Features of national tourism on the Lower Volga River

Features of national tourism on the Lower Volga River

What to see and what to be prepared for when you ferry a boat from Astrakhan to the Don.

May holidays itBoat spent on the Lower Volga. Colleagues journalists from the Russian TV channel OCEAN-TV invited everyone to take part in the ferry of a 20-meter motorboat of Yaroslavets«type from Astrakhan»to Pyatimorsk village located between the last sluices of the Volga-Don Canal. On the Don team OCEAN-TV was to start shooting the second part of the multi-episode documentary The Great «Rivers of Russia.


The «Great Rivers of Russia»project, which OCEAN-TV is implementing together with the Russian oceanographic community, was launched in autumn 2017, with the first part dedicated to the Volga.

To date, on the Youtube channel OCEAN-TV you can watch seven 20-minute episodes - go with the project team on a virtual journey from the source of the Volga to the Rybinskoye reservoir. Shooting downstream has already ended. Now more than 10 terabytes of video gradually continue to be viewed and mounted. According to the presenter, Vladimir Pleshakov, now the work has stopped at Kostroma.

For ready series the project this year has received the prestigious television award Big «Digit - as the» best documentary and cognitive program, and before that - Grand Prix of the festival of marine documentary films Vivat, Russia! «The right to show (though only abroad so far) bought the «First channel . It is noteworthy that at about the same time a similar (and even the same name) project dedicated to the Volga, Ob and Kuban appeared in competition with the First VGTRK.

50-year-old Yaroslavets«bought specially for filming and re-equipped from a patrol boat became the» main transport of the film crew.

After perestroika it received a name «Axidian».

In total, the Axidian«can comfortably accommodate only eight people in» four double cabins. More will hardly fit in a cabin equipped in a wheelhouse.

One more cabin on the boat is multifunctional. For example, now, at the beginning of shooting on the Don, in it the laboratory of the ecologist of the project Without the rivers «- as without hands, which will»make the analysis of river water on the presence of microplastics. Samples for chemical analysis were also taken in the Volga River.

After the completion of last year's filming, this winter «Aksidian» spent in the «Golden Submergence» in Astrakhan, and now, with the beginning of the new filming season, it is time to go to the Don - it will be dedicated to him the next stage of the project.

The beginning of the ferry. Insidious Volga current

It was not possible to leave Astrakhan at dawn on May 6, as originally planned. One of the runners was delayed, so the start had to be postponed to 10 am.

Subsequently, this hiccup for a couple of hours turned out to be a problem. A few days earlier, water was discharged from the Volzhskaya Hydroelectric Power Plant in Volgograd. The water level in the river rose by one and a half to two meters, the Volga flooded, but the current increased to 5 km/h. «The Axidian» had to go upstream most of the way. As a result the speed of the boat was reduced from 7-8 to 5 km/h on the most difficult sections. Although it could easily reach 18 km/h downstream, it was very slow. At the same time, upstream of Volgograd, the Volga became very shallow.

This contrast is perplexing and gives the impression that the work of the reservoir cascade on the river is not coordinated.

Since the speed of the «Axidian» was lower than expected, it inevitably affected the entire journey's schedule. It was impossible to stretch it - it should have ended at any cost in Pyatimorsk on May 12, otherwise it would have broken the filming schedule on the Don.

The price that had to be paid to the crew of «Axidian»was, firstly, refusal to stop in Akhtubinsk and go to the lake Baskunchak, and secondly, three sleepless nights, during which the boat was not anchored or at the pier, and continued to go.

Deserted Volga

Although navigation started as early as April 1, traffic on the Volga was not very intense. In the first five or six hours of the journey, the Axidian «»met only two cargo ships.

Fishermen's boats were a little more common. Some of them were poacher boats. Although catching sturgeon and a number of other fish species is prohibited, people still continue to put nets. The river literally continues to feed those who live on its banks even in the XXI century: for many, fish becomes both food and the only income.

First stop. Driver and sturgeon farms...

