JHRE EASTERN RUSSIA & The Trans-Siberian TOUR

SEARCH TOUR

With Jonathan Hodgson

TOUR HIGHLIGHTS:

Moscow's famous Red Square & Kremlin Red Square, Kremlin & Armory tour; Travelling the famous Trans-Siberian Railway; Exotic Irkutsk, remote & beautiful Lake Baikal; Vladivostok: 'Lord of the East'

  • DATES & PRICES
  • FULL ITINERARY
  • MAP & HOTELS
  • TRIP INFORMATION

Dates & Prices

To book this tour, please refer to the sidebar ►

Prices are in US Dollars (USD), before any applicable taxes. The pricing reflects twin-sharing, per-person costs without airfare to/from the tour; however, we can book flights from your home airport for an added cost. Contact us for a no obligation quote.


Start DateEnd DatePriceMore Info
Mon 02 Sep 2019Tue 24 Sep 2019 $6780 USD Limited availability, please contact us

$2000 per person deposit required. Due to the high price of hotel and train accommodation in Russia, if you join our share program and we fail to pair you, a mandatory up-charge equivalent to the full supplement will apply.

Optional Single Supplement: $2700 USD (number of singles limited).
This tour may require a mandatory single supplement charge of $2700 if you join our share program and we are unable to pair you.


Tour Overview


This tour was designed, and will be led by, senior Tour Leader, Jonathan Hodgson, who invites you to join him on this epic journey:

"Russia. The country conjures up so many images and stereotypes. Iconic architecture, vast Siberian forests, Soviet-esque socialist realist art, autocratic leaders, the home to famous authors and composers, vodka and caviar, and more. A land mass that is almost double that of Canada (the second largest country in the world) leaves one overwhelmed by the prospect of visiting and doing justice to the whole Russian experience. This tour offering is designed to try and tackle just that.

When I first began to consider this tour I wished to offer more than the typical "core Russia" tour offered by a number of other companies. The project grew to a scope that we now offer to you in two different modules, featuring St. Petersburg, the Russian Arctic and Moscow and the Golden Ring, followed by a train-based journey from Moscow to Vladivostok with many stops along the way, followed by an optional add-on to the wild peninsula of Kamchatka at the end. The whole tour lasts 7 weeks, a very ambitious prospect.

What will you experience? Think stately St. Petersburg, energetic Moscow, remote villages along the shores of the Barents Sea, classic onion-domed churches along the trail of the Golden Ring, and riding the Trans-Siberian route to the shores of Lake Baikal with stops in Kazan, Ekaterinburg, Krasnoyarsk and more! For those with the inclination for true adventure, the week-long add-on to Kamchatka is not for the faint of heart, as it will feature hiking, wilderness adventures, and (weather-permitting) a helicopter ride over the Geyser Valley and Uzon Caldera.

I welcome you to come experience what Russia has to offer with me."

Jonathan

Regions visited: Central And Eastern Europe
Countries visited: Russia


Full Itinerary

To book this tour, please refer to the sidebar ►

Day 1 Arrival in Moscow
Welcome to Russia!

Moscow is the 872 year-old capital of Russia. An iconic, global city, Moscow has played a central role in the development of Russia and the world.

This evening we may be meeting travellers who began their journey in St Petersburg on our Western Russia option.

Overnight in Moscow.

Included Meal(s): Dinner

Day 2 Moscow: The Kremlin & Red Square
Today we will have a walking tour of the Kremlin* -- the famous triangular-walled citadel of the Soviet Government dating from the end of the 15th century with its many cathedrals and their iconostases, the bell tower of Ivan the Great; and the Czar Bell, which weighing 200 tons, is the largest in the world. Upon leaving the Kremlin, be sure to touch the Kremlin Wall -- an omen foretelling your return to this hospitable city. We also include a visit to the Kremlin Armory.

In the afternoon we tour the famous Red Square, once the centre of Soviet life. Around the square is the History Museum, the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, and the Lenin Mausoleum, built in 1929. In the 16th century, Ivan the Terrible ordered the construction of one of Moscow's most famous landmarks, Saint Basil's Cathedral. Originally called Pokrovsky Sobor (the Cathedral of the Veil), each of the nine cupolas cover a chapel named after the saint on whose feast-day the Russian armies won their battles.

Our sightseeing today will also include a tour of the Moscow Metro system, in which each station is designed and decorated in a different style, with chandeliers, mosaics, and paintings. Amazingly the underground trains are nearly silent. Some of these stations are so deep that they were used as air raid shelters during WWII.

* Today's sightseeing program will be exclusive to travellers joining our tour in Moscow. Other travellers who began their journey in St Petersburg will enjoy a free day.

Overnight in Moscow.

