Moscow-area desert: sand dunes in Sychevo

Victoria Derzhavina | Live the World

November 23, 2022

If you search for unusual landscape, which is not typical for Central Russia, 100 km from Moscow, there is such an exotic place. This is a sand quarry in Sychevo, a vast territory about 8 km long with dunes and small lakes, thickets of sea buckthorn and excavators. The way to get here is not easy to find, so it is not a crowded place. Some people come here for extreme sports, some come to relax on a sandy beach, but many come just to see this peculiar Moscow-area desert.

© Victoria Derzhavina

A place for extreme sports

The Sychevo Sand Quarry is an ideal place for extreme sports. Young people come here for sandboarding, riding down a sand dune while standing on a board. Additionally, quad bikes or dirt bikes enthusiasts practice driving on the sandy hills here.

© iStock/JohnCrux

Hiking up and down

If you are not an extreme sports person, or you don’t have your skateboard and motorbike with you, you can spend time hiking up and down the dunes. The sandhills are of different height, some of them consist of loose sand, and some are rather firm, partly overgrown with grass and bushes. Moreover, you will definitely have different views: sand dunes, green forests, lakes, and even a small white church on the horizon.

© Victoria Derzhavina

Chill and sunbathe

On a hot summer day, why not to chill and sunbathe? The sandpits that are not used any more for sand extraction are filled with water. There are several such lakes on the territory of the sand quarry. Some are lonely, some are quite popular, and you can see many people on this wild beach.


Taste sea buckthorn berries

Along the edge of the sand quarry, you can come across the thickets of sea buckthorn (lat. hippophae). These shrubs typically grow in dry, sandy areas. You can even taste the berries if you come in August when the berries are ripe. These fruits are edible and nutritious, even though some people think that they are unpleasant to eat raw because they are astringent and not very sweet.

© Victoria Derzhavina

Overgrowing lakes attract fishermen

Some old lakes start to overgrow with bulrush, carex, and reedmace. Such overgrowing lakes are not suitable for swimming, but they attract fishermen, who like to sit in silence and solitude on a shore with a fishing-rod in their hands waiting for some small fish like carassius.

© Victoria Derzhavina

The Sychevo Sand Quarry occupies a large territory, so the landscape of its area is different. Moreover, sand extraction is an ongoing process in this area, so the landscape slowly changes. Still, this exotic Moscow-area desert with its sandhills,  dunes, small lakes, and sea buckthorn is worth a visit.

© Victoria Derzhavina

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