The first stop of «Axidian» was an old watermaker near the town of Narimanov and sturgeon farms, which were located in its locks.

These farms are one of the few farms in Russia where sturgeons are grown right in the river, in running water. In the beginning of May here in all preparation for milking«of sturgeons» - reception of caviar goes. Ready females are selected and examined, including with the help of an ultrasound machine.

It seems to be more comfortable to come here by car. The children's group that Aksidian«»'s team met on the farm by bus only confirms this guess. It is only 45 km to Astrakhan by land, which can be reached in less than an hour by car. The main thing - to call on a farm in advance to agree on excursion.

A big ship could have trouble mooring the watermaker. There's no full-fledged marina here.

The easiest way to get to shore is on an inflatable motorboat, but the one that was supposed to be on the Axidian has«lost»some weight. We learned about it the day before leaving Astrakhan, so it was decided to get a new one in Volgograd.

The argument in favour of travelling to the sturgeon farm on water is the watermaker itself. The view of it from the water (especially at sunset) is definitely worth seeing.

Driver on the Volga is one of two such buildings in the world. Another one is located on the Amazon.

Opened in 1977, the Astrakhan watermaker is a dam more than a kilometer long, as many earth mounds, 33 gates, two navigable spans, a bypass channel and a sluice for passage of ships. During the low-water period, the structure had to redistribute water so that downstream in the many branches of the Volga Delta there would be enough water everywhere and everything: fish farms, factories and fields requiring irrigation. About 60-70% of water had to go to the Buzan River, along which sturgeon spawning takes place.

Unfortunately, in its 42 years of existence, the watermaker has only been used as intended six times (160 days in total). When it was wanted to be used again in 2006, the commission concluded that the state of the mechanisms did not allow it. The money for the reconstruction was either not found or not allocated, and it still remains a kind of monument to the grandiose projects of the USSR. Fortunately, in an open condition the construction does not interfere with a current of the river in any way.

The second stop. Buddhist temple

The second stop, which was made by «Aksidian», was the village of Zavolzhskoye. Historically, a significant part of the population of Zavolzhskoye and the neighboring village Rechnoye, located a little downstream of the Volga - Kalmyka, still remains. It is here that the first in Europe and the only preserved pre-revolutionary Kalmyk Khurul of Hosheutovsky is located - a Buddhist temple, or rather the remains of an entire monastery.

The Khurul was built to commemorate Russia's victory over Napoleon. The head of Hosheutovsky ulus, hero of the war of 1812, Lieutenant Colonel Serebdzhab Tyumen thus immortalized the memory of the dead Kalmyks.

Once the temple had a colonnade, created under the impression of the Kazan Cathedral in St. Petersburg. Unfortunately, it has not survived to this day, as well as other monastery buildings.

The Soviet authorities used the khurul first as a village club, then as a granary. In the end, the main temple was simply allowed to slowly deteriorate. Reconstruction began already in the 21st century.

Now, through the efforts of local Buddhist community activists, the building has been restored to its outer gloss. The search for a lama that would permanently serve in the temple began.

Excursion to the capital of the Golden Horde

From Zavolzhsky you can also go by car to the village Selitrennoe. In XIII century Saray-Batu, the capital of the Golden Horde, was located here. The city stretched along Akhtuba for 10 km, its population was up to 100 thousand people, that is, it was many times higher than, for example, London at that time. Now excavations are conducted on the site of this medieval metropolis, but to imagine what was Sarai Batu, a modern man still can. For the Russian film «Horde» (2012) aside from Selitrnoye were built scenery - a compilation of the main city districts.

The film was released long ago, and the scenery remained and became a tourist attraction. Here you can see the main square in front of the entrance to the khan's palace, mosque, bath, laundry, street well (water in the city was lifted from a system of wooden wheels with jugs.rivers to open-air pools, and in rich houses there was water supply), hotels (for merchants and ordinary travellers), multi-level market (indoor and outdoor) and slave market.