Included Meal(s): Breakfast and Dinner

Day 3 Moscow Touring - Overnight Train to Kazan
Today we visit the Kremlin in Izmailovo, situated in a historical place on the bank of Serebryano-Vinogradny pond. Visiting the Kremlin gives us a rare opportunity to experience an atmosphere of the past and see masters of handicraft at work — blacksmiths, potters, wood carvers etc. This is a "museum of museums", which includes exhibits of national dress and life, a Museum of Bells, Museum of Russian Fairytales, Museum of History, of Vodka, and a Museum of Russian Toys, all in one place. For lunch you can taste traditional dishes of different nationalities of Russia.

While in Moscow, we'll also be able to experience the Moscow Metro system, in which each station is designed and decorated in a different style, with chandeliers, mosaics, and paintings. Amazingly the underground trains are nearly silent. Some of these stations are so deep that they were used as air raid shelters during WWII.

This evening we board our overnight train to Kazan (we'll likely have dinner before boarding).

Welcome aboard the Trans-Siberian Railway (TSR)! This is a network of railways connecting Moscow with the Russian Far East; with a length of 9289 kilometres (5,772 miles), this is the longest railway line in the world. There are connecting branch lines into Mongolia, China, and North Korea. It has connected Moscow with Vladivostok since 1916, and is still being expanded. It was built between 1891 and 1916 under the supervision of Russian government ministers personally appointed by Tsar Alexander III and his son, the Tsarevich Nicholas (later Tsar Nicholas II). Even before it had been completed, it attracted travellers who wrote of their adventures. Flat-out, tt takes more than six days to travel along the whole Trans-Siberian, so we chose to make stops along the way, making this trip more comforable and even more interesting.

ABOUT THE TRAINS (Eastern Russia segment): We will book 1st class cabins (DBL room) for all segments, except for Tyumen-Novosbirsk, which is 2nd class (1st class not available; DBL room). Limited single cabins available.

Russian classification of the wagons: 1st class wagon consists of 9 cabins with two beds in each. Beds are low (both) and there is a table between them. There is plenty of space to keep your luggage in the compartment (cabins are lockable), either in an overhead luggage storage area, or under the bed. There are two toilets in each wagon; there are no showers in any of the trains.

IMPORTANT NOTE ON SUITABILITY: YOU MUST BE ABLE TO MANAGE YOUR OWN BAGS ONTO/OFF TRAINS AND IN TRAIN STATIONS. We regret that porters are generally not available and your Tour Leader has very limited ability to assist with baggage. Packing lightly is essential.

We will provide a more detailed info sheet on the trains upon reservation.

Overnight Train.

Included Meal(s): Breakfast and Dinner

Day 4 Arrive in Kazan: City Touring
This morning we arrive in Kazan and move to a restaurant for breakfast.

Kazan (meaning 'cooking pot' in Tatar) is the 'Istanbul of the Volga,' a place where Europe and Asia curiously inspect each other from the tops of church belfries and minarets. It is about 150 years older than Moscow and the capital of the Tatarstan Republic – the land of the Volga Tatars, a Turkic people commonly associated with Chinggis (Genghis) Khaan’s hordes.

Modern Kazan, as before, is one of the Russia’s centres of multinational cultures. The interpenetration of the Western and Eastern mentality in Kazan creates an original independent culture. A prevailing feature of life in the city is peaceful, creative coexistence of different religions and nationalities.

Our city tour includes views of City Hall, Freedom Square, Tatar State Opera & Ballet Theatre, Pushkin Statue, and Kazan State University. We also visit the Old Tatar Quarter (Staro-Tatarskaya Sloboda), the soul of the historical part of Kazan. With its streets preserved from the medieval period, this is considered to be the main area of the Tatar city culture. We will see old merchant houses, the old mosque of XVIII century, and hear legends and stories of Tatar people.

After a break for lunch, we have a walking visit to Kazan Kremlin and Kazan Arbat (Bauman Street), where we find souvenir shops, cafes, and restaurants. Our walk continues down Prolomnaya Street, visiting the Museum of Soviet Union Lifestyle.

Overnight in Kazan.

Included Meal(s): Breakfast and Dinner

Day 5 Kazan - Day Train to Yekaterinburg
Early this morning we transfer to the rail station for our full-day train to Yekaterinburg (Ekaterinburg). This is the perfect day for journaling, reading, napping, chatting. Chess is also a very Russian way to pass the time on a train across the steppe!

Upon arrival we'll have a late dinner in Yekaterinburg prior to checking-in to our hotel.

Known as Sverdlovsk during the Soviet era, Yekaterinburg is located at the crossroads of Europe and Asia. Russia’s third city might be a little more subdued than Moscow but is has plenty of culture and urban romanticism to offer. According to the Institute of Clod Nicole Ledu, Yekaterinburg’s planning and architectural development puts it among the world’s "12 ideal cities". The unofficial capital of the Urals seems to have it all: over 600 historical and cultural monuments, 18th- and 19th century stone and wooden buildings, iconic pieces of constructivist architecture, and the world’s most northerly skyscrapers.

