We’re in Siberia and the weather has improved significantly – although the forecast suggests it may get worse again in a couple of days.
On Saturday 3rd may, we left Omsk to begin our 655km drive to Novosibirsk. Before we set off, there were some vehicle maintenance tasks to be completed and then we visited a large supermarket to stock up the fridge ready for some camping. We didn’t leave Omsk until about 11.15am, but we maintained a fairly good pace on the highway which seems to be of a better standard that we encountered further west. Also, there aren’t as many villages along the highway with their obligatory speed restrictions, so we can maintain a better average speed.
By 4.30pm, we began to look for a suitable wild-camping location but much of the area surrounding the highway was boggy with standing water, making it unsuitable for camping. We kept driving east, looking for dry land and, about 276 km before Novosibirsk, we found a large field of reasonably dry land with some stands of birch trees. We drove a fair way overland, trying to distance ourselves from the noisy trucks on the highway. The ground was a little moist but we agreed to make camp for the night.
It can sometimes be difficult to find a suitable wild-camping location, but it sure is nice to be able to just pull up somewhere and pitch the tent. No neighbours and no camping fees.!
As we approached Novosibirsk, we spotted a car-wash so pulled in to give the Defender a $10 clean-up. She’s been covered in grime for a few days so it was time to get her spruced-up.
Next stop after the car-wash was the local Land Rover dealer to buy more oil filters to last for the rest of the trip. Due to the language barrier, this took almost an hour, but we left with three new genuine LR oil filters.
We were soon at the River Park Hotel in Novosibirsk, Russia’s third largest city with a population of 1.5 million. The hotel has a free gym! I haven’t worked out in five weeks (apart from digging mud for five hours). As soon as we were checked in, I was up in the gym and doing my Insanity-based circuit training. It felt good to finally be able to squeeze in a workout.
The hotel is situated alongside a riverside promenade with fun-fair rides and other attractions. We took a walk and ate some sashlik as a snack, before heading into the city on the metro train for a walk around, dinner and a couple of beers.
Novosibirsk is a modern city with all the amenities you’d find in countries to the west. It seems to be clean and tidy and the locals were making the most of the newly arrived warm weather. Unfortunately, we only have one night here. Tomorrow, we begin a two-day drive to Krasnoyarsk, so we’ll be wild-camping again Monday night. If the weather forecast can be believed, it seems that cold (and possibly snowy) weather could be back with us in a couple of days.