and with swathes of forest as far as the eye can see. It's a place that provides a unique road trip in a Porsche SUV
An adventure road trip that begins in a city of wonderSt Petersburg has everything that makes modern city exciting: a hip bar scene, great art, historic architecture and a lengthy list of world-famous cultural monuments. Here, Russia’s imperial past and a 21st century city merge to create an extraordinary atmosphere. The privileged location of the world’s northernmost metropolis, which lies like a jewel on the Neva river, makes St Petersburg an exciting destination and the perfect starting point for exploring Russia’s west on the adventure road trip that is the Porsche Travel Experience Russia. Setting off from the legendary Hotel Astoria, the journey takes you along the border with Finland into the seemingly endless vastness of Karelia.
Hotel Astoria in St Petersburg, St Isaac’s cathedral behind
St Petersburg’s Hotel Astoria has a rich history – Rasputin was said to have been a frequent guest
Not long after you leave this exciting city of millions behind, forests of pine begin to line your route. You reach the wild west of Russia from St Petersburg by heading along unpaved roads, over old wooden bridges and up challenging climbs. Soon, you are in a unique watery world. There’s a discernible tranquillity about this Nordic landscape, where in the deep midwinter tales of Father Frost abound among adults and children alike. But when it comes to driving, there is plenty to keep you busy and your pulse rate high. Being able to flip between off-road manoeuvres and roaring along fast tracks make the trip a thrilling and varied driving experience.
Porsche Cayenne on the shore road of Lake Ladoga
Karelia is a land of endless pine forests and lots and lots of water
Just before you visit Priosersk on Lake Ladoga, the trail turns south west where you eventually reach the smaller Lake Vuoksa. Here, a tiny stone island rises gently out of the water. Perched on top is a miniature wooden church that almost completely occupies the surface of the island. This mystical little chapel is the Russian Orthodox Church of Andrew the Apostle. Not for nothing is it dedicated to the patron saint of fishermen – there are plenty of them on the countless lakes and rivers in this region. It’s no wonder that fish dominates the menus of Karelia. The Church of Andrew the Apostle is a rich photo stop for the participants of the Porsche Travel Experience Russia. And a foretaste of the cultural diversity and intense natural beauty that await them further on their adventure road trip through this magical region.
Wooden church in middle of lake, bridge leading to it
The tiny wooden Church of Andrew the Apostle in the middle of Karelia’s Lake Vuoksa
Blue domes and red walls among the endless greenFrom here it is only a few kilometres drive to Lake Ladoga. The largest lake located entirely in Europe, it is almost 18,000km2 in size. Our destination is a small, secluded group of islands in the lake, which are accessible only by boat – and just in the summer. The fascinating archipelago of Valaam alone consists of over 50 rocky islands, some of them inhabited, and covered in dense forest. In the middle of it all is the Valaam Monastery. An Orthodox monastery, it has been destroyed and rebuilt several times since the 14th century. Since Karelia’s churches are not painted in subtle colours, the Transfiguration Cathedral stands out like a beacon with its strong red walls, matched by its beautiful array of light blue domes. Be sure to enjoy a particularly magical moment by experiencing the famous church chants of Valaam, which resound around the locality, piercing the stillness.
The blue-domed Valaam Monastery in Lake Ladoga, Karelia
The monastery of Valaam is located on an archipelago in the middle of Lake Ladoga, Europe’s largest lake
The monastery’s monks have been farming the land around here for centuries, benefitting from Valaam’s own microclimate. The weather is often milder here than in neighbouring areas. Melons, for instance, thrive here, where it’s not uncommon for them to grow up to 8kg in weight. With a little luck, the participants on the Porsche Travel Experience Russia will be able to admire the dizzying variety of fauna and flora on their excursion to this charming archipelago. Among them is a uniquely rare species that can be seen lounging around on its shore – the Ladoga ringed seal, a subspecies which evolved during the last ice age. It seems like you are centuries away from St Petersburg out here on this adventure road trip, although in reality it’s no more than a couple of hours drive. This story is part of the 25 Years of Porsche Travel Experience anniversary series. We take you on a virtual world tour around the globe – with a new, fascinating episode each week. Click here to read all stories.
Continue reading
Bend at the Nürburgring on misty morning
Driving on Grand Prix circuits with the Porsche Track Experience Experience the thrill of the world’s greatest tracks with the Porsche Track Experience from behind the wheel of a Porsche 911 GT3 RS or 718 Cayman GT4 RS – painted Grand Prix White, of course. Read more
Porsche 963 on racetrack at 24 Hours of Le Mans
A beginner’s guide to the 24 Hours of Le Mans The 24 Hours of Le Mans is one of the biggest dates in the motorsport calendar. Ahead of its 101st edition, discover its history and what makes it so special for Porsche Read more
Namibian desert scene with sand dunes in background
Offroad desert driving in Africa on the Porsche Travel Experience Namibia A land of spectacular wildlife and unforgettable desert scenery, lit by a desert sun that inspired the Porsche colour African Queen Metallic. The Colourful Experience heads to the vast sands of Namibia Read more