At the foot of the hill, on which stands Sarai «Batu,»built a cafe, put clean toilets, opened a small museum of nomadic culture with yurts. Next to the scenery there are two camels, on which you can ride in the steppe. There is also a sand sculpture exhibition in a separate area. Works of the same artists in 2018 could be seen during the exhibition near the Peter and Paul Fortress in St. Petersburg.

Improvement problems

Obviously, the pier in Zavolzhsky, where the Axidian «stood,»could become a staging area for tourists. In the district you can easily spend at least a day interestingly. However for this purpose it is necessary to reconstruct a pier and to deepen a bottom. It is not yet possible to do so.

The water is not always as high as it is this year.According to Captain Axidian «Andrei» Magnan, when in 2018 the Great «Rivers of Russia were removed in Zavolzhskoye, the gangway was installed on the roof of the wheelhouse»to reach the shore, and it was also slightly raised.

This year the deck of the boat was at the same level as the marina.

Searching for fuel and difficulty navigating

Because of the schedule delay from Zavolzhskiy to Volgograd, Aksidian «went» almost without stopping. According to the same schedule the boat was to be refueled in Akhtubinsk. But the strong current had exhausted Axidian «and the» question about fuel had risen earlier. We learned from the road boat that was setting up the beacons that it is possible to refuel in Nikolskoye village 75 km from Akhtubinsk.

However, in order to get fuel to the Axidian«, the»team had to go to the village to a gas station.

The next night seemed to be the most difficult one for the «Axidian»helmsmen: because of the river overflow and navigator's error it was only possible to navigate on the map very approximately. From time to time, GARMIN confidently claimed that the Axidian «»was going overland: the strand of the traversed route lay ashore or on islands, while a 3D model of the ship, which shows the depth under the boat according to the lotion, sank and fell «»to the bottom. At the same time, the ship's echo sounder showed a value of over ten meters. But it wouldn't have been so dangerous if there hadn't been a beacon in the river.

Orientation in the dark without navigation lights was a real challenge.

Fortunately, there were no incidents.


Axidian «»came to Volgograd at night on May 10. Although the boat was parked at the Flagman «Yacht Club,»almost opposite the house of Pavlov, the team could not walk around the city due to circumstances.

But on the way to the cherished debarcader, Axidian «looked» into a shop on the water.

In Dubai this idea was first realized at the end of 2018, but in Russia they have been around for a long time. The 67-meter long vessel No 2766 is designed for seven crew members and seven employees of the store itself. They all live here on the ship.

Such ships were used and are used not only to supply those who work on the river, but also to deliver goods to remote settlements. There used to be more of them, but now many have been converted to pleasure boats and restaurants.

Fortunately, the «Plavmagazin-628»working in Volgograd has not suffered such a fate. The ship was built in 1973 in the German city of Roslau (in the present state of Saxony-Anhalt). In spite of the considerable age, the shop is alive and well. And its employees even blog in installations.

A long way through the airlocks.

In the morning of May 11, Aksidian «went» to the first airlock of the Volga-Don Canal. Total number of gateways - 12. Up to the ninth lock the ships are raised by 88 meters, and from the 10th to the 12th - they are lowered almost by 40.

It is not possible to announce in advance that you want to lock up.

Only as a result of multistage negotiations with representatives of the very first gateway and directly with the ship traffic control service, did Axidian «finally» manage to sign up in line.

Unlike sluices on the channel of Moscow, the Volgo-Don canal is very compact, in each party pass on one or two vessels so expectation has been delayed for about six hours. All this time the boat was anchored at the sandy braid slightly downstream. There were also big boats waiting on the raid nearby.

At Airlock 11, Axidian «»had to stay locked up and wasted another three hours. An oversized giant cargo ship was moving out of the 12 airlock, and so that the Axidian «and the 40».8-metre OTA (lake«pusher automated) tugboat»could safely disperse with it, dispatchers decided to wait for it in the chamber.