Overnight in Yekaterinburg (dinner in Yekaterinburg; lunch can be purchased on board for reasonable prices).

Included Meal(s): Breakfast and Dinner

Day 6 Yekaterinburg Touring - Overnight Train to Tobolsk
This morning we travel a short distance out of town to the monument mrking the "Border of Two Continents". The border mark is on the highway that used to be Great Siberian Road. Russian Tsars had a habit of exiling their political foes and other convicts as far away from the capital as possible -- Siberia. Hundreds would pass Yekaterinburg in shackles every day down the same road that we will travel. The monument itself was erected in 2004 and represents two interwined letters A and E. Here you can put one foot in Europe and the other in Asia!

Given that today is Saturday, we may also witness a tradition among Russian newlyweds to cruise about in a limo having photos taken in auspicious locales whilst consuming vast amounts of champagne. You may wonder what it is that guests chant that causes a newly married couple to kiss in public -- "Gor'ko!" -- referring to the bitterness of life -- as in "show us something sweet!"

Returning to town, we visit the Ural Geological Museum. Once rich in gemstones and minerals, the Ural Mountains, and Yekaterinburg as the region’s main city, have become a centre for jewelry trade, known for brilliant craftsmen, carving masterpieces out of gemstones. You can still hear some beautiful legends, the "Mistress of Copper Mountain" being the most popular, and visit many very real shops, selling locally made jewellery.

This evening, after dinner, we board our next overnight train.

Overnight train.

Included Meal(s): Breakfast and Dinner

Day 7 Arrive in Tobolsk - Pokrovskoye - Tyumen
This morning we arrive in Tobolsk and have breakfast at a local restaurant.

Tobolsk is a real Siberian city that was founded by Cossacks in 1585 as they advanced east across Russia. It was the seat of the Viceroy of Siberia and prospered on trade with China and Central Asia. Tobolsk’s relative decline came about from being by passed by the Trans-Siberian but in many respects this gives the city much of its old world charm today. For the traveller the city has some stunning churches and interesting stories to tell and, of course, the satisfaction of getting well off the beaten track.

In Tobolsk we'll have a walking excursion around the territory of the Kremlin and it the city centre. We'll also visit the workshop of Minsalim, a master bone-carver who turns mammoth tusks and antler fragments into detailed figurines related to myths and legends of the local brand of shamanism. After a visit to the Museum of Nicholas II -- Russia's first devoted to 'royal martyrs' -- we'll have some free time on Red Square before we continue to Tyumen.

En route we'll stop at stopping at the village of Pokrovskoye to visit the house-museum of Grigori Rasputin, the "most famous Russian," who, among other things, gave his name to thousands of restaurants and some bad German vodka. This is not his former home, but rather stands opposite the place where it stood; since the 1970s, Vladimir and Marina Smirnov have been collecting Rasputin’s documents, letters, photographs, and belongings. In 1991, they created Russia’s first private museum and dedicated it to Rasputin. To this end, they bought the old two-story house in Pokrovskoe where Rasputin’s parents had once lived. The museum contains a number of belongings from Rasputin’s house: unique photographs and documents found in archives, bought at auction (Sotheby’s), and obtained from people whose ancestors had known the "great Russian mystic."

Our destination is Tyumen, founded in 1586 and the first Russian settlement in Siberia. These days the city is the youthful, business-oriented capital of a vast, oil-rich region.

Overnight in Tyumen.

Included Meal(s): Breakfast and Dinner

Day 8 Tyumen Touring - Overnight Train to Novosibirsk
This morning we check out of our hotel and embark on a walking excursion in the city centre.
By bus we'll visit Trinity Monastery, undoubtedly Tyumen’s most appealing architectural complex. Its kremlin-style crenellated outer wall is pierced by a single gate tower. In summer the flower beds of the complex burst with colour.

Next is the Imperial Wharf Museum -- remember the Museum of Nicholas II from yesterday? This is the start of the route in the Urals and Siberia that follows the last path of the Romanovs to the place of their death.

After some leisure time, we'll board our late afternoon train to Novosibirsk (Only 2nd class available - we book berths for 4 in which we place only 2 passengers; dinner on board).

Overnight Train.

Included Meal(s): Breakfast and Dinner

Day 9 Arrive in Novosibirsk: City Touring - Overnight Train to Krasnoyarsk
Late morning arrival in Novosibirsk (breakfast on board).

After a break for lunch, our visit to Novosibirsk will include two museums, likely the Museum of Archaeology and Ethnography and Local History Museum (finalized closer to departure).

The city was founded in 1893 as a transport hub. The city was originally called Novonikolayevsk in honour of both Saint Nicholas and of the reigning Tsar Nicholas II. It became a large industrial centre during the Stalin period. In 1962, it became the first city in the world to reach a population of 1 million people within 70 years of being founded. The majority of the population lives in apartment buildings and private houses are rare.

