Ulyanovsk Oblast is located at the intersection of many different natural zones. The taiga begins in the north, endless steppes and salt marshes stretch across the south and forests and swamps can be found in the west. It is the image of the Melovye Gory (the Chalk Mountains) in particular that tends to leave a lasting impression on travelers. Millions of years ago the mountains sat at the bottom of the sea, but, about 30 million years ago, at the end of the Paleogene Period, the sea began to ebb and this elevated area, today called the Volga Upland, became even more noticeable. Its surface started out as almost a flat plateau, but due to the periodic shaking of the Earth's surface and erosion caused by wind and water, a beautiful and uneven landscape formed. Rivers washed away the plateau, replacing it with valleys. Some areas with heights up to 300 meters, however, remained. RTG TV host Ludmila Shiryaeva visited the Melovye Gory on the Volga River.