Unfortunately, it happened already on the bottom slope of the canal. If the water from the airlock had not been released immediately, the crews could have enjoyed the views and smells of the steppe and warmed up in the sun. But they were allowed to sit in total uncertainty at the bottom of a concrete sack. By coincidence, after another call to the administration of the channel, the airlock gate opened almost immediately.

The village of five seas

In the afternoon of May 12, almost on time, Axidian «came to the» final point of his route - the village of Pyatimorsk. This village really surprised the team. It turned out that the most amazing discoveries in this journey were waiting for us where no one expected them.

Imagine idyllic old pre-war photos of Russian city parks with happy Komsomol members. Careful houses, clean paths, sheared bushes, in the center of the park - a square with a fountain and a monument to Lenin. By the way, if you need a road to the beach, it is the leader of the world proletariat. Here it is - a bright future. On the beach!

The painting needs to be complemented by historical alleys with guns and busts of rulers and generals. On the pedestal - quotes of the person depicted by the bust, next to it - a poster with a story about who he is. And flowers from some local organization at monuments to Dmitry Donskoy and Alexander Nevsky!

The rest of the village looks as well groomed. Definition of «park of the Soviet period», as someone from arrived on Aksidian«has formulated the association with it, can»sound humiliating. But in this case, that's probably the greatest compliment.

The secret of such well-being is simple - the head of the channel has settled down in Pyatimorsk.

Even the presidential grant was allocated for the development of the settlement. The district was built for employees of Volgo-Don from identical new cottages, and as a reward, some of them together with their families are periodically sent abroad for recreation.

For comparison, since the early 2000s, Volgograd has already lost the status of a city with a population of one million. He returned it not by improving conditions for the population, but by simply including the suburbs. According to local residents, people are fleeing from Volgograd, in particular, due to poor conditions for business development.

What should be considered

If you plan to sail the yacht from Volga to Don, put more time for sightseeing. Weeks are obviously not long enough for that.Under the circumstances, when suddenly the speed of the Axidian «due to the» current was less than estimated, it did not take about half a day to go to the sea.the excavation of a real Sarai Batu and a camel farm (and it would have been interesting to go up the river to the scenery), a day trip to the salt lake Baskunchak and at least a day for a walk along Volgograd. The reserve of some more time would allow to refuse night passages. At the beginning of the trip (or at the end, if it starts from the Don) in Astrakhan itself, a visit to the white-stone Kremlin and the historic city center from mid-summer should be added to a trip to the lotus blossoming fields, and it also takes time. As a result, you can easily book a week and a half, or even two weeks, on your route.

Another prerequisite for a comfortable trip here were local contacts. The more they can find, the better.

A sturgeon farm in Narimanov's driver's locks simply wouldn't accept a group from Axidian«if it»came without a call. The team managed to look inside the Hosheut Khurul thanks to the hospitality of the local head of the Buddhist community, who met the Axidians and opened the temple. People here on the Volga River are hospitable and always happy to help the guests. You just have to ask them to do it.

Discover other locations that are worth visiting, the viewers will help the «Great Rivers of Russia.

«At some point we realized that we Russians are a river civilization," explains Andrey Podkolzin, director and producer of the project. - And that each of us is interested in what's been, is and will be happening on our territory. And this is related to the rivers. The purpose of our project, first of all, is educational. We do it so that people look back to their roots, understand who they are. Discovering the tourist potential of rivers is so... public. And deep is the formation through our history of self-awareness. In our film, no one kills anyone, no one conflicts with anyone, this is not "House 2". It's a cognitive story about us.

However, despite the awards and public recognition, the OCEAN-TV team did not receive any grant from the state for the project development. Contrary to all positive forecasts, the «Great Rivers of Russia» did not pass the expert commission for not completely clear reasons. Now in order to continue shooting (and after the Don this year the team wants to go to the Oka), it is vital for the project to look for sponsors and funding somewhere else. In mid-May, the partner became«Gazprom Transgaz Moscow

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