Novosibirsk grew into a beautiful place with booming cultural life (after the fall of Soviet Union). Russia's third largest city has embraced its status as capital of Siberia and opened its doors to the world. Indeed most of the people under 40 speak English.

After some leisure time and dinner in town, we'll board our overnight train to Krasnoyarsk.

Overnight Train.

Included Meal(s): Breakfast and Dinner

Day 10 Arrive in Krasnoyarsk & Stolby Nature Sanctuary
Morning arrival in Krasnoyarsk (breakfast on board).

We'll transfer to our hotel in order to drop our luggage (please have a bag prepared with what you need for the day). We'll then board minibuses for our excursion to Stolby Nature Reserve (picnic lunch included in the park).

The main attraction of the park is its towering stone pillars that have strange curved forms and reach up to 100 meters in height. These rocks are mostly of sedimentary and volcanic origin, formed when molten magma penetrated the surface. Selective weathering along cracks led to the formation of mattress-like prismatic detachments, which caused unique shapes on the rock outcrops. The place was discovered in 1624 by Russian kozaks -- the explorers of Siberia, who built a small fortress at the influx of the Kacha River into the Yenisei. They wondered at the huge intricately shaped stony blocks rising amid a thick forest and gave them the biblical name "Stolpy," reduced later to the popular "Stolby" which means "pillar" in Russian.

We return to the city and check-in to our hotel.

Overnight in Krasnoyarsk.

Included Meal(s): Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner

Day 11 Krasnoyarsk Touring - Overnight Train to Irkutsk
This morning we have a panoramic tour of Krasnoyarsk.

Orderly and affluent, Krasnoyarsk reflects in the blueish-grey surface of the very wide Yenisey River, which marks the border between the swampy west and the mountainous east of Siberia. We will enjoy a visit to Prospekt Mira Street, the main street of the city and a pleasant place for a stroll, where one will find many restaurants, cafes and shops. Very famous here are the ornate old one- and two-storied wooden houses, some of which date back to the late 18th century.

There are not a lot of souvenirs worth mentioning, but the one unique thing locals will advise to buy is 'cedar nuts' (Pinus sibirica; also called pine nuts). Because the Siberian region is the only place where the authentic variety of this delicacy can be purchased, throughout the rest of the world cedar nuts are extremely expensive.

Around noon we'll board our overnight train to Irkutsk (lunch and dinner on board).

Overnight Train.

Included Meal(s): Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner

Day 12 Arrive in Irkutsk: City Touring
This morning we arrive in Irkutsk and have breakfast at a local restaurant.

The de facto capital of Eastern Siberia, pleasantly historic Irkutsk is by far the most popular stop on the Trans-Siberian Railway between Moscow and all points east. With Lake Baikal a mere 70km away, the city is our base from which to strike out for the western shoreline.

Irkutsk was founded in 1661. That time, it was a small settlement playing the role of a gold and fur trade center. After the Decemberist Revolt of 1825, many Russian artists, officers, and nobles were sent into exile to Siberia for their part in the revolt against Tsar Nicholas I and in the late 1800s, 30% of the population of the city were exiles. Irkutsk became the major centre of intellectual and social life for these exiles, and much of the city's cultural heritage is a result. Many of their wooden houses, adorned with ornate, hand-carved decorations, survive today in stark contrast with the surrounding Soviet apartment blocks. Around 1900, the city was nicknamed the "Paris of Siberia" due to its wide streets and ornate, continental architecture, but travellers today will find little resemblance with Paris.

While in Irkutsk we'll visit the Irkutsk Museum of the Decembrists. The expositions are devoted to Decembrists’ life in East Siberia, in convict prisons, in deportations. The family life of Decembrists, their household articles, furniture, musical instruments are presented in the as well.

Overnight in Irkutsk.

Included Meal(s): Breakfast and Dinner

Day 13 Irkutsk - Olkhon Island, Lake Baikal
Today we travel via multiple Russian 'jeeps' to Olkhon Island in Lake Baikal. Our journey will take 6-7 hours, of which one hour is on gravel road. Lunch will be provided en route.

Olkhon is the fourth-largest lake-bound island in the world. It is by far the largest island in Lake Baikal halfway up its western shore and reached by a short ferry journey. Olkhon Island is a wonderful place from which to view the lake and relax during our tour of Siberia. After our hotel check-in, we'll enjoy an excursion to to take in the island's spectacular landscapes and the majestic and unforgettable panoramic views of the endless waters below.

