Mari El is located in the eastern part of the East European Plain in the central Volga River basin. The republic borders with Tatarstan in the southeast. Natural resources and culture in the republic of Mari El provide rich potential for cultural tourism development.
Water tourism resources in Mari El
The Republic of Mari El has a wealth of water resources. The Ilets, Bolshaya Kokshaga, Yushut, and Kundysh rivers are classed among the cleanest rivers in Europe, while Yalchik, Kichier, and Karas lakes are the pearls of the Mari region. Altogether, there are more than 200 large lakes in the republic. This beautiful clean region with its extensive forests and numerous lakes and rivers attracts both foreign and domestic tourists with exotic opportunities for active recreation, such as horseback riding, fishing, and hunting (bears, wolves, foxes, wild boars, moose, and wild birds). Hunting of wood and black grouse is of special interest.
The Volga River, the longest and deepest river in Europe, flows through Mari El for a length of 155 km. The museums of the city of Kozmodemyansk and Sheremetevo Castle in the village of Yurino are located on its banks.
Numerous mineral springs with many outlets in the Ilet and Yushut river valleys are used for medicinal purposes at health and recreation centres and hospitals.
Lakes of Mari El
Lakes are the territory’s national property. Plunge-basin, interdune, and floodplain lakes attract with their summer coolness and clear freshwater. Plunge-basin lakes are mainly located on the southern and southwestern slopes of the Mariisko-Vyatsky Ridge; most of them are found in the lower course of the Ilet River, for instance, Yalchik, Glukhoe, Bezdonnoe, and Kichier lakes.
The largest group of such lakes is found on the edge of the northern scarp of the Sotnurskaya Upland, where there is a chain of 11 lakes, including 35-m-deep Morskoi Glaz lake. Another six lakes are found at the foot of the Kerebelyakskaya Upland.
The deepest sink lake in the Republic of Mari El is Lake Zryv, with depths of up to 56 m. Most of the plunge-basin lakes found in forests are very picturesque. Tourist facilities, sports and recreation camps, and health and vacation centres are located on their shores.
Mari Chodra National Park on Klenovaya Gora (Maple Mountain) is an interesting natural area, with great value for tourism in the Republic of Mari El. The Klenovaya Gora health centre is located here, as well as popular tourist spots like Green Spring (Zeleny Klyuch) and Yalchik, Mashiner, Glukhoe, and Konaner lakes. The Ilet, Yushut, and Petyalka rivers flow through the park. An ancient oak, known as the Pugachevsky oak, is preserved here. According to tradition, Emelyan Pugachev (Cossack leader of a rebellion against the authorities in 1773) and his troops camped for the night under the canopy of this oak. The oak stands out from the rest of the grove because of its size. This gigantic tree with a mighty truck 159 cm in diameter reaches into the upper layer of the canopy. The Pugachevsky oak by itself represents a precious natural monument.
Other tourism resources of the Mari El republic
The republic has five recreational areas set aside for sports and leisure and educational tourism. There are also organised active recreational tours, for example, boat tours on the Malaya and Bolshaya Kokshaga, Bolshoi Kundysh, Ilet, Nemda, and Volga rivers; hiking and horseback riding in the southwestern, southern, and northeastern parts of the republic; and cycling and skiing throughout the territory.
Pilgrimages to holy sites (monasteries, churches, sacred springs) and sacred groves are always popular. The national culture of Mari El is rich and varied. Cultural and economic ties have traditionally been developed with other Finno-Ugric nations. Hungary, Finland, and the Baltic countries are long-standing stable partners of the Republic of Mari El.
What to see or visit when you are in Mari El
Big Kokshaga кeserve
Black stones at the Kozhlaer village
Kamennaya Gora кeserve
Mari Chodra National Park
Mother of God-Sergius Hermitage
Yezhovsky Myrrh-Bearing Monastery