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River Guide
Rivers by Region

River descriptions given here are set up in three levels. From this page you can select region of interest and proceed to the region level. Here you'll find overall description of the area, including climate, best seasons, access, what kind of rivers to expect and so on. Then you can select particular river and enjoy its description and pictures. Appropriate maps are provided at each level to help in orientation.

Some former USSR republics, now independent countries, are included in this directory as well, because they used to be a single whitewater space and because most of them still have transparent borders for us (unfortunately not for foreigners).

European Part

European part of Russia extends from borders with Ukraine and Belarus in the west to Ural range in the east. Unfortunately, except Caucasus there are no substantial mountains here.

European Part map
European Part map

Central Area
It's perfectly flat plains surrounding St.Petersburg and Moscow and spreading further east and south. Because of this pity landscape, there are no rivers more than class 1 (rarely 2), but for obvious reason this area is most explored for playspots. They do exist here, some are really nice.

Karelia and Kola Peninsula
At first, it seems quite similar to central plains, but closer look reveals Scandinavian type landscape, with pool-drop type rivers. It's the land of waterfalls, some are very beautiful, some are very extreme, some even unrun yet (but we're constantly working to fix this issue).

This is geologically very old and eroded, low mountains, with relatively easy rivers of class 2-3, rarely 4. North half of the range is less populated and offers many relaxing trips in relative wilderness for those who do not run mad about pure whitewater.

These are Russian Alps, wonderful mountains with well developed road network, offering rivers of any difficulty up to class 5-6 (and even some first descents!). Unfortunately, no more than 1/3 of the area is safe to travel at the moment (consider some first descents in Chechnya?).


Siberia, almost second name of Russia, and indeed it occupies 3/4 of the territory, but just a portion of the population, extends from Urals range in the west to Pacific Ocean in the east. All kind of whitewater expeditions available there including trips to almost unexplored areas.

Siberia map
Siberia map

Located at the very south of Siberia, these mountain ranges are known as "Siberian Switzerland" for their health resorts. Almost unspoiled, yet easily accessible by Siberian standards, they offer excellent multi-day river trips of any kind of difficulty and wilderness.

Sayan and Baikal
Further east from Altai, these mountains extend till south end of Baikal Lake (by the way, the deepest lake in the world!). They are older and lower than Altai, with mainly class 3-4 (rarely 5) rivers. Road network is less dense, as well as the population, and landscapes have more "Siberian" look (a commonplace cliche though).

Putorana Plateau
At the very north of Siberia, this plateau is unbelievable beautiful and extremely wild and remote, there are no people or trails for hundreds of kilometers. Roads? What's that? Rivers, while relatively easy class 2-3 (rarely 4), may contain HUGE waterfalls, seriously. What to compare with? Iceland may be, or perhaps Niagara.

Yakutia, Chukotka and Far East
Eastern part of Siberia contains no substantial mountain ranges, this area is almost unraveled and poses awkward logistic problems. Very few existing reports from there and common sense both tell that most rivers are quite long and flat class 2-3. Not a bad option for exploratory traveling, despite lack of whitewater interest.

Central Asia

Central Asia is not Russia anymore, now there are five independent countries here (Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan). Three vast mountain systems, Tien-Shan, Alai and Pamirs, will satisfy any paddler, but especially designed for extreme hairboaters. Turkmenistan has nothing to offer (deserts, oil and camels only) and it is not covered here.

Central Asia map
Central Asia map

The Tien-Shan, literally "The Heaven Mountains", occupies most of the Kyrgyzstan's territory, with outskirts in Uzbekistan (west), Kazakhstan (north) and China (east). The area is irregularly populated, but road network allows access to almost all known rivers without need to hike in. Most rivers are class 4-5 flowing inside exceptionally beautiful, pine-forested gorges.

The Pamirs, literally "The Roof of the World", is located entirely in Tajikistan, and this is the highest and most inaccessible mountains of the former USSR. People are rare and roads are rough and scarce, many rivers will require trekking in, and you must count entirely on your own. It's the land of glaciers, mountain deserts and extreme expeditions.

Alai and Gissar-Alai
The Alai, often called Pamirs-Alai, separates the above two, with its eastern half in Kyrgyzstan and western half in Tajikistan (western Alai is sometimes referred to as Gissar-Alai). More like Tien-Shan, rather than Pamirs, it is more populated and most rivers are accessible by road, although some are not. Due to access and logistic reasons eastern (Kyrgyz) Alai is described together with Tien-Shan, while western (Tajik) Alai is described together with Pamirs.

This guide is still under construction: please read here.

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