|30 Sep - 16 Oct|
Perfect for travellers who have visited Russia before, this brand new alternative Trans-Siberian Railway group tour is designed to introduce you to the more unusual and off-the-beaten-track cities and sights that lie just off this railroad. Explore the Kungur Ice Caves in Perm, admire Siberian wooden architecture in Tobolsk and visit the impressive Ivolginsky Datsan Monastery in Ulan Ude.
This morning visit Kolomenskoye Museum Estate, a firm favourite with Muscovites. With its gentle, sloping hills covered with cherry trees in the warmer months, the abundance of seating and the wafting aroma of sizzling shaslik, you can see why. Remnants of this estate's past life as a Royal Estate can be identified in the scattering of different museums like the beekeeping house and its many churches. After lunch, visit the Gulag Museum, a relativity new museum opened in 2015 (the previous one was opened in 2001) recounting the history of the gulags during Stalin’s time—a particularly dark period of Russian history. Transfer to the railway station for train to Perm. (B, L)
Arrive in Perm in the mid-afternoon and meet with your local guide for a city tour. Perm was a closed city during the Soviet times due to the production of military equipment and although it remains a heavily industrialised city, over recent years the city has invested in arts and culture. Many new galleries and temporary art installations have opened, as well as a variety of festivals taking place during the year. Nobel Prize-winning author Boris Pasternak based the fictional town Yuriatin, where Doctor Zhivago and his family escaped to, on the city of Perm in his most famous novel “Doctor Zhivago,” published in 1957. Perm was also the home of the Kirov Ballet during World War II. (B)
Today take an excursion out of Perm to Kungur Ice Cave, a karst cave located on the banks of the Sylva River. With a length of explored passages reaching over 5km, it is one of Russia’s biggest karst caves and the only one in the country equipped for visits by tourists. Over thousands of years, rainwater dissolved the soft rocks and formed a system of spacious underground halls, filled with rocks of peculiar shapes. Snow-melt dripping through the porous rocks had frozen in the cold interior of the cave, turning into ice stalactites that hang from the ceiling in completely unpredictable forms and remarkable sizes. Some of the hanging icicles have reached the floor and formed spectacular ice columns shaped like giant hourglasses. In the evening transfer to the train station for the overnight train to Tobolsk. (B)
Arrive in Tobolsk early afternoon and transfer to your hotel. Meet with your local guide for a city tour. Once Siberia’s capital, Tobolsk is one of the region’s most historic cities, sporting a magnificent kremlin and a charming crumbling old town. Tobolsk is off the Trans-Siberian main line but is easily reached from Tyumen. The centre of the Russian colonisation of Siberia, Tobolsk was founded in 1587. Its strategic importance started to wane in the 1760s when the new Great Siberian Trakt (postal road) took a more southerly route. However, until the early 20th century it remained significant as a centre for both learning and exile. Involuntary guests included Fyodor Dostoevsky en route to exile in Omsk, and deposed Tsar Nicholas II and his family, who spent several months here in 1917 before being taken to Yekaterinburg and executed.
This morning take a trip out of Tobolsk to Abalak Tourist Complex, located around 20 kilometres from Tobolsk. See traditional Siberian wooden architecture, Her, lives the hospitable “Baba Yaga” the witch of Russian fairy tales who offers all visitors “pirogi” (pastries) and “bliny” (Russian pancakes). In the afternoon enjoy some free time to relax or explore Tobolsk further at your leisure. (B)
Transfer to the Railway Station for the 07:26 train to Novosibirsk. (B)
Arrive in Novosibirsk at 10:30 and meet your local guide for a city tour including the History Museum of Trans-Siberian Railway Tour. Novosibirsk, located on the banks of the River Ob, is the third biggest city in Russia after Moscow and St. Petersburg. It is the city of the “biggest”. The train station of Novosibirsk is the biggest train station on Trans-Siberian Railway, the Library in Novosibirsk is the largest in Siberia. The Opera and Ballet Theatre is the biggest theatre in Russia, even larger than the Bolshoi in Moscow. Overnight in hotel. (B)
Free morning to relax or to the city further. In the afternoon take a trip out to Akademgorodok, located some 30 kilometres from Novosibirsk. In 1957, the Soviets conjured the town out of nothing amidst birch forests, as a home for the Russian Academy of Sciences. This hotbed of Russia’s finest minds was left to languish after the Soviet Union broke up but it is coming back to life, with bars and coffee shops, the next generation of innovators, scientists and technologists. Transfer to the train station for train to Ulan Ude at 21:46. (B)
Today the train travel around the southern shore of Lake Baikal and arrives in Ulan Ude early afternoon. On arrival transfer to hotel and check in for 2 nights. In the afternoon enjoy a short city tour of Ulan Ude with your local guide. Located significantly nearer to Mongolia and China than Moscow and St Petersburg, Ulan Ude has a somewhat Asian feel to it and has traditionally resisted Sovietization to maintain a distinct cultural identity. This is reflected in many facets of the city, such as the unusual but delicious Buryat and Mongolian cuisine and the easy-going nature and strong Buddhist leanings of its people. The city hasn’t completely escaped Soviet “progression”, however. And although the main square is a typical example of imposing Communist architecture, the giant Lenin head in its centre is a must-see and one of the most popular sights along the Trans-Siberian Railway.
This morning visit of the highlights of a stopover in Ulan Ude - the splendid Ivolginsky Datsan; situated 35km from the city centre at the foot of the Khamar-Daban Mountains, this fascinating monastery is the centre of Buddhism in Russia and home to about 30 lamas. Transfer to the train station for the 14:51 train to Khabarovsk. (B)
Travel further west along the Trans-Siberian Route.
Arrive in Khabarovsk in the evening and transfer to hotel for overnight stay.
Meet with your local guide for a tour of the city. Situated at the junction of the Amur River and its tributary, the Ussuri, Khabarovsk feels more like a relaxed coastal town than a bustling Siberian city, particularly in the summer when the sandy river banks are virtually transformed into a beach resort. The leafy main street called Muravyova-Amursgoko teems with life amongst some wonderful 19th-century Russian architecture. Included is a visit to the Museum of the Amur River. Transfer in the evening for train to Vladivostok. (B)
Arrive in Vladivostok - the eastern terminus of the Trans-Siberian Railway, Vladivostok has plenty else to do beyond serving as the beginning or end of this epic journey. A large but attractive city set in tiers perched beside sparkling Pacific waters, it is surprisingly tranquil and an ideal place to stretch your legs after a long trip across Russia from Moscow. After breakfast take in the plethora of fascinating inland sights in Vladivostok on a city tour including the eccentric Arsenev Regional Museum which houses decent exhibitions on pre-Russian settlers as well as some intriguing wildlife and geological displays.
Group size: minimum 10, maximum 16
30 Sep 2019
16 Oct 2019