Nature Retreat: Lake Seliger, Russia

Nature Retreat: Lake Seliger, Russia

All of us need a retreat from this hectic worls from time to time, and most of us have their own secret places to go to where we can find inner peace and reconnect with ourselves.
Maybe some of us might be looking for a new place, sheltered from the outer world and inside nature’s womb, and that’s why I wanted to share my little treasure with you… It’s far, but it’s beautiful – and if you ever want to disappear from the world for a little time, this is the perfect place.
Take a look…


For me, reconnecting with myself has always been easier in the nature, and more specifically around water. I was born in one of the biggest and busiest cities on Earth – Moscow. We used to live on the outskirts, right next to the woods, and I’ve always been raised with a strong respect for nature and its beauty. Even though I didn’t even know how to swim untill i came to Belgium and got into a synchronized swimming team when I was 8, suprisingly water has been my second nature ever since.

My little treasure spot also goes back to that childhood period as well.
Lake Seliger is basically a giant lake inside the woods, situated somewhere between Moscow and Saint-Petersburg. Its natural beauty is just breathtaking.
This is the place I used to spend my summer vacations, together with my parents, and a bunch of their other hippie friends that gathered together to spend about 3-4 weeks on their own in the woods, with only the basic amenities at hand.

Since I was little, my Dad taught me to only take what I can carry myself – and off we went, with only the stuff we really needed packed in our backpacks, a tent and a cano.

Oh right, I forgot to mention that we used to go there by canoes 🙂 Arriving after a night train in a small village on the other side of the lake, the men would construct the canoes – not the plastic ones you might imagine nowadays, but the good oldschool ones that are made of canvas pulled over an aluminium carcass.

My Dad and me, lake Seliger – Summer of 1994
lake Seliger – Summer of 1994

The men would just choose a nice spot on the shore the lake, and put up our tents under the safe haven of the meterhigh trees.
There was no electricity – and actually nobody needed it, since nobody had cellphones back then and cameras worked on batteries.
Cooking happened on a campfire.
Toilets were defined by “Girls to the right, boys to the left”.
The wood and the lake were our fridge: the women and us, kids, would go in search of mushrooms and blueberries, while men went fishing. The extra food that was brought in the beginning of the trip from the mainland was basic – and yet, nobody was ever heard complaining about the monotony of our delicious meals!
Every night we made a campfire and would be sitting around it, singing songs, playing some theatre games – or the very famous Russian “Mafia” game, having dress up parties for the kids.  No child or adult was ever bored.

Honestly, these are the best memories of my entire childhood…

So, back to the idea of the nature retreat. Back in 2012 , my summer plans got suddenly shattered, and somehow I felt like this was the perfect moment to go back to my roots, to nature… and to this wonderful place that I cherished all along.

I know it might sound scary to most of us – “civilized people” – no electricity, sleeping in a tent, being in the middle of the woods with bugs and animals,…
But this is exactly what you need in those moments: a place where you learn to free yourself from everything that you don’t really NEED, and focus on yourself and the things that really MATTER.
And this is exactly what I did back then, and I would do it all over again every moment if I’d had the chance.

Of course, I was there with a bunch of people of all ages, so whenever I needed company – there was human interaction available. I was not a hermit, I enjoyed the bunfire song sessions and the fishing.
But most of the time I spent wandering through the woods on my own,and in a hammock hung up between two beautiful birch trees, where I could spend hours, and even sleep a night if I wanted to.

All by all, Seliger is a wonderful place to go alone, with your partner or even some good friends. Reconnecting with nature doesn’t always needs absolute solitude, when you are with the right people who have the same mindset it might even be better. It creates a huge bond when you gather food, cook, sing songs or tell stories around the campfire, … and all of that as a team. Remember those amazing child camp friendships that you shared when you were little? 

 


It takes a few days to adapt, but you realise that slowly you’re starting to feel immensely free and careless – in the positive sense of the word. You learn to reconnect with nature, Mother Earth and yourself.

Suddenly, you realize what tranquility and peace really means. You can get up whenever you want, you can take a morning dive into the lake while brushing your teeth. You can have breakfast in a hammock – or you can just wander into the woods and find a nice place to hold a picknick. You are totally free…

After a few days you learn how to listen to the voice within, start reconnecting with nature. Because in the end, from Mother Earth we are made, and to her will we be brought back one day. You notice how beautiful is around you, and you learn to enjoy small things again. You compensate on what you miss out in your hectic, daily life.

For me, Seliger is a wonderful place full of childhood memories – but it is a perfect retreat to reconnect with nature and yourself for anyone ready to take on the adventure. It is reachable by train, up to the village of Ostashkov, and from there nowadays you can easily take a boattaxi that will bring you to a quiet spot on the lake to set up your tent – and who will come to collect you back whenever you wish for it. Make sure to bring enough food for a while, so you can really tuck yourself away from civilization for a couple of days and enjoy this little retreat.

If after reading this, you feel like going there and need any advice – feel free to contact me for any other info you might need, I will be more than happy to share this little secret spot with you!

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