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Mariy Chodra National Park

Located in the Volzhsky, Morkinsky and Zvenigovsky districts of Russia's Mari El Republic, the Mariy Chodra National Park covers an area of around 366 square kilometers. Founded in 1985, the reserve was created primarily to protect the rare plants of the region, and is home to more than 115 documented plant species. The fourteen tourist centers, routes and trails in the park offer visitors easy access to some of the most picturesque scenery in Russia, and Mariy Chodra National Park is a popular leisure destination for both domestic and international tourists. The park plays an important role in the tourism industry for Mari El, Chuvashia, and Tatarstan – all of which are republics and federal subjects of Russia.

The left tributary of the Volga River runs through the park, which is located in the Ilet River basin. In addition to the Volga River, water sources include streams and lakes, with many of the crescent-shaped lakes containing mineralized mud of volcanic origin – said to contain significant therapeutic properties. The flora of Mariy Chodra National Park is varied and can be categorized as steppe, forest-steppe and taiga. Most of the park is covered in woodland forests, and visitors will be able to identify the majestic maple, linden and spruce trees on the upland areas, while the valley forests consist of maple, linden, spruce, pine, oak, aspen and elm.

Wide floodplain areas provide the perfect habitat for mallards and European teals. Other feathered residents of Mariy Chodra National Park include black grouse, hazel grouse and capercaillie, as well as raptors such as buzzards, goshawks and kites. There have also been reported sightings of the magnificent golden eagle, so birders will want to keep an eye out for high-flyers when exploring the park. Other animals found throughout the park include hares, weasels, ermine, squirrels, chipmunks, polecats, martens, beavers, otters and moose.

Activities to be enjoyed in the park include river rafting on both the Yushut and the Ilet River, and several of the park's tourist centers are located on the banks of Yalchick – a system of two lakes which become one at certain times of the year. Another popular attraction in the Mariy Chodra National Park is Pugachov's Oak. This enormous tree is believed to be around 1,500 years old and gets its name from a legend involving pretender to the Russian throne and leader of a Cossack insurrection, Yemelyan Pugachev (1742-1775). In a country renowned for its natural beauty, Mariy Chodra National Park certainly has plenty to offer its visitors.


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