For the Russian people Lake Baikal is a natural treasure. Today, as in the past, this area remains a crossroads of cultures where native Sayats still herd reindeer and Buryat people maintain many of their old traditions. Located in Siberia near the Mongolian border and surrounded by mountains, forests and wild rivers, Baikal is an immense and
breathtaking area of physical beauty. Baikal, the deepest lake in the world, holds twenty percent of the earth's fresh water and harbours more endemic species of plants and animals than any other lake in the world. Over three hundred rivers and streams flow into Lake Baikal, of which the six main ones are: Selenga, Chikoy, Khiloh, Uda, Barguzin, and the Upper Angara. Only the Angara River flows out of the lake. The deepest point in Lake Baikal is 1637 m (5371 ft) and the average depth is 630 m (2067 ft).

Our afternoon excursion takes us to Shamanka Rock, or Shaman's Rock, where natives believe that Burkhan, a modern religious cult figure of the Altai peoples, lives in the cave in this rock. The rock is one of nine Asian Most Sacred Places.

Overnight on Olkhon Island.

Included Meal(s): Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner

Day 14 Olkhon Island Touring
Today's full-day excursion takes us to Khoboy Cape, the northern cape of Olkhon Island.

In Buryat language Khoboy means 'fang' or 'grinder'. A huge fang-shaped stone dominates over the cape. Approaching it from the sea, you will see a big piece of rock that looks like a figure of a woman. The legend has it that a woman that asked for the same wealthy house as one of her husband was turned by Tengries to a stone. The spirits declared she would be a stone till evil and envy occurs between people.

We'll have multiple chances to walk and finally stretch our legs a bit after so many days or train travel and city tours! Our stops will be at scenic points and various spots of interest. Our day is somewhat free-form, with a picnic/camp lunch provided.

Overnight on Olkhon Island.

Included Meal(s): Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner

Day 15 Olkhon Island - Irkutsk
Today we retrace our route back to Irkutsk with lunch provided en route. On arrival in Irkutsk we check-in to our hotel. For a bit of a break, and owing to our day's journey and early start tomorrow, dinner on your own this evening.

Overnight in Irkutsk.

Included Meal(s): Breakfast and Lunch

Day 16 Irkutsk - Day Train to Ulan-Ude
After breakfast at the hotel we transfer to the station for our day train to Ulan-Ude, arriving at 14:28. On arrival we'll transfer to our hotel.

Ulan-Ude was the capital of the Buryat Republic. From the 13th to the 17th century, the
area now known as the Buryat Autonomous Republic was part of the Mongolian empire. The Buryats were originally nomadic herders with cultural and language similarities to the Mongolians and religious similarities to Tibetan Buddhists. In the 18th century, Tsarina Elizabeth officially recognized Buddhism as a religion in Russia. Unfortunately for the Buryats, future generations of Russian/Soviet leaders were not so tolerant. In the 1930's, Buryat culture and religion were practically stamped out by Stalin during the years of repression. Mongolian script was replaced by Latin, and then Cyrillic, and Buddhist temples were razed or put to other uses. In the past several years there has been a resurgence in Buryat culture. Despite the repression of the Soviet years, by most accounts Buryats and Russians live peacefully with little of the ethnic conflict that plagues other regions in Russia.

Overnight in Ulan-Ude.

Included Meal(s): Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner

Day 17 Ulan-Ude & Ivolginsky Datsan
Today we make an excursion to the Ivolginsky Datsan (Buddhist Monastery) located in the hills a few kilometers from Ulan Ude.

This is a major centre of Buddhist culture, housing temples, a library, a school for monks, and accommodation for visitors. Here we find a richly decorated temple with large Buddha sculptures, colourful mandalas and a special seat for the Dalai Lama when he visits. Young monk students, dressed with long dark red robes study Philosophy, or Tantrism, Buddhist art and the Tibetan language. In the library there are scripts with the words of Buddha and comments on his words. Prayer drums circle the territory of the Datsan, and it is situated in a vast green area at the foot of the hills surrounding Baikal Lake.

We return to Ulan-Ude with the balance of the day at leisure.

Overnight in Ulan-Ude.

Included Meal(s): Breakfast and Dinner

Day 18 Ulan-Ude - Begin Train Journey to Vladivostok
During our time in Ulan-Ude we will include a visit to the Ethnographic Open-Air Museum just a short drive from Ulan- Ude. Here we will find a large settlement of local architecture from Prehistoric times to the present. Our walking tour will introduce us to the different types of architecture through the centuries. The houses are furnished like the time period they represent and in the rooms are all the objects that show how people lived, including pieces of embroidery and wooden objects.

Mid-afternoon we begin our last big push to Vladivostok as we board our overnight train. You will have some free time in Ulan-Ude to stock up on snacks and anything else you may need for our three-night journey (we include all meals, exclusive of incidental snacks and/or alcoholic beverages).

