Astrakhan, the final frontier: a weekend in the woods for the ultimate stag do
When it comes to planning a stag do, Ibiza is old news – and thanks to the rise of low-cost air travel, a weekend in Prague or Berlin isn’t all that original either. If you’re planning a weekend of hunting, fishing and general blokey merriment, there’s no better destination than Astrakhan.
There’s a good chance you’ve never heard of this city in south-western Russia, but the country’s outdoor-loving president has been spotted fishing here. Astrakhan sits on the banks of the Volga River near the Caspian Sea, and it’s best known for the wide variety of fish and wildlife found in and around the Volga River Delta. There are endless possibilities for outdoor pursuits, including hunting and fishing, but here’s what you need to know to embark upon the manliest of stag dos.
Plan your route
Situated about 60km from the Caspian, Astrakhan is a perfect base for exploring the Astrakhan Oblast’s amazing scenery. The Volga River Delta has created hundreds of tiny islands, home to numerous bird species sure to intrigue hunters of all backgrounds. The water bird hunt is limited to the months from September to November, so bear this in mind when planning your trip. Sport fishing is permitted year-round, but conditions are best during springtime, starting in May, and summer – the river is at its clearest in July. Even if you’re heading back to our Park Inn by Radisson Astrakhan later on, be sure to book one of the local baza otdikha (hunting and fishing lodges) where you’ll find helpful guides and decent motorboats.
Say hello to your inner caveman
Since the number and quality of baza otdikha has vastly improved in recent years, it’s easy to deal with your catch on the spot (should you choose not to release it back into the water). Indulge the group’s hunter-gatherer instincts with a celebratory barbecue and fry up a fresh meal on the fire. Typical catches include pike, perch, carp, and love-it-or-hate-it catfish, so ask the gourmand of your group to bring along a bottle of his favourite spice mix.
Don’t forget the nightlife
It’s tempting to spend the whole weekend communing with nature, but make sure you spend some time in Astrakhan before you leave. It’s one of Russia’s most multicultural cities, noted for its laid back vibe and great architecture. There’s no more fitting place for a stag do than the city’s Beer Academy. This cosy restaurant produces its own beer, as well as offering a number of other bottles and draught selections, so when you reach the point in the weekend that demands copious pints, this restaurant should be at the top of your list. They serve hearty, home-style Russian cooking that will keep you going all through the night.