Most St. Petersburgers prefer to enjoy the beauty of nature in Karelia, on the shore of the Gulf of Finland or Lake Ladoga. But interesting places for active rest in the open air can be found not only to the north of the city. During this short trip you will see that the south of the Leningrad region is also generous with natural attractions. I suggest we head towards Luga, a small town 2 hours drive from Peter. You'll see everything on the way: real canyons, extinct fish skeletons, sand dunes. I guarantee you'll be pleasantly surprised.
On the way to Luga we will visit "Tuutari Park" - a year-round center of active recreation. Then we will have a look at the Bornitsa quarry, the local Sahara desert, and admire the geological monument on the Oredezh river. We'll arrive in Luga for dinner - an hour is enough for you to go for a walk in a small town.
An hour's drive from the city center is the "Tuutari Park", a year-round active recreation center. The park is located at the foot of Mount Kirchhof. St. Petersburg can be seen from its summit. In winter you can go snowboarding or mountain skiing here. In warm seasons you can pamper in the rope park, conquer the zip line, ride a bike or rollerblade. Horseback riding lessons and horseback riding in the fields are available (you have to sign up for the day). There are also regular activities, from children's competitions to opera-air events.
I offer lunch in Gatchina, at The Scotch Bar pub. Nourishing business lunches are served from 12:00 to 16:00 on weekdays. Bonus - a cozy summer veranda and a cozy, homely atmosphere.
The Bornetsky quarry surprises with its beauty. Sand dunes and emerald water - in a few minutes you forget that you are a couple of tens of kilometers from St. Petersburg. The feeling that you are in the real desert does not leave you. The climb to the heap is quite steep, so we choose comfortable sneakers or boots for a walk.
Near Belogorka settlement in Gatchina district you can find a geological nature monument. Here, on the Oredezh River, rocks of Paleozoic age came to the surface. In the red rocks one can see petrified skeletons of hospitable and armoured fish (currently non-existent), as well as other animals. It is a beautiful place to feel the power of nature and think about the eternal.
In the 80s, there was a sand quarry in this area. Due to active ground waters, sand mining had to stop, the equipment was removed and the pit quickly turned into a lake in the middle of a pine forest. Small Luga Canyon created an ordinary forest stream flowing into the lake. The stream can be particularly rough in springtime, but in summer it almost dries up. For several decades the stream of water has created a real natural wonder. At the bottom of the canyon you can walk all the way to the "waterfall" - do not spare time for this little attraction.
Isn't it time to stop on vacation? You can warm up, fill up and buy goods on the way at Gazpromneft's filling stations.
And here we are in the Meadow. I offer dinner in the restaurant "Chaplin" - a cozy and quiet place where there are no no noisy discos.
Let's take a walk in the evening meadow. The river gave the name to this small town, and its name in turn comes from the word laugas ("swamp" in Estonian). Pushkin repeatedly stopped here on his way to the Pskov estate. The city was badly damaged during the Great Patriotic War. A handful of old houses survived by miracle, which you can see today. Local residents are especially proud of the Resurrection Cathedral in Pseudo-Russian style (1887) and the Catholic Church.
Today you will visit an ostrich farm, ride a sup-surf on a beautiful lake and descend into red caves. For dinner in Gatchina, nourishing oriental cuisine with a touch of lavash will be the perfect end to this little trip.
In the morning, we're going to the Lion's Ostrich Farm. Here, free grazing is inhabited by Cesars, pheasants and, of course, African ostriches. Birds can be fed by hand, photographed with them. Every 2 hours from 10:00 there are informative excursions on the farm, but you can also visit the park without a guide.
Not far from the ostrich farm, on the shore of Lake Cheremenets there is a camping site "North Patmos". This is where we'll go for supersurfing. It won't be hard to get the board on the lake surface, and the scenery will charmingly melt your heart. 1 hour rental costs 400 rubles (+ deposit). Alternatively, you can ride a boat or bike.
We'll stop by the Breadfruit for a snack. Always fresh pastries, fragrant coffee and charming sellers have won over more than one local resident and tourist.
Oredezhskie (or Borschevskie) caves are probably the most unusual sight in the region of Luga. Red vaults and colorful patterns on the walls bribe with their beauty. The caves are of artificial origin - once there was quartz sand for glassware. The length of passages is small, so it is difficult to get lost here. Be as careful as possible, be sure to bring flashlights and avoid descending into caves after the rains.
On the way you will see the memorial "Partisan Glory" - an impressive sculptural composition 20 meters high. Part of the composition are 13 granite boulders with inscriptions dedicated to partisan brigades that fought in the Leningrad Region.
We have dinner in Gatchina district, in the cafe of oriental cuisine "Sim Sim Sim". Service, cuisine, home wine - everything is on top of it. I recommend to try "Jyz-Byz" - traditional Azerbaijani roast of by-products, potatoes and onions.