The Trans-Siberian Railway is a regular railway, a means of transport vital to the people living along it. It's not run for tourists, so you won't find bar cars with pianos or deluxe suites with en suite showers. However, all passengers get a proper flat berth to sleep in, provided with all necessary bedding, convertible to a seat for day use. There are washrooms and toilets along the corridor, and a restaurant car for meals. The train stops several times a day, usually only for 10-20 minutes, but you can stretch your legs and take photographs.

Few people go to Russia for the cuisine, but contrary to what you might have heard, Russian restaurant car food is quite edible. Don't expect an extensive menu or everything shown on the menu to be available! Typical meals include ham and fried eggs for breakfast, schnitzel and potatoes for lunch or dinner, with soups and salads for starters. The restaurant car also sells beer, Russian champagne and (of course) vodka, chocolate and snacks.

Overnight Train.

Included Meal(s): Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner

Day 19 Trans-Siberian to Vladivostok
The train follows the Shilka and Amur rivers close to the Chinese border. This is Siberia at its most remote and the train enters an area of permafrost where vast distances and forbidding geographic conditions make this a region difficult for human existence.

What do you do on the train for so many days? This is the question most people ask. Well, you put your feet up and relax. You watch the scenery, look out for the sights listed on your Trans-Siberian Handbook, go to meals in the restaurant car, sleep in your own comfortable bed at night, meet people, talk, play chess, drink tea, drink vodka. Take plenty of reading -- Tolstoy's War and Peace is the most predictable title, but it's a great read. The funny thing is, you probably won't finish it -- there's so much else to do!

Overnight on Train.

Included Meal(s): Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner

Day 20 Tran-Siberian to Vladivostok
During our last full day on the train we reach the most easterly point of our journey, where we cross the River Amur. As the train heads towards the Pacific and we approach the end of our journey, we enjoy our final night on board.

Overnight on Train.

Included Meal(s): Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner

Day 21 Arrive in Vladivostok: Leisure Time & Harbour Cruise
Morning arrival in Vladivostok, "Lord of the East," in Russian. We'll likely have breakfast at a local restaurant upon arrival. Because of our early arrival, and because you will definitely want to find your feet and relax after our long journey, we have included immediate check-in to our hotel upon arrival.

Vladivostok is located less than 100 km east the Chinese border just across the Sea of Japan from the main Japanese island of Honshu. Home base of the Russian Pacific Fleet, the city was closed to all non-Soviets from 1958 until 1991. Between its founding in 1860 and closing to foreigners in 1958, Vladivostok was a fairly international city. In the early part of the 20th century, Russians were actually outnumbered by Chinese in Vladivostok and during the years following the Revolution, there were large Japanese and US populations. The US maintained a consulate in Vladivostok until 1948. Vladivostok became Russia's main naval base in the East after Port Arthur (located in Chinese territory and ceded to Russia in 1898) fell in January 1905 during the Russo-Japanese war.

Modern Vladivostok has been compared to the American West during the Gold Rush years. Businesses from all over the world have flooded in to take advantage of the city's position as a crossroads of Northeast Asia.

Later today we have an excursion to Russky Island by bus. We’ll cross the two enormous bridges across the Golden Horn Bay. The island offers viewpoints from where we can see Primorye shores with fantastic hills, beaches, picturesque coastal landscapes, and azure bays. Following this we'll have a relaxing 2-hour harbour cruise.

Overnight in Vladivostok.

Included Meal(s): Breakfast and Dinner

Day 22 Vladivostok Touring
Today we tour Vladivostok, a thoroughly charming city, with a gorgeous, hilly setting, striking architecture, and numerous verdant islands and sandy bays along its Pacific coastline.

Our sightseeing will include many historic, cultural, and architectural landmarks that make up the flavour of Vladivostok. We will start with some great views of the city, Golden Horn Harbour (named for its likeness to Istanbul’s), and Amursky Bay. We will visit the central square of the city. This is the site of all major public holiday celebrations with its main landmark -- the memorial complex dedicated to "Fighters for the Soviet Power in the Russian Far East in 1917-1922."

Svetlanskaya Street is one of Vladivostok's oldest and main streets, and along Pushkinskaya Street one finds many impressive pre- revolutionary buildings (many of them being restored) that serve as foreign consulates commercial offices, scientific centres, and academic institutions. We will also see the St. Nikole Russian Orthodox Church, the city's symbol and memorial built to honour seamen and ships lost during the 1905 Russo-Japanese war.

Like most maritime cities, Vladivostok erects monuments dedicated not only to people, but also to ships. We'll visit the C-56 Submarine Museum, located inside a World War II C-56 submarine. Together with patrol ship 'Krasny Vympel' it constitutes the memorial complex Military Glory of the Pacific Fleet.

This evening we'll have a farewell dinner for those travellers ending their journey in Vladivostok. Because the flight for those continuing to Kamchatka could be inconveniently early tomorrow, we may choose to include a farewell lunch or an extra early dinner today.

Overnight in Vladivostok.

Included Meal(s): Breakfast and Dinner

Day 23 Departure
Departure from Vladivostok.

SCASTLIVOGO PUTI!

Included Meal(s): Breakfast

Tour Map

To book this tour, please refer to the sidebar ►

*The red tour trail on the map does not represent the actual travel path.


Hotel List


The following is a list of sample hotels at some locations included on this tour. The hotels shown here are meant to provide a general sense of the standard of hotel we usually aim for; they are not necessarily confirmed for your chosen departure.


Hotel Aquamarine

Rating: 4 Star Accommodation4 Star Accommodation4 Star Accommodation4 Star Accommodation
Location: Moscow
Country: Russia

Set in a 7-story riverfront building, this upscale hotel is 1.5 km from Novokuznetskaya Metro station, 3.3 km from St.
... Cathedral in Red Square and 7.9 km from Gorky Central Park of Culture and Leisure. Sleek, contemporary rooms have free Wi-Fi, flat-screen TVs, minibars and tea and coffee making facilities
Read More.

Hotel Park Inn Kazan

Rating: 4 Star Accommodation4 Star Accommodation4 Star Accommodation4 Star Accommodation
Location: Kazan
Country: Russia

Set along a tree-lined street, this upscale hotel, with a stately, modern exterior and stone details, is 3.2 km from
... medieval palaces of the Kazan Kremlin, and 5 km from the Kazanskiy Ippodrom sports arena. The informal rooms and suites, with vibrant accents and light wood furnishings, feature free Wi-Fi and flat-screen TVs.
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Novotel Yekaterinburg

Rating: 4 Star Accommodation4 Star Accommodation4 Star Accommodation4 Star Accommodation
Location: Yekaterinburg
Country: Russia

Set 2 blocks from the Iset river, this contemporary hotel in the city center is within a 13-minute walk of
... Zoo and the Ekaterinburg State Academic Opera and Ballet Theatre. Sleek rooms with colorful accents provide Wi-Fi and flat-screen TVs, in addition to minibars, and tea and coffeemaking facilities.
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Hotel Neftyanik

Rating: 3 Star Accommodation3 Star Accommodation3 Star Accommodation
Location: Tyumen
Country: Russia

Neftyanik-hotel is located on the riverbank of Tura which is in the center of Tyumen city.


Hilton Garden Hotel

Rating: 4 Star Accommodation4 Star Accommodation4 Star Accommodation4 Star Accommodation
Location: Krasnoyarsk
Country: Russia

This upscale hotel in a modern glass-fronted building is 1.9 km from Victory Memorial, 3 km from Paraskeva Pyatnitsa Chapel
... 5 km from Gorky Park. Contemporary rooms feature free Wi-Fi, flat-screen TVs, minifridges and desks with ergonomic chairs, as well as tea and coffeemaking equipment
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Courtyard Itkutsk Centre Hotel

Rating: 4 Star Accommodation4 Star Accommodation4 Star Accommodation4 Star Accommodation
Location: Irkutsk
Country: Russia

A minute’s walk from Chkalov Street bus and tram station, this high-end, glass-fronted hotel is also an 11-minute walk from
... Cathedral of the Epiphany, and 3.5 km from Irkutsk Regional Art Museum of VP Sukachev. The contemporary rooms and suites offer flat-screens, high-speed Internet (fee), desks and armchairs, as well as tea and coffeemaking equipment, and minifridges
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Baikal View Hotel

Rating: 3 Star Accommodation3 Star Accommodation3 Star Accommodation
Location: Olkhon Island
Country: Russia

This relaxed, country-style hotel on a lake island is less than 1 km from the beach and 2.7 km from
... Museum of Local History. The rustic-chic rooms have unfinished pine walls and ceilings, plus parquet floors. All have free Wi-Fi, flat-screen TVs and infrared heaters
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Baikal Plaza Hotel

Rating: 4 Star Accommodation4 Star Accommodation4 Star Accommodation4 Star Accommodation
Location: Ulan-ude
Country: Russia

Set along a busy street in a Soviet-era building, this upscale hotel is a 4-minute walk from the exhibits at
... Geologicheskiy Muzey and 2 km from the Ulan-Ude Pass train station. The straightforward rooms and suites feature free Wi-Fi, flat-screen TVs, minibars, and tea and coffeemakers.
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Hotel Astoria

Rating: 4 Star Accommodation4 Star Accommodation4 Star Accommodation4 Star Accommodation
Location: Vladivostok
Country: Russia

Featuring views of Amur Bay, this laid-back hotel off Route A-370 is 3 km from both Vladivostok Fortress and 3
... from Vladivostok Oceanarium. The relaxed rooms and suites, some with bay views, offer flat-screen TVs, minibars and safes, as well as tea and coffee making facilities, and free Wi-Fi
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Trip Information

To book this tour, please refer to the sidebar ►

Inclusions

Breakfast daily (hotel & local restaurants). Many lunches (ie on trains and remote day trips) are included, as are most dinners. Due to logistics, timing, and the need to have a break now and then, we leave some dinners up to your own account (as per tour itinerary). All transport (including internal flight/s), accommodation, guiding, sightseeing and entrance fees for sites noted as 'visited' in the detailed itinerary. Gratuities for local guides, drivers, restaurant staff, train attendants, porters (when available). We include costs associated with acquiring your ‘visa support’ document from our partners in Russia (actual visa fees not included). Airport transfers for land & air customers and for early arriving/late departing land & air customers who book their extra hotel nights through us.

Exclusions

International airfare to/from the tour. Tour Leader gratuities, some lunches/dinners (as per itinerary), alcoholic drinks, personal items (phone, laundry, etc), international air taxes (if applicable), and any activities referenced as 'optional'. Airport transfers for Land Only customers. Visa fees. Our post-reservation trip notes offer further guidance on optional meal costs and shopping.

Seasonality and Weather

It’s difficult to generalize in this small space as we are dealing with the largest land mass on Earth, but going from the general to the specific we an advise that our late summer/early fall timing coincides with the most advantageous time-frame throughout. That said, the diversity of the conditions we can expect from start to finish is immense and can vary greatly depending on latitude, elevation, proximity to water, and prevailing weather conditions at each location.

As we move into September, the more extreme, continental climate regime will be reflected in the broader temperature range from day to night. Fine warm days are not uncommon, however, but we must be prepared for rain showers at any time. Things become more typically Siberian when we reach Lake Baikal and Irkutsk and, though unusual this early, snow is not unheard of in September! Wind, harsh sun, rainy afternoons and frosty mornings are typical features.

Transport and Travel Conditions

Land transport (not rail) modes will vary from large touring coaches in major towns/cities, to smaller buses, multiple 4x4 vehicles, and possibly taxis here and there, ie to/from dinner.

The trains:
We will book 1st class cabins (DBL room) for all segments, except for Tyumen-Novosbirsk, which is 2nd class (1st class not available; cabins are for 4 persons but we assign only 1 or 2). Limited single cabins available.

First class wagons consists of 9 scrupulously clean cabins with two beds in each. Beds are low (both) and there is a table between them. There is plenty of space to keep your luggage in the compartment (cabins are lockable), either in an overhead luggage storage area, or under the bed. There are two frequently cleaned toilets in each wagon (not in your cabin); there are NO showers on any of the trains. We will provide a more detailed info sheet on the trains upon reservation.

Our "level 3" difficulty rating (though usually reserved for our active hiking trips) reflects the scope and length of our tour, the tremendous amount of moving around we do and the number of stops en route, this can be considered a moderate-strenuous tour that should not be undertaken lightly. Though we do not have any actual active activities/hikes built into our program, this is a demanding tour from the standpoint of the fullness of our days, the number of overnight trains on which sleep may suffer, the lack of creature comforts (trains), one-night stays, long road journeys, and the remoteness of several locations. You will also note from the tour itinerary, that many days have us arriving at destination in the morning and embarking immediately upon our sightseeing program, not checking-in to our hotel until later in the day. Though every effort has been made to make this trip as comfortable and well-paced as possible, if you have any physical impairments, rely on a cane or any other mobility aid, or have any medical conditions that require that you have easy access to specialized medical care, we regret that this tour will not be suitable for you.

Likewise if you have strict dietary restrictions/preferences, you will likely be frustrated on this tour. Russian cuisine is very well-prepared and served, fresh, and plentiful, but it tends to be very ‘meat and potatoes’-based and rather repetitive. Vegetarians should be okay with limited options, but things like ‘gluten free’ or vegan, for example, will likely be significantly challenged.

Of utmost importance is the need to be FULLY independent with one’s luggage. Most of our chosen hotels will provide baggage handling service (included in your tour, if available), but you must be able to FULLY manage your things in airports, rail stations (which can be large and feature stairs), and in getting on/off trains, which feature very narrow aisles and limited space for storage. There is no one to help in these situations and your Tour Leader and other travellers cannot be relied upon to help.

In your travels you'll meet two kinds of tourists — those who pack light and those who wish they had!

Accommodation

Our hotel choices will range from modern 3-4 star international class hotels in most towns and cities, to simpler mid-range properties in smaller centres, and unrated inns/lodges in Baikal.

If you click on the “Map & Hotels” tab above, you will see that Russia has come a long way since Soviet times, and our hotel stays promise to be comfortable, well-located, modern properties with international-class amenities.

Staff and Support

This tour was designed by, and will be led by, Senior Tour Leader Jonathan Hodgson. We will also have multiple local drivers and step-on Russian guides at each location along the way.

Group Size

Maximum 18 plus